I am a 42 year old women and a mother of two children and this article shows a brief outline of my journey and more about living as a vegan whilst exercising.
I started my journey as an overweight, unhealthy, unhappy (not knowing why) junk food eating 40 year old. I realised that I was at least four stones overweight and needed to do something about it. So, like most people I went on a diet and tried to take part in some form of exercise. I started to run! Well, walk a lamppost, jog a lamppost then die a little. Over the months, I lost a little weight but the trouble was I had reduced my calories, so had no energy. My running wasn’t progressing and if I had a relapse in eating, I put the weight back on plus some extra. Fad diets were not working! I was getting desperate, and then a friend gave me some holiday reading. The Chimp Paradox to tackle my negative thinking and the second (which ultimately saved my life, drastic you may think, but true none the less) The China Study. This is the start to my Plant Based Lifestyle. I struggled to eat healthily not knowing what was healthy or what wasn’t. Looking at fat content, sugar content, salt and everything that is a mine field to the novice. I realised that living on a plant based lifestyle, although hard at first, would be natural and I could eat what I wanted. And so my journey started. Now, two years on, weighing four stones lighter, I am healthier, happier (no mood swings, no feeling low,) my fitness level has increased and all without reducing calories.
I am going to refer to the meals, snacks and protein alternatives as Vegan. The only difference is that with a plant based lifestyle, I do not eat processed food either but I know this isn’t for everyone.
What is needed?
A 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein has been proven to be really efficient for replenishing amino acids and repairing the muscle that’s been broken down during strength training. The basic gist is that during exercise, you use up your glycogen (the energy stored in your muscles). After sweating it out, carbs will help to replenish this energy, and the protein enhances this process. But protein and carbs aren’t all we need after a workout. While exercise suppresses inflammation in the long term, the act of exercise damages your muscles. That’s why it’s always a good idea to include foods that support inflammation reduction, like those rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. But that said you don’t want too much fat in the post-workout meal because it’ll slow your digestion. So a decent amount of carbs, six to twenty grams is plenty, lots of antioxidants, and little fat. If that isn’t what vegans do best, we don’t know what is.
Some post workout recipe ideas;
Roasted teriyaki mushrooms and broccoli soba noodles.
Made from buckwheat, soba noodles not only have that 4:1 ratio, they’re also a complete protein. Pair up this Japanese staple with teriyaki mushrooms for a rich, satisfying, meaty dimension, and broccoli and chilies, which have anti-inflammatory properties
Roasted Teriyoki Mushroom and Broccili Noodless:
3 8 oz containers of button mushrooms
glaze for mushrooms:
1 tbs high heat oil
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs honey
2 tbs tamari (gluten free soy sauce) or soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
Soba noodles & vegetables:
1 package of gluten free buckwheat soba noodles
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ shallot, diced
2 bunches broccoli, ends cut off and if the stems are thick cut them in half lengthwise
5 stalks kale, cut into shreds
Sauce for soba noodles:
¼ cup tamari (gluten free soy sauce) or soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 tsp grated ginger
chopped hot peppers, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pop stems off the mushrooms, wipe any dirt with a paper towel, cut each mushroom in half, and place them in a large bowl. Whisk together the mushroom glaze ingredients. Pour the glaze over the mushrooms in a bowl and mix until all the mushrooms are evenly coated. Pour the mushrooms onto the parchment lined baking sheet and place them in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and toss so they cook evenly. Roast for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook soba noodles to package directions and heat a large skillet with 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and diced shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli, kale, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.
While vegetables and noodles are cooking, whisk together the soba noodle sauce ingredients in a bowl.
Add cooked noodles to the pan of broccoli and kale, add the sauce, and stir until all the vegetables and noodles are evenly coated in sauce.
Place a portion of noodles and vegetables into bowls and top them with the roasted mushroom. Garnish with sesame seeds, hot peppers, and green onions.
Black bean sweet potato chilli
No meat doesn’t mean no chili for vegans. This rich, thick, creamy, spicy, and sweet concoction hits all the right notes, and although black beans have fewer than three grams of carbs for every gram of protein, that just means you have a license to indulge with that warm, comforting sweet potato. 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups vegetable stock
1 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
½ cup dried quinoa
4 teaspoons lime juice
Heat a large heavy bottom pot with the oil over medium high heat.
Add the sweet potato and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion if softened.
Add the garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin and salt and stir to combine.
Add the stock, tomatoes, black beans and quinoa and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir everything to combine.
Cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Cook for 15-25 minutes until the quinoa is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft and the entire mixture is slightly thick like a chili.
Add the lime juice and remove the pot from the heat.
Garnish with avocado, cilantro, crema or cheese before serving.
The best Vegan sandwich
Sliced wholemeal bread
hummus – I used roasted red pepper hummus
1/2 a large avocado
sun dried tomatoes
fresh cracked pepper
Carb loading before endurance;
This is something I found tricky at first but these a few recommendations;
Start With Oatmeal
Upcoming endurance event looming or not, each morning, I start my day packing my bowl of oats with a mixture of naturally sugar-filled fruits, along with nuts. Not only does this oatmeal help get your metabolism up and running, it gives you the energy you need to carry on throughout the entirety of your day.
Get Your Fill of Quinoa
This wonder-seed and complete source of protein is a prime fuel source that does not weigh you down. Although quinoa readily takes the place of noodles to make for a hearty spaghetti dinner, in the spirit of springtime, I like to change things up and enjoy a lighter, fruit-infused quinoa salad. If you’re not yet sold on quinoa as an alternative, consider incorporating white or brown rice into your dinner mix. I use Quinoa flour to bake, oats in my porridge and even in my flapjacks.
Opt for a naturally sweet snack, like fruit, with a protein-filled sidekick, such as peanut butter, or even a blend of hummus that includes peanut butter. Or if you’d rather, enjoy snack-time by sipping, a fruit-filled smoothie. I bake a week’s supply of peanut butter flapjacks or blend frozen fruit with soya yoghurt, almond milk, and soya protein and enjoy like a bowl of ice cream.
Go For Spuds
Sweet or white potatoes packed with your toppings of choice make for a great carb-rich meal. I like to stuff my spuds with, beans, quinoa, guacamole or any combination of these. If you’re looking to enjoy sweet spuds in a less traditional form, whip up these sweet potato and kale patties.
The most important thing to remember is that every single body is different. Ultimately, it’s best not to go crazy inviting foods or practices into your diet in a sudden swoop and expect your body to feel balanced and be fueled properly. I have come to find that above and beyond all the calculations and strategies, I do best simply running how I feel, and making sure my plant-based fueling practices are following my own lead.
I found that at the beginning I needed a little help getting the balance right. Although now I get everything I need from food. Here are some supplements I would recommend;
Spirulina powder, Ultimate greens, alkalising salts.
I use every day with 500ml of almond milk, soya protein powder and pea protein powder.
My must buy to survive!
When time is an issue, yet you need all your protein, carbs, minerals and vitamins then you NEED a soup maker. You add anything you want with vegetable sock and your 2/3 servings of soup is ready in 5 minutes. I do a batch of these and freeze for those days you cannot spare the time to cook.
I hope I have shown that you can be an athlete and be vegan!
For any more recipes or ideas you can e mail me anytime, email@example.com
Finally take a look at Atsuyuki Katsuyama – Vegan Marathon Runner for a little inspiration.