If you want to give your workout your very best, you are going to need energy – lots of it. But choosing vegan foods that are rich in that type of energy can be a little challenging if you don’t already have a ready-to-go arsenal of vegan goodness to stock up on before you hit the gym. That’s why you need some meal ideas already planned out because none of us needs any more excuses to skip our workout routine.
According to the Health Canada Nutritional Guide, males need three servings of protein per day and females need two. Obviously, a crowd favorite for vegans is tofu, as it is packed with protein and calcium, but there are other alternatives as well. Here are some example meal plans that you can create with them so that you’ll have plenty of energy and motivation for a workout.
The amount of protein that you need actually depends upon your weight. According to the USDA, you need about 0.08 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds). Doing the math on this can make your brain hurt, so use the calculator from the USDA site to figure out what your target protein should be. You can also figure out everything from how many overall calories you need to how much sodium you should limit yourself to.
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, out of the 20 amino acids that we need to make protein, 11 of them are produced by the body and only nine of them need to be found in food. A diet that is made up of a variety of veggies, legumes and grains will usually give you all the protein that you need for a sedentary or lightly active lifestyle.
If you are working out regularly however, you are going to need extra protein for energy, so an increase might be in order. One of the benefits of increasing your protein is that you also increase your intake of nutrients like iron, calcium and especially B12, which is a common vitamin deficiency in both vegans and meat eaters. Here are some of the best foods that are out there for giving you the energy that you need for a workout.
Almonds – 24 grams of protein per cup
Almonds are terrific because you don’t need to eat a whole bunch to get the protein that you need. In fact, a cup of almonds gives you 24 grams of protein, making it one of the most protein-dense, vegan-friendly foods in existence. The best way to make use of almonds before a workout is to create your own, homemade cereal bars with them or spruce your salad up with a half a cup of almonds before you hit the gym if you aren’t in a hurry.
Chickpeas – 15 grams of protein per cup
There are two reasons that chickpeas are one of the best meat alternatives you can buy. First, they are delicious and adding a couple of cups of them to a meal is easy to do. You can roast your chickpeas, you can add brown sugar or other flavorings to create a delicious snack and you can add them to the aforementioned salad for a major protein boost. In fact, combining almonds and chickpeas with some delicious greens might be the start of the world’s most perfect salad. The second reason that chickpeas are recommended is that they also give you five milligrams of iron per cup.
Spinach – 8 grams of protein per piece
Spinach is a terrific choice for getting the protein that you need to get energy. But spinach has other benefits as well. It is so high on this list because it is also an incredible source of iron, B vitamins and magnesium that you can find in plant-based products.
Chia Seeds – Almost 3 grams of protein per tablespoon
You can also make use of another nearly-perfect food. Chia seeds contain almost three grams of protein per tablespoon and that means that if you add them to your yogurt (plant-based of course) or use them as an egg substitute or whatever other creative ideas you can come up with, you are going to end up with enough protein to make working out at the gym almost fun. Almost. Side note: Chia seeds have calcium in spades with almost 100 milligrams per tablespoon.
Soymilk – 8 grams of protein per cup
If you want an ingredient to add to recipes, or just a delicious beverage, soymilk or soymilk-based concoctions not only contain 8 grams of protein per cup, but also around 300 milligrams of calcium per cup, which can take you a significant distance towards your daily recommended allowance of calcium. Soymilk is particularly good for heading to the gym because it can be prepared quickly and allow you to reap the energy benefits right away.
Hemp Seeds – Almost 4 grams of protein per tablespoon
While hemp seed aren’t as popular as Chia seeds for creating delicious recipes, they actually have more protein than Chia seeds do. You can blend hemp seeds in with a soymilk-based smoothie or come up with your own recipe for including them in a pre-workout snack.
The Protein Powder Alternative
If you want to skip the food and go straight for the protein, you might want to try vegan protein powder. It’s out there and thanks to the widespread vegan movement you can find it just about anywhere including GNC and Target.
Energy Boosting Recipes
A quick search of the web for some high-protein, energy boosting vegan recipes will net you great results, with enough variety that you won’t have to worry about repeating a meal for a while. For example, chocolatechillimango.com’s recipe for Sweet Potato Pizza has an incredible 22 grams of protein per serving. Some other favorites include Vegan Cheese and Lentil Pie, Vegan Pasta, Pumpkin Chili and many more. You’ll find some new favorite meals in no time and have plenty of energy to work off those calories afterward at the gym.
Veronica is an enthusiastic blogger that writes for Reviews Academy. AT RA, she reviews entire categories of products and not individual models in order to offer you a complete picture of all options available on the market. Her mission is to provide the readers with comprehensive and trustworthy opinions to helpt hem make the perfect buying decision