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Successful athletes thrive on vegan diets

There are hundreds of vegan athletes at the cutting edge of competitive fitness, all demonstrating the advantages of eating plant-based. Vegans from all athletic fields, including ultramarathon runners, rock climbers and weightlifters, show us all that you don’t need meat and dairy to be strong, fit, fast and agile.

Many of these athletes boast reduced recovery times, greater endurance and improved performance after going vegan. Dr Holloway says: "For optimal athletic performance, high-carbohydrate, low-fat, moderate protein diets are recommended. An excess of animal protein - associated with various chronic diseases - should be avoided.”

Don't believe us? Check out our list of our favourite vegan athletes here.

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 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. Many are listed here and on our blog. Also, meet super vegan athlete Fiona Oakes (right) in the video below.

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