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Practical Vegan Options for Endurance Athletes

article by Thomas Endurance Coaching’s Carson McQuarrie

It’s well known that eating more plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, and fungi (aka mushrooms) in their whole natural form is healthy. Science allows us to dive deeper into our understanding of plant-based nutrition. (skip to conclusion to learn more). Athletes from literally all sports at all levels have also been adopting this diet and lifestyle, including 2:26 marathoner, 9th fastest 100 mile runner in North America, and good friend Mike Arnstein. Thriving as an athlete with a more plant based approach is possible! No one starts off as an expert and everyone starts somewhere. Here are some sample meals many new and long-time vegans find themselves gravitating towards for their practicality and approachability.

Breakfast

  1. A large smoothie with bananas, leafy greens or beetroot, berries, spices such as ginger and turmeric.
  2. Overnight oats with fruit, nuts, spices, & a drop of Maple Syrup (optional).  
  3. No-oil fried hash browns and scrambled tofu, multi-grain toast with avocado spread and salt and nutritional yeast on top. Fruit on the side.
  4. Vegan pancakes!

Lunch

  1. Large salad with soaked kale, arugula, and baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, cut mangos and bananas, blueberries, and hemp seeds and soaked cashews or walnuts.
  2. Quinoa and wild rice salad with chopped kale and peppers, raisins, walnuts, with orange chunks and citrus juice to top.
  3. Burrito (wrap or bowl) with beans, brown rice, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and corn, and avocado, and salsa.
  4. Vegan Mac n’ Cheese! It’s a thing!

Dinner

  1. It’s race day tomorrow! You better be careful. Don’t try anything new. Keep it simple with a small amount of fruit, or meals you’ve had before.
  2. Vegan Pad Thai salad with vermicelli and zucchini noodles, marinated extra firm tofu, peanuts, bean sprouts, grated ginger, and spicy peppers to taste.  
  3. Vegan Indian chickpea curry with rice and naan.
  4. Vegan Italian fettuccine alfredo with creamy cashew and nutritional yeast sauce, and fried mushrooms and asparagus, with green onions to top.
  5. Vegan western-style burger. Black bean patties are the best store homemade or store bought.

Deserts

  1. Raw vegan simple banana “nice-cream” with frozen bananas blended with other fruit, chosen flavors and sweeteners.
  2. Raw vegan simple avocado chocolate mousse and coconut whip cream.
  3. Vegan Chocolate chip cookies.

Snacks

  1. Fruit on-hand such as bananas, apples, oranges, and dates.
  2. Hummus or guacamole dip with veggies.
  3. Homemade granola, fruit, and nut trail mix.

Ok, you’ve come to the conclusion for more! What are researchers and medical associations saying? There’s a scientific consensus, while not presuming negative outcomes, vegan diets tend to be lower in calories, protein, fat, Vitamin B12, calcium, iodine, with concerns about the digestibility of Iron and Zinc. All agree that an exclusive vegan diet meets the needs of competitive athletes when a variety of unrefined plant-based foods are consumed, without strategic meal planning . The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states, “Whereas athletes are most often concerned with performance, vegetarian diets also provide long-term health benefits and a reduction in risk of chronic disease. In 2 studies, a combination of regular physical activity and vegetarian dietary practices resulted in lower mortality rates did than a vegetarian diet or exercise alone.” Shouldn’t longevity as athletes AND humans be the focus. The above highlights how straightforward it can be to begin to integrate more plant based options into your diet. If it’s something you’ve struggles to find answers to, hopefully this will inspire you to take the next step towards healthier eating and better fueling. 

 

*Carson McQuarrie is an Assistant Coach with Thomas Endurance Coaching and a sponsored plant-based athlete specializing in ultra-endurance road cycling. At an early age he took his competitive nature to soccer and cross-country running. Carson later pursued adventure sports such as rock climbing, downhill and AT skiing, snowshoeing, sea kayaking, mountain ultra-marathon running, and mountaineering.

Carson’s’ wide breadth of backcountry experiences eventually lead him to purchase his first road bike. He found a growing love in the new sport of cycling. Inspired by his peers and reminiscent of dreams to go ‘Pro’ he discovered a plant-based diet and took to riding ultra-distances becoming the fastest vegan to bike across both Canada  and America in 25 days and 17 days respectively.

Carson, having made numerous personal and professional sacrifices to pursue his goals, knows what it’s like to live with focus, commitment, and balance life with a vision in mind. His coaching style is supportive, visionary, and objective. Carson recognizes that an important aspect of being a coach is recognizing each athlete has a personal life, and understanding the support needed to facilitate success.

As a self-taught and Cycling British Columbia registered coach, Carson enjoys continuously learning about his athletes. He analyzes qualitative and quantitative data through TrainingPeaks, power meters, heart rate monitors, RPE, and individualized discussions to prescribe personalized WOs, training blocks, annual training plans, and measure progress.   

 

TEC

 

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