Nutrition for Female Vegetarian Runners

Nutrition for Female Vegetarian Runners

Vegetarians must be very conscious of their diet.  I’m a semi-vegetarian which means I exclude some animal products but not all.  I eat eggs, fish and dairy products.  I’m not a vegetarian for any cultural or religious reasons, it was just a personal choice made about 10 years ago. If you are a vegetarian as well, you need to pay closer attention to your diet because if you don’t eat the right foods you run the risk of being deficient in omega 3, vitamins b12, calcium, iron, and some amino acids.

Protein

A female vegetarian runner needs all the above essential vitamins plus 150% more protein than non-runners.  Protein is one of the 21 essential amino acids your body needs to function and is food for your muscles.  This means you and I cannot solely survive on bagels, potatoes and pasta.  You need some protein in your diet to help recover and repair small tears in the muscle fibers caused by endurance running. The protein recommendation for runners is .5 to .7 grams per pound of body weight (so a 110-pound female runner should consume about 55 to 77 grams a day).

Eating greens have a lower energy content and lower protein quality than meat proteins.   Meat and fish have all the essential amino acids and are high quality proteins.   If you restrict those foods from your diet, it is important to eat different plant proteins to get different amino acids to ensure your body has all its requirements.

Some good plant protein to eat are eggs, fish, legumes, peanut butter, milk, nuts, tofu, cheese, and yogurt.

Iron

Iron carries red blood cells to provide oxygen to your body.  Meat and fish products are high in iron and vegetarians don’t get the luxury of these products.  Therefore most vegetarians are iron deficient.  If you don’t get enough iron, there won’t be enough red blood cells carrying oxygen to your body and that’s why after running, vegetarians feel extremely exhausted.

To help female vegetarian runners get more iron, consume vitamin C rich drinks like orange juice with your meals.  Try not to drink tea or coffee with meals as they will interfere with iron absorption.  You can also take  iron supplements, but take as recommended as too much iron can be toxic.  Other iron rich foods are soybeans, lentils, spinach, and beans.

B12 – Dairy products and eggs provide you with sufficient amounts of vitamin B12.

Omega 3 – Lots of products like eggs and milk have omega 3.  Other foods that are high in omega 3 are fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and lake trout.

I can say that I have lost any weight after become vegetarian because I substitute the foods with others.  But the foods I eat are easier to digest, and have lower fat intake which makes my body feel better, cleaner and healthier.  Studies have shown that vegetarians have reduced risk of heart diseases, any type of cancer and outlive carnivores by 3 years.

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