Can You Work Out and Still Maintain a Plant-Based Diet?
If you’ve been following the news lately, you might be aware that it’s not at all unusual for people to start eating a plant-based diet. And while many people are making the switch because they want to lose weight or stop feeling bloated, there are other benefits too.
A plant-based diet is good for your health in general, and can also help with longevity.
Studies show that vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters do - by about 6 years on average! If you're vegan, studies have shown that your risk of death from heart disease is reduced.
Plant-based diets can also help keep blood pressure down and reduce inflammation in the body (which could lead to fewer diseases).
Note: Before embarking on a plant-based journey, we recommend talking to a doctor or nutritionist, as this might not be the best diet for everyone.
If you’re active but you want to stick with a plant-based lifestyle, you’ll have to make some changes and if this is the case, make sure you carry out thorough research on how to fuel your body properly.
But, it is possible to work out and stick to a plant-based diet - you just have to be smart about it!
So What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet is one that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans), nuts, and seeds.
If the idea of giving up carbs makes you nervous, don't worry - there are plenty of good plant-based carbs out there!
Carbs like brown rice, quinoa, and oats aren't just lower in calories than their processed counterparts; they also contain more fiber so your body can digest them better. This means you'll feel fuller for longer too.
What to Eat When You're On the Go
One thing about starting a new diet is that you're bound to be faced with obstacles at some point.
Eating on the go might seem tricky, but it doesn't have to be if you plan ahead.
Here are some ideas to help you out:
- Bring fruit with you to snack on.
- Pack some protein bars for when the hunger cravings hit, or if you're working out and need a mid-workout boost.
- Keep spices in your desk drawer at work so you can spice up whatever meal you're eating for lunch.
- Make sure to check out what's available before heading into a meeting (or class, or other events) and plan accordingly.
Tips for Maintaining a Vegan Lifestyle while Working Out
Working out while following a plant-based diet means that we should think about what we're putting into our bodies after we've worked extra hard to get our blood pumping.
These foods make sure that not only are you refueling properly but that you're also taking care of your muscles.
Good post-workout foods include:
- Fruit: like bananas, grapes, or pineapple.
- Soup: especially if it's homemade and includes lots of vegetables.
- Salad: with plenty of greens and other veggies.
- Tofu: this high-quality protein is perfect for post-workout recovery.
Why it's important to have a positive attitude
Let me just say this, if you are thinking of embarking on a plant-based diet journey, it will likely be the hardest thing you will ever do.
You will be challenged in ways that you cannot even fathom right now.
Before most people make the switch to a vegan diet, their minds are in complete shambles thinking about what they could and couldn't eat, when they would have time to go to the supermarket, when would they run out of food at home or when there wasn't much time before class for me to make food...the list went on-and-on.
It also requires a crazy amount of research and dedication that is unparalleled to anything else you have done in your life.
How to Incorporate More Vegetables into Your Diet
The great thing about plant-based diets is that they are incredibly versatile, and there are so many different ways to make them work for you.
Stock up on pre-cut veggies
One way to get more vegetables into your diet is by stocking up on pre-cut veggies at the supermarket.
This way, when you're short on time or energy, you can easily grab a few pieces of fruit or vegetables and snack on them throughout the day.
You can also keep containers of prepped veggies in the fridge so they're easy to grab on busy mornings.
Some good ideas for prepped veggies are Coleslaw, shredded carrots, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, and baby spinach leaves.
Make veggie-based soups.
Soups are an awesome way to pack a ton of nutrients into your diet.
If you're trying to cut out animal products, the best thing you can do is make sure that your soups are made with lots of veggies and legumes!
Your body will thank you later.
Incorporate more beans into your meals.
Beans are not only high in protein but also provide tons of fibre and help keep blood sugar levels steady, so it's easier for our bodies to burn fat and build muscle mass.
This makes them an awesome addition to plant-based diets or any healthy lifestyle, really!
Canned beans last for a long time so they won't go bad on you before you have a chance to eat them.
