Blog Post

How To Optimise Your Nutrition As A Vegan Athlete

Veganism can be a tough journey to navigate generally. You add in trying to optimise your nutrition as a vegan athlete the complexity definitely goes up.

Whether you are a weekend warrior or an elite athlete, most people want to get the most out of their diet for both body composition and performance. 

The Netflix documentary, Game Changers did a pretty good job at convincing people that by simply being vegan, your athletic performance and body composition will magically improve beyond your wildest dreams. 

But alas, veganism won’t inherently make you a better athlete. To some extent, depending on your previous diet, the increase in plant-based foods that comes with transitioning to a vegan diet may improve your recovery. However, a vegan diet should be strategically designed for each individual person to ensure all nutrient requirements are being met for health and performance. 

Quite often I see athletes not fuelling themselves adequately on a vegan diet. It is really easy to undereat when most of your food is wholefood and plant based. For the general population, this is often a great thing. The fact that plant-based diets can make losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight easier is often what draws people to the lifestyle in the first place.

On the other hand, athletes who are looking for fuel for performance and increase or sustain high levels of muscle mass can begin to unintentionally under fuel themselves. A protein intake much lower than recommendations for sport is also common amongst vegan athletes.

This article is going to run you through everything you need to know about vegan nutrition for athletes and how to develop a dietary plan that ticks all of the boxes. 

Step 1: Determining your calorie requirements 

Energy balance weight loss weight gain

How many calories you should be consuming depends on a lot of factors,

  • Your height and weight
  • Your age and gender
  • Your training schedule
  • Your activity level outside of training 
  • Your goals 

The one we really want to focus on is how your goals will affect your optional calorie intake. At the end of the day, weight gain and weight loss boils down to one thing, 

Calories in versus calories out

Sure, there is way more nuance involved in this equation than most people are aware of. Including an array of factors that affect calories coming in as well as calories out. 

The fact remains, if your goal is to gain muscle mass, you will need to eat more calories than your body requires. Fat loss requires you to eat fewer calories than your body needs. 

You can use our calorie calculator as a starting point to estimate your total daily energy expenditure.

If you want to maintain your weight and just make sure performance stays top-notch, eat the same amount of calories as your total daily energy expenditure. Determining your energy expenditure through equations is not an exact science but it can give you a good ballpark number.

To ensure that the number of calories you are consuming is equal to your average energy output, track your weight for a while. If your weight consistently trends up reduce your calories until it is stable. If your weight consistently tracks down, increase your calories until it is stable. Also, it is important to note that weight fluctuation is normal day to day so trends should be measured over weeks not days.

If you want to lose weight and reduce body fat, eat 10-20% less than your total daily energy expenditure. These values will be presented in the calorie calculator as 

10% = slow and steady
15% = Moderate
20% = Aggressive

The more aggressive your weight loss, the more it will likely impact your performance on a day-to-day basis which is something to consider. If you are heading into a competition, race, fight, etc, you will likely not want to sabotage your performance leading into the event. A slow and steady weight loss may be more appropriate. 

If you have to make weight for an event and you have 6 weeks to do it before heading into a performance-focused block of training, that may be the time to lean more towards the aggressive rate of weight loss.

calorie surplus for muscle gain

If you want to increase body weight and gain muscle mass, eat 5-15% above your total daily energy expenditure. These values will be presented in the calorie calculator as 

5% = slow and steady
10% = Moderate
15% = Aggressive

Unlike body fat, you are limited in how much muscle mass you can gain over a certain period of time. You can eat in a huge calorie surplus and still only gain the same amount of lean mass as you would have on a low or moderate calorie surplus. 

The difference is, the larger calorie surplus will result in a greater gain in body fat. 

The optimal size of your calorie surplus for muscle gain is dependent on your training experience. The newer you are to strength training, the more muscle you will be able to gain in a shorter period of time. 

As you become more advanced and have a greater percentage of muscle mass, the harder it is to gain more muscle. In this case, you will benefit from leaning towards a more conservative calorie surplus. 

Step 2: Optimising protein intake – quantity & quality

Protein contains 4 calories per gram and is the most important macronutrient when it comes to muscle gain or retaining muscle mass during a weight cut. 

General recommendations for nonathletic populations is 0.8g of protein per kg body weight.

Vegan versus non vegan athlete protein recommendations

However, recommendations for athletes vary between 1.4g/kg and even up to 2.5g/kg body weight. 

