Vegetarianism is not a new concept, nevertheless it continues to gain traction as public-health advocates, conservationists and animal-welfare affiliations push for people to eat more plants and fewer animals. (A campaign called meatless Mondays, for instance, is being adopted by towns and restaurants around the planet.) But what does a meatless or reduced-meat diet mean for fitness buffs?
The key isn’t to just remove meat, but to replace it. The biggest mistake folk make when they change up their animal-eating habits is that they’ll go from filling their plate with steak, potatoes and a salad to just potatoes and a salad. You have to think, at least till it becomes second nature, what should I eat to replace what I was getting [nutritionally] from the meat? Then put a giant scoop of beans and rice on your plate. Follow these eating recommendations so your body isn’t asking, wheres the beef?
Do not stint on calories vegetarian diets tend to be high in fiber-rich foods that fill you up without providing much calorific energy. That may be a problem when you’re burning 2,000 calories on a long exercise. Choose some foods that are far more refined and calorie-dense. As an example, if you’re having entire vegetables, select white rice or pasta rather than whole-grain. This’ll help you get the easily accessible energy you need.
Select complete proteins legumes, grains, seeds and nuts are satisfactory sources of protein, but individually they aren’t complete. This means they contain some, although not all, necessary amino acids. To compensate, select plant-protein sources that complement each other. We do this naturally by eating beans and rice, and nut butters and bread. But if you’re doing hard coaching that’s breaking down plenty of muscle, its sensible to eat from a wide selection of these sources to make sure you get all the amino acids you need.
Absorb more iron. The iron in plant foods, such as spinach, swiss chard, nuts and whole grains, is harder for your body to soak up than iron from animal sources. So when veggies become iron deficient its usually because they’re not soaking up it well. There are many tricks that help to make plant iron more accessible. Organic acids, like ascorbic ( vitamin c ) and citric ( in citrus fruits ), significantly improve absorption. Drip citrus vinaigrette on your leafy greens, chase a meal with orange slices and smother your burrito in tomato-rich salsa.
Bulk up on b12. If you eat dairy goods, you needn’t stress about getting plenty of vitamin b12, which is necessary for nerve function ( nerve damage from b12 deficiency is irreversible ) and for your body to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. But if you go vegan, you’ll need to consume a variety of b12-rich foods like fortified whole-grain cereals, textured plant protein and fortified soya milk. Or take a multivitamin.
Consider creatine. Creatine, which is abounding in meat, pork and fish, is needed for building strength and generating power for sprints and climbs. Studies show that creatine stores are lower in the muscles of vegetarians than in nonvegetarians. But research has demonstrated that vegetarians perform just as well as meat-eating sportsmen, and some top class run sportsmen, including Carl Lewis, have competed on meatless diets. If you do sprint-type riding and are concerned that you’re not getting plenty of creatine, you might gain advantage from a supplement. The commended dose is five grams a day.