Have you been considering a meat-free diet, but are unsure what to consider and how to get your nutritional balance right? Follow in the footsteps of successful vegetarian cyclist Lizzie Deignan with a few top tips.
1. Fill with fuel
“Vegetarian and vegan diets can be high in filling, fibre-rich foods, which don’t always deliver major calorific energy,” explains Shaun Appleton, operations officer with PhD Nutrition.
They’re useful for weight management, but not so for energy boosting. “More calorie dense, meat-free foods for pre-ride meals include white rice, pasta and potatoes, while in-the-saddle snacks to consider are dried fruit and nuts, bananas, boiled new potatoes and peanut butter or jam sandwiches.”
2. Pick protein sources
“Plant-based protein sources aren’t as densely packed with this muscle-repair essential as meat ones so keeping a food log and remembering that a male cyclist will typically need around 1.2-1.6g of protein per kg of body weight each day can help when measuring your intake,” says Appleton. Female cyclists will require 15 percent less.
“Vegans need to ensure their diet contains vitamin B12, which is common in meat and dairy, but also available through fortified cereals, soy milk, kale, spinach and yeast.”
3. Get vital vitamins
“Keep a check on your iron intake too as the more bioavailable haem iron is only found in meat, but including fortified cereal, soy milk, tofu, chickpeas and lentils plus sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes, seeds and peanuts will boost iron in a vegan diet,” says Appleton.
“Also source calcium — from fortified cereals and soy milk, tofu and green vegetables — and omega-3 from flaxseed, walnuts and DHA Omega-3 soy milk.”