Try zucchini lasagna
Zucchini lasagna is a delicious way to sneak more veggies into your diet.
To make this dish, you'll need a few zucchinis and a jar of pasta sauce.
The reason why it is such a good choice is because zucchini is a low-calorie food and it's also extremely filling.
You can also use different types of sauces like marinara sauce or pesto to change up the flavor.
Making this dish will allow you to enjoy lasagna without all the unnecessary calories found in most pasta recipes!
Another great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet is by hosting a "veggie potluck."
Invite some friends over and ask them to bring healthy dishes made with veggies they've cooked for this event.
This is a fun way to try out new recipes, as well as broaden your plant-based cooking experiences.
It's important to have a positive attitude about your fitness journey, no matter what type of exercise you do or how much weight you lose.
When you're feeling good about yourself, it's easier to stick to your goals and maintain your progress.
Experiment with veggie noodles
Have you tried veggie noodles yet?
They are my new obsession.
You can make zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles or red cabbage noodles with a spiralizer or julienne peeler.
Spiralizers and julienne peelers are fairly inexpensive and last for years if you take care of them properly.
This way, you'll be able to enjoy all the tastiness of pasta without having to worry about gaining weight.
Make a cauliflower pizza crust
Another great food hack for those on a plant-based diet is to make a cauliflower pizza crust.
This is a great way to get your pizza fix without all the carbs and calories that come with traditional pizza crusts.
All you need is some cauliflower, mozzarella cheese, an egg, and some Italian herbs.
You can find more recipes for cauliflower pizza crusts online.
Blend into smoothies
If I'm being completely honest, this won't suit everyone's diet, but it is a good option for those who are in the process of transitioning to a plant-based diet.
You can blend up avocado with blueberries, dark leafy greens, turmeric powder, and some unsweetened almond milk to make an awesome smoothie.
This way you'll be able to get your essential nutrients without compromising on taste!
Add veggies to casseroles
Do you like casseroles? Because if you do, a veggie casserole is ideal for you.
You can add any type of vegetable that you like to a casserole, and it'll be delicious!
This is a great way to pack in as many nutrients as possible into one dish.
Plus, they're really easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for a few days so you can enjoy them later on in the week.
There are endless recipes for plant-based athletes out there, and the ones listed here are just a few suggestions to get you started.
No matter what your diet or fitness level is, remember that progress is progress, and you should be proud of yourself for every step you take along the way!
Experiment with different flavors and spices.
There is nothing more wonderful than experimenting with food! Try out new spices and ingredients like miso paste, vegetable broth powder, curry powders and fresh herbs like basil and cilantro. You will not regret it (and neither will your taste buds!)
Don't be afraid to get creative!
You can also add fruit to your smoothies, spaghetti sauce recipes and vegetable casseroles for a little extra sweetness.
Again, there are so many options out there for plant-based athletes. Just remember that the most important thing is to listen to your body, focus on being healthy and be kind to yourself along the way.
Boost your Self-Confidence
Some things you can do to help boost your self-confidence and keep things in perspective are:
- Write down your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.
- Create a vision board with pictures or quotes that inspire you.
- Start a fitness journal and document your progress (or lack thereof!) on a regular basis.
- Join an online forum or support group for people who are also trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Talk positively to yourself in the mirror every morning (or evening) before you start your day.
These are just a few ideas, but the bottom line is that it's important to have a healthy mind and body if you want to see long-term success with your fitness journey.
Is a plant-based diet healthy?
This all depends on what type of plant-based diet you're following.
Some allow the consumption of certain animal products, such as meat and dairy, while others don't.
For example, a paleo diet is very high in protein and focuses on clean eating only - meaning that any processed foods need to be eliminated from your plate.
A pescetarian or "pesce" diet is just like a vegetarian diet but also includes fish and seafood. This means that it can vary widely depending on what you're looking for specifically.
Can I still lose weight with a plant-based diet?
