If you still think vegans have a hard time being fit and healthy, it’s time to get with the program. Whether they’re smashing world records in endurance or weight lifting, winning bodybuilding competitions, or taking home UFC titles, the verdict is in: Muscles don’t need meat.
You might even say the question has become not if you can improve muscle and performance on a vegan diet but how. Well, the jigsaw puzzle of sports nutrition has a lot of pieces, but probably none is as important as the post-workout meal. (It’s like that really big corner piece.)
“A 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein has been proven to be really efficient for replenishing amino acids and repairing the muscle that’s been broken down during strength training,” says Rachel Berman, a registered dietician and director of health content at About.com. The basic gist is that during exercise, you use up your glycogen (the energy stored in your muscles). After sweating it out, carbs will help to replenish this energy, and the protein enhances this process, explains Elizabeth Jarrard, a dietician who consults for plant-based supplement company Vega.
But protein and carbs aren’t all we need after a workout. “While exercise suppresses inflammation in the long term, the act of exercise damages your muscles. That’s why it’s always a good idea to include foods that support inflammation reduction, like those rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids,” Jarrard says. “B…