Guide to starting a plant-based meal plan for athletes

Guide to starting a plant-based meal plan for athletes

A lot of people say that a plant-based diet is more affordable and it doesn’t take a lot of time. They make food the priority, as, you will agree, it should be. The focus should be on simplicity and health and over time your body will adjust that healthy and simple food is the food that tastes good.

However, it might be difficult at the beginning, but that is nothing that we can`t help you with. When you start, you can set your diet so that you eat similar types of meals almost every day, but add some variety like mixing up nuts or fruits in the smoothie, or choosing different vegetables or dressing for the salad. It will reduce the stress of planning new meals all the time.

As you keep following the diet you will see all the benefits that it brings. Not just healthwise but also in your performance. It will get easier to plan your meals and to decide what food to choose. So, let`s read more about the plant-based athlete meal plan.

Tips for athletes who want to follow a plant-based diet

Whatever sport is yours, from martial arts, triathlon, or bodybuilding, you can do it by eating a plant-based diet. You will be able to perform at your best, and not just that. Additionally, you will be able to recover well so you can do it all again soon.

There are things you need to do so you can achieve that. Athletes or active individuals can use these tips so they can preserve the active lifestyle they love.

Eat colorful food as much as possible

As much as you can stick to the foods close to their natural state. As a result, you won`t have to worry about macro and micronutrient deficiencies. A variety of foods in many colors will ensure that you are getting plenty of minerals, phytonutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and essential amino acids.

Foods like brightly-colored vegetables, dark leafy greens, berries, dark-colored fruits, vegetables, and green tea will help you reduce the risk of disease. Additionally, they will speed physical recovery and protect your cellular health.

Loading up on a wide variety of vegetables is a good place to start. Eat at least one big, raw salad every day. Load up with as many veggies as you like and add a small amount of healthy fat such as avocado or hemp seed, protein if needed such as edamame or lentils, and then top it off with a homemade dressing.

Post-workout meal is great for recovery

At least a couple of hours after your training try to eat a good quality meal and you are good to go. You don`t have to worry too much about the post-workout window, and if you want some carbs and protein immediately after exercise that is great, too.

Eat a nutrient-dense, well-balanced meal within ninety minutes. That is probably the best idea. When you re-fuel appropriately you can recover faster and be able to train again soon. Pay attention to fluids, protein, and carbohydrate intake.

Ideally, the post-workout ratio of carbs to protein at this meal is something like four grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein. But, experiment with different meals and check what works best for you. This is a very important aspect of your nutrition plan because if you fail to replace depleted protein, carbs, or fluid after a workout that can decrease performance in the following days.

Any whole food within half an hour or an hour is a great place to start. Carbs, a decent amount of protein, antioxidants, and a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids to support a reduction in inflammation are an ideal combination.

Always think of hydration

Staying hydrated is something that is important to everyone. The reason for that is that our bodies can`t function to their full potential if we are dehydrated. If we are dehydrated, that can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased performance
  • Cramping
  • And also affect our health in many different ways.


Always make sure that you are not dehydrated. In another word, drink enough water, not only while you are exercising, but during the whole day. We have to be hydrated constantly, it is not something that we can catch up on.

Maybe getting the water bottle you like will remind you how hydration is important. Buy one and carry it everywhere. If you are at home, always keep a big glass or bottle next to you as a reminder. If it is close and you see it, you will drink it.


Before anything else in the morning, before you drink anything else or eat – drink water first. It will improve your energy and wake you up at least a little bit. You can add lemon, lime, and a bit of apple cider vinegar if you prefer.

Think about using hydrating sports drink if you are exercising intensely for a long time. Electrolyte drinks like coconut water can replenish the electrolytes that we lose through sweat. Likewise, it is a good alternative to high-sugar sports drinks. But, the other commercial sports drinks can do the trick, too.

Consider taking supplements

Supplementation is not something that is required but it can be considered in addition to whole food plant-based diet. If your food and sleep quality is at a good level, you are hydrating regularly, and using methods to reduce stress, then you might consider supplements.

Supplements are not going to make a big difference but they will keep you at a great level. They all depend on your goals, activity level,  and diet. Check with a nutritionist or other professional about what is something that can be the best match for you.

