Can a vegan diet help muscle recovery?

Veganism is one of the biggest success stories of the past decade. Reinventing its old image of sandal-clad hippies preaching about the evils of meat, the lifestyle now counts Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez and Jared Leto as fanatical devotees. This vegan revolution is thanks in part to a lot of good work tackling myths surrounding the diet. Studies have shown that ditching meat and dairy significantly boosts weight loss, and the fitness community have quickly followed suit with all manner of easy, delicious tips for the active vegan.

Working out on the vegan diet

A recent article in the Telegraph followed Anna Magee’s story of one woman who gave up non-vegan foodstuffs cold turkey. One of the changes she found most surprising was a total lack of post-workout muscle pain. Trips to the gym went from dreaded weekly ordeals to a regular part of the routine on most days. This is thanks to eliminating her intake of meat protein, whose waste products include uric acid and lactic acid. Excess levels of these acids slow down muscle recovery and lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Even better, healthy carbs like oats, sourdough bread and quinoa were giving Anna’s muscles a boost. Within two months she’d lost 6kg and cut down on harmful visceral fat, a leading cause of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Growing numbers of active people are finding themselves swayed by the potential benefits of going vegan. As you can imagine, this involves taking a fresh new look at what you indulge in post-workout.

Easy vegan meals for muscle recovery

Seasoned fitness lovers know that 15-60 minutes immediately after you exercise is the golden window for equipping your body with what it needs to repair itself. A liquid snack is far easier to digest than solid food, so look at a recovery drink like this example from No Meat Athlete. Just grab your blender and mix up: * 4 large Medjool dates (remove pits) * 2 cups water * 1 tbsp hemp protein * 1 tbsp ground salba * 2 tbsp sprouted buckwheat (or substitute cooked) * Juice from 1/2 lemon * Juice from 1/4 lime * 1/2 tsp lemon zest * 1 tsp ground dulse flakes * 1 tsp maca * 1 tsp greens powder (chlorella or spirulina) An hour or two later it’s time for a more substantial post-workout meal. Here you’ll want to be focusing on quality protein and also making it delicious to reward yourself for the hard work. Health and fitness hub Greatist recommends a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein for restocking your body’s amino acids and repairing torn muscle. For the latter, the cunning vegan also incorporates anti-inflammatory foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene, a powerful anti-inflammatory, so a colourful repast like Kara Lydon’s butternut squash and tempeh tacos with salsa verde neatly contain everything your body needs to get back in the running ASAP. Have you taken the plunge and gone vegan? Have you got any tasty diet tips or workout pointers you’ve discovered? Leave a comment, and for more lifestyle boosts be sure to sign up to our newsletter.

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