What to Eat
Greens (preferably organic and in season) — Carbohydrates
- Collard greens
Vegetables (preferably organic and in season) — Carbohydrates
Fruits (preferably organic, tree ripened, and in season) — Carbohydrates
- Goji berries
- Camu berry
- Açai (ah-sigh-eee) is a rich purple fruit that reportedly has 10 times the antioxidants of red grapes.
- packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids
- high in potassium and vitamin C
- lower risk of heart disease and cancer
- slows degenerative diseases associated with aging and improve motor skills
- improves urinary tract health
- Citrus fruit
Beans (Carbohydrates and Protein)
- Garbanzo (chickpea)
Grains (Carbohydrates and Protein)
- Brown rice
Seeds (Fat and Protein)
Nuts (Fat and Protein)
- Walnuts – excellent source of antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamin E, and omega-3s
Vegetarian Dishes to Substitute for Flesh Food
- Cheese dishes
- Lentil loaves
- Tofu recipes
- Tempeh recipes
- Vegetarian lasagna
- Rice and beans
- Vegetarian sushi
- Granola & rice milk
- Vegetarian pizza
- Vegetarian chop suey or chow main
- Vegetarian tacos and nachos
- Indian dhal
- Vegetarian chilli
- Split pea soup
Vegetarian Food Sources
Vegetarian athletes need to eat to meet certain vitamin and mineral requirements for body building.
Calcium promotes bone health and plays a key role in body weight regulation and especially for fat metabolism. If you are a lacto-vegetarian, you can get your calcium from dairy products. If you are Vegan, getting sufficient calcium is not the problem that most people think. In fact, that we need dairy products, and especially milk, for sufficient calcium intake is a popular misconception.
The cow does not drink milk for its calcium. We are the only mammals that drink milk past infancy and it’s not even our milk! Still not convinced that you can get enough calcium without milk? Consider this. Osteoporosis, believed caused by insufficient calcium, is more common in precisely those countries where dairy products are consumed in large quantities: the United States, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It is uncommon in countries that consume large amounts of soy and little if any cow’s milk. Why would this be? The problem may be too much protein in our diets. On a high protein diet, additional calcium is needed to neutralize the by-products of heavy protein consumption. Moreover, the high phosphorus content of protein foods causes a lowering of calcium in the blood, and this leads to calcium loss in the bones. When you increase vegetables and fruit in the diet, blood calcium normalizes, and calcium loss from bones diminishes.
Many foods provide as much as and even more calcium than do dairy products. A cup of quinoa has the calcium content of a quart of milk. A cup of collard greens contain as much calcium as a cup of skim milk. Soy milk is often fortified with calcium. If you’re still worried about getting sufficient calcium, consider a calcium supplement.
Vegan Sources: Orange, peanuts, great northern beans, tofu, molasses, rhubarb, turnip greens, kale, chicory greens, broccoli, spinach, and green beans
Non-Vegan Sources: Cheese, milk, yogurt, oysters, salmon, and sardines.
One nutrient that vegetarians may be deficient in without eating any red meat is iron. This is a problem as iron is necessary for good red blood cell development and deficiency will mean that you will fatigue a lot faster in your workout. What’s the solution? If being a vegetarian is a permanent way of life for you, consider adding an iron supplement to your day. Also, it’s important to know that coffee, tea, herb tea, soy protein, bran, high fiber foods, egg yolks, phytate, and calcium supplements impair iron absorption. You will get less iron if you consume any of these from 15 minutes before to an hour after you eat any of these foods or drinks.
Non-heme iron is found in plants and 8% of what we eat is absorbed, if eaten with a good source of vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomato products, and red pepper). In addition, using iron pans can boost the iron content of foods.
Sources: Wheat germ, peanut butter, tofu, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, spinach, kale, broccoli, green peas, whole wheat bread.
Heme iron is found in animal food and has an absorption efficiency of about 23%.
Zinc is essential to the bodybuilder as strenuous exercise tends to deplete body levels of zinc.
Vegan Sources: Wheat germ, peanut butter, tofu, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, potato, spinach, kale, broccoli, green peas, whole wheat bread.
Non-Vegan Sources: yogurt
Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2)
Riboflavin is necessary for releasing energy from carbohydrates and so is essential for the endurance needed for successful workouts.
Vegan Sources: Broccoli, asparagus, tofu, almonds, yeast, and soy milk.
Non vegan sources: Milk and cheese
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is vital to our well being both for our red blood cells and for our nerve cells. Our red blood cells require B12 to carry oxygen from the lungs to other important parts of the body. Without a sufficient amount the cells fail to get enough oxygen and we have that run down feeling.
B12 is found in meats, most fish (especially trout, mackerel, and herring), egg yolks, and yogurt. If you are a strict Vegan and do not eat flesh products, you are at risk of getting insufficient amounts of this vital vitamin. You can get some of your B12 from wheatgrass, blue-green algae and sea vegetables like dulse. But for many Vegans it’s not enough and you will need to supplement. Taking B12 in liquid or a capsule sublingually will enhance absorption.
Vegan Sources: Naturally found in animal products only, but also in fortified soy milk, cereals, imitation meats (check labels), supplements, and some is also made by our intestinal bacteria.
Non-Vegan Sources: Milk, and cheese. Vegans should make sure to find a brand that is fortified with Vitamin B12. Soy milk is often fortified with B12.
Vitamin D is essential for the regulation of calcium absorption and metabolism. Without sufficient Vitamin D, even if there is sufficient dietary calcium available, it will not be properly absorbed and metabolized. Vitamin D is now being recognized as critical to a number of other body systems as well.