In the ideal world, we should get all the minerals, nutrients, and vitamins through the food we eat. We need to include beans, almonds, and dark leafy greens in our diet for calcium. For iron, on the other hand, we need to include kale, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, apricots, and molasses. Therefore, for essential fats, we need chia, hemp, and flax seeds.

You can consider taking B12, creatine, protein powder, vitamin D, omega-3, and magnesium, but nothing is as powerful as a whole food plant-based diet. First, start there and then consider supplements to fill in the gaps if needed.

Eat more veggies

This is of great importance. Make veggies the base of your meal plan like this:

  • Add vegetables to all your main dishes
  • Snack on lots of raw vegetables
  • Eat big salads every day
  • Put some nutrient-dense greens like kale or spinach into your smoothies

Eat big amounts of vegetables, and then eat some more. A big portion of your daily carbohydrate needs should come exactly from them. Choose a lot of non-starchy veggies during the day and then get starchy veggies like squash or sweet potato around your training.

For the number of calories vegetables contain, they are very high in key antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. That is why they are a nutrient-dense food. Pay attention to green vegetables such as spinach, chard, kale, and different kinds of lettuce. You need mineral-rich and fibrous veggies like carrots, zucchini, asparagus, celery, broccoli, and beets. Rotate your veggies weekly and increase your intake of nutrients.

Make sure you are eating enough calories

If you are training hard, you need to make sure you take the additional energy requirements into consideration. A lot of plant-based foods do not have many calories, so be sure to think of that as well and reach for nutrient-dense foods if needed. You need to find the balance because you don`t want to eat too little to perform. However, you don`t want to eat too much either. That can cause weight gain.

Include a variety of seeds, nuts, whole grains, and legumes to increase the number of quality calories you are getting in order to support your exercise. In another word, you won`t have the energy to train and you won`t feel great if you just eat fruits and vegetables.

Prepare your meals ahead

Being prepared is the key to following a plant-based diet the right way. Take time to prepare your meals. The night before, make your lunch for the following day. Make sure that you have a healthy lunch and snacks ready to go.

Put some extra fruit and nuts in your lunch bag in case you need additional fuel at some point throughout the day. Weekend meal prep can be a lifesaver if the busy week is coming.

Keep a food journal

It can be tricky to find the right balance of macronutrients at the right amount of calories needed for weight maintenance, loss, or gain as well as performance. It can help if you write down everything you eat for a week or two. Write down how you felt when you ate those foods and how your workouts went.

In short, this will help you figure out what balance of fats, carbohydrates, and protein works best for you. You will also be able to determine how many calories you need to have energy for everything you do, and also achieve any weight goals you may have. If needed, do that every few months so you check if there is something that you need to adjust.

Meals to include in your meal plan

Snacks for pre-workout

  • Sweet potato with blueberries
  • Half an apple and whole grain toast with chia seed jam
  • Banana, overnight oats with protein powder
  • Granola with blueberries and almond milk
  • Mashed squash with vanilla protein and berries


  • Coconut apple oatmeal
  • Banana oatmeal
  • Carrot, pumpkin, zucchini oatmeal
  • Sweet potato breakfast burritos


  • Broccoli, wild rice, salad
  • Chickpea salad
  • Chopped salad with peanut sauce and tofu
  • Roasted vegetable lentil salad
  • Lemon tahini salad with chickpea


  • Bbq tofu bowl
  • Roasted potato, avocado bowl
  • Brown rice and baked tempeh
  • Sweet potato tofu bowl
  • Brown rice and baked tempeh
  • Spaghetti squash noodles


  • Apple and almond butter
  • Berries
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Homemade hummus and veggies
  • Roasted veggies with tahini
  • Protein bar

The final word

More and more athletes are switching to plant-based diets so there are new products available all time to help support this kind of meal plan. There are many studies that say that this diet has positive effects on athletes` performance and overall health.

The only thing you need to switch to a plant-based diet is to understand the foods you should eat so you can have a balanced diet. Start your journey by planning your meals and making a habit out of that so you can achieve your goal.

If you considered switching to this kind of diet to improve your athletic performance, you are already on the right path in making good choices regarding food and improving your quality of life. We are here if you need help or you have questions or concerns.

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