All athletes need proper nutrition to get through a race. But it can be tricky for vegan and vegetarian athletes who can't eat or drink many of the recovery foods found at the finish line.
These racers often miss out on nutrients that are crucial for recovery.
"Exercise of high-intensity and long duration can deplete muscles of glycogen (carbohydrate) and, depending on the exercise, damage muscle protein," says Christine Rosenbloom, who specializes in sports nutrition.
The right recovery foods will help your body replenish muscle glycogen and provide essential amino acids, Rosenbloom says.
With a little extra planning, vegan and vegetarian athletes can meet all of their nutritional needs.
How to Fuel
Post-race recovery is reliant on high-quality sources of protein and carbohydrates. Focus on getting a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein, Frazier says.
The best form of carbohydrates is a mix of high-glycemic index choices, such as dates and slow-release options like non-starchy vegetables (spinach, tomatoes), fresh fruit and quinoa.
Toss these vegan and vegetarian food options in your gym bag and kick your post-race body into recovery mode.
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When to Fuel
It's not enough to choose the right foods, timing is important as well.
"In the 15 to 60 minutes immediately following a workout, your muscles are primed to receive fuel to start the repair process. Eat (or drink) your recovery meal right away, within the first half hour after the workout is complete," says Matt Frazier of NoMeatAthlete.com.
Vegan Food for Post-Race Recovery
There are plenty of vegan food items to help your body recover from an intense race. Rosenbloom suggests you nosh on:
- Hummus and whole grain pita chips
- Tofu noodle bowl
- Soy protein isolate fruit smoothie
These choices are perfect for vegans because "Legumes and soy are rich in the amino acid leucine, which appears to be a trigger for muscle repair and muscle building," Rosenbloom says.
Drink plenty of fluids as well. You can reach for a water bottle or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice.