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We know that foods derived from animal products (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products) aren’t necessary to live a long and healthy life – in fact, quite the contrary. These protein sources aside, active people should take care to get enough protein in their diets. After all, when one is training, one is breaking down muscle tissue (you know this is happening when you feel the “burn” caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles) and protein is necessary for the recovery and rebuilding process. Vegan athletes have to pay more attention to dietary choices and food combinations in order ensure the absorption of enough high-quality protein.

What May Be Missing

In addition to protein, vegans may be missing the following nutrients in their diet:

  • iron
  • calcium
  • vitamins B-12 and D
  • zinc

Iron is quite important for building muscle and endurance. If you aren’t going to get this from beef, you should try to eat the following on a regular basis:

  • whole grain cereals fortified with iron
  • legumes (beans, peas and peanuts)
  • dried fruit (especially raisins)
  • cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)

In addition, you can combine these with foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and berries.  This will aid your body in absorbing and utilizing iron.

In lieu of dairy products, load up on fortified soy products as well as leafy greens to keep bones strong with sufficient calcium.  Mustard greens, kale and chard are powerhouse foods in this regard, as well as dried figs. Sesame seeds are also a decent source of calcium, and a unique form of nut butter made from sesame, called tahini, is available in many Middle Eastern specialty stores and combines well with sweet as well as savory foods.

Protein?

Rice and beans together make a complete protein – or almost any combination of grain and legumes. However, peanuts (which are actually legumes, not nuts) and soybeans provide complete proteins that are of the same quality as that derived from fish, poultry, dairy or eggs. Most tree nuts are also good sources of protein, and provide the additional benefit of healthy oils, such as omega-3 (also found in olive oil).

The Tough Ones

Vitamin B-12 is essential for metabolism and making use of the energy stored in food. Unfortunately, the only reliable source of this nutrient is in animal-based foods. Whole grains cereals and soy milk are often vitamin B-12 fortified, but one would have to consume a great deal in order to get this nutrient in sufficient amounts from these vegetable-based sources alone. Therefore, vegan athletes may need to take B-12 supplements.

The same is true of zinc, which is vital for healthy respiratory and digestive functions. Fortunately, these supplements are not expensive – so make certain you have these on hand, especially when in training.

By Sasha Britton for Gym Source.com

~The Vegan Project

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Raw Maca Root. I wonder if you can cook with it?

 

 

Hi Everyone!

I realized that it’s been since September that I wrote a vegan challenge diary entry, so I thought I would share with you what’s been going on for me during this past year of being vegan.  Now granted, there has been a few un-vegan moments, but I’m not one to dwell on imperfections.  They happened, I moved on.  I have been feeling really great so far!  Food moves in and out of my body with great ease, my skin looks better now than when I was a 21 year old smoker eating fast food 4-5 times a week (not surprising) and have a growing sense of purpose and fulfillment surrounding The Vegan Project.  I’m not sure if it’s the vegan food that has contributed to this or the satisfaction that comes with doing what you love every day and sharing it with others in hopes that they will love it, even just a little bit, too.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all vegan bliss. There has been some side effects along the way.  A couple of us have experienced some annoying yeast imbalances due to a lack of ‘good bacteria’ in our stomachs.  Seems to be under control now though, thank God!  I personally have also noticed a bit of fatigue and ‘fogginess’ and a hormone imbalance during peak times, which is what sparked this post in the first place.  After discussing this with the group and doing some research online I decided to embark on two different supplement regimes that are said to remedy these ailments that I would like to share with you.*

The first is Ascenta’s NutraVege, which is a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids containing high potency levels of DHA, GLA and SDA, which are vital for brain function and a healthy nervous system.  Non-vegans get these from animal fat and fish oils.  A concern amongst the vegan community is that the most important one, DHA, was most difficult to mimic and obtain the necessary potency.  Well this brand contains 400mg compared to their non-veggie version which contains 500 mg.  I don’t have much to say about NutaVege yet as it’s only been a few days, but it does have a lovely and palatable citrus flavour.

The second supplement I am experimenting with is MacaSure, by Sequel. These are certified organic Maca Root Extract Vegicaps (no gelatin) hailing from the Andean Plateaus in Peru.  Maca is rich in amino acids, alkaloids, sterols, vitamins and minerals.  It also claims to increase energy and stamina, enhance fertility and sexual function and aid in stress adaption and hormonal balancing.  Just began this regime yesterday, so no results yet, but I tell you, I’m pretty excited at the prospect of these claims being true!

So, If any of you have tried these products or other lines out there, please let me know your thoughts.  I will do my best to be most diligent with my supplements (following a routine is not my best skill) and keep you up to date on my progress.

*I like to fly by the seat of my pants, but suggest that you consult an expert before experimenting with supplements.

Love Bridget

~The Vegan Project

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