A rising nutritional trend, veganism has certainly captured the spotlight in recent years, with luminaries like former President Bill Clinton and a bevy of beautiful actresses (and actors too!) touting the heart-healthy, body-slimming benefits of an animal-free diet.
When famed ultra-marathoner and self-described vegan Scott Jurek added to its popularity with the release of his best-selling book Eat & Run, readers were faced with the question, can one really achieve athletic greatness on a diet of just greens and grains? Here, Zeel Nutrition Expert Lauren Slayton, a registered dietitian and the founder of Foodtrainers, equips us with four vegan ingredients that deliver enough stamina, strength and post-workout recovery fuel for even the toughest of athletes.
Turmeric. From the root of the Curcuma plant, turmeric has phenomenal antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a good source of magnesium, B6, iron and potassium. Add about one teaspoon of turmeric to one cup of quinoa, lentils or delicata squash (three of Lauren’s favorite “good carbs”).
Chia pudding. Chia is a great source of omega-3′s and an excellent energy booster. Lauren loves single serving chia sticks called “Running Fuel,” and enjoys making chia seed pudding using almond milk, cinnamon and nustevia.
Hemp Hearts. Hemp hearts, or the hulled version of hemp seeds, contain a beneficial type of omega-6 fat called GLA that works as an anti-inflammatory agent. A rich source of magnesium, hemp hearts are especially beneficial for athletes who are prone to magnesium deficiencies, as this mineral is involved in proper muscle relaxation and muscle cramp reduction. Hemp also provides substantial amounts of zinc, calcium, manganese and iron. These minerals are important in repairing tissues and maintaining the immune system. Sprinkle one to two tablespoons of hemp hearts on salads or coconut yogurt.
Red juices. Beet juice gained popularity during the Olympics for its ability to delay feelings of fatigue during exercise. If incorporating new kinds of red juice into your diet before a race, be sure to train with these new ingredients, test-driving them before the event. Without the fiber of vegetables, juices provide quick, clean energy. Lauren favors beet-based juice before working out, and a little tart cherry juice (another red) added to protein smoothies post-exercise for recovery.