If you're doing Veganuary this year, you might have all kinds of questions about how it affects your nutrition. Luckily, we have all the answers! Read on for expert vegan nutrition advice for runners
Last year, over half a million people signed up to Veganuary, the annual initiative that encourages people to try going vegan for the first month of the year, and sources say many more are expected in 2022.
Looking for more vegan tips? Try our guide to going vegan on a budget!
“Veganuary is a great way to try out a vegan diet and see if it’s for you. A month isn’t a huge commitment; it takes the pressure off and it helps you to make a considered decision as to how you want to eat going forward,” says personal trainer and nutritionist Chloe Bowler.
We runners know that our nutrition is important for our energy and recovery, so if you’re thinking of making the switch, it’s important to know how to eat to best support your running. Read on for our tips…
1. Cook from scratch
If you’re feeling flummoxed about how to liven up plant-based foods, it can be tempting to reach for pre-prepared products that take the faff out of cooking, but do be aware shop-bought vegan meals can still be high in salt, fat and sugar.
“When cutting items out of your diet, I always encourage people to focus on what they can include and add in too. Don’t look for the obvious non-vegan products as they can be high in salt; it’s often better to look for foods that are naturally vegan, rather than look for a ‘faux’ option of a sausage, for instance. The less processed and packaged the food, the healthier it usually is,” says Chloe. She suggests adding flavour to plant foods like lentils and beans with tons of herbs and spices.
2. Replenish lost protein
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients for runners, given its muscle-repairing and renewing properties. There are so many vegan protein powders available nowadays which have an excellent amino acid profile. They are made from pea, brown rice or soy sources so try to experiment with different types to see which ones you digest best.
You can add nut milk, green vegetables like kale or spinach and frozen fruit like banana or berries for an extra nutrient kick. “Protein is important for refuelling, so finding a good source of vegan protein such as nuts and seeds is important and should be incorporated into your meal,” says Chloe. “Carbohydrates in grains will help replace lost energy, and green, leafy vegetables, as well as brightly coloured vegetables, will help replace iron and add antioxidants to help fight inflammation in the body.”
3. Eat a well-rounded diet
Adding variety helps to ensure you don’t miss out on vital nutrients. These include vitamin D which is important for bone health and mood, omega 3 which keeps joints healthy, and iron which helps to provide energy. Add in plenty of legumes, soy, nuts and seeds and vegetables, especially the dark green leafy types, and colourful fruits for added vegan va-va-voom.
Words: Louise Pyne