Alright ladies, listen up! If you’re an athlete, a gym rat, or just a bonafide yogi, chances are you need a little extra get up and go to support your active lifestyle and rockin’ body, right? Anyone serious about their health and performance knows the importance of nutrition for overall excellence. You can pump weights, run 10 miles, and do yoga until your joints become as flexible as rubberbands but without proper nutrition, you’ll only get so far.
Myths About Athletic Performance and Nutrition
We were once told that skinless chicken breasts, brown rice and broccoli or egg whites with nonfat yogurt were “clean” athletic foods that could support a lean body. Meals of canned tuna and diced celery with lettuce are still eaten in suffering by many athletes and dieters thinking those foods are the best option. Well, that’s not entirely wrong. The brown rice, broccoli, celery, and lettuce are all pretty good for you, stellar even. But the other foods? Not so much.
Why Plant-Based Nutrition Improves Health and Performance
Animal-based foods contain very inflammatory sources of fats and proteins. When you think about it, at the heart of our food lies what we end up becoming. Food is just language to our bodies’ cells. Cells are pathways of communication that control everything from our metabolism to our brain function. They do it all. What are we telling them to become?
Athletes or active individuals need high-quality sources of nutrition, not inflammatory-promoting foods or foods with cholesterol, toxins, and contaminants from animals. Because these foods are so highly processed, we can never really be sure what happens behind the scenes of their production, no matter what marketing hypes may tell us or what sports performance magazines may promote. Ignore the advertisements for whey protein and Greek yogurt and go plant-based for performance instead. These foods provide raw, living nutrients your cells easily recognize and can process into energy, along with care for your muscles, heart, and overall body.
The Plant-Power Female Athlete’s Needs
Women need specific amounts of carbs, fats, and protein to thrive, nutritionally speaking. These macro-nutrients should come from clean, plant-based foods and should be eaten at each meal. This balance will provide the body with fuel for performance and speed up recovery, muscle growth, and repair. It will also prevent any nutritional shortages that can hinder performance.
Ladies, don’t diet. Reducing calories to lower levels than your body needs won’t only shortchange your active lifestyle but also your long-term health. Let’s ditch the dieting and wasting your money on pricey yogurts and whey-based protein shakes.
Follow this satisfying, healthy whole food meal plan for female vegan athletes instead:
The Female Vegan Athlete’s Plate:
Three Macronutrient Ratios Choices: (Choose One Depending on Your Nutritional Preferences)
- (A) 30% Protein, 50% Carbs, and 20% Fats
- (B) 40% Protein, 50% Carbs, and 10% Fats or
- (C) 40% Protein, 40% Carbs, and 20% Fats
Water with lemon juice (decreases morning inflammation and increases energy) or a green juice made with kale, lemon, ginger, green apple, and cucumber (also decreases inflammation and provides vitamins and minerals)
Breakfast Choices (pre or post-workout):
- a bowl of steel cut or rolled oats (1/3-1/2 cup) mixed with 1/2-1 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk and water, with 1/2 sliced banana or 1/2 a sliced apple, 1-2 tbsp. chia seeds and/or 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds, berries of choice, and stevia if needed
- a green smoothie with spinach or kale, acai berry puree, cranberries,blueberries and/or banana, a whole foods vegan protein powder, unsweetened non-dairy milk, and coconut yogurt or raw almond butter
- chia pudding topped with fruit of choice and sliced almonds
- steamed quinoa with 1/4 avocado sliced, 3 ounces grilled or sauteed savory tofu or tempeh, kale, and matchstick carrots
- quinoa or wild rice cooked with unsweetened nondairy milk, berries, and ground flax; add some almonds for more protein and fats if desired
- a baked sweet potato with salsa, kale, and tahini; one cup of plain soy yogurt with chia seeds on the side for protein
- tahini spread over sprouted grain cinnamon raisin bread with an apple or orange on the side
- coffee or chai, green, or herbal tea (nix the sugar and use stevia and non-dairy milk instead of cream)
Morning Snack Ideas (if needed)
- 15-20 raw almonds with celery, red bell peppers, and raw carrots
