Vegans often get a lot of heat for their dietary choices. But the plant consumption path has proven time and time again to be a perfectly viable and healthy choice of diet—if you can get the balance right.
Different bodies require different volumes of nutrients to reach peak physical performance. But there are certain supplements that everyone needs to stay healthy.
Protein, vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates are all essential for a strong body and mind, but getting the right intake becomes even more critical when you lead a very active, sports-driven lifestyle. Whereas omnivore athletes get their nutrients from meat, fish, or dairy products, vegans must get more creative about their nutritional sources.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of powerful nutrients in a plant-based diet, some of them may even be more beneficial than their animal-product counterparts. In fact, they may even garner better results than the classical omnivorous diets may accomplish.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most important supplements, nutrients, and food groups necessary for a healthy vegan diet and shed some light on how they can bolster your fitness journey.
Let’s get started!
The word “supplement” gets thrown around a lot these days, but it’s important to clarify what it actually is. Supplements fall into an umbrella category of food products containing essential nutrients and vitamins. People take them to supplement their diet—i.e. reinforce it with vital nutrients to ensure that no deficiencies occur.
Supplements can contain any essential nutrients, but most commonly include:
● Folic acid
● Omega 3 fatty acids
● Vitamins B12, K2, D, and more
Supplements can come in the form of energy bars, capsules, powders, gummies, and drinks. In the context of athleticism or bodybuilding, supplements can play a major role in muscle growth, which is why they have become so popular in the greater fitness community.
Because vegans get all their nutrients from fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, consuming the right quantity of nutrients can require significant research and effort. Plant foods do have everything you need, but the fatty, protein-rich, muscle-growing ones are a little more thinly spread than animal foods.
The consumption of a few small but power-packed vegan supplements, as opposed to the consumption of several large, complex vegan meals, makes vegan health much more affordable and convenient.
However, before you can start diving in to the whirlwind market of vegan sports supplements, it’s important to understand what they contain and why.
When it comes to vegan supplements, there are two main groups that tend to feature more often than others: protein and vitamins. That’s because their benefits are essential, not just for general health, but also for building muscle, endurance, and stamina.
Let’s unpack them and find out what they do, how they work, and why you need them.
The average vegan adult needs between 2 g and 2.5 g of protein for every 100 calories consumed. If you’re following the standard intake of 2,000 – 2,500 calories per day, that means approximately 10% of each meal needs to be protein. Keep in mind that this is the recommended minimum for non-athletes.
Vegans who want to improve their physical performance need to make sure they are consuming considerably more, most likely closer to 5g of protein per 100 calories consumed. Another simple rule of thumb for strength and power athletes is 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight.
Protein is needed for repairing, strengthening, and growing muscles, which is why many athletes consume it both before and after a workout.
Now, there are plenty of ways to consume protein every day. Various beans, soy curls, tofu, tempeh, seitan, various seeds and nuts are just a fraction of the wide range of vegan-friendly protein sources available. However, not everyone has those products on hand, and it can be tricky to hit the high levels of protein required for strength and power athletes. which is where a supplement can come in handy.
If you pick your supplements well, you could meet your entire daily protein count with a single product. It could be a vegan protein bar, a few vegan protein capsules, or a couple of scoops of vegan protein powder in your morning smoothie. Either way, the options are extensive and effective.
Aside from fibre and carbohydrates, much of the human need for consuming fruits and vegetables stems from the need for vitamins. These potent little natural chemicals are absolutely essential for everyday physical and mental functioning, especially if you are very physically active.
Fortunately, vitamins are in just about every fruit and vegetable, and you don’t need a lot of them to meet basic health requirements. However, there are certain vitamins you might need more of if you regularly engage in high-intensity sports. They are:
● Vitamin B12 – mood balance, red blood cell formation, immunity
● Vitamin K2 – anti-inflammatory, heart health, bone strength
● Vitamin D – regulates calcium and phosphate, bone health
● Zinc – growth, immune function, neuron communication
● Iodine – metabolism, skin health, skeletal development
● Omega 3 – cardiovascular health, liver support, brain health
● Folic acid – cell development, memory, mood regulation
● Calcium – muscle contraction, muscle strength, bone health
These powerful super vitamins are in a wide variety of both vegan supplement products and regular plant-based food items. Ingesting them on a daily or twice-weekly basis can support you on your journey to cultivating physical strength, gaining healthy muscle mass, and aiding your body in the hypertrophy process that often accompanies athletic and weightlifting training.
It’s important to note that while all these vitamins are certainly essential for general health, they are not the only ones you need to stay healthy—far from it. The purpose of this list is to highlight the vitamins most commonly added to vegan supplements for their muscle-building and energy-enhancing benefits.
Summary: Stay Healthy With Vegan Sports Supplements
It’s perfectly possible to lead an active, healthy, well-rounded lifestyle while following a vegan diet. All the nutrients and vitamins you need are in the fresh produce around you, and if not, supplements make highly effective and reliable alternatives.
However, there is a fair share of misinformation floating around regarding vegan health requirements, especially in the greater sports and athletic community. If you’re unsure whether you’re getting the right nutrition or if you worry about a potential deficiency, it’s best to speak to your doctor or a qualified nutritionist to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your vegan diet.
1.) Assess your diet and how it makes you feel. If you lack energy or feel lethargic during the day, reassess your eating habits.
2.) Share this article with anyone who follows a vegan lifestyle and works out.
3.) If you need weightlifting coaching, check out what’s on offer here.