ReFuel Summer 2019:20 - Page 11

NUTRITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR VEGAN ATHLETES Be informed and well equipped! n 2019, approximately 2.5 million Australians reported following a plant-based diet compared with 1.7 million in 2012 5. Australians may choose to follow a plant-based diet for ethical, personal, religious, health, economic or environmental reasons. I A strict vegan lifestyle not only considers what is eaten but what cosmetics or clothes you choose to buy. Vegans typically avoid consuming the flesh of animals and fish as well as products made by animals and fish (i.e. dairy, eggs, cheese, fish oil etc.). A well-constructed and planned vegan diet can be achieved however, athletes and regular exercisers need to be well equipped with suitable alternatives to prevent nutrient deficiencies and ensure that they recover well from exercise. For the most part, whole-food vegan diets supply ample carbohydrates from wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits, milk and yoghurt (soy, coconut or almond), starchy vegetables, rice, pasta, legumes/ beans and lentils. It is unlikely that a vegan athlete will not meet their daily and around training/ competition carbohydrate needs. Plant sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) on the other hand may not be so easily consumed in the recommended amounts. Plant sources of protein and omega- 3’s suitable for vegan athletes can be found in Table 1. Careful attention needs to be paid to the quality, quantity and spread of protein each day aiming for a per meal bolus of 0.3 – 0.4 g protein per kilogram body weight. Good quality plant-based protein options are available in Australia. Quorn™ and Sanitarium Vegie Delights™ range have meat free products suitable for vegans often containing all essential amino acids. Other benefits of these products are that they are fortified with vitamins and minerals typically lacking in vegan diets such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Consumption of plant-based drinks fortified with calcium (120mg/ 100mL) such as soy, almond, oat, rice and coconut milk can be suitable alternatives to dairy milk to meet calcium needs. Other plant based, whole food sources of important nutrients for vegans can be found in Table 1 here. PERFORMANCE SUPPLEMENTATION Muscle creatine stores in vegetarian or vegan CHRIS FONDA Chris is a Canberra-based Accredited Sports Dietitian who has a passion for food, sport and health. He currently works as a sports dietitian at the AIS and Diabetes NSW & ACT, delivering group workshops for people living with diabetes in the Canberra/ACT region. Twitter handle: @chris_fonda athletes is reduced as foods such as meat, fish and chicken that are rich sources of creatine are omitted in vegan diets. Therefore, supplementation of creatine to improve short-term high intensity exercise, muscle hypertrophy and strength may be warranted for some athletes. As with creatine, research suggests that muscle carnosine is lower in vegetarian and vegan athletes compared with omnivores. Beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to improve intracellular buffering and act as an antioxidant by increasing muscle carnosine stores however, more research is needed. An Accredited Sports Dietitian should be consulted to help you navigate your vegan lifestyle, provide education on appropriate and safe supplement use and minimise nutrient deficiencies. SUBSCRIBE HERE Summer 2019-20 ReFuel Magazine 11