Happy Friday, friends!

I’m excited to share this awesome guest post with you today. Our writer today is Di Hickman, vegan personal trainer and duathlete. I connected with Di at BlogFest in July and immediately knew I needed her to write a post for you all.

I’m definitely no expert when it comes to being vegan – besides from a few attempts at being vegetarian (one of them ending in a drunken chicken finger binge), I have been a carnivore my whole life. But despite my love for bacon, I truly believe in the benefits of a plant-based diet, especially when it’s for athletes.

But one thing that has always intimidated me was the amount of planning a healthy vegan diet takes. It’s one thing to just stop eating meat products, but it’s another to ensure you’re still getting all your essential nutrients. So I’m super excited that Di is here to clear the air today! Take it away, Di 😀

endurance athletes

What’s your image of a vegan? I’m guessing it’s not bodybuilders, ultra marathoners or triathletes right? Well long gone are the stereotypical images of vegans as pale, weak, birkenstock wearing hippies (ok maybe on the weekends). Instead it’s athletes in every field.

Looking for vegan endurance athlete inspiration? Check out ultra-runner Scott Jurek, pro triathlete and ultra-runner Brendan Brazier, and ultra-runner Rich Roll. Bodybuilding inspiration? Robert Cheek, Jim Morris or Germany’s strongest man Patrik Baboumian. The William sisters are vegan tennis stars and even Mac Danzig from MMA is vegan. Times are definitely changing!

Firstly a quick 411 on the plant based diet: Vegans don’t eat any animals or animal products. To quickly answer the usual questions I get: No, not chicken, no not fish either, nope no eggs, or dairy and no I don’t miss bacon. I had a lot of things I could have posted about regarding a plant based diet, but hey I only have one guest post so let’s talk tips for endurance athletes on a plant based diet. Ariana’s note – we’d love to have you back for another post, Di 😉

endurance athletes

#WhatVegansEat

 

Eat back the calories – One of the biggest things I see with any athlete transitioning to a plant based diet is that they simply don’t eat enough. Yes you cut meat out of your diet, that’s wonderful, but you need to replace those calories! If you just lost 150 calories per meal from the meat and don’t replace them with plant based foods, then you’ll be around 3500 calories down on the week and still trying to run, bike or swim with the same intensity as before. Eat back those calories!

Eat real food – It’s easy to eat junk, especially as an endurance athlete. With work commitments, family and friends it’s easy to forget about your diet. You manage to set time aside at the weekend for a long 15 mile run and then realise you have NOTHING in the house to eat so you eat junk. Coke and Oreo’s are vegan but I wouldn’t suggest eating them for optimum endurance!

Variety is the spice of life – This one applies to all athletes plant based or not, but eat a variety of foods. Vitamins and minerals are essential for recovery and each food has differing amounts so vary your protein, carb and fat sources to ensure you are getting a good balanced diet. This is especially important for nutrients like essential amino acids, and iron. By varying your diet you ensure that you get all the nutrients you need.

Supplement – When embarking on any major dietary change I’d always advise supplementing until you feel comfortable with your eating plan. For vegans a good thing to take is vitamin B12, in fact it’s a good vitamin for everyone to take vegan or not as B12 deficiencies are rising. It used to be that bacteria made B12, and animals eat the bacteria (soil/dirt on grass pastures). But now all our food is super washed and clean and animals don’t get to graze, or even eat grass! In fact commercial cattle are supplemented with B12 now! Also B12 deficiency can go unnoticed for a long while so supplement!

Give it time – You’re not going to see changes overnight. Stamina won’t increase overnight and you may have some cravings. Just like coffee some animal products are addicting (dairy for example) and you may find some relief in cutting out animal products little by little rather than cold tofurky. Chances are you will want to blame the diet for any ailment that you now notice, however ask yourself: did you eat enough? Are you getting a variety of nutrients from different sources? Have you cut back on your fats? Are you eating junk? Sleeping enough? Or have you simply progressed your training plan too soon? Try not to use the plant based diet as the fall out for poor planning and choices.

and finally…

Bonus tip – You may find you need to eat MORE calories, Why would you need to eat more? Lots of reasons, the biggest = increased fiber intake. That wonderful nutrient that the average person doesn’t get enough of? Well those of us eating plant-based get plenty. Fiber assists in digestion and keeps everything regular, so you might need to increase your total calories the cleaner you eat.

endurance athletes

I can totally get down with vegan pizza!

Have you considered a plant based diet?

Di Hickman is a vegan personal trainer, group fitness instructor, runner and duathlete living in California USA (but originally hails from the UK). Her passion is plant-based health and fitness. She works, both in person and online, coaching clients to reach their fitness and nutrition goals.  As a vegan athlete with a genetic kidney disease she is determined to bust the vegan stereotype, inspire, motivate and educate. Find Di online at

Her blog

Facebook

Twitter 

Instagram

Showing 36 comments
  • Cassi
    Reply

    I don’t like enough fruis & veggies to survive on a plant based diet.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Fair enough! It does help to enjoy those 😉

  • Jen @ pretty little grub
    Reply

    Great post. Vegan diet is definitely a difficult lifestyle to achieve and I love these tips for someone who wants to embark on it because I think so many people do it wrong when they try.

