How to Get the Protein You Need on a Plant Based Diet + RECIPE: Vegan Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos!
Yes, even triathletes can thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet, if you go about it the right way!
There are many health benefits to a plant-based diet, such as:
- Healthy Heart: Vegan diets will help lower your cholesterol since diets that include meat and dairy tend to be higher in saturated fat. This is a good thing if you are an athlete. A healthy heart means you can breathe easier and recover quickly during workouts and sustained exertion (ie: better endurance).
- Immune Boost: Increased amounts of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds in your diet mean more brightly colored foods, foods high in micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids which are known to improve immune function. When you are hard at work, training multiple times a week, your immune system can be suppressed. If your diet is not rich in vegetables, fruits and healthy nuts, seeds and grains, then sickness can sideline you from your training!
There are still legitimate concerns when it comes to an athlete training on a plant-based diet. Just because you are vegan or vegetarian, does not mean you are eating heathy! Plenty of foods like chips, cookies, candy and soft drinks, while not including any animal products, are still not good for you.
Also, athletes need more protein than the average person, so always try to incorporate protein and a wide variety of whole foods at every meal to ensure you're getting all the nutrition you need. I like to incorporate an organic plant based protein powder to add to smoothies and pre/post workout shakes to ensure my clients are meeting their necessary intake of protein. Other sources of vegan protein include: Tofu and tempeh, soy milk and soy yogurt, beans and lentils, whole wheat pasta, oats, wild rice, quinoa, seeds, nuts, broccoli rabe, spinach, swiss chard, asparagus and kale.
Here is one of my favorite vegan recipes: Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos. Quinoa is a complete vegan protein with all the essential amino acids. It's very versatile and can be used in many different ways. Paired with beans, it's a very high protein meal. The best part: There is usually enough leftover for the rest of the week!
Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 14oz canned black beans
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 4oz can diced mild green chilies
1 cup frozen roasted peppers/onions (you can use fresh but for time I like to stock plenty of frozen options for quick healthy meals)
1 package corn tortillas
*Avocado and salsa optional for topping
Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Heat pan on stove with 1tbs oil and add in mix.
Cook for about 15min stirring occasionally to allow mixture to thicken up.
Heat corn tortillas on the stove.
Transfer mixture to tortillas and top with fresh avocado and salsa.