Vegan Fitness Guide: Fueled by Plants

Staying fit as a vegan is an integral part of being healthy and feeling good. A diet and exercise program are essential to these goals, and a plant-based diet can be the perfect fit. There are many health benefits that come along with living a vegan lifestyle. Among them are increased energy and a shorter recovery time after exercise.

Staying Fit on a Vegan Diet

Start New Exercise Routines Off Slow

You shouldn’t over-exert yourself when starting a new exercise routine. Start slowly with low-intensity exercises for short periods that help you build muscle over time. Allow yourself adequate recovery time, as well. This level of training allows your body to slowly adjust to the new routine without wearing yourself out.

Start with sessions lasting 30–45 minutes and try some low-intensity exercises. As your body adjusts, you can gradually increase the intensity.

  • Walking – Walking is the most straightforward exercise for beginning your workout program. It is an effective way to burn a few calories and lose weight. It is also known to decrease stress.
  • Swimming – Swimming is a wonderful way to burn calories, get cardio in, and build strength. It is easy on the joints as well.
  • Rowing – Rowing is another good, well-rounded sport. It provides a fantastic way to exercise over 80% of your muscles at once and is not harsh on your joints.
  • Biking – Biking is a fun outdoor activity that builds your stamina while you enjoy nature. If you are not a nature enthusiast, you could also opt for the stationary bike at your local gym.
  • Elliptical Machine – 15-30 minutes on the elliptical machine can provide a full-body workout and help you maintain weight. A moderate 15-minute session will help you build your cardio stamina while burning calories.
  • Dance – Dance can be a fun way to get your heart rate up, burn those calories, and build muscle and stamina. Some examples are ballroom dancing, Zumba, Jazzercise, barre, or even pole dancing.
  • Mind-Body Movement Practices – These exercises simultaneously provide benefits to the mind as well as the body. Examples are yoga, Pilates, tai-chi, swimming, and even gardening.

Staying Fit on a Vegan Diet

Eat The Right Foods Before You Exercise

Your body needs the right foods to fuel everyday life and exercise. Before any workout, focus on consuming carbs. Have some fresh fruits or veggies. Eat them raw, lightly cooked, or blended into a smoothie, but avoid fruit juices. High-carb foods like oatmeal, whole grain bread, cereals, rice, pasta, and legumes are also great fuel for your workout. Do not overeat before you exercise because it could lead to stomach cramps.

Staying Fit on a Vegan Diet

Eat The Right Foods After Your Workout

Constantly replenish those nutrients that are lost during exercise. Consume some more of the carbohydrates listed above and add in some protein. Select a variety of plant-based proteins to ensure you replace all the essential amino acids. Pea protein-based milk can contain 8-10 grams of protein. Beans, tofu, lentils, tempeh, and veggie burgers also have plenty of protein. You could also opt for a protein shake to help your body recover after your workout. Here is a plant-based protein shake recipe from Orlando Health to try out.

Plant-Based Recovery Shake Recipe
  • 1 cup pea-based milk (i.e., Ripple, Bolthouse Farms)
  • 10-15 grams of plant-based protein powder (i.e., Garden of Life, Vega)
  • ½ c frozen blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • ½ c tart cherry juice
  • A handful of organic baby spinach
  • Ice (as needed)

Combine all ingredients and blend until desired consistency.

Staying Fit on a Vegan Diet

Avoid Nutritionally Lacking Junk Food

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but we all have our weak spots when it comes to junk food. Unfortunately, the junk food that most of us love is one of the worst things we can consume. Too much sugar can make us sluggish and pack on the pounds. Sugar also leads to diseases such as diabetes. Too much salt increases blood pressure and can lead to heart disease, strokes, or heart attacks.

Staying Fit on a Vegan Diet

Take The Right Vitamins

Sometimes, the best way to ensure you get all the necessary vitamins is to take a supplement or eat enriched foods. One vitamin that is often missing in a plant-based diet is B-12. Vitamin B-12 is vital for energy production. You may feel tired or sluggish if you have a deficiency. In a traditional diet, Vitamin B-12 is present in foods like eggs, liver, and fish. For vegans and even some meat-eaters, taking a supplement and consuming enriched foods can eliminate this deficit.

Iron is another nutrient that many people are deficient in. However, research suggests that vegans consume more iron than meat-eaters or vegetarians. Iron can be found in seeds, nuts, raisins, blueberries, and strawberries. Tofu, brown rice, broccoli, pasta, and beans are also packed with iron. Of course, you always have the option of an iron supplement.

Staying Fit on a Vegan Diet

Get Enough Rest

Finally, rest, rest, and more rest. Your body needs time to recover after a good workout. Take a rest day if you need it. You do not have to avoid exercise altogether but keep it light and with minimal impact. Give your muscles time to rest and rebuild before straining them again.

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