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Plant-based Performance: Advice for athletes.

Plant-based Performance: Advice for athletes.

Article by Arnie Gitomer

Plant-based Performance

This article submitted by Vega--clean, plant-based nutritional supplements.

Athletes don’t just eat food, they use it. People who exercise regularly break down cellular and muscular tissue with every workout. What you eat provides the nutrients that are the foundation of cellular regeneration. Give your body the highest quality building materials you can, and your body will use them to rebuild the strongest version of you possible.

Three Big Ideas in Sport Nutrition:

For peak performance, it’s important to keep three principles in mind:

1. Nutrient density is more important than calories:  

Since athletes are constantly regenerating cells, nutrient dense, high net-gain nutrition is critically important for active people.

2. Nutritional timing:

When you nourish your body is equally as important as what you nourish your body with. Every workout has three distinct stages: before, during, and after—the ratio and timing of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, and protein) you consume for each of these stages can make or break performance.

3. Speed of recovery:

Reducing recovery time between workouts determines when you can train again, influencing how fast you can make performance gains.

Choose Nutrient Dense Foods  

The nutrient dense, alkaline-forming nutrition abundant in plant-based, whole foods are the best construction materials for building strong muscles. While many athletes focus exclusively on protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, antioxidants, and electrolytes form the basis of functional fuel. Rely on fruit, vegetables (both starchy and non-starchy), nuts, seeds, and sprouted whole grains as your staples to fuel everyday activities.

Pay Attention to Timing

Fueling before even starting your workout is essential to make effective use of exercise. Pre-workout fuel should provide immediate and sustained energy. Immediately before a workout, clean, simple carbohydrates, such as fruit and sprouted seeds are best for an instant burst of energy.

Mid-workout fuel and electrolyte enhanced hydration can help you go the distance. Simple carbohydrates are the primary source of clean-burning, easily digestible fuel during exercise. Grab dried fruit to eat along the way, or make a carbohydrate-rich beverage before starting your workout.

Faster recovery allows for you to train again sooner and ultimately make gains faster. Post-workout recovery is not just about consuming protein for building muscle— it’s also critical to replenish muscle glycogen, reduce inflammation, repair soft tissue, and provide immune system support.

Focus on Recovery

After a workout, you want to look beyond just protein and eat foods that replenish muscle glycogen (easily digestible carbohydrates in a 4:1 ratio with high-quality protein, reduce inflammation (antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables) and support your immune system (zinc and l-glutamine). Consuming the right foods at the right time will help you build functional muscle.

To build muscle mass, you need to first replenish muscle glycogen (with a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein) and then focus on high-quality protein. Plant-based foods rich in protein help your body build muscle, without going into nutritional debt. Try to avoid highly acid-forming proteins, such as heavily processed protein isolates, meat and dairy. The quality of a minimally processed alkaline-forming protein matters even more than the quantity. Look for raw, minimally processed proteins rich in chlorophyll, such as hemp, pea, algae, legumes and dark leafy greens.

The Vega Sport Performance System

Vega Sport is the first, complete, all-natural, plant-based sport performance system specifically developed to help athletes perform at their best. Every ingredient in the Vega Sport system is selected for a specific, performance-boosting function while still being dairy, gluten and soy-free.

Brendan Brazier—former professional Ironman triathlete and author of the bestselling Thrive series of books— formulated the Vega Sport system to help athletes gain a nutritional advantage following the key principles of plant-based sport nutrition. Following the principles of functional fuel and nutrient timing, the Vega Sport system is designed in three sequential stages—Prepare, Sustain, and Recover—to give your body the ideal macronutrients in the ratio it needs to perform at its best.

Start your workout with a boost from Pre-Workout Energizer or Sugar-Free Energizer. Electrolyte Hydrator, Endurance Gels and Endurance Bars help to you to take it to the next level during training. Recovery Accelerator, Performance Protein and Protein Bar replenishes you, repair muscle tissue, and reduce inflammation so you can do it all again, sooner.

For more tips on fueling as a plant-based athlete, check out and

Vega supplements are available from Willner Chemists, in our Manhattan stores, or at Select “Vega” from the pull-down “Manufacturer” menu on the upper left for a full listing.