In the athletic community, more and more attention is being given to plant-based diets. A properly nourished plant-based athlete can compete effectively at a high level in endurance sports.
Plant-based athletes include Scott Jurek, the world’s fastest ultra-distance runner; Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier; track and field Olympian Carl Lewis; and bodybuilder Kenneth Williams. These athletes and many others continue to provide evidence that very high-level athletic performance can be achieved without the consumption of animal products.
While it’s true that athletes have different nutritional needs than non-athletes, it is entirely possible to meet those needs without meat.
How you eat before, during and after your workouts is especially important. Duration, intensity and individual needs do come into play. However here are some general ideas to consider:
Smoothies are a great option because they’re quick, easy and packed with nutrients. Combine greens, such as spinach or kale, and fruits, such as berries, bananas or pineapples, in your blender. Then add a bit of water and you’re set. There are many other foods that you can add to smoothies to suit your personal needs or tastes. Chia seeds, flaxseed oil, dates, dulse powder and coconut oil are some worth considering.
Ideally, you should eat something within 20 minutes of finishing your workout. Depending on the timing of your workout, this might be a meal or just a substantial snack. A great option would be a high protein salad with vegetables, seeds, quinoa and legumes. Another great option is ¼ cup nut butter (like almond or peanut) along with ¾ cup sliced fruit, such as bananas or apples.
Remember, when fueling your workouts, every body is different. Timing and quantity of meals can be adapted depending on the duration and intensity of your workout.
Your body is a machine. If you want it to run properly, you’ve got to fuel it properly. By choosing generous servings of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts or seeds and whole grains, your body will reap huge benefits when it comes to both performance and recovery.
This article originally appeared on Competitor.com.