Absolutely! Some athletes are actually able to maintain their weight more easily because they are not restricting themselves from certain food groups or super-sizing their portions.
A plant-based diet is naturally lower in fat, salt and sugar than a standard British diet that usually relies on animal proteins for sustenance.
It's important to note that just because you are avoiding meat doesn't mean you have to give up all your favorite fatty dishes.
You can keep things interesting by experimenting with hummus spreads instead of butter, oil-free stir fry, or baked goods made without any dairy products.
Do I need protein supplements to stay healthy?
This is another case where it depends on the type of plant-based diet you're following.
Some athletes choose not to use any supplements at all while others supplement their diets with hemp seeds, beans, grains, and even vegan-friendly protein powders.
Make sure to do your research and speak with a nutritionist if you have any concerns about your diet or need help creating a balanced meal plan.
Can I still go to the gym if I'm eating plant-based?
Of course! In fact, many plant-based athletes swear by Crossfit, yoga, and running as their chosen form of exercise.
It's important to find an activity that you really enjoy and stick with it - whether that means going to the gym every day or taking long walks outdoors on the weekends.
Remember, fitness is about being healthy and feeling good, not about looking like a model or having washboard abs.
Can you workout on a plant-based diet?
The good news is that going vegan doesn't prevent you from building muscle or performing at a high level when it comes to your workout.
A well-balanced plant-based diet, like the one described in this book, can give you the energy and nutrients you need for effective training as well as muscular growth.
The only thing to be aware of is that you may need to consume slightly more protein than the average person if you're working out regularly, as this helps to rebuild muscle tissue.
Can I follow a plant-based diet and still eat junk food?
While it's definitely possible to follow a plant-based diet while eating junk food, this isn't the healthiest or most sustainable way to live.
A vegan diet should be based on whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts in order to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs.
Are eggs part of a plant-based diet?
Anyone who follows a vegan diet does not ingest any animal products, such as dairy, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or honey. If they do, they are likely vegetarian and not following a true vegan diet.
Can I be a vegan bodybuilder?
There are many successful vegan bodybuilders out there, and it is definitely possible to achieve great results on a plant-based diet. However, as with any type of fitness journey, it's important to listen to your body and find what works best for you. There is no "one size fits all" approach when it comes to diet and fitness.
What are some good snacks for people who are on a plant-based diet?
Some good snacks for people who are on a plant-based diet include:
- Fresh fruit or vegetables.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Jerky or other meatless snacks.
- Peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches.
- Trail mix.
- Fruit smoothies.
- hummus and vegetables.
There are plenty of options out there, so don't be afraid to get creative!
Experiment with new recipes and find what works best for you.
You'll soon discover that plant-based snacking can be just as delicious (and satisfying) as anything else.
What are the negatives of a plant-based diet?
As you can appreciate, there are a lot of positives to a plant-based diet. However, there are also some negatives associated with this way of eating.
For example, it can be more expensive to eat a plant-based diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables. This is because produce tends to cost more than food that was raised on a factory farm and pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones (i.e., the traditional Western diet).
Also, even though there are plenty of ways to ensure you're getting enough protein on a vegan diet, some people still claim it's not possible without meat or dairy products (which isn't true)…
To get around this, try introducing new sources of protein into your daily routine so you don't get sick of eating the same thing all the time.
Some great options include:
- Pumpkin seeds.
- Sesame seeds.
- Sunflower seeds.
Going vegan doesn't have to be extreme – in fact, it can be a lot of fun to experiment with new recipes and find out what works best for you and your body.
Just remember to stay positive, focus on being healthy, and be kind to yourself along the way!
Can you work out and maintain a plant-based diet? The answer is yes!
There are many ways to make sure that you're getting the nutrients you need while still enjoying all the benefits of a plant-based diet.
From adding veggies to casseroles to blending them into smoothies, there are plenty of recipes that will suit your needs. You can also try out new spices and flavors to keep things interesting.
Just remember to be kind to yourself and focus on progress, not perfection.