- an orange or apple with 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/3 cup raw superfood trail mix made with raw almonds, coconut flakes, mulberries or goji berries, Brazil nuts, and walnuts
- a soy, coconut, or almond milk-based yogurt (choose unsweetened) with some flax and berries
- a green juice
- 1 large salad with romaine, shredded kale, matchstick carrots, 2-3 tbsp. hummus, sliced red bell peppers, roasted sweet potato or roasted squash cubes, 1/4 cup each of edamame, lentils or black beans, 1/4 cup cubed avocado and a lemon/mustard/tahini based dressing
- 1 large salad with kale, romaine, arugula, or spring greens with cucumber, raw olives or avocado (1/4 cup), carrots, peppers, celery, chickpeas, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, dried raisins or strawberries, and a vinaigrette dressing
- seared tofu with roasted butternut squash, steamed kale or spinach, and fresh sliced tomatoes
- Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sandwich with an orange or apple on the side
- a sandwich made from sprouted grain bread, raw almond butter, fresh sliced strawberries or bananas, and a container of soy yogurt (unsweetened) on the side with cinnamon and chia or flax seeds
- a bowl of oatmeal or steamed quinoa (see breakfast recipe suggestions)
- a bowl of vegan chili topped with avocado slices
- a simple bowl of lentils, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and kale
- a simple bowl of brown or wild rice, broccoli, butternut squash, and tempeh
- a black bean wrap with tomatoes, corn, avocado and other veggies of choice
- water to drink ( hydration is key for athletes)
Afternoon Snack Ideas (if necessary, especially if workouts are in the afternoon):
- 1 orange with raw trail mix or raw nuts and seeds
- 1 green apple with 2 tablespoons raw almond butter
- green juice
- a bowl of berries with some soy yogurt or coconut yogurt (unsweetened)
- a post-workout smoothie
- a banana with a tablespoon or two of raw cashew butter
- vegan protein pancakes
- protein pudding made with a vegan protein powder, coconut flour, stevia, vanilla extract, and fresh blueberries (stir with almond milk into a pudding)
- raw energy bites
- a Larabar or other raw fruit and nut bar of choice
- celery, red bell pepper slices, raw carrots, and raw cukes (good for mid-day munchies, not as post-workout fuel)
- water, water, water (and herbal tea or green tea if needed)
Dinner Ideas (emphasize protein at dinner for overnight recovery):
Any of the lunch ideas above or :
- tempeh with sauteed carrots, spinach, and mushrooms
- a Buddha bowl made with black rice or teff, sesame seeds, avocado slices, broccoli, cauliflower, roasted butternut or zucchini squash, lemon juice to sweeten, black pepper and spices, edamame or chickpeas
- breakfast for dinner such as soaked oats with chia seeds, coconut yogurt, and a scoop of vegan vanilla protein powder added, berries or pumpkin added, and cinnamon and stevia to sweeten
- stuffed wrap with quinoa, carrots, 1/4 an avocado, chickpeas, and tofu if desired (add tahini for more fat and protein if you want.)
- quinoa with black beans, salsa, sweet potatoes, and kale or spinach
- vegan chili or a bean-based stew
- marinated kale salad made with kale, lemon juice, mashed avocado, seasonings of choice, cubed sweet potatoes, and either tofu, tempeh,edamame, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, or quinoa for protein
- water, tea, or decaf coffee to drink
Nighttime Snacks (only if hungry, at least two hours before bed)
- berries with non-dairy yogurt
- chia pudding made with chia, non-dairy milk, stevia, cinnamon, and coconut flour to thicken
- a square of 80% or higher cacao content dark chocolate with an orange
- an apple with raw almond butter
- pumpkin protein yogurt made with vanilla vegan protein powder, canned pumpkin, stevia, pumpkin pie spice, and non-dairy milk
- 1/3 cup homemade vegan granola with unsweetened non-dairy milk to eat like a cereal
- healthy oatmeal cookies (2)
- glass of water before bed or a small glass of non-dairy unsweetened milk for extra calcium
The Last Little Dish for Plant-Based Ladies:
As you can see, female vegan athletes get to eat a variety of healthy, plant-based dishes of their choosing all day long- not suffer in silence through dieting or deprivation of energizing carbs or fats. Be sure to include all three fats, carbs, and protein at each of your meals and find what ratio of carbs to fats to proteins work for you.
If you’re a female vegan athlete, feel free to share what you eat each day for optimal energy, performance, and recovery!
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