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4 Tips for Athletes Transitioning to a Plant-based Diet

Plant-based diet Vancouver

Guest post by Jacquelyn Son.

There are many benefits of eating a plant-based diet: less inflammation, increased energy, and disease prevention to name a few.

As a personal trainer and online health coach, I transitioned to a plant-based diet early on in my career after discovering the many positives of this lifestyle. To me, eating plant-based does not necessary mean cutting out all animal products, but just making sure that plants take up the majority of my diet.

After increasing my consumption of plants like vegetables, fruits, beans and grains, I find that I'm able to recover quicker after workouts and have more energy throughout the day. 

If you’re an athletic individual looking to transition to plant-based eating, here are some tips:

1. Research, Learn & Experiment

Research

There is not one perfect way of living healthy. It’s important to research and learn from varying, credible sources. Here are some of my personal favourites:

Lifestyle websites:

Plant-based diet experts: 

However, what works for one person may not work for another. Try different methods and be flexible in adjusting when needed. Don't stick to a diet that isn't working for you just because you read it online.

2. They're Supplements, Not Replacements

Vitamin Minerals

Your body needs a wide variety of vitamins and minerals - make sure you’re fulfilling those needs through whole foods as much as possible. It’s best not to rely on supplements for your core nutritional needs, but rather add them to ‘supplement’ your diet as the name implies. Above is a chart of different vitamins, minerals and some examples of foods that contain them.

3. Know Your Macros

Macro Veggies

Our bodies also require a balance of macronutrients to stay healthy. Macronutrients are nutrients that our body needs in large amounts. This includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each one of these plays a key role in our bodies and it would be harmful to cut any of them out.

Carbohydrates are used for energy, protein plays a role in developing and repairing muscle tissue, and fats provide regulate hormones, body temperature and brain function.

Keep in mind that foods do not consist of solely one macronutrient. For example, even though we may think of beans as a protein source, they also contain carbohydrates. We may think of avocados as a fat source, but they also contain carbohydrates.  Some individuals thrive better on higher carb diets, some thrive on higher fat diets. Health isn’t one-size-fits-all, so make sure to listen to your body and see what works for you.

Here are a few examples of foods that are high in each macronutrient:

Carbohydrates

Most vegetables
Fruit
Starches (i.e. potatoes, yams, etc.)
Grains (i.e. oats, rice, etc.)

Protein

Beans
Seitan
Tempeh
Tofu

Fats

Avocado
Nuts
Seeds
Coconut (and coconut oil)

 

4. Find Your Balance

Balance

Going plant-based doesn't mean going 100% clean. Eating some ‘unhealthy’ treats here or there won’t kill you, as they may be ‘healthy’ for your soul. Also, remember to find balance in your lifestyle.  Managing stress, quality sleep, staying hydrated and developing meaningful relationships are all components of a healthy lifestyle, plant-based or not.

What do you think? Any plant-based eaters out there: what are your tips for making the transition?

Jacquleyn Son  Jacquelyn Son is a personal trainer and lifestyle coach based in Vancouver, BC. Follow her on YoutubeInstagram, and her blog.

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