If you are on social media (who isn’t) and you are a workout enthusiast, you may have noticed the increase of professional athletes who have gone vegan or vegetarian. They’ll post body-positive and inspirational photos showing how nutrition and exercise has led to peak performance. If you are thinking about switching up your diet or are curious about which plant-based foods can help boost your work out, here’s a list of some of our favorites pre and post-workout bites.
- Boost it up with beans: Many performance athletes shy away from this plant-based food because of the gassy stigma associated with beans. It’s a shame because beans are a wonderful way to accelerate your work out! Beans have a natural protein-carbohydrate content which means you’re getting the energy needed to exercise and the protein needed to help you recover. Beans are also rich in nutrients like iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese. They have been shown to promote heart health and are registered low on the GI scale. Before you head to the gym, make yourself a burrito, wrap sandwich or enjoy a homemade hummus with your favorite type of beans. To reduce the risk of getting gas, soak your dried beans overnight. This helps make them easier to digest and can increase the nutritional benefits.
- Take time for tahini: Sesame seeds are a wonderful and ancient food that has been shown to help boost workout routines. That’s because tahini is packed with protein, 8 g per serving! Tahini is full of fiber which can help you feel full throughout the day and sesame lignans have been shown to aid in reducing cholesterol. How do you incorporate tahini into your diet? You can make hummus, add it to a smoothie, use in place of your favorite nut butter on a sandwich, the possibilities are endless!
- Almonds are awesome: If you are freaked out about eating almonds because you think they contribute to weight gain, think again. Almonds are full of good fat that has actually been shown to help with weight loss when eaten in moderation. Almonds are also rich in heart healthy benefits and have been shown to aid in lowering cholesterol levels. If you need a protein rich snack, try eating a handful of almonds because they are packed with 6g of protein in 1 ounce. They’re also a great source of fiber to help you feel full as you go about your exercise routine.
- Chiseled with Chia seeds: The ancient Aztecs knew a thing or two about the benefits of chia. Chia seeds are packed with nutrients to help maximize your workout! They contain calcium, magnesium, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids to help with weight loss while promoting a healthy heart. Chia seeds come in black, gray, and white and are often available at most natural health food stores. You can add them to smoothies, juice, salads, even make a healthy chia pudding to munch on before heading to your work out.
- Kick-it up a notch with quinoa: This food always gets mixed-up as a grain but it is actually a healthy seed! Quinoa is another ancient food that has been revered for its amazing nutritional benefits. In fact, the Incan armies frequently marched for days at a time while eating a mixture of quinoa and fat, calling this combination, “war balls.” The protein quality and quantity in quinoa is superior to common grains, making it an excellent food for enjoying before and after work out. It is also packed with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It’s also very high in iron with half a cup containing almost 8mg! Quinoa does not just have to be a side dish. You can eat it in the morning as a cereal and top it with your favorite berries. Try infusing it with coconut milk for a delicious sweet taste.
Disclaimer: Always consult with your local health care provider before engaging in a new supplement regimen. This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a licensed physician.