It’s not only the professional athletes who train for peak performance. There are many amateur athletes and recreational sports enthusiasts who also go through the struggle of breaking through the ceiling of what they’re physically capable of when their body is pushed to the max. There’s of course a whole host of factors that play into making those gains, but nutritional supplementation is definitely a primary consideration among them.
We’ll discuss food supplements for vegan athletes and which ones are the most effective as plant-based natural performance supplements. The ones that we’ll list here are smart food supplements to add to a vegan athlete’s diet.
Green superfoods are quite the hot topic in the nutrition these days, and for good reason. Much of that comes from the increasing popularity of veganism and the need for these individuals to have solid protein and micronutrient food sources that are exclusively plant-based. Not surprisingly, a good many vegans are also keen to incorporate them in a food source that’s equally lean as it is clean.
Accordingly, green superfood mixes like greens powders and green superfruit mixes are very popular, and a part of that is because the freeze-drying process for these powders leaves vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other healthy micronutrients intact. The biggest and best of these typically is chlorophyll. A high volume of chlorophyll correlates with a strong oxygen radical absorbance (ORAC) score, which indicates that the product will be effective for fighting free radicals, and removing damaging toxins that can decrease athletic performance.
If you’re an athlete pushing yourself for greater achievements, that has to sound mighty appealing! So let’s have a look at good choices for green superfoods:
The most immediate benefit that will grab the attention of performance athletes here is the fact that spirulina is proven to increase your VO2 Max. Further, your fat oxidation rate is increased by up to 11% in comparison to placebo groups, and a measured serving can provide up 150% of your daily B12 needs. Long story short, it promotes your being able to still perform well in anaerobic states and maximizes your energy expenditure = lean body mass equation, something that’s important for any type of athlete.
Spirulina is a nice alternative to grains or grain-based mixes because it is less inflammatory and the amino acids work to promote the development of lean muscle mass.
Chlorella is the King of the Hill when it comes to being a mega-source of chlorophyll, and as such it’s a powerhouse cleanser for your body at the cellular level. It removes heavy metals, synthetic chemicals, and other toxins, and it therefore serves as a nice preparatory function – cleaning up the base level of your physiology so that what you add on top of it is primed for maximum efficacy.
Matcha is also especially rich in chlorophyll, and encompasses the same types of benefits for athletes.
Maca is hugely popular too, and the reason why maca powder is good for athletes is that it boosts energy levels, improves stamina, reduces post-training soreness and inflammation, plus increases body temperature, which is conducive to increased metabolic rate and fat loss. Another lesser known one of the benefits of maca powder for athletes is that it balances and even improves thyroid function. A proper function thyroid boosts recovery. Lastly, female endurance athletes enjoy that maca limits excess estrogen production in the body. Naturally, you want some of the natural female hormone, but too much of it can limit your performance capabilities.
4. Acai & Goji Berries
Acai berries and goji berries are packed with amino acids to increase lean muscle mass and prevent muscle breakdown. In addition, acai berries are loaded with phytosterols, plant sterols that improve cardiovascular health in a big way. That means more wind for the final stretch, and being able to find that extra gear without being gassed! Add the fact they taste great on their own or mixed into smoothies or other concoctions and this one is a no-brainer to add to a vegan training supplements routine.
This one may come as a bit of a surprise, and likely because most of you will automatically make the connection between cacao and caffeine, which is a natural diuretic and therefore can be detrimental for training and recovery. While cacao will always include caffeine, smaller and measured amounts of it will provide negligible affects while providing plenty of the good stuff – which is a significant boost in your brain’s production of dopamine, one of the major chemical neurotransmitters and a powerful way of putting you in the right mood and full of the right motivation for training1
Note: You should only consume raw cacao nibs, and not refined cacao.
6. Camu Camu
Camu Camu has the impressive distinction of being the highest source of Vitamin C on the planet. In order to understand how that’s relevant, consider that Vitamin C prevents muscle cramping, reduces soreness, and provides energy reserves that can be accessed by the body on short notice – something that’s pretty much a must for athletes. Camu camu is also full of flavonoids, gallic acid, and ellagic acid, all of which serve to reduce oxidative stress in the body. That’s beneficial for everybody, but for athletes in particular it’s very beneficial as the nature of training and the strain it puts on the body overall puts them at greater risk of oxidative stress effects.
7. Cordyceps (Sinesis) Extracts
These mushroom powders for vegan athlete performance are an excellent choice for adding to shakes or mixing into beverages, soup bases, etc. They provide enhanced immune system functionality as well improved stamina (again, always a big plus for an athlete of any sort) via increased aerobic capacity, oxygen utilization, and stabilized blood sugar metabolism. Most notable of those benefits as regards athletic performance is oxygen utilization. This mushroom powder increases oxygen uptake for athletes, providing oxygen to the body’s extremities more effectively.
And where’s that most noteworthy? You guessed it, your feet – a very important part of the body for any athlete!
8. Elk Antler Velvet
This one is valuable here because it’s a potent testosterone booster, so obviously this recommended supplement is offered for male readers only.Elk Antler Velvet promotes enhanced muscle growth and other testosterone-related benefits like bone and tissue regeneration with its abundance of growth proteins called Insulin-Like Growth Factors (IGF-1 and IGF-2). Interesting to note that antlers are the fastest growing animal tissue known to science – they can grow up to more than 1 inch per day, so obviously there’s some serious goodness going on in there!
We’ll mention briefly here as well that Elk Antler Velvet is – for the most part – responsibly and ethically sourced, extracted from antlers that have been trimmed on live and health male elk to prevent them from attacking each other.
9. Whey Powder
This one won’t come as a surprise to any bodybuilder or endurance athlete, but it’s still worthy of mention here. Not only is it a standard protein supplement source, whey maximizes synthesis of glutathione – the body’s primary detoxifier – via an extensive supply of the amino acid cysteine. The common understanding is that consuming in the vicinity of 20 grams of whey protein powder after intense physical activity is ideal for increasing strength and muscle mass.
10. Coconut Water
Same here for this one, you’ve likely already heard of it. Standard H2o is great anytime, but when you’re particularly drained after training intensely then coconut water is a better choice. It’s especially rich in electrolytes, which is exactly what you’ve depleted and need to replenish to get over that feeling of being ‘wiped.’ In addition, it more effectively replenishes glycogen stores for energy.