    • Di
      Reply

      Hi Jen
      It’s really not a difficult lifestyle, you just have to decide, educate and commit. For me I’ve been meatfree for over 20 years now and fully vegan for 2 1/2.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I was the epitome of doing vegetarianism wrong haha. I ate things like mozza sticks and jalapeno poppers..and then I started only eating meat that didn’t resemble meat, like pepperoni and deli ham!! So bad.

  • Ivanna
    Reply

    Great info. I tried a vegan diet for awhile and it was good I eventually went back to eating meat and eggs. I still try to use vegan products when I can.

    • Di
      Reply

      Meatless Monday might be an option for you Ivanna! Vegan one day a week – flexitarian lifestyle but going vegan for one day a week certainly has health and environmental benefits!

      • Ariana
        Reply

        Meatless Monday is a great idea! I used to make a point of doing it regularly but have fallen out of it. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Cynthia @craftoflaughter
    Reply

    These are great tips! I try to increase my plant based food intake and reduce my animal based and this gives some guidence

    • Di
      Reply

      You’re welcome Cynthia!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      That’s awesome! I feel like I need all the guidance I can get when it comes to a plant-based lifestyle 😉

  • Nicole @ Fitful Focus
    Reply

    Great advice! I was vegetarian for two years and found it really made me eat more healthfully. Though I’m back to being an omnivore now, I still love my fruits and veggies!
    !

    • Di
      Reply

      Yep Nicole, unfortunately it’s also really easy to be a junk food vegetarian. Pizza is vegetarian, as are oreo’s. The commitment is to health. Which is the main reason I originally went vegetarian.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Two years! Good for you, that’s awesome.

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home
    Reply

    I know that it is possible to get enough protein on a plant based diet, but I do like chicken, eggs, and dairy, and I’m not willing to give that up! Food for thought tho…

    • Di
      Reply

      easily possible! Check out plantbuilt.com for bodybuilders on a vegan diet who are taking on the meat eating sterotype of “where do you get your protein” and “you can’t build muscle as a vegan!”

      • Ariana
        Reply

        I agree. I know the average individual doesn’t need NEARLY as much protein as some advocate, and even meat-eating endurance athletes and bodybuilders are probably leaning on the higher side of consumption. What I struggle with the most is grasping the concept of eating enough varied sources so I get all the necessary amino acids!

        • Di
          Reply

          It really only needs to be about getting variety of food in, same as a regular omnivore diet. Be pretty boring eating chicken and green beans everyday? Same concept.
          Pinto beans and rice,
          Quinoa
          3 bean chili and rice
          spaghetti and veggie balls
          burgers and fries
          all can be vegan 😉

  • Sandra Laflamme
    Reply

    I am always curious about what it is like to be a vegan athlete. I am not sure my body could keep up on a vegan diet. Following Scott Jurek as he ran the AT this summer as a vegan got me thinking about this a lot!

    • Di
      Reply

      Endurance athletes like Scott Jurek are so motivational!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      That’s awesome! I’ve always been so inspired by Brendan Brazier. The ideas of it really resonate with me. But the time….maybe I just need a vegan chef 😉

  • priya
    Reply

    In India we have a large number of vegetarians who are fully fit and healthy.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Yes! I have lots of friends from India and other parts of Asia who do not eat meat and they are incredibly active and healthy.

  • jill conyers
    Reply

    I eat a plant based diet and agree with all the great tips. Plant based is what works best for my body.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      That’s great! I know it works well for a lot of people.

    • Di
      Reply

      awesome Jill!

  • Toni
    Reply

    Great post. I could personally never give up meat but I do eat many plant based meals. Thanks for sharing this great info on a vegan diet.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I’m glad you found them helpful!

  • Patty @ Reach Your Peak
    Reply

    yes thanks for this! I really, really want to be more plantbased but never know how to go about it as I am an endurance runner. I need to actually start looking at meal plans and stuff to see how I Can start easing into it.

  • Lara
    Reply

    Awesome guest post! I could never go vegan though 🙁 I love my bacon and yogurt too much!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      Haha I hear ya on the bacon!! I thought the same about yogurt, but I had to stop taking dairy because of some herbal remedies I was taking, and it wasn’t as awful as I had expected.

  • GinaB @ Mirror Watching
    Reply

    Great post. Very informative. I have been wondering what vegan and clean eating looked like as an athlete. Thanks for the glimpse!

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I’m glad you found it helpful!! 🙂

  • Kathryn @ Dancing to Running
    Reply

    These are all great tips, not just for vegan eaters but for everybody. Variety is especially important, because if you’re bored with what you’re eating then you’re likely to fall into the trap of eating food that isn’t good for you.

    • Ariana
      Reply

      I agree! I used to eat the same things day in and day out and then I would find myself binging on alllll the junk.

Leave a Comment