Why are protein requirements higher for vegan athletes?

Despite these recommendations, evidence shows that vegan athletes require more protein than their non-vegan counterparts in order to have the same anabolic effect.

Protein requirements for vegan athletes can be up to 20% more than non-vegan athletes. This is due to the differences in protein quality of plant-based proteins versus animal-sourced proteins. 

There are several factors that make up the protein quality of food but the two main things researchers will look at are:

  • The protein digestibility – this takes into account how much the protein is absorbed from the total protein quantity of foods 
  • The amino acid score or profile – this measures the essential amino acid content present in a protein and the protein is rated based on the most limiting amino acid

In research, these are measured through the Digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS) or the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCASS). 

You can see in the table below that the plant-based food will typically have a lower score using both of these tools of protein quality assessment.

amino acid profile of food
amino acid profile plant based foods

Plant-based proteins are less digestible than animal proteins. This could be due to several reasons including 

  • The difference in protein structure – plant-based proteins have a protein structure that is more resistant to proteolysis (protein breakdown into amino acids) than animal proteins 
  • Plant proteins contain non-starch polysaccharides or fibers – this also impedes the access of enzymes to proteins and reduces proteolysis 
  • Plant-based foods contain antinutritional factors including phytic acid, tannins, and protease inhibitors which can reduce protein bioavailability in numerous ways 

Some processing techniques can increase protein digestibility in plant-based foods. For example, the phytic acid content found in nuts and seeds, as well as grain foods, can be reduced by soaking, sprouting, and germination of food.

Moreover, protease inhibitors present in cereals and legumes can be significantly reduced through cooking with heat. Heat-treated plant-based protein sources had 18% higher digestibility than unprocessed sources

For example, let’s take a look at the protein digestibility of several soy products. Research has shown that soy protein isolate has a similar protein digestibility to whey protein isolate but edamame beans (the whole soybean) have a much lower protein digestibility. Tofu, being more processed than edamame but less processed than soy protein isolate has a protein digestibility somewhere in between. 

This isn’t to say that you should always go for more processed sources of protein but to emphasize the fact that protein digestibility varies a lot between plant-based foods. Whole foods often offer a far greater benefit from a vitamin and mineral perspective. However, you will need more protein in total because not all the protein is being absorbed as well as if you were having animal-based proteins. 

Plant-based proteins are often described as “not complete proteins” due to their often being a limited amount of particular essential amino acids. 

protein combining vegan

For example, wheat protein, although abundant in methionine and tryptophan, is lacking in lysine. Legume protein, however, is lacking in methionine and tryptophan but abundant in lysine.

You can see below that in general, plant proteins are lower in essential amino acids than animal proteins.

The limiting amino acid problem can be solved through protein complementation. This means combining two protein sources that complement each other’s limiting amino acids.

Using our previous examples, baked beans (a legume) on toast (grain food) would together provide a much better amino acid profile than one of those foods by themselves. 

For the general population, this protein complementation can occur across the day by having a wide range of protein foods. However, for athletes looking to optimize muscle protein synthesis, it is likely to be beneficial to complement proteins over 3-5 meals over the course of the day. 

Complementary plant proteins

Soy foods are an exception to this protein combining rule and are arguably the best plant protein.

Studies have shown that amongst the plant protein sources, soy foods have the most similar amino acid profile to animal products. 

Soy protein isolate, in particular, has been shown to have an equal value to whey protein isolate. 

The leucine dilemma 

In addition to lower protein digestibility and essential amino acid quantity, plant proteins are often lower in the amino acid, leucine. 

Leucine is well known for its anabolic effect in initiating muscle protein synthesis. 

Using driving a car as an example, leucine would start the car engine and the total quantity of essential amino acids would determine how far that car was able to travel. 

If you aren’t starting the car engine, you’re not going anywhere.  The optimal amount of leucine per protein dose is 2.5-3g.

BCAA amino acids, BCAA function, benefits and BCAA supplement uses

This is fairly easy on a non-vegan diet because animal proteins tend to have a leucine content of 2-3g per average serve. On the other hand, plant proteins will often have below 1.5g of leucine per average serve. For example, tofu has around 1.7g of leucine per 100g so you would need 200g of tofu for an optimal leucine dose. 

It’s unclear how helpful it would be to supplement with leucine several times throughout the day with protein-rich meals to optimise improvements in lean body mass. But as it stands, it is quite difficult to get 2.5-3g of leucine in a high protein vegan meal without it. 

