Plant Based Healthy Meal Plan with Benefits

SEP 1, 2020 · BY THE TRAININGMEALS NUTRITION TEAM

You are an endurance athlete and would like to switch to a plant-based diet? There are numerous benefits of having a plant-based healthy meal plan.

Plant Based healthy Meal Plan with Benefits

Plant-based diet benefits. An option for endurance athletes?

You are an endurance athlete and would like to switch to a plant-based diet? No problem, we at traininmeals.org can make that transition smooth with a carefully created healthy meal plan with a grocery list to keep your energy levels high and ease the post-workout muscle recovery.

Many endurance athletes are still not convinced that a plant-based diet can improve their performance thinking that it could reduce their muscle mass and energy levels. A plant-based diet and endurance training can go hand in hand, and several scientific studies confirm this.

Can I get enough proteins from a plant-based diet?

This question is the main worry of many endurance athletes that would like to switch to a plant-based diet. So let's see what the science says about it. Well, proteins serve as a substrate for exercise performance, and their role in the endurance athlete's diet is many-sided. Your protein intake should be higher than in average person, but you should know that different plant-based foods can provide all the amino acids you need for effective performance. The focus should be on the quantity and the quality of the proteins consumed, as plant-based protein sources are often incomplete. As they singularly contain limiting amino acids, it is crucial to consume a wide variety of plant protein sources to overcome this limit. For example, lysine seems to be the most commonly absent amino acid in most plant foods, but legumes and beans are an excellent lysine source. Same as for other amino acids like methionine, threonine, and isoleucine. So these amino acids can be obtained only by consuming a wide variety of protein-rich plant-based foods. You should include foods like seeds, nuts, legumes, and grains as it is the only way to ensure that all the essential amino acids will be present in your diet, and your body won't lack those that are crucial for the recovery phase.

When defining your plant-based diet, you should pay attention and calculate your calorie needs, as plants have a low-calorie density. So, you must learn to eat more often (3 meals and 2 snacks) and concentrate on plant foods rich in calories like nuts, dried fruit, cereals, legumes, and seeds. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends at least 1.3 g/kg of proteins a day for endurance athletes. If you exercise every day for several hours, the daily protein intake should be around 1.7 g/kg.

What about carbohydrates?

When it comes to carbohydrates (your primary energy source), with a plant-based diet, it is easy to obtain a sufficient intake, so the focus should be on protein and fiber consumption. For example, consuming more legumes, beans, tubers, etc. will satisfy your protein and carbohydrate needs, but these foods are also high in fiber. Keep in mind that non-digestible carbohydrates (fibers) provide volume and cannot be broken down and absorbed by your digestive tract. Fibers also promote early satiation, so for the athletes that need to achieve sufficient protein intake, eating more fiber-rich foods may seem quite a challenge. Meals created for endurance athletes who follow a plant-based diet, if high in carbohydrates, need to contain low-fiber foods while ensuring an adequate level of micronutrients. Simple tricks like removing the skin from root vegetables and tubers help reduce the fiber intake, without significantly lowering carbohydrate levels.

Are there health downsides to a plant-based diet?

There are very few downsides to a plant-based diet if appropriately planned. Several studies demonstrated that endurance athletes are at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, and the main reason is unhealthy eating habits. A study "Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports" reviewed the ability of a plant-based diet to reduce cardiovascular conditions in endurance athletes. According to this study, a plant-based diet has beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors, and it also provides performance advantages. As an endurance athlete on a plant-based diet, you should concentrate on eating more calories by consuming foods low in fiber and high in protein. You should also pay attention to your iron, calcium, and vitamin B12 intake. For example, vitamin B12 is not present in plant foods, but foods like nutritional yeast, soy milk, cereals, etc. contain the amounts you need. This is precisely why we can help you out, as all the meals are personalized and carefully created in your endurance training nutrition plan for you to get all the nutrients you need.

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