Plant-based food sources are the most important part of the diet of a vegetarian athlete. This article enlists the essential foods that should be incorporated in a vegetarian athlete's diet in order to fulfill the nutritional requirements.
Athletes require a tough physique for sporting moves. It’s a myth that people who consume non-veg foods are much stronger than vegans. A vegetarian diet is all about eating healthy food from plant origin or dairy-based products (in some cases). The food is highly rich in nutrients and essential for nurturing a strong body. The diet is mainly rich in carbohydrates. Proteins and fats are vital for carrying out proper metabolism. Vegetables are also rich in vitamins and minerals, that act as co-factors for a variety of enzymatic reactions going inside the body.
There are a number of world-class athletes, who survive healthily on a vegetarian diet. It helps them to remain active and maintain agility. The plant-based endurance diet, excludes every type of non-veg stuff. Consumption of raw vegetables is the best way to gift body the natural reserves of protein. Well, the switch over to a vegetarian diet should not be random.
The body should be allowed to get accustomed to the new diet plan. Many adjustments are required to get used to this diet. The diet must contain the meal plans as well as the intervals should be properly planned between each meal. One may follow a rotatory diet plan instead of sticking to the same diet chart.
The Components of the Diet
One should know the benefits of vegetarianism, before trying it out. A vegetarian has a higher life expectancy than a non-vegetarian. The organic sources of foods have a safe level of carbohydrates and fats. The diet requirements have been elaborated below.
Carbohydrates are the main energy reserves of body. An athlete cannot gain energy and strength without consumption of adequate amount of carbohydrates. The body should receive about 50-60% of carbohydrates from natural sources. This implies consumption of foods rich in simple carbohydrates. Rice powder, whole wheat bread, multi grain bread, potatoes, grains, lentils, pasta, cornstarch, etc., are rich sources of carbohydrates. Two vegetable burgers everyday can definitely fulfill the carbohydrate needs of the body.
Vegetable oils are a rich source of fats. They contain unsaturated fatty acids that can be degraded by enzymes easily. Organic sources of fats do not contain saturated fatty acids or cholesterol. Foods containing high amount of fats are sunflower oil, safflower oil, olive oil, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, etc. It’s highly recommended for athletes to consume a plenty of dairy-based products that are rich in fats, which includes butter and cheese. About 20-30% of foods consumed should contain fats, as fats act as stored energy reserves inside the body.
Amino acids are known as the building blocks of the body, as proteins are synthesized from these acids. Dairy products contain high amounts of proteins. Milk and eggs should occupy a greater place in the diet chart of a vegetarian (ovo-lacto vegetarian diet also includes eggs). 10-15% of the diet should be protein. However, the vegan diet for athletes excludes animal-based dairy products. They can consume egg-free protein powders, whey proteins, tofu, coconut milk, and soy milk. Soy beans, lentils, almonds, nuts, are rich sources of proteins.
Vitamins and Minerals
Worth a mention, these micro and macro nutrients are quintessential for a body to perform all vital metabolic functions. Elements like phosphorous, calcium, iron, and magnesium are required for formation of bones and to improve muscle strength. Foods rich in multiple vitamins are banana, apples, carrots, broccoli, spinach, beans, cabbage, etc. Cereals like corn, barley, etc., contain high amount of proteins and fibers. A plate of salad and assorted foods is also important for a vegetarian diet.
The natural source of nutrients, not only strengthens your body, but also boosts your immune system and helps in keeping illnesses at bay, which may otherwise become an impediment in your sports workout.