While there’s a lot of encouragement out there to pack your pre-workout meals and snacks full of foods with lean proteins, like turkey slices or Greek yogurt, those animal-based products can definitely present a problem for anyone who’s trying to stick to a vegan diet.
If working out is a big part of your life, but you’re also trying to stick to a plant-based regimen, it’s pretty important to find vegan foods that fill you up and keep you feeling energized and strong so you can slay all the ab circuits and elliptical sessions your heart desires. And, as it turns out, eating vegan snacks before a workout can be a really nutritious (and delicious) way to get some fuel in before you start to sweat it out. For those doubters in the house who prefer to question whether or not you’re going to get enough nutrients in to really feel full and fueled to max capacity, perhaps you should know that there’s speculation out there suggesting veggie-based athletes might be even stronger than their carnivore counterparts, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients. Of course, whatever works best for you is where it’s at, but know you can definitely get sweaty and strong vegan-style. If you’re intrigued, here are a few ways to fill up the plant-based way before your next workout.
1. A TASTY HELPING OF TRAIL MIX
Now, I’ll be the first person to admit that I have to eat somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 pounds of trail mix before I actually feel satisfied — unless it’s a really jam-packed mix. But I’m telling you, it’s possible for this to be a satisfying snack that will keep full until you’re ready to rinse off. Go for mixes that have all the “meatier” nuts and seeds, like Brazil nuts, walnuts, raw cashews, pepitas, and shelled pistachios. Add dried apricots, goji berries, dried blueberries, and cacao nibs or dark chocolate for a little touch of sweetness. Being high in both fat and protein, nuts are great for a longer digestion, and the fruits and dark chocolate add a nice boost in blood sugar and antioxidants.
2. ROASTED SWEET POTATOES AND HUMMUS
Personally, I could eat sweet potatoes with every meal. And since they’re a complex, low glycemic carbohydrate, high in fiber, and bursting with vitamin A, they’re a great choice for a pre-workout snack that won’t feel super heavy, but will feel super nourishing. I like to cut these little guys up and roast them, and for a little added protein and fullness, I dip sweet potato rounds in hummus like chips. Yum.
3. NUT BUTTER AND APPLE SANDWICH
Grab some whole grain bread, your favorite kind of nut butter, and a delicious, crisp apple for this totally tasty and fulfilling snack. It’ll keep you going during that jog you have planned, or even a long, uphill hike with your friends.
4. OAT AND CHIA SMOOTHIES
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a smoothie I didn’t like. But I will admit that, sometimes, throwing together a little maca powder with some blueberries in a blender doesn’t keep those hangry feelings at bay, especially when they strike in the middle of a Zumba class. That’s why adding complex carbs and soluble fiber — like what you’ll find in oats — and proteins and healthy fats — which you’ll find in chia seeds or nut butters — add some much-needed weight and density to a smoothie to make it last a little longer in the ol’ tum-tum.
5. NAFSIKA’S GARDEN CHEESE AND CRACKERS
There’s no doubting that Nafsika’s Garden Vegan Cheese tastes freaking good. You can find a delicious one on sale at your local grocery store! Spread your vegan based cheese on something that packs a bit more punch, like whole grain crackers or cut-up veggies.
6. DIY VEGAN ENERGY BARS
Sure, it takes a little planning, but it is so worth it, guys. Not only is it more cost-effective than buying a box of bars, but you can be in control of what you put in there, including nuts, nut butters, buckwheat, quinoa, seeds, fruits, whole grains and seeds, and extra energy boosts like cacao or maca powder. Just make sure you don’t get too full on these superstar super-bars, because a little goes a long way.