Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Article: Vegan Diets for Dancers and Athletes, Part 2

Image: Cillian Storm via Flickr
A vegan diet can be great for weight loss, but what if you want to gain muscle and lose fat? I made some small changes to my eating habits to accommodate a more athletic lifestyle, due to my rekindled passion for dancing and general fitness. Following a few general tips, I created a simple meal plan that explains how I eat most days. I usually follow this guide 6-7 days a week, with 2-3 "cheat" meals where I eat whatever I want (which usually coincides with a restaurant visit on the weekend).

DISCLAIMER: I am not a registered personal trainer, dietitian or medical professional. Please consult a doctor if you are experiencing any health issues or are considering an increase in physical activity.

I usually work out shortly after I drink this. Starting my day with protein helps me feel more full throughout the day.
  • "30 in 30" vegan smoothie (more information in my review here). 
Recipe: Mix 21 g each Olympian Labs Chocolate Pea Protein and Sun Warrior Chocolate Classic Protein with 1/2 cup cold water, 1 cup almond milk, and 1/4 frozen banana. I make four at a time in my blender and store in the refrigerator.

Replace oatmeal with quinoa for a high-protein breakfast.
Image: SweetOn Veg via Flickr
I usually eat this right after a workout, so I want a nice blend of carbohydrates and protein. Eating carbohydrates alone, such as a sugary cereal and almond milk, leaves me hungry 1-2 hours later.
  • Tofu scramble (add black beans) and oatmeal with fruit and nuts
  • Tofu scramble on a sprouted or corn tortilla
  • Quinoa with almond milk, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon
  • Almond butter on whole grain or sprouted bread (toasted or not) and a banana
  • Veggie sausage with low-sugar cereal with fresh berries
I also eat the following supplements with this meal: B12 and Calcium. For more on vitamins and supplements, see my article on vegan vitamins.

This is the meal where I try to cut back on the carbs and get in some fresh veggies. It is much easier for me to do this at lunch, since I'm more disciplined in the middle of the day than when I'm tired (at dinner).
  • Veggie burger salad - This is one of my "staple" foods that I eat 3-4 times per week.
  • Hummus with carrots, celery, and/or red bell pepper
  • Soup with cubed tofu and veggies such as broccoli, onions, carrots, green beans, and pinto beans
  • Lentil soup
  • Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, meatless grounds, and a side of steamed green beans or broccoli
Combine nuts with bulk dried fruit to make your own trail mix.
Image: SweetOn Veg via Flickr
Afternoon Snack:
I like to combine a fruit or vegetable with some sort of protein, such as nuts or hummus. I try to limit my nut intake to 1-2 servings per day total, to keep the calories down. If I work out in the afternoon, I prefer a beauty smoothie as a recovery drink.
  • Vegan Beauty Smoothie
  • Hummus with carrots
  • Ants on a log (celery with almond butter and raisins)
  • Apple and peanut or almond butter
  • Raw almonds and fresh fruit
  • Homemade trail mix (almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, dried blueberries, etc.)
  • Fruit and nuts bars such as the Real Food Barre
I tend to eat this meal with my man, and he isn't a huge fan of "meal" salads and other lower-carb vegan meals. I tend to eat more carbohydrates at this meal and cut back at lunch instead. Some theories say you shouldn't eat carbohydrates after lunch, but eating carbohydrates at dinner hasn't had a noticeable negative effect on my progress.
  • 15-minute tacos
  • "Buddha bowl" - Baked tofu or cooked tempeh, steamed kale, pinto beans, and a little sweet potato topped with sesame seeds over brown rice
  • Baked tofu with teriyaki stir-fried veggies (I usually buy a frozen mix) over brown rice
  • Miso soup (with tofu and dried seaweed), steamed edamame, and brown rice (or onigiri)
  • Quinoa with tomato sauce and steamed mixed veggies (carrots, peas, and green beans); top with nutritional yeast
  • Veggie burgers with tomato, romaine lettuce, and veganaise on a sprouted bun with a side of sweet potato oven fries or steamed veggies
Raw vegan fudge
When I want to cut back, I try to skip traditional desserts most days and indulge in sugary treats 1-2 times per week. I do have a sweet tooth and look for ways to satisfy my cravings without going overboard.
If you're on a budget:
  • Use frozen fruit instead of fresh
  • Use both peanut and almond butters
  • Eat the ends of your bread loaves
  • Buy in bulk (if cheaper, such as dried beans)
  • Buy what's in season and/or on sale
  • Mix your own cereal (add cheaper cereals like puffed kamut to a more expensive favorite)
  • Make your own taco seasoning and sauces
  • Chop fresh fruits and veggies instead of buying them cut
  • Substitute ingredients based on what's in your cupboard/refrigerator
Don't forget to buy organic if you can afford it! It's better for the planet and your body.

Note: This is the second in a three-part series. The first part can be found here and includes general tips. For ways to eat healthy at restaurants and on the go, read the third part here.

Disclosure notice: I am not a registered doctor, dietician, or medical professional. Please consult with a doctor if you are experiencing any health issues or are considering an increase in physical activity. Affiliate links are present in this post. Please verify any claims with the manufacturer, especially if you have any allergies or concerns.

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