How Vegan Triathletes Train: Exercise, Nutrition, and Food Recommendations

While some may scoff at the idea of building muscles on a vegan diet, there are plenty of vegan triathletes who prove that it is possible. From former ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, to Bill Pearl, dubbed Mr. Universe four times, to ultimate fighter Mac Danzig, there are plenty of examples of strong, powerful vegan athletes. They can't achieve greatness by just enjoying a vegan diet, of course. They employ a specific strategy that includes exercise and vegan nutrition to meet and exceed their goals.

Daily Exercise
Triathlon training exercises that can be very helpful include both strength training and resistance training. Bench pressing, leg extensions and curls, lateral pull-downs and squats are all great to incorporate in your regimen. Daily workouts and practicing for your event are both crucial components of any triathlon preparation routine, but for a vegan, pacing exercise with food can be critical. Carbohydrates and proteins should be eaten at a 3-to-1 ratio prior to your workout. Pre-workout meals should also include a healthy fat. Heavy sweaters need electrolytes prior to working out, and most vegan triathletes say they snack on fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the day.

Nutritional Goals
To become a healthy vegan triathlete, you need to consume enough protein and calcium from plant sources to help keep your muscles and bones strong. Instead of bulking up on chicken before you compete, you need to consume up to 800 calories before your event. Spacing out your calories to 200 per hour before your event will help your body stay full and minimize any cramping that you could encounter. Be sure to include plenty of carbohydrates and fluids while cutting the fat, salt, fiber and simple sugars immediately before your event. Also, incorporating juices or smoothies into your diet instead of bulky meals can also help with an upset stomach prior to a competition.

Foods to Eat
There are dozens of plant-based foods that are high in the protein you need to build a strong, healthy and athletic body. You need to make sure to combine the foods with healthy grains to make complete proteins. Combine nuts, beans and legumes with foods like pseudograins such as quinoa, amaranth, and rice to get all of the amino acids your body needs to develop muscle growth. Yeast, chia seeds and hemp seeds are also great protein-filled, plant-based foods that also provide healthy fats for your body. Including your foods in a juice blend is even more helpful for your body since the liquidation helps your body digest more quickly. It also delivers more nutrients per serving than food alone.

When you meet your daily nutritional needs on a vegan diet and use exercise to build up your lean muscles and fire up your core, you can take on any triathlon the world has to offer. Keeping your juices and fresh foods handy while traveling is a great tip from pro athletes who know how difficult it can be to find vegan offerings on the road. What other athletes are vegans? Read that blog post here!

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.