12 Fitness and Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Athletes

An athlete can require plenty of diet and exercise training to refine their form and get better at their sport. Some assume going plant-based is a downgrade since you lack meat and its nutritional value. However, there are several benefits to changing to this lifestyle. Follow the fitness and nutrition tips for vegetarian athletes to adopt this way of living. 

Going Vegetarian as an Athlete

Vegetarianism excludes meat, poultry and seafood from one’s diet. There are several subcategories of this lifestyle, but the main gist is to switch to more plant-based meals. Most athletes are omnivorous, but several people have been making the switch. 

For example, star athletes like Kyrie Irving and Alex Morgan have a vegan lifestyle. They find that it helps with their energy level management and workout recovery. These factors contribute to their prowess on their respective courts. 

Outside of being an athlete, going vegetarian can also be great if you want to improve your sustainability. Food production can contribute to many greenhouse gas emissions. People who adopt these plant-based diets can reduce their carbon footprint by over 50% depending on the gravity of the shift. 

Fitness Tips for Vegetarian Athletes

There are many standard ways to manage your health and well-being. This overview will give fitness tips specifically for vegetarian athletes. These steps are also ideal for those who want to test the waters of this lifestyle. 

1. Avoid Overwhelming Your Body

If you’re new to vegetarianism, make a calculated transition with your exercise routine. Some people may not be able to sustain the same intensity right away when they change their diet. Go easy on yourself and cut the routine short if you feel too exhausted. 

You can also shift your routine from the start. Lessen some of your repetitions or swap out exercises for less demanding ones. Once your body adjusts to a plant-based diet, you can slowly work up to the same level.

2. Give Food Time to Digest Before Workouts

Most fruits and vegetables have a lower fiber content. As a result, they are much easier to digest, especially when cooked. While this may give vegetarian athletes some wiggle room to work out more often, that’s not entirely the case. 

Just because plant-based meals are easier to break down doesn’t mean you should exercise right after breakfast, lunch or dinner. As any other diet, give your body the time to process the food before warming up for your fitness routine. 

3. Focus on Muscle Strengthening and Adaptation

Each person’s exercise routine focuses on a specific aspect of their fitness. For instance, some people like to focus on flexibility or mobility. Vegetarian diets are particularly advantageous to endurance performance because of their nutrient composition. 

Withstanding different physical efforts can be a gateway for many fitness abilities. If you want to select a specific element to work on, consider muscle strengthening and adaptation. Muscle strength can improve your lifting capabilities, while muscle adaptation enhances resistance. 

4. Stay Consistent With Your Routine

One of the critical fitness tips for vegetarian athletes is to stay consistent. Conditioning your body to handle intense exercises while on a plant-based diet can take plenty of time and effort. While you can recover your progress if you ever stop, you may face plateaus. Stay on schedule to accomplish your fitness goals. 

5. Maintain Your Body Weight

Most people who get into fitness want to lose weight. However, weight loss can burn off plenty of calories and nutrients. Plant-based diets already have fewer nutrients. Vegetarians are encouraged to get enough vitamin B12, calcium and more.

It’s essential to conserve the resources you get from these meals. Be mindful of your physique and focus only on losing excess weight. It’s even better if you can maintain your current mass with your diet and exercise. 

6. Get Plenty of Sleep

Recovery is an important part of any fitness routine. After working out, allow your body to relax and cool down. You should also focus on getting ample sleep. Vegetarians already sleep about 36 minutes more nightly than the average sleeper. Nevertheless, gauge what you need and meet those necessities. Invest in better sleep habits to let your body recuperate. 

Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Athletes

Diets are a big part of fitness. Going plant-based is a big shift, especially if you’ve been omnivorous. Follow these nutrition tips for vegetarian athletes to know how to approach your sustenance in the long run. 

1. Evaluate Your Vegetarian Diets

While we keep vegetarianism to the definition of a primarily plant-based diet, many subgenres exist to consider. Evaluate your diet to know the nutritional gaps you will have to work around. Here are some examples:

  • Semivegetarians: Semivegetarians focus on plant-based diets while avoiding some animal-derived foods. This community mostly avoids red meat while consuming white meat like chicken and fish. Beef and pork are typically richer in protein quality.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: Ovo-vegetarians eliminate animal-based foods except eggs from their diet. While this poultry option is incredibly versatile, it’s important to seek protein and iron from other food sources. 
  • Lacto-vegetarians: Lacto-vegetarians are similar to ovo-vegetarians in excluding all animal products. However, they make up for the exclusion by incorporating dairy products into their diet. 
  • Pescatarians: Pescatarians or pesco-vegetarians usually eat eggs, dairy and plants. They are also best known for eating fish among the bunch. However, they keep up with the meatless theme by excluding chicken, beef and pork. 
  • Vegans: Veganism is one of the more popular vegetarian categories due to how strict they are in avoiding animal products at all costs. Even food options with animal derivatives like gelatin and yogurt also need to be swapped out. 

2. Add Extra Protein

Protein is one of the main missing ingredients vegetarian athletes must be aware of. Adult women should have five ounces of protein per day while men should have at least five and half. This macronutrient gives plenty of energy and keeps the human body functional. 

Some vegetarians, such as ovo-vegetarians and pescatarians, may get protein from eggs and fish. However, consider plant-based protein foods if you’re on a stricter diet. For example, legumes, spinach, broccoli, and other greens have plenty of protein. 

Vegans love to use lentils and tofu as a stand-in ingredient for meats. You can create stir-fry, veggie patties and so much more. And if you need a crunch, a sprinkling of nuts can make quite a difference. 

3. Consume Calories After Training

Exercise is quite taxing on your body. To help your body recover, have a calorie-heavy meal after training. Most routines can boost metabolism and trigger the afterburn effect. This aftereffect continues to remove calories even after physical activity. 

As vegetarian diets have a limited amount of nutrients and calories, fuel up after exercise to avoid grogginess. Rice, quinoa, oats and sweet potatoes are filling. Consume around an hour after training. 

4. Eat Frequently 

One of the most underrated nutrition tips for vegetarian athletes is to eat as much as possible. It’s recommended to eat at least five to six meals each day on a plant-based diet. You can create your rations in advance by meal-prepping your set. Take them out when you feel hungry or set an alarm to schedule when you will consume them. 

5. Have Nutrient-Packed Beverages

Water is a key ingredient to stay hydrated. Vegetarian athletes should also get more nutrient-packed beverages. For instance, protein shakes can give you a macronutrient fix. There are also electrolyte drinks to give your body sodium and potassium that improve fluid balance throughout the body. 

6. Consult a Doctor for Deficiencies

Seek medical expertise if you feel weary while going on a vegetarian attitude to figure out what you have to adjust. You can take a blood test and get a diagnosis for any nutritional deficiencies you might be suspicious of. 

Stay Healthy as a Vegetarian Athlete

Plant-based diets are rewarding for your health and the planet’s well-being. The process can take some getting used to. That said, the fitness and nutrition tips for vegetarian athletes above should get you acquainted with the lifestyle. 

Beth Rush
Author: Beth Rush

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