Most people believe that you cannot be vegan and a strong athlete at the same time. This is mostly because vegans have very few quality protein sources and too many carb options. Veganism might often be equated with healthy eating, but this is not always the case. It’s very easy to make bad eating choices that are completely vegan, but aren’t doing your body any favors. If you’re a runner, you need food that will help build and repair your muscles, give you the energy you need to complete a run and enough calories so you won’t pass out mid-run.
What Kind Of Food Do You Need To Eat?
For a long time, people accepted that athletes need to eat a high-carb diet to help them get through their vigorous exercises. For long distance runners and marathoners especially, carbs were believed to be the most important food group as it acted as fuel for the body. However, recent studies have shown that endurance trainers actually do a lot better on a low-carb, high-fat diet. By depriving the body of external sources of fuel, you’re forcing it to use its own sources of energy, usually stored as fat. This prevents you from getting exhausted mid-run and collapsing. Carbs on the other hand (especially refined carbs which most athletes tend to prefer) might give you a quick spurt of energy, but then brings your energy levels crashing down soon after.
Pre-Run Vegan Snack Ideas
Smoothies are great options for athletes because they require minimal preparation time and are easy to consume. You can even make individual batches of smoothies in advance and drink up right before you need to run. Add protein powder, greens and fruits for a smoothie that will give you plenty of energy. However it’s best to drink this smoothie at least half an hour before you go on a run. Sometimes, running after you’ve had something liquid can make you throw up.
2. Nut Butter
If you’re vegan, you probably already have a stack of nut butters lying in your kitchen cabinet. Nut butters are the perfect vegan pre-workout food as they’re high in protein and healthy fat. You just need to eat one spoon of your favorite nut butter right before you run. Some nut butters even come in individual sachets, so you can carry them and eat from them whenever you need a boost of energy mid-run.
Bananas are high in potassium, a mineral which your body loses when you sweat. They also give you an instant boost of energy right before you run. Eating one medium sized banana can help you prepare for a long run. You can also carry some with you while you run in case you feel like your energy levels are dipping. They’re almost as effective as energy drinks and definitely a lot healthier.
Oatmeal is an excellent pre-run food because it helps you feel full and keeps your energy levels high. Oatmeal is a whole grain so it gives your body a steady supply of energy instead of spiking it up and bringing it abruptly back down again. Beta-glucan fiber in oatmeal also helps you feel full for much longer, so you won’t be distracted by a growling stomach while you run. Make oatmeal with fortified nut milk for a healthy vegan energy food. You can also soak oatmeal with nut milk in individual jars so you can grab them on the go whenever you need to.
5. Date Muffins
Find a health food bakery that stocks bran or oatmeal date muffins. If none of the bakeries around you have this, you can make them yourself over a weekend so you have enough to get you through the week. Dates are a great source of energy and they contain high amounts of iron. Bran and oatmeal are whole grains which will keep your energy levels steady. You can even eat them with a spoonful of nut butter for extra energy and protein.