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Successful athletes thrive on vegan diets

Many athletes adopt a plant-based diet in the build-up to a big sporting event, as part of trying to improve their performance. From bodybuilders to triathletes to marathon runners, there are healthy, fit vegans to be found in just about every type of sport.

Top tips

Whether you're a professional athlete or an enthusiastic amateur, you may find the following pointers useful:

  • Need extra energy? Snack on nuts; add tofu and a healthy vegetable oil (e.g. rapeseed) to your meals. 
  • Building lots of muscle? Take in extra legumes for protein.
  • Eat healthy carbohydrates and up to a third of your calories from healthy fats such as avocados, nut butters or seeds. 
  • Endurance athletes, particularly women, need to watch their iron status. Remember to eat fruit and vegetables rich in vitamin C with your iron-rich foods.

During and after activity, energy requirements go up. Examples of great post-activity snacks include protein-rich green smoothies that include a handful of kale or spinach as well as fruit, veggies, nuts or seeds; bananas or avocados (rich in potassium); dried fruit such as dates, figs and apricots; or a peanut butter wholegrain sandwich. It's best to top up your energy and rehydrate within 45 minutes of exercise.

Some truly awesome athletes are vegan, including several Olympic medal winners across a range of sports. Check them out here. Also, meet super vegan athlete Fiona Oakes (right) in the video below.