If you’re a vegan athlete, you know that it can be tough to find vegan pre workout meals that are both healthy and satisfying.
You may wonder how to create a nutritious and energizing pre workout meal without animal products.
Look no further!
Let’s dive in to help you build a sports nutrition plan for vegan meals.
Why choose a vegan pre workout meal
By choosing a vegan pre workout meal, you can harness the power of plant-based foods to fuel your workouts.
Why a vegan pre workout meal matters
A vegan pre workout meal is important for many reasons.
1. Load your glycogen stores.
Glycogen is the fuel used during exercise, especially during high-intensity or long-duration workouts. Eating a vegan pre workout meal with complex carbohydrates prevents you from running out of glycogen.
2. Prevent muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth
Additionally protein helps you to stay fuller longer and can help keep your blood sugar steady.
3. Help you stay hydrated
Since hydration is key for your health and sports performance, you want to incorporate fluids into your pre workout meal. Water helps regulate your body temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to your cells and prevent dehydration.
What to eat before a workout or game
A vegan pre workout meal should ideally contain four main components: complex carbohydrates, plant-based protein, color (fruits and veggies) and fluids to hydrate. Also you should have some healthy fats mixed in as well.
Here are some examples of foods that fit these criteria:
Complex carbohydrates are foods that contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They digest slowly and provide a steady stream of energy. They also help you feel full and satisfied for longer.
- Whole grains: oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet or barley
- Fruits: bananas, apples, oranges, berries, grapes or melons
- Vegetables: spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes or squash
- Beans and lentils: black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils or edamame
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
Plant-based protein for vegan pre workout
Some examples of plant-based vegan pre workout protein are:
- Soy products: such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, or soy milk
- Quinoa: a gluten-free grain that is high in protein and fiber
- Hemp seeds: a complete protein source that also contains omega-3 fatty acids
- Chia seeds: a superfood that is rich in protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids
- Spirulina: a blue-green algae that is packed with protein and antioxidants
- Nutritional yeast: a savory seasoning that adds a cheesy flavor and vitamin B12 to your meals
Hydrate with water before your workout
Water is one of the best ways to hydrate your body before a workout. You should drink at least 8-10 ounces of water 30 minutes before your workout.
However, you may want to drink a sports drink to top off fuel, electrolytes and maximize hydration.
Or you may opt for a non dairy vegan milk alternative. When you’re looking for good options, make sure you choose one that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. You may also want to boost your protein with a high protein non dairy milk choice.
21 energizing vegan pre workout meal ideas
Try out one of our athlete favorite vegan pre workout meals that provides a balance of carbs, protein, color and healthy fats.
- Banana and nut butter wrap: Spread your favorite nut butter (such as almond or peanut butter) on a whole grain wrap or tortilla. Add sliced bananas and a sprinkle of chia seeds for an extra boost of energy and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Overnight oats with berries: Prepare overnight oats by combining rolled oats, plant-based milk, plant based yogurt and a touch of maple syrup. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and add berries or dried fruit to top it off.
- Chickpea Salad with Quinoa: Mix cooked quinoa, canned chickpeas, diced vegetables and a zesty lemon-tahini dressing. This protein-packed salad provides sustained energy and essential nutrients for your workout.
- Smoothie bowl: Blend frozen fruits, plant-based protein powder, a handful of spinach or kale, and your choice of liquid to create a thick and creamy smoothie. Top it with granola, nuts, and seeds for added texture and nutrition.
- Sweet potato and chickpea Power Bowl: Roast diced sweet potatoes and chickpeas with a sprinkle of your favorite seasonings. Serve over brown rice and leafy greens and top with a drizzle of tahini dressing.
- Whole grain toast with avocado or sliced fruit: Toast a couple of slices of whole grain bread and top them with mashed avocado. Or for a sweeter snack add thinly sliced fruit like strawberries, mango, or kiwi on top.
- Quinoa and vegetable stir-fry: Combine quinoa, colorful vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli and snap peas. Add a splash of low-sodium soy sauce or tamari for flavor.
