We have seen recent rise in popularity for plant-based diets not only for the general population
but also among athletes.

The decision to make the switch to vegetarianism, veganism or to simply incorporating more plant-based foods in your meals can be for a variety of reasons: an underlying health condition (I.e. heart disease, diabetes), ethical and/or environmental values, or because you watched a compelling documentary on Netflix. Whatever the reason, there are some important nutritional considerations to be aware of when limiting or restricting animal products from your diet.

Energy Requirements

Athletes with heavy training/competition loads, or those who are undergoing growth and development, may find it more difficult to meet their high energy demands when following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet1. This is largely due to the high fibre content in plant-based foods (i.e., beans, nuts and seeds) resulting in an increased feeling of fullness and a slower digestion rate leading to a possible risk of gastrointestinal (GI) upset with training.

If energy needs are high, energy-dense, low-bulk foods are recommended for incorporation into meals and snacks. Here are some examples:

  • Meat alternatives (I.e. veggie burgers/dogs), textured vegetable protein (TVP), tempeh, tofu, oils, nuts and nut butter
  • Fruit juices, dried fruits, honey, jams
  • Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt (Lacto-ovo-vegetarian athletes)
  • Protein/carbohydrate liquid meal supplement if GI upset with training is a commonoccurrence