Even though the stereotypical gym diet is chicken and rice it doesn’t mean you can’t formulate an effective and varied vegan gym nutrition plan. The timing and macronutrients of your pre and post workout meals is important to ensure you get maximum muscle gain from your gym sessions.
Vegan Gym Pre-workout Nutrition
First, let’s establish when you should eat your pre workout meal. In order to allow sufficient time for your body to digest a meal and absorb the nutrients into your blood make sure you have a good meal around 3 to 4 hours before you workout. This way you’ll feel the benefit of a good energy supply during your workout and you won’t experience any discomfort as a result of exercising too soon after eating.
In terms of the contents of your meal, experts suggest that a pre-workout meal should be high in carbohydrates and protein, and low in fat. Complex carbohydrates such as potato or rice give you plenty of energy to stay energised throughout your workout. Protein is essential for repairing and building muscle fibres so make sure your pre-workout meal has plenty of it. Finally, avoid fatty foods as this slows down digestion and could potentially cause discomfort during your workout.
If you’ve got a morning gym session booked in then any oats based meal is a great way to get the required carbohydrates and protein. Fruit and oatmeal is fantastically nutritious and can be adjusted to your taste.
If you are preparing for an evening workout then try a vegan chilli with rice. Beans are packed with good protein and brown rice is a fantastic complex carbohydrate that will allow you to smash your workout.
Vegan Gym Post-workout Nutrition
After a workout it’s best to have a meal as soon as you can. After burning a number of calories and working your muscles nutrition helps replenish your energy supplies and repair your muscles. If you are out and about and know you won’t be eating for a while then a vegan protein shake can be a good way to give your body the nutrients it needs without cooking or preparing a meal.
Bear in mind that a big meal and a protein shake is not normally necessary. After consuming a certain amount of protein your body is no longer able to process it effectively so consume one or the other after a workout.
A post-workout meal should also be high in carbohydrates and protein, a little fat in moderation is also ok (we’re all human). Also don’t neglect hydration, make sure you take plenty of fluids on board as you continue to lose water through sweat after you finish your workout.
If you are opting for a post-workout shake then soy milk will give you the most protein and is very versatile. For a nutritious post-workout meal consider a lentil Bolognese with pasta or a hearty bean burger with sweet potato fries.
It’s also a good idea to alter the exact nutrients you take in according to the time of day. You need to consume protein throughout the day to ensure you keep adding muscle mass. In the daytime, however, you should concentrate more on carbohydrates to accompany the protein. Later in the day, you should then focus on consuming more healthy fats.
Low-glycemic carbs during the day give you the energy needed to workout at the peak of your ability. Healthy fats later in the day help to slow digestion. That extends the drip-feed of protein to your body overnight. It also has the added benefit of ensuring you stay feeling full, and aren’t tempted to snack later into the night.
With vegan foodstuffs becoming more and more common in supermarkets across the world it has never been easier to eat and train well as a vegan athlete. Generally speaking, aim to have your pre-workout meal as early as possible and your post-workout meal or shake shortly after your workout for maximum benefit.