Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes
A combination of daily workouts, a balanced and healthy diet, and an active lifestyle are considered the best way of living. However, for anyone who indulges in regressive physical activities, the requirement of various nutrients in the appropriate amount becomes crucial and unavoidable. For athletes and sportspeople, stamina is a significant factor in winning any competition. This stamina is provided to them by the appropriate amount of nutritional elements in their diet. Consuming a well-balanced diet containing adequate amounts of calories enriched with protein, vitamins, and minerals is essential for optimal health and peak performance for all athletes. Hence, nutrition and athletic performance go hand in hand. Several athletes find it challenging to obtain these key nutrients due to their vegetarian lifestyle, which restricts the intake of various animal-based foods that are undoubtedly good for their peak performance.
Although from ages, a vegetarian diet is considered the best diet for gaining a healthy body. But some studies proved that despite the numerous advantages of a vegetarian diet, herbivores still need to consume supplements to suffice the deficiency of the nutrients. The most commonly found nutrient deficiencies in people who prefer a plant-based diet are B12, Zinc, Calcium, etc.
Nutrition deficiency is not the only hitch that vegetarian athletes can face; they can also come across various unfavorable changes in their bodies like metabolic efficiency, altered hormonal status, and diminished bone health. All these changes can severely affect the career of the athletes and inhibit their performance.
Mentioned below are some dietary deficiencies which most vegetarian or vegan athletes can face in their career.
Protein is one of the most recognized nutrients of concern amongst vegetarian athletes. It is not possible to complete your daily protein requirements solely by a vegetarian diet. Soybeans, milk, etc., are rich in protein but lacks all the essential amino acids imperative for the body’s wellbeing. These acids are responsible for tissue growth and repair in our bodies. They help in preparing the proteins that are required by our body. Athletes need to consume protein in smaller portions throughout their day. However, some veggies do not consist of the correct amount of amino acids, which we need. The athletes who depend only upon the plant-based diet should consume protein in every meal.
This micronutrient becomes vulnerable for veggies who do not prefer consuming dairy products. Hypocalcemia combined with inadequate energy intake may result in some severe changes in the body. Insufficient intake of calcium and energy-enriched foods is associated with decreased bone mineral density. This can increase the chances of fracture in athletes. They should consume calcium-fortified foods, calcium-processed tofu, collard green, legumes to accomplish their daily calcium consumption.
Vitamin B12, essential for maintaining healthy red blood cells and nerve fibers in the body, is present naturally only in animal products. Due to the consumption of a plant-based diet, deficiency of Vitamin B12 is quite apparent in vegetarians. Its lack leads to premature fatigue during the exercise or nerve damage. Athletes can easily attain this nutrient from fortified plant sources such as milk, soy burgers, nutritional yeast, and certain breakfast cereals. The body does not produce this Vitamin. Hence, one needs to depend upon the supplements in order to overcome its shortage. B12 is commonly found in yoghurt, milk, and other dairy products, fortified cereals, etc.
Most of us know that iron is a trace mineral and is a significant component of the body’s red blood cells. The primary role of iron is to carry oxygen to several body tissues, including muscles, for use during any physical activity. Premature fatigue during physical activities is a major symptom indicating the deficiency of iron in the body. When iron is derived from several plant foods, its absorption rate decreases by 20 percent, making the scenario even worse.
Zinc deficiency is another important name on the list, along with iron amongst most vegetarian athletes. The plant sources of zinc such as legumes, whole grains, wheat germ, fortified cereals are not readily absorbed compared to animal sources of zinc. Athletes should include beans, milk, yogurt, tofu, and peanut butter in their diet to cope up with the daily requirements.
Vegetarian athletes can be deficient in most of these nutrients. Hence, they should change their approach and look after the foods which can help them in their journey to win a medal or conquer a championship.
The dieticians at VMeals genuinely understand and respect your requirements. So, if you are planning to go meatless or are already on a plant-based diet, our team of experts provides you a macro meal plan that can help you lose weight and achieve the required stamina for your performance in the upcoming events.
It’s a very wrong perception of people that for building muscles, consuming meat is necessary. There are so many famous athletes like Venus Williams & Carl Lewis who stick only to the veggies, and they have already made their presence felt in their respective fields.
Such people focus on eradicating nutrition deficiency by consuming alternatives rather than meaty meals.
The athletes and sportspersons immensely indulge in endurance training. As the word suggests, endurance means a person’s capability to continue doing something painful or difficult for an extended period. Thus, to get involved in such activities, the athletes’ body needs the energy to bear this pain. But the nutritional deficiencies of veg-diet can be sorted out by opting for a meal that provides you all the elements in an accurate amount without hampering your performance. The master chefs at VMeals have their expertise in providing the best customized weekly meal plan for athletes.
Whether you just started training, you want to gain or lose weight, a need for a diet plan is always there. Moreover, if you are a vegetarian, the choice of food becomes limited, and you need to opt for a diet that fulfills the daily nutrient requirements. Also, limit the consumption of processed food. These processed foods can be tempting enough to increase your hunger pangs. However, they are not a good option if you want to stay fit or focus on losing weight.
The processed food is not meant to serve you any good in the long run. Hence, avoid the intake of such food items.
Nowadays, more athletes are running towards a plant-based diet. There are many benefits of a vegetarian meal plan like:
- The vegetarian diet makes the heart stronger. While in the gym or at the sports ground, the heart pounds faster than usual. So, if not taken care of, the heart gets prone to various ailments. Vegetarian meal supports the heart by lowering the blood pressure and cholesterol rate.
- The processed food and meat can cause inflammation to the athletes. In contrast, a plant-based diet is found to be anti-inflammatory.
- The plant-based diet is low in fat which helps in reducing stubborn body fat.
- It also helps in a better blood flow to the body, crucial for the workout process.
Lastly, we can say that preparing an athletic body with a vegetarian diet is no joke. However, we are always there to support you in this journey. Our experts provide you with tailored diet plans according to your requirement and help you achieve your desired body and weight. We respect and appreciate the efforts and sacrifice you make for attaining the goal of a healthy physique. Therefore, the healthy meal plans that you opt for will aid in expediting the process of burning excess fat and providing you the required stamina. We deliver to your doorstep, so you need not worry about rushing to an eating point. The food prepared by our chefs is extremely hygienic and comprises all the vital nutrients that can help curb the issue of vegetarian deficiency. So, what are you waiting for? Just contact us, and we are ready to provide you the best of our services.