Plant-powered athletes get a surprising performance boost from eating clean. But fueling your workouts (and your life) with plants has a fringe benefit—it’s better for the planet’s health, too.
Celebrate Earth Month with Clean, Plant-based Sports Nutrition
You’re already bringing reusable shopping bags to your natural food store, recycling everything under the sun and biking to work to stay fit and tread lighter on the planet. But have you ever thought about the impact diet can have on your carbon footprint? When you fuel your workouts—and your life—by choosing more whole, nutrient dense, plant-based foods on your plate, your carbon footprint goes down. As an added bonus, it can also help to improve your health and sport performance. Talk about a win-win situation!
The Effect of Food Production on Climate Change
The consumption of plant and animal products have very different effects on the planet. While plants “breathe in” harmful carbon dioxide and release life-giving oxygen into the world, animals do the opposite. Cows not only breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, they also release methane gas—a large contributor to climate change. So in just the farming, from seed to harvest, plants take up less land, energy, water and resources than animals—and combat the emissions animals farmed for food release.
Plants are easy to grow—or at least easier than raising animals for us to eat. Think about it: plants don’t need grass for grazing or grain for eating, and they sure have a shorter “harvest” time. What you plant in the spring generally gets harvested in the fall. With animals, you have to wait several years for your cattle to be ready to butcher, or dairy cow to be ready to