Many people might assume that those eating a vegan diet aren’t able to get high-quality proteins and iron, given the absence of meat and other animal-based proteins. This is a fear that has been put to rest years ago, thanks to the fact that we know our bodies can use all types of protein to give us what we need to help us stay healthy. We also know that iron, whether heme or non-heme, can both be used by the body effectively to help us get enough nutrition to support our blood, oxygen production, and metabolism. Because a plant-based diet is naturally rich in vitamin C, it also automatically improves iron uptake. Most plant-based foods also contain either vitamin C, iron, protein, or a combination of those nutrients for even more benefits.
But nutrients aside, there are other ways to eat a vegan, whole foods plant-based diet to provide you with enough strength and stamina you need to stay healthy and energized. You won’t find these tips on a nutrition panel, but they are some you should always keep in mind when choosing your meals and snacks.
Follow these simple, no-fail tips for success:
If you’ve ever been on a no-carb, no fat, or low protein diet, you know it doesn’t work too well for long. Low energy, moodiness, poor digestion, and even sickness can all occur when the body doesn’t get what it needs. So be sure you don’t cut out food groups. If you need to eat a lower-carb diet to benefit your glycemic index or manage diabetes, you should still include some healthy carbs in your diet such as a variety of vegetables, nuts and seeds, and/or beans and legumes along with non-starchy veggies and leafy greens. If you eat a lower-fat diet, then you’ll want to be sure to consume at least a little healthy fats from a smaller dose of nuts, seeds, and fruits like avocados and coconut. If you’re concerned with eating too much protein, don’t be. It’s very hard to overdose on protein from whole, plant-based foods. One, because they’re so filling, and two, because they’re not related to problems associated with high amounts of animal-based protein intake. Cutting out food groups is like cutting the energy stores on your body. Eat a well-balanced diet, rich in whole foods as the basis for an energized, healthy life.
Processed foods are also naturally less energizing than whole foods, even if they’re healthier forms than standard chips and cookies. You needn’t get rid of all processed foods like almond milk, hummus, etc., but should avoid those with refined sugars, refined grains, fillers, and emulsifiers. Do your best to choose more whole foods at every meal and snack. Doing this will naturally crowd out the bad stuff, keep you strong, and give your body the energy that it desires from whole, plant-based foods. See our tips to make clean eating more doable if you need some help with this.
Next, don’t see a plant-based diet as a “diet” or form of cutting calories. Eating plant-based foods naturally sets you up for a longer lifespan, a smaller waistline, and a lower risk of disease. There’s no need to go hungry to help get you there. If you feel hungry, have a small meal or snack. A good way to ensure you get a balance of nutrients at each meal is to include a little carbs, fat, and protein at each meal. This might include oatmeal with a teaspoon of almond butter and chia seeds with berries for breakfast, a green smoothie with avocado, coconut, hemp, and berries for lunch, and dinner might be a tasty bowl of quinoa or roasted sweet potatoes with lentils, kale, and sauteed onions and garlic. Snacks might be something like a few almonds, pumpkin seeds, or cashews with 1-2 dates, dried figs, or a whole orange or apple. Easy, delicious, and nothing you’ll see in a typical diet book!
4. Focus on Nutrient-Dense Foods
To increase your stamina, energy, and strength, focus on super nutrient-dense foods. This includes proteins like beans, hemp seeds, lentils, quinoa, green peas, leafy greens, broccoli, and some superfoods like chia and spirulina. Next, focus on foods that have high amounts of iron like hemp, cacao, beans, legumes, leafy greens, and chia seeds. Healthy fats should come from olives, nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconut, which all offer better benefits than animal-based sources. Don’t forget complex carbs from root vegetables, berries, apples, bananas, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes, and then be sure to get plenty of anti-inflammatory sources of vitamins and minerals from leafy greens, green vegetables, herbs, spices, and superfoods. All of these foods give your body prime sources of energy because they’re like immediate nourishment to your cells. Enjoy them often and be sure to add them to each meal. Here’s a list of 20 everyday superfoods to print out and take to the store to get you started.
5. Stay Active
A healthy diet is 80 percent of maintaining a healthy physique, but you can’t ignore the benefits of staying active and exercising either. You should be sure to stand and move as much during the day as possible, maintain a regular strength-training program a few days a week, and be sure to do cardio 4-5 days a week to improve your overall endurance and take care of your heart. Yoga and HIIT (high-intensity training) are also incredible for boosting your overall health and athletic performance. See how to eat a diet that supports your yoga practice here, how to support your energy pre workout and post-workout, what foods help prevent inflammation, and check out more tips for building muscles on a plant-based diet with these tips and tricks!
Remember that a plant-based, vegan diet is anything but restrictive. Of all the wonderful foods in the plant-based kingdom, there are more than enough strengthening and stamina-building sources of nutrients.
Do you have any tips for staying energized, strong and healthy on a plant-based diet?
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