The pervasive myth of the vegan weakling is slowly disintegrating thanks to the abundance of plant-based athletes that exist nowadays. However, while we know that we can be fit and achieve a great physique as a vegan, the ‘how’ remains elusive if we’re new to the fitness scene. From macros, to meal-timing, to workout styles, starting an exercise regimen can seem daunting with all the — sometimes conflicting — information out there. Even if you’re a seasoned gym-goer, busting out of a plateau can be challenging when you don’t know what you’ve been doing wrong.

Although it is likely a cliché, January has a lot of us committing or re-committing to leading a more active lifestyle. Whether that means running your first 5k or marathon, or simply practicing yoga daily, doing so eating only plants is not only possible but also easier than you’d think. Here are five tips to consider before you hit the gym if you want to crush your fitness goals on a plant-based diet:

1. Get Clear About Your Goals


Whether you want 6-pack abs, to build a bigger booty, or simply to be able to climb stairs without feeling out of breath, know that while these are great aspirations, they aren’t clear goals. A concise goal has to be comprised of three major components — it should be realistic, specific, and have a set deadline. If you’ve been a couch potato for years, running a half-marathon before the month is over is not realistic. However, trying out a couch to 5k program might be. Be real with yourself, and from there, establish what your precise goal is. Running your first 5k in 90 days would be a great example.

Once you have set yourself a clear goal, write it down and plan a list of actionable steps to take to reach it. If we’re sticking to the 5k example, that might be buying new running shoes and clearing out your schedule three times a week to go running with your friends. Whatever your goals are, planning out exactly how you will achieve them is the first and perhaps most important step.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Eatquinoa vegetable soup

Healthy and Satisfying Quinoa Vegetable Soup With Microgreens/One Green Planet

We all know that what’s on our plate has a big impact on our fitness goals, but it’s important to remember that eating too little is not the way to go. Fueling our bodies on a plant-based lifestyle requires us to eat a lot more than we likely did when animal products were part of our diet. That’s because whole plant-foods are naturally low in fat and have a low caloric density. Making sure that your caloric needs are met is paramount to building muscles and having enough energy to power through the toughest workouts.

Not sure what recipes or which foods to eat to keep yourself fueled up? We suggest checking out these Healthy Foods to Fuel Your Workout and The Top 10 Clean Foods to Keep on Hand for Healthy Pre-Workout Eats. Also, check out these 26 Delicious Vegan Sources of Protein (The Ultimate Guide!), and try out These 15 Vegan Entrées That all Have at Least 10 Grams of Plant-Based Protein, these 15 Protein-Packed Vegan Recipes That Feature Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, and More, and these 15 Protein-Rich and Vegan Desserts to Indulge In by downloading the Food Monster App.

3. Get in Touch With Your Needsvegan spanish chickpea and sweet potato stew

Spanish Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew/One Green Planet

While we may all be under the plant-based umbrella, we have different tastes and nutrition needs. A marathon runner and a yoga practitioner don’t need the same amount of food. It’s up to you to decipher what your particular exercise regimen and body needs in term of food calories and the source of calories. Once you’ve mastered the art of eating enough (yes, that’s an art!), fine tuning what eating style fits you best is the second step. That can be eating smaller meals throughout the day, or rather focusing on intermittent fasting, or simply listening to yourself and developing that intuitive eating muscle.

Bottom line is, when it comes to what’s on our plate and what type of exercise we do, any advice only goes so far as what it is we actually need and want! Figuring that out and educating ourselves is paramount to achieving our fitness goals.

Need help in that department? We suggest checking out Eating Plants and Pumping Iron: 3 Tips for Bodybuilding on a Vegan Diet, A Vegan Fitness Trainer’s Perspective on Plant-Based Diets and Performance, and The Best Fitness Aids for Plant-Based Athletes to get valuable info.

4. Keep It Simple

One-Pot Coconut Dal With Spiced Cauliflower/One Green Planet

Once we know what works and doesn’t work for us nutrition-wise, not straying from that becomes the difficult part. Keeping things simple is a good way to stay mindful of our diet so that it fits with our fitness goals. This includes sticking to whole foods that you know you like and prepping your meals in advance. Focusing your diet on basic pantry staples and fast and uncomplicated recipes will save you time and energy that you can instead use to workout.

Need more easy recipes that will help you ‘keep it simple’? We suggest checking out these 5 Healthy Pantry Essentials for Your Workout Routine, these Sample Meal Plans for the Female Vegan Athlete, and these 10 Easy Vegan Recipes Everyone Should Know.

5. Stick to It


This piece of advice may seem self-evident but it’s actually one of the toughest to follow. Once you’ve set your goal, took the necessary steps to start on your fitness journey, and figured out your nutrition plan, you would think that achieving it would be a breeze but it’s not. You get sick or your kids get sick, work demands overflow into your rest time, friends want to go out — life gets in the way and you let it. It happens to the best of us but the important thing to remember is that getting back on track and sticking to your guns (muscles) will overshadow any guilt you feel about losing track in the first place. The key here is not to wallow in self-pity and to keep going to the gym. In the end, sticking to it is the only thing that ever works!

Did you set gym goals for this year? If so, have you taken action and started working out yet? Let us know in the comments!

Recommended Resources and Recipes

Spinach and Rice Protein Balls/One Green Planet

Want more info on nutrition and working out on a plant-based diet? We suggest checking out these articles:

Also, if you’re interested in finding more delicious and healthy recipes that will help you attain your health and fitness goals this year, then we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Lead image source: Shutterstock