Healthy Lifestyle

The vegan diet and physical exercise

The popularity of the vegan diet is growing steadily, although there is no shortage of opponents. It is accused of causing a shortage of many nutrients.

However, it is enough to balance it well, and it can bring a lot of benefits to the body, e.g. in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, cardiology or treatment of obesity. And how does veganism contribute to physical activity and can it go hand in hand with sport?

Veganism is a diet that excludes all animal products (meat, offal and products thereof, fish, seafood, lard, tallow, blood) and animal products (milk and milk products, eggs and honey) from the menu.

Vegetable products such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, bread, whole grain products and legumes, vegetable fats (oils and margarines), as well as fermented soya products are eaten exclusively by veggie.

A vegan diet can be a fully nutritious diet – knowledge of food composition is crucial in this respect. Unfortunately, in practice, people who start their adventure with a meat-free diet make a lot of mistakes, which does not give them the opportunity to take full advantage of the benefits of a plant diet.

Veganism and nutrients

The problem vegans face is the protein balance. Since the human body needs a building material, this is an extremely important aspect, especially for trainers.

People on a traditional diet usually have no problem with its supply – because protein is found in meat as well as in other zoonotic products such as eggs or quark. Vegans, on the other hand, have to find a different vegetable alternative for themselves.

The proteins needed to supplement the daily ration are obtained from pods (beans, soya beans) and fermented soya products such as miso, natto and tofu. Bean flour as an addition to soups, sauces or cakes may also be a partial complement to the balance sheet.

Vegetable products generally contain no fats (with a few exceptions), so a vegan diet carries the risk of providing the body with insufficient amounts of fats. The solution is to include in meals ingredients that contain fat – avocado, olives, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.

The vegan diet is rich in carbohydrates found in dry pulses, vegetables, fruits and unprocessed cereal products.

Risk of shortages

Vega-beginners, especially beginners, who actively participate in recreational sports, complain about discomfort, especially with regard to regeneration. This is due to a lack of proteins (proteins). This is why you should consume high-protein products – protein cocktails (based on plant proteins) after training. In addition, it is necessary to supplement glycogen in muscles, which can be obtained while consuming foods with a high glycemic index and quickly assimilable carbohydrates, e.g. in fruit.

It should not be forgotten that legumes are rich in insoluble fibre. This one, after swelling in the digestive tract, fills the stomach and gives a longer feeling of satiety (hence the recommendation to take appropriate amounts of liquids).

However, you should not start training feeling fully saturated, as this will cause food ailments (flatulence, diarrhea, nausea). Before training, a dose of carbohydrates is delivered to the body by consuming food with a lower fibre content, e.g. rice, pasta or buckwheat groats, and by giving up oat, lentils and beans as well as wholegrain bread.

Vegan athletes also complain about notorious stiffness and muscle contractions. These are symptoms of sodium and calcium deficiency. These elements occur in meat, milk and their products.

Vegan can supplement the sodium level with products containing it – mainly wheat, rye and corn flakes. Calcium can be regulated by e.g. sesame seeds, added to salads or breadcrumbs in soya chops.

In addition, calcium is found in legumes and green vegetables: broccoli, kale, cabbage. Spinach and rocket also contain calcium, but apart from it also oxalates, which make it difficult to absorb.

Meanwhile, a “catalyst” is needed, thanks to which calcium will be better assimilated. It is vitamin D. The vegans will find it in sunflower sprouts and oils, the richest source of which is linseed oil. It should only be eaten raw, so it can be an excellent addition to salads.

While it is quite easy to replenish sodium and calcium deficiency, it is more difficult to maintain and replenish iron levels in the blood. Insufficient iron leads to anaemia, which causes a feeling of constant fatigue, lack of energy, and advanced anaemia is a threat to life. Low iron level is difficult to equalize. Leguminous plants and nuts come to your aid again.

Note: Iron-containing products should be combined with products containing vitamin C. It increases the absorption of iron, which can be very important for women who suffer from heavy periods. Most vitamin C is found in vegetables and fruits, herbs and fermented soya products (tofu, miso, tempeh sauce).

Do not drink coffee or tea. Caffeine contained in coffee reduces the level of absorbed iron by 40 percent, and in tea by as much as 60 percent. Therefore, one should not drink coffee or tea 1.5 hours before and after a meal. However, it is not necessary to completely give up these drinks, as they do not “rinse” iron out of the body.

Known vegans

Contrary to the common belief that professional athletes have to eat meat because it is the only way to “give strength”, there are well-known athletes who use vegan lifestyles and achieve excellent results. Examples are the American tennis players Serena and Venus Williams, or the former boxer Mike Tyson.

Among the artists, Bruce Springsteen is a vegan – and he is no longer young – he will soon celebrate his 70th birthday, and still looks great and gives very long (more than four-hour) concerts. So we can say that veganism is not an obstacle to an active lifestyle, as long as the diet is properly balanced and well tolerated by the body.

It is also worth noting that the vegan diet is environmentally friendly. WorldWatch Institute 1 conducts research on the impact of animal husbandry and the consumption of animal products on the environment, including climate change. Consumption of these products contributes to the emission of more than half of the volume of greenhouse gases produced by humans. So, the more vegans, the healthier our planet!