Go Green(er)

Packed with pro­tein, this veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan meal plan boosts im­mu­nity, ac­cel­er­ates re­sults and im­proves per­for­mance.

Oxygen - - Contents - By Shoshana Pritzker RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN

Veg out with the best-ever meal plan for plant-based ath­letes.

go­ing green has a whole new mean­ing th­ese days as more and more peo­ple opt for a plant-heavy diet. Whether you’re into an­i­mal rights or are sim­ply greening up for health rea­sons, go­ing veg­e­tar­ian (or ve­gan) takes some care­ful plan­ning. There are sev­eral vi­tal vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and nu­tri­ents that you’ll have to con­sciously in­clude — either in food or sup­ple­ment form — in or­der to stay healthy, ac­tive and kick­ing ass in the gym. Here’s the lowdown on what it takes to veg out.

The New Rules of Pro­tein

A lot of peo­ple get con­fused about what to eat, how and when as a veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan, but it’s re­ally not all that com­pli­cated. All the clean-eat­ing rules still ap­ply, so no deep-fry­ing your sweet pota­toes or drown­ing your salad in blue cheese dress­ing. And keep con­trol of your in­take of sweets and junk foods, even if they are la­beled ve­gan or veg­e­tar­ian: A ve­gan cookie is still a cookie, and just be­cause a treat is plant-based does not mean it is healthy.

The big­gest is­sue will be your pro­tein in­take: You should still strive for a healthy macronu­tri­ent bal­ance with plenty of pro­tein to build mus­cle, aid re­cov­ery and fa­cil­i­tate fat loss. But tra­di­tional veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan pro­tein sources, such as beans and nuts, of­ten come with a hefty carb and/or fat price tag, so you will have to be very mind­ful of your choices.

The good news is that the so-called rules of veg­e­tar­ian pro­tein in­take have been sim­pli­fied. It used to be rec­om­mended that you pair com­pli­men­tary pro­teins to­gether (for ex­am­ple, beans and rice) to make a com­plete pro­tein — one with all seven es­sen­tial amino acids your body needs. But to­day things are a lit­tle less strin­gent, and the new guide­lines in­di­cate that if you eat a va­ri­ety of pro­tein sources through­out the day, you’ll get all the es­sen­tial aminos you need, with­out hav­ing to com­bine things so pre­cisely.

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