- Tofu scramble wrap: Sauté crumbled tofu with a variety of vegetables. Season with turmeric, cumin, and nutritional yeast for a savory flavor. Wrap the tofu scramble in a whole grain tortilla for a protein-packed pre workout meal.
- Tempeh lettuce wraps: Marinate sliced tempeh in a mixture of soy sauce, maple syrup, and garlic. Sauté until golden brown and wrap in a whole wheat tortilla with sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots and a drizzle of tahini sauce.
- Seitan stir-fry: Slice seitan into thin strips and stir-fry with an assortment of colorful vegetables like broccoli, snap peas, and mushrooms. Season with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic for a flavorful and high-protein pre workout option.
- Tofu and vegetable kebabs: Thread cubed tofu, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini onto skewers. Brush with a marinade of your choice and grill or bake. Serve with quinoa or brown rice for a satisfying pre workout meal.
- Tempeh salad bowl: Mix chopped tempeh with mixed greens, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado slices, and a tangy vinaigrette dressing. This salad bowl provides a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
- Seitan and vegetable stir-fry with rice noodles: Sauté seitan strips with a medley of vegetables like bok choy, carrots, and snow peas. Toss with cooked rice noodles and a stir-fry sauce of your choice for a delicious and energizing pre workout option.
- Tofu and veggie curry: Simmer cubed tofu with a medley of vegetables, such as cauliflower, bell peppers, and spinach, in a flavorful curry sauce. Serve with quinoa or whole grain naan bread for a satisfying pre workout meal.
- Tempeh tacos: Crumble tempeh and sauté with taco seasoning until well browned. Fill soft tortillas with the tempeh, along with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime.
- Seitan and vegetable wrap: Sauté sliced seitan with onions, bell peppers, and your choice of seasonings. Spread hummus or mashed avocado on a whole grain wrap and add the seitan and sautéed vegetables. Roll it up and enjoy.
- Tofu buddha bowl: Create a colorful bowl with baked tofu, roasted vegetables, quinoa and a variety of fresh greens. Drizzle with your favorite dressing or sauce for added flavor and enjoy a nutrient-rich pre workout meal.
- Oatmeal with berries and nuts: Oatmeal is a great source of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy throughout your workout. The berries and nuts add protein and healthy fats, to help you feel full and satisfied.
- Smoothie with protein powder, fruit and greens: Smoothies are a quick and easy way to get a lot of nutrients in one meal. Blend together protein powder, fruit, and greens for a pre-workout meal that will help you power through your workout.
- Vegan yogurt with fruit and granola: Yogurt is a good source of protein, while fruit and granola provide carbohydrates and fiber. This meal is a great option for those who are looking for something light and refreshing.
- Vegan pancakes or waffles: Whip up a batch of plant based pancakes with Kodiak® plant based baking mix or from scratch. Top with fresh berries and a side of plant based sausage.
Pre workout vegan meal timing
Vegan and plant based meals tend to be high in fiber which is beneficial for digestion and overall health. (2) However, closer to game or practice time, it may be advisable to limit your fiber and fat intake to avoid any potential discomfort or digestive issues.
Instead, focus on consuming easily digestible carbohydrates that provide quick energy.
Ideally, you can eat your vegan pre game meal around 3-4 hours before your workout, practice or game. But that’s not always possible.
Practice and test your pre workout vegan meal
Consulting with a registered dietitian sports nutritionist for athletes can also provide personalized guidance based on your specific needs and goals.
Remember, it’s always best to experiment with different meal options and pay attention to how your body responds. Each individual’s digestive system is unique, so it’s important to find the balance that works best for you.
Fueling your athletic performance with a vegan pre workout meal can provide you with the energy and nutrients you need for optimal workouts.
Get ready to take your workouts to the next level with the power of a vegan pre workout meal!
Remember to consult with a registered sports dietitian nutritionist to personalize your nutrition plan based on your individual needs and goals.
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Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.