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Can Plants Power your Workout? And Other Pressing Questions

 

Now more than ever, vegan athletes are taking the world by storm. Female athletes, in particular, have been quick to credit a plant-based diet for their success. Whether you’re a female athlete, a woman who enjoys exercise, or a person who lives with one, it can be overwhelming deciding which foods to eat, which vitamins to take, and which things to watch out for.

In that spirit, I have assembled a Q&A that most people ask me. Of course, I would advise everyone to take this with a giant pinch of (non-plasticized) salt. It works for me and it may or may not for you but I hope it inspires you to take the first step.

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What is your exercise routine like?

It’s hard to keep me sitting still. In a regular week, I try to sneak in between 10-12 hrs of exercise and teach pilates on the side.  I go between doing cardio conditioning, strength training, pole dancing, aerial arts and of course my first love, Pilates.

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Will going plant-based or being vegan help me lose weight?

NO! Vegetarians tend to weigh 6 to 10 pounds less than meat eaters but that’s probably due to self-selection bias. There are obese vegetarians and junk food can be vegetarian.  You can completely over eat on a plant-based diet (vegan ice cream detox?). So the short answer is you still have to make healthy food choices, whatever your diet.


Do you get your protein and how many chickpeas must you eat to build muscles?!

I try to combine my plant proteins throughout  the day (no, I don’t sit down and eat a can of chickpeas in 1 sitting contrary to what my trainers think). I try to be diligent about getting a wide variety of plant proteins and amino acids from whole grains, nuts, seeds and protein powder. And studies have shown that plant-based protein powders are as effective as whey-building protein for muscle building.

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What do you say to people who are active and are interested in a plant-based diet?

That they shouldn't think that a plant-based diet can make them a better athlete—but it can speed up your recovery. A lot of athletes who are focused on "strength," like football players and body builders, are becoming aware of plant-based diets. They're not necessarily becoming vegan, but they are acknowledging that a plant-based diet can speed up recovery—inflammation goes down, functionality goes up. They are also acknowledging that they eat meat and protein because they enjoy it—not because they feel their body needs all that extra protein.