Confusion abounds when it comes to deciding what to eat and drink ahead of a workout. But a number of bodybuilders, professional athletes, and fitness fans around the world are going meat-free and swearing by an entirely plant-based diet.
Before you exercise, you need to consume foods that will energize your body and invigorate it for the work you’re about to do. When choosing a pre-workout snack or meal, make sure that you’re taking in complex carbohydrates to sustain you for that extra set.
Here is our rundown of the vegan foods that will fuel your workout and help you get ripped, toned, and muscular without involving any cruelty to animals.
Make a smoothie using soy, hemp, pea, or rice protein powder. Good fruits to include are bananas, apples, oranges, and pineapples. Add water or non-dairy milk and ice and then blend!
Unsweetened coconut water makes the perfect pre-workout thirst quencher to hydrate and replenish electrolytes and other nutrients.
Fruits With Nut Butter
The carbohydrates in an apple or banana will provide you with a natural boost for your workout. Bananas are packed with potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps and replenishes the potassium you lose when you sweat. Add nut butter for healthy fats and protein to support long or intense sessions.
Vegetables and Hummus
Slice raw vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and celery and enjoy dunking them in hummus for a healthy dose of protein and carbohydrates.
They don’t call it carbo-loading for no reason! An hour or two before you exercise, eat some toast spread with almond butter or avocado for additional nutrients and sustained energy.
Considered a superfood by many athletes, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Cut them into sticks and bake them for some healthy sweet-potato fries, or have a baked sweet potato with hummus and a sprinkle of cinnamon powder for extra health benefits. (Did you know that cinnamon may help lower your blood sugar?)
Dates and Nuts
Dates are a great natural fuel source, especially for cardio and high-endurance workouts. They’re high in glucose, which is absorbed quickly, making them the perfect last-minute snack before exercise. Eat them fresh or dried and add a few nuts for a dose of healthy fats and minerals.
Spinach is a great source of protein, iron, and vitamins. These nutrients can help prevent muscle breakdown.
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Oats With Fruit, Nuts, or Chia Seeds
Many gym enthusiasts eat oats or oatmeal as a pre-session meal. They’re a great source of complex carbohydrates—providing you with long-lasting energy to sustain your workout—and are rich in vitamin B, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Add some fruit, a handful of nuts, or chia seeds.
Coffee has been linked to increased performance at the gym. Its diuretic effect is minimal, and any potential for dehydration is counteracted by the water in the coffee itself. If you’re reaching for a drink 30 minutes to an hour before your workout, consider making a cup of coffee. You can keep it black or add soy or almond milk.
Cacao is packed with magnesium and chromium to provide energy and blood-sugar balance. It also contains iron to deliver oxygen to your cells more efficiently. Add it to your smoothie or oatmeal for an extra kick.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated after your workout. And remember: You don’t need animal flesh to gain muscle!
Watch boxing champion David Haye promote the knockout power of vegan meals:
Written by PETA Asia intern Kristen Fay