If you are a sportsperson, you know how important it is to have a healthy diet. A Vegetarian diet offers several benefits to everyone, particularly to a runner. A plant-based diet is low in cholesterol and leads to better blood flow.
Being a runner and a vegetarian, you might have nutritional demands as a runner. But due to limited food choices, you have to invest time in planning the best diet. There’s no perfect vegetarian diet for runners, and thus, every individual has to find what works for them.
A registered dietician Rachel Hannah revealed how a vegetarian diet could be optimized to perform well on a running day. She says an adequate and proper amount of vegetarian diet can provide enough energy and the right amount of fats and carbohydrates.
A vegetarian diet can have multiple benefits over a diet that includes meat. For instance, it lowers blood pressure and the risk of hypertension. It balances cholesterol levels and lowers cancer rates.
“Vegetarian eating can be very healthy, but it can also not be.”
“It depends on how someone is planning their diet.”
On the other side, she said a vegetarian diet can also be lower in vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. Lacking these nutrients can increase a runner’s risk of nutrient deficiencies and might not provide calories to support the volume of training.
Due to this, a vegetarian runner needs higher requirements of zinc and calcium. Female athletes, in particular, have a higher risk of deficiency of sufficient calories.
“Sometimes athletes can almost eat too healthy. So, they’re getting too full from eating so much fiber, and they’re unable to meet their calorie requirements.”
Vegetarian runners need to focus on the protein they eat. It is made up of essential amino acids, which we get from the foods we eat. Plant-based foods contain amino acids but might be missing one or two. Plant-based combinations like hummus and pita, whole grain bread, and nut butter give adequate nutrient requirements to runners.
She says that supplementing with protein is a great option. Vegetarian runners ensure that they are consuming the right amount of carbohydrates and enough calories to support their running. Other important nutrients vegetarian runners should pay focus to are vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron.
“As long as you’re spending time organizing your meals and as long as you put the effort in, it can be really well-balanced and healthy,” says Hannah. “I don’t see how it could impact performance.”
A runner who is experiencing low iron content should ask experts first for the foods to eat. Hannah said,
“Already iron is very limited through animal sources because of poor absorption.”
“So if someone has iron-deficiency anemia or is having trouble absorbing certain nutrients, then I would just be cautious on limiting what types of foods they’re getting.”
Also, runners who have digestive issues should be cautious of the food they are eating.
Athletes require an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals. Not all vegetarian food provides enough supplements; therefore, it is recommended to consult a doctor before making changes to the diet plan.
Vegetarian is not just a type of diet, but more of a lifestyle. It’s a healthier choice you make for the people, for the animals, and for a better planet