Vegan Sources: Exposure to sun. To get sufficient vitamin D from sunlight, you should be exposed, without sun block for about 20 to 30 minutes a day, preferably before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Wearing sun block will not only block out the bad UV rays but the good, healing rays as well. Use caution to avoid getting burned. If you cannot get sufficient sunlight, take a vitamin D supplement.
Non-Vegan Sources: Sun exposure; milk, margarine, and eggs
Some Diet Suggestions
To ensure maximum nutrition, try filling up with these vegetarian superfoods.
CARROTS – Loaded with beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant, and great for vision, carrots make your salad more crunchy and tasty.
SPINACH/BROCCOLI/CABBAGE – These green leafy veggies are high in potent anti-cancer compounds like sulforaphane and quercitin. Spinach is loaded with fiber and cancer-fighting substances and can also improve your eyesight. Cabbage is exceedingly rich in fiber and has almost 50% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Broccoli is packed with antioxidants, which help fight against heart disease, strengthen the immune system and lower the risk of cancer and infection.
APPLE – Apples are loaded with healthy phytonutrients and increase the hemoglobin in the blood, and boost immunity. Among their many health wonders, apples can reduce the risk of asthma and may help prevent lung cancer.
CITRUS FRUITS (ORANGE) – One of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of vitamin C is eating a lemon or orange. Vitamin C is an important aid to fighting stress and disease by fighting the growth of free radicals in your body. Citrus juice contains flavonoids, a phytonutrient that lowers the body’s production of cholesterol, inhibits blood clot formation and boosts the bang of vitamin C. Citrus fruits are also loaded with soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, and helps you to manage your weight. They also contain limonene, an oil found in the peel of the fruit that might inhibit a variety of cancers.
TOMATO – Tomatoes are an abundant source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps in the fight against cancer and heart disease, and are also packed with vitamins A, C and E. Lycopene is also believed to fight cancer and promote heart health.
BERRIES – “Food for the brain,” berries slow and reverse many of the degenerative diseases that can affect the brain as we get old, as numerous research studies have documented. Blueberries contain an additional antioxidant to fight against cancer. They’re high in vitamin and fiber content. They’re an excellent source of antioxidants and also help boost your memory. And fresh berries help in weight-loss plans as they are high in water and low in calories.
ONION/GARLIC – Responsible for much flavor in our food, onion and garlic also act as a powerful anti-fungal, an anti-viral and an anti-bacterial nutrient. Studies have shown that consuming crushed raw Garlic lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. They contain diallyl sulfide and saponins, compounds that add distinctive flavor to our recipes and fight cancer and heart disease at the same time.
Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are a fabulous source of amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins. They also contain calcium, potassium, niacin, phosphorous, magnesium and tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin, our feel good hormone. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of iron, protein and zinc, have enzymes that can aid digestion and help the body run more efficiently, and contain a compound called Phytosterol which is believed to enhance the immune system and reduce cholesterol. Studies also have shown that pumpkin seeds can help prevent hardening of the arteries, regulate cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation and arthritis.
Sweet Potato – Sweet potatoes are packed with carotenoids (thus their bright orange color) and are good for helping improve night vision. Other fabulous nutrients in this underrated vegetable include vitamin C, manganese, copper, vitamin B6, potassium and iron. The sweet potato also has anti-inflammatory properties and is helpful in the diets of those suffering with lupus, asthma and arthritis. Also helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, it’s good for diabetics.
Almonds – Almonds are a great source of protein for vegans, and they also contain vitamin E, mono unsaturated fatty acids, calcium, folate magnesium and zinc. A cup of almonds contain as much calcium as a cup of milk (but without the acidity which milk contains). Almonds have a cholesterol lowering effect and a study from the Health Research and Studies Center has found almonds are even better than olive oil in lowering LDL cholesterol.
Avocados -Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which are important for reducing your risk of developing heart disease, and also high in potassium, B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, and folate. And they are wonderful for your skin and hair.
Include a variety of foods from each food group to help you meet your nutrient needs. A balanced vegetarian diet should include:
- two servings of fat
- two servings of fruit
- four servings of vegetables
- five servings of legumes, nuts, milk an eggs for protein
- six servings of grains
A balanced vegetarian breakfast meal should include
- one serving of fat
- one serving of fruit
- one serving of protein
- one serving of grain
Sample breakfast meals
- Fruit smoothie with some nuts or ½ avocado, sunflower sprouts and rice protein powder
- 1 cup whole grain cereal like rice or amaranth, 1 cup soy milk, a banana.
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal with 1 oz. chopped walnuts and 2 tbsp. raisins with 1 cup skim milk.
A balanced lunch should include:
- one serving of fruit
- two servings of vegetables
- two servings of protein
- two serving of carbs
- one serving of fat
- Small whole wheat pita stuffed with 1/2 cup hummus, served with a large garden salad with 1 tbsp. natural salad dressing and an apple and handful of nuts.
- Rice bowl made with 1 cup brown rice, 1/4 cup cooked kidney beans and 2 cups mixed vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, served with a container of goat yogurt and 1 cup berries.
A balanced vegetarian dinner should include:
- two servings of vegetables
- two servings of protein
- two servings of grain.
- Tofu stir-fry made with 1/2 cup cubed tofu, 2 cups mixed vegetables — such as snow peas, red pepper strips and celery –, and, sesame oil and low-sodium soy sauce and served with 1 cup brown rice.
- Vegetarian burger served on a whole wheat hamburger bun with 2 cups grilled asparagus and squeezed lemon.