Nevertheless, even though protein muscle synthesis may not be completely optimised with a slightly slower leucine dose, you are less likely to notice a difference if you have ample time for recovery between sessions. 

Leucine supplementation may be useful for vegan athletes who train multiple times a day with short recovery periods. 

Choosing a plant-based protein supplement

The supplement industry has been absolutely flooded by vegan protein supplements over the past few years with many people turning to a plant-based lifestyle. But it can be really hard to decide what type of plant protein is the best for athletes looking to improve lean body mass. 

In my opinion, there are 2 decent options.

vegan pea and rice protein

Pea and rice protein blend 

Using a blend of pea and rice protein significantly improves the amino acid profile of the protein powder as opposed to using one source on its own. This is due to protein complementation.

However, per serve (typically 30g) most of these protein powders have a leucine content between 1.7-2g. Which is a little bit lower than the recommended 2.5-3g dose. 

There are a couple of solutions to this 

  • Increase the serving size by 50% (45g)
  • Pair with 300-400ml of soy milk 
  • Add 1-2g of leucine powder
soy protein

Soy protein isolate 

Soy protein was the original solution to vegan protein supplements and still stands as one of the best options. 

As previously discussed the amino acid profile of soy is similar to animal proteins. Soy also has one of the best leucine contents compared to other plant proteins with around 2.3g of per typical 30g serving.

If you were really looking to optimise muscle hypertrophy to its absolute limit I would also slightly increase the dosage. Another option is to pair the protein powder with a cup of soy milk to get closer to 3g of leucine.

In general, however, I would avoid using any protein supplements as a crutch to reach daily protein recommendations. You don’t want to replace a significant portion of whole foods with a protein supplement as this will reduce your ability to meet other micronutrient requirements including iron and zinc. 

I tend to limit using protein powder to once or twice per day maximum for most athletes.

Plant-based protein takeaways for optimal muscle hypertrophy 

  • Consume 10-20% above the protein recommendations for non-vegan athletes 
  • Split this protein over 4-6 meals per day with at least 0.4g of protein per kg bodyweight 
  • Ensure each protein dose of protein contains 2.5-3g of leucine 
  • If you are supplementing with protein, make it a pea and rice blend with additional leucine or a soy protein isolate 

Step 3: Get enough healthy fats 

Once you have worked out how much protein you require, you can work on the next macronutrient. Fat. 

Fat contains 9 calories per gram. Over double to caloric density of protein. This means that a small quantity of fat can drastically impact your caloric intake. 

As a general rule of thumb, fat should make up at least 20% of your caloric intake. This will ensure you are having enough fat per day to maintain good health including being able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. 

There isn’t really a benefit to having more fat in your diet from a physiological perspective. Some people even try to limit fat intake for more favourable body composition. 

In theory, fat may actually be easier to store as fat in the bodys’ fat cells than carbohydrates. Therefore, in a bulking or weight gain phase, it could be beneficial to limit dietary fat in favour of carbs to limit fat gain.

nuts healthy fats

However, this has yet to be backed up by research. 

From the perspective of a vegan diet, it is more difficult to limit dietary fat to a low level. Foods like nuts and seeds are high in fat, but also important to meet micronutrient needs including zinc and selenium. 

Generally, aiming for around 60-100g of fat on a vegan diet will allow most people to meet micronutrient needs without overconsuming fat.

The other negative to high fat consumption for athletes is that it limits carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate needs vary drastically depending on the type of sport and training that an athlete partakes in but should typically be over 40% of total caloric intake. 

Importance of omega-3 on a vegan diet 

Omega-3 has been a nutrient of interest for general health and well-being for a long time. A diet rich in omega-3 is important for maintaining cell membranes, regulating metabolism, and reducing inflammation. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids likely protect against heart disease due to their impact on cholesterol and blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

There is also evidence from studies in the athletic population to support high omega-3 intake and supplementation for performance and recovery. Whilst evidenced is mixed, omega-3 in the form of EPA and DHA may:

  • Facilitate muscle growth during resistance training 
  • Help preserve muscle mass when calories are restricted or during immobilization
  • Contribute to increased muscle mass and strength
  • Improve endurance capacity by reducing the oxygen cost of exercise
  • Reduce oxygen consumption, heart rate, and perceived exertion during endurance exercise.
  • Improve muscle function and fatigue 
  • Improve lipid metabolism 
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Reduce muscle soreness and lessen oxidative damage to muscles

The majority of the studies on omega-3 in athletes are based on supplementation, mostly with fish oil or an equivalent consumption of oily fish.

If a vegan athlete was to increase omega 3 intake through wholefoods they would be looking to foods such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Unlike animal sources of omega 3 like fish, these sources are not a direct source of EPA and DHA. 

In omega-3 rich plant foods, you will find the parent fatty acid of omega 3, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Our bodies are able to convert ALA into EPA & DHA, which are compounds shown to have positive outcomes. 

However, the process of converting ALA to EPA & DHA is not very efficient. It can also be hindered by high consumption of omega 6 (another essential fatty acid) as well as the consumption of trans fats (found in some highly processed foods) and alcohol. 

Due to this, vegans typically have significantly lower levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in their blood.

omega 3 on vegan diet

A general person looking to improve their vegan or plant-based diet would likely be just fine with these less efficient sources of omega-3 as long as intake was adequate and consistent. On the other hand, a vegan athlete looking for every single percentage of dietary optimisation for performance and body composition could greatly benefit from supplementation. 

Vegan omega-3 supplements are produced from marine microalgae and appear to provide the same benefit as fish oil supplementation. 

Step 4: Build a diet rich in wholefoods

By now you may have an idea of how many calories should be consuming and your macronutrient breakdown. But there is far more to nutrition than calories and macros. This is evident just from the complexity of protein requirements alone. 

In this article, we will approach this topic from a wholefood perspective rather than identifying each micronutrient that may be at risk on a vegan diet. If you would like a more in-depth overview of micronutrients on a vegan diet see 9 Things You Should Be Doing On a Vegan Diet: A Dietitian’s Guide

vegan diet core food groups

Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables

It’s not new information that fruit and vegetables are good for you. Ironically, it is an area where most of us are just not hitting the targets we should be hitting. For athletes, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is integral to recovery as well as reducing bouts of illness such as the common cold.

From a vegan perspective, the citric acid and vitamin C content of fruits and vegetables will also play a huge role in increasing the absorption of other micronutrients such as iron and zinc. 

Fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of nutrients including vitamin A, folate, potassium, and fibre, and should be an integral part of your daily diet. 

The general recommendation is 5 serves of vegetables,

1 serve = 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables OR 1 cup of salad vegetables 

And 2 serves of fruit.

1 serve = 1 medium piece of fruit OR 1 cup tinned/frozen fruit OR 2 small pieces of fruit such as plums

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the most important thing after hitting your daily requirements is consuming a variety. For the most part, no one vegetable or fruit is better than another and you would benefit the most from a varied intake. 

One exception to this rule is dark green leafy vegetables such as Asian greens, spinach and kale. You should aim to have dark green leafy vegetables daily amongst your vegetable intake.

These green veggies are often packed full of iron, magnesium, calcium and B-vitamins. Nutrients that can be more difficult to obtain on a vegan diet. Whilst, these foods alone are not miracle workers, they do provide a lot of bang for their buck as vegetables. 

Eat several serves of wholegrains daily 

For most athletes, vegan or not, grains are going to be an important part of a well-balanced diet for performance and recovery. 

Grain foods include foods such rice, quinoa, cereals, bread and pasta. 

How many serves of grain foods an athlete should be eating is highly individual. If an athlete has very high carbohydrate requirements, people competing in Ironman for example, a high intake of grain food would be highly beneficial. 

grains and cereals

The nutrients provided by grains include carbohydrates, fibre, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. 

For vegans, wholegrains are also an important source of protein. Since a lot of vegan proteins can be less efficient than animal-based proteins, vegan athletes can really benefit from collecting protein from the less obvious foods as well.

Wholegrains tend to have the highest protein content so going for wholegrain bread and wholegrain cereals over their more processed counterparts is a great option. These wholegrain foods also tend to be higher in micronutrients. For example, brown rice is a great source of zinc on a vegan diet. 

The only potential issue with whole grains is their high fibre content. Although very nutritious some vegan athletes may experience gut upset from a very high fibre intake. General recommendations for fibre are 25-30g daily. Yet, in practice, it is not uncommon to see vegans with a fibre intake well above 60g per day. 

If a vegan athlete is experiencing significant bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain or other gut symptoms from a high fibre intake, it would make sense to have a mix of whole grains and lower fibre processed grains. 

Incorporate a wide variety of protein-rich foods daily

plant protein

The protein-rich foods common in a vegan diet are:

  • Soy products such as tofu and tempeh
  • Legumes including edamame 
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Seitan (made from gluten protein)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Vegan athletes should aim to include a variety of these foods in their diet. This is for a couple of reasons.

The first relates back to the idea of protein combining for improving the amino acid profile. Most plant proteins are limited by one or more amino acids and having a variety of protein-rich food sources is the easiest way to overcome this issue.

The second reason is that these foods all provide a varying amount of micronutrients such as iron and zinc. Focusing too much on one food type, in general, can lead to nutritional deficiencies long term. So having a variety of foods within each food group including proteins is always the best option.  

Athletes with high caloric requirements may also benefit from incorporating some mock meats into their diet. I don’t often recommend mock meats as a viable or healthy source of protein on a vegan diet. They tend to lack the vitamin and mineral content of more wholefoods sources. 

Nevertheless, when an athlete is struggling to meet caloric requirements and already has a good base of wholefoods in their diet, mock meats can provide an additional option to vary things up. 

These mock meats are also typically higher in calories per 100g. So if an athlete is struggling to consume the sheer volume of food required on a wholefood, plant based diet, these more processed foods can be used strategically to increase caloric intake. 

Consume calcium rich foods daily

plant based milk calcium

Without the consumption of dairy products, vegans should have a focus on how else they are going to get their calcium. 

Calcium is extremely important for long term bone health. Calcium plays many vital roles in the body and is required in the bloodstream. If you don’t consume enough calcium on a regular basis, your body will take calcium from your bones to make up levels in the bloodstream. Over time this can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis that is irreversible after your mid-twenties. 

For most healthy adults, 1000mg of calcium is enough to meet recommendations. 

The easiest ways to achieve this calcium intake is to include a calcium fortified plant milk in your diet. To be an equivalent to dairy, a plant milk should contain at least 120mg of calcium per 100mls with a cup being equal to around 25% of your daily requirements. 

You can check this by looking at the nutrition information panel. If calcium is not listed in the nutrition information panel, it is likely that the product is not calcium fortified and contains little to no calcium. 

Other plant sources of calcium include dark green leafy greens, calcium set tofu and sesame seeds.

Most people should aim for 3 servings of calcium rich food per day. 

One serve of calcium rich food could look like

  • A cup of calcium fortified plant milk
  • A full cup of cooked dark leafy greens such as kale and bok choy 
  • 100-150g of calcium set tofu. Check the ingredients list to see if the tofu was set with calcium sulfate. 
  • Two tablespoons sesame seeds or tahini 

In addition to ensuring adequate calcium intake it is also important to maximise calcium absorption by 

  • Limiting salt intake – salt increases calcium loss from the body in urine. 
  • Limit caffeine (found in tea, coffee, cola and ‘high energy’ drinks) or have them separately to calcium rich foods. 
  • Ensure adequate vitamin D through safe sun exposure, fortified foods or supplementation if necessary.

Step 5: Supplementation for vegan athletes 

B12 – Cobalamin

Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria in the large intestine of animals, and is transferred into the animal’s meat or milk. It occurs naturally in animal products such as red meat, offal, poultry and seafood as well as milk, yoghurt, eggs and cheese.

Bacteria in the large intestine of humans are also able to make vitamin B12, but production is too far down the gastrointestinal tract for adequate absorption into the body to occur. 

Plant foods including tempeh, miso, and sea vegetables are often reported to provide some vitamin B12 due to contamination by bacteria. However, these plant foods are not reliable sources of vitamin B12. They often contain an inactive form of vitamin B12, which interferes with the normal absorption and metabolism of the active form in the body and will not prevent vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Recent research has found some active vitamin B12 in mushrooms, however, the amount is small and inadequate to meet daily requirements. Vegan food sources of vitamin B12 that can assist in avoiding B12 deficiency include B12-fortified foods such as soy milk, veggie burgers, soy-based meat analogues and yeast spreads (eg. Vegemite™) and B12 fortified nutritional yeast.

Whilst vegans can consume B12 fortified foods it is always recommended that a B12 supplement is taken to avoid deficiency. Vitamin B12 is important for the maintenance of the nervous system.

When choosing a B12 supplement, ensure that it is cyanocobalamin and either 1000mcg (to be taken 3x per week) or 200-500mcg (to be taken daily). 

It can take several years for deficiency symptoms to develop but if you are feeling more tired than usual, it may be worth having your B12 levels checked with your doctor. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a potential concern for anyone who does not consume animal products. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a type of anaemia (called megaloblastic anaemia) and can also lead to irreversible nerve and brain damage. 

Iron & zinc on energy restricted diets 

Iron and zinc deficiencies on a vegan diet can be relatively common due to the limited bioavailability of these nutrients from plant-based foods. Requirements on a vegan diet are 150% and 180% of non-vegans requirements for zinc and iron, respectively.

More often than not, I have a food first preference. It is completely possible to get enough iron and zinc on a vegan diet without supplementation for most people. 

However, when someone is in a caloric deficit to reduce body fat, they may not be able to eat enough food with optimal variety to meet these requirements. This is where supplementation can be useful.

I am more likely to recommend iron supplementation for women with a menstrual cycle and zinc for men due to differences in recommended daily intake. Although, a general multivitamin containing small amounts of both iron and zinc could be useful for some people.

Whether or not you supplement iron and zinc, will be highly dependent on your requirements and how much you can logistically get through your diet.

I would avoid supplementation of iron and zinc unless it is necessary to avoid deficiency. Both of these micronutrients have an upper limit of around 40mg per day at which they begin to cause adverse side effects. 

Iron and zinc supplementation are best taken under the guidance of a health professional. 


As previously discussed, omega-3 supplementation can be beneficial to athletes in general for a multitude of reasons. For vegan athletes specifically, omega-3 supplementation with a vegan EPA and DHA could be particularly useful considering the limitation of plant sources of omega-3 not being a direct source of DHA.  

Creatine Monohydrate

Foods such as meat, fish and poultry are rich sources of creatine but are excluded from a vegan diet. Therefore, it makes sense that research indicates that vegetarian and vegan diets reduce muscle creatine stores over time. Creatine’s performance-enhancing effects have been well studied, and it appears that supplementation can improve short-term high-intensity exercise performance, muscle hypertrophy, and maximal strength. 

Dosing creatine effectively requires the achievement of muscle creatine saturation. Regimens of 20 g per day for 3–7 days to load creatine followed by maintenance doses of 3–5 g per day are common. However, a smaller dose of 3–5 g per day taken over a 4-week period will achieve creatine saturation over the long term similarly.

Just note that creatine supplementation may cause some initial increase in scale weight due to extra water being drawn into the muscle.

Take-home points

  • Caloric intake should be based on your goals for body composition and performance. It is always a good idea to have a rough estimate of your total daily expenditure. For many athletes, it is easy to under-eat on a vegan diet due to the low-calorie density of plant-based foods. Whilst this could be beneficial for body fat reduction, it can have a negative impact on performance and muscle gain. 
  • Eat 10-20% above protein recommendations for non-vegan athletes and have a variety of protein-rich foods. Protein from plant-based is less bioavailable with a less optimal amino acid profile. To optimize protein intake you need more protein on a vegan diet.
  • Limit fat intake to 60-100g per day so as to not take away from carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are important for performance in most sports and there is no benefit to overconsuming fat. 
  • Supplement with Omega 3 EPA and DHA from marine microalgae and include omega-3 rich foods in your diet such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. 
  • Build a diet that is based on wholefoods such as wholegrains, soy products, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables.
  • Include several serves of calcium-rich foods daily. Such as calcium-fortified plant milk, dark-green leafy vegetables, and calcium set tofu.
  • To avoid deficiency supplement with B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin (either 1000mcg a few times per week or 200-500mcg daily).
  • Supplement with creatine monohydrate 5g daily.
  • If you believe your intake of iron or zinc is below recommendations, speak to a health professional about if supplementation is right for you.
  • If you struggle with gut symptoms due to a very high fiber intake, reduce the number of whole grains in your diet. Have a mix of high fiber whole grains and lower fiber processed grain. It may also be helpful to limit legumes in the management of gut symptoms. 

By Leah Higl

Leah is an accredited practising dietitian from Brisbane. She also competes as an under 75kg powerlifter with Valhalla Strength Brisbane. As both an athlete and dietitian, she spends much of her time developing her knowledge and skills around sports nutrition, specifically for strength-based sports. Although, she works with a range of athletes from triathletes to combat sports and powerlifting. Leah also follows a plant-based diet and her greatest passion is fuelling vegan/vegetarian athletes and proving that plant-based athletes can be just as competitive as their non-vegan counterparts.​