As a vegan athlete by choice, my diet differs from many of my counterparts. As I seek to find the middle way in being a vegan and athletic gains, I find myself wandering onto the path of a plant based diet which contains little processed food.
After adopting a clean diet, my body is also more responsive to the food I eat, and when I’m working out, my body is able to absorb nutrients from my food so quickly that I feel the benefits from what I eat instantly.
Together with a right recovery plan, this helps me to recover faster from my workouts, which allows me to train more and gain more from each training session.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
My everyday diet now usually consists of 2 main raw meals and 1 cooked meal. I have found this combination to be very sustainable and at the same time, beneficial for my health and general wellness.
My diet on a typical day looks like this:
Breakfasts are often quick and fast affairs for me. I usually stick to smoothies or, if I have more time to spare, a salad. Being high in liquid content, they are great ways to replenish the body, which is dehydrated from sleep.
Additionally, they often enliven me and help me start the day on a great note.
Lunch will usually be the only cooked meal of the day, as it saves me the hassle from preparing more food in the morning and planning for it the day before.
Also, I’m usually out of house during lunchtime and food is more readily available at these hours. Depending on where I am, my lunch will vary from the likes of Yong Tau Foo and Chinese economic rice to the likes of a Mediterranean falafel platter and Quinoa Burger.
More often than not, my workouts will be around 4pm-8pm. Before my workouts, I’ll have a few bananas/dates, just to make sure that I have enough fuel to last me through the workout.
Even when I workout in the morning, I will consume similar foods and head out for my session before a standard breakfast.
I usually have a post workout recovery drink as soon as possible after the workout, before consuming any solid food. My reason for doing so being that my body will not need to break down the food, saving energy and maximising nutrition absorption.
One of my favourite post workout recovery drinks is lemon-lime smoothie, which I include inside simple carbohydrates from dates and protein from hemp hearts, both of which are essential for recovery.
Dinner is the second part of my recovery plan and more often than not, it will be another bowl of salad. This will usually be consumed an hour or so after the workout, and it will contain more ingredients which will further aid in my recovery.
Through the day, I will also snack in between meals, usually every hour or so, on bananas, dates or almonds. Depending on how much I work out, I sometimes eat up to 25 bananas a day!
These snacks keep me energised and fully awake throughout the whole day, meaning I don’t suffer from the dip of energy after my lunches. This keeps me productive throughout the day, which is important for me especially when I spend long hours training on double workout days.
Of course, my snacks and treats go beyond bananas, dates and almonds. Some days, I drop by vegan-friendly restaurants for something different too. I like Brownice, which serves up the best vegan ice cream, waffles and mudpies!
Being Vegan Does Not Sacrifice Athletic Gains
By eating relatively cleanly, there weren’t any objections from the body (like cravings or discomforts) during the transition. However, a few months into the new diet, I did start to struggle to sustain it mainly due to social reasons like always having to find my own food when I’m with other friends, and not having people that I can relate to.
Luckily, I was able to find fellow vegans in Singapore, and things got easier and better from there.
Changing The Face Of Veganism, Meal by Meal
To many, being vegan is a limitation in diet that they cannot do with. Some fear that it will limit their performance gains. However, fortunately, these perceptions can be changed.
I was once a non-vegan as well. My switch to a vegan diet was a choice, mainly out of the desire to care more for those around me, including animals, and not for religious reasons.
Dining options in Singapore for vegans has been growing steadily, and there is actually a huge variety of food that vegans can eat. Also, legendary athletes like Carl Lewis, Scott Jurek, and Serena Williams have shown that going vegan, if done right, can actually help your athletic performance.
There are plenty of benefits I found after going vegan, including a calmer mind from eating in an environmentally sustaining manner, and also better athletic performances. I’ve noticed my body is cooler and takes longer to heat up, which is good for athletes, especially those who, like me, specialise in long distances.
I hope this piece inspires you to have a cleaner diet, and if you do go on to try out movements like Meatless Mondays or Veggie Thursdays, do let us know how it goes!