Veguary has officially started, and with thousands of people this month giving the popular plant-based diet a go, we want to share with you how being vegan not only provides you with a delicious and healthy food choice, but can also help you get those gains in the gym.
Get you a healthier heart
Many studies have been published around the benefits that veganism has on the heart. In fact, the diet, being low in saturated fats and high in fibres, especially fruit and vegs, can help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, while reducing the risk of blood clots, heart attacks and diabetes. When it comes to exercise, having a healthier heart can mean having more oxygen delivered to the muscles, resulting in getting fatigued less quickly. You may also have a lower resting heart rate.
What’s more, high-nitrate vegetables such as spinach assist in the vasodilation of arteries, so the blood moves around the body more efficiently. This means your heart doesn’t have to pump as fast when exercising in order to meet your energy needs. It also means your blood pressure is not going to spike to the same extent during your workout because your arteries are more clear.
Boost your metabolism
People that follow a plant-based diet tend to lose body fat quicker and have lower body fat overall. This is because you might be eating more fibres and food that makes you feel fuller for longer. Being vegan might also improve metabolism because the nutrients you provide to your body are optimised and not highly processed. Having a faster metabolism - other than making you feel great - can also improve your VO2 Max (the maximum volume of oxygen your body uses during exercise), leading to a better endurance. In summary, you are likely to run faster for longer.
Get your energy up
While proteins are very important to building up muscles, carbohydrates and fibres play their key roles in exercising too. In fact, carbs are an important energy source during exercise, especially for short bursts. As carbohydrates, like potatoes, are essential components of the vegan diet, vegans are more likely to have extra energy during their workouts, while the high fibre intake can help release that energy steadily, helping avoid a sugar crush.
Animal product-based diets are shown to cause a greater inflammatory effect in the muscles, in comparison to a plant-based diet. People who partake in exercises that involve repeated action of certain joints such as running, are more vulnerable to inflammation and injury.
Removing this from your diet and adding in the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of a vegan diet might just see a reduction in injury risk and improved recovery after your workouts too.
Get you strong muscles
As a vegan, you are more likely to eat a broader variety of plants, and as a result, you will probably consume key minerals which are vital for muscle contractions and nerve impulses. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are often found in many foods that make up the vegan diet. The same nitrate-rich plants above mentioned assisting in vasodilation also improve the efficiency of a muscle contraction.
Muscle contraction allows you to apply force and tension during a workout, for example when you are squatting or doing a bicep curl. The more this contraction is efficient the more your muscles are going to get stronger and get you to the results you want.
The bottom line
Nutrition plays a very important part in exercise and a plant-based diet can help enhance your fitness performance. Being vegan can very often mean consuming more vegetables, fruits, healthy fat, proteins and carbs than other diets, but it’s important to remember that the quality of the food is also key. Avoiding food that is ultra-processed (e.g. unhealthy chips or energy drinks) and preferring food that is low in sugars will help you get fitter faster. If becoming fitter and healthier is among your New Year resolutions, turning vegan might just be a win-win.
Dietly offers a lot of vegan snacks for you to try, especially if you are trying veganism for the first time. Our Vegan Protein Essentials Hamper is packed full of delicious vegan snacks with extra proteins to support your exercise regime and smash the gym!
by Giulia Basana
Just before you go, we have some spacial offers for Veganuary! Click here to get up to 20% off on your favourite vegan snacks!
- Barnard, N., 2019. Six Reasons Athletes Are Running Toward a Vegan Diet. [online] PCRM. Available at: <https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/six-reasons-athletes-are-running-toward-vegan-diet> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
- Parsons, K., 2021. How can a vegan diet maximise your fitness workout?. [online] Theveganreview. Available at: <https://theveganreview.com/how-can-a-vegan-diet-maximise-your-fitness-workout/> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
- Rapaport, L., 2020. Low-Fat Vegan Diet Boosts Metabolism, Prevents Disease, Study Suggests. [online] EverydayHealth. Available at: <https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/more-evidence-that-a-low-fat-vegan-diet-boosts-metabolism-prevents-disease/> [Accessed 13 January 2022].
- Wirnitzer, K., 2020. Vegan Diet in Sports and Exercise – Health Benefits and Advantages to Athletes and Physically Active People: A Narrative Review. International Journal of Sports and Exercise Medicine, [online] 6(3). Available at: <https://clinmedjournals.org/articles/ijsem/international-journal-of-sports-and-exercise-medicine-ijsem-6-165.php>.
- Worth, T., 2016. 8 Smart Reasons to Go Vegan for Heart Health. [online] EverydayHealth. Available at: <https://www.everydayhealth.com/high-cholesterol/diet/8-ways-plant-based-diet-protects-your-heart/> [Accessed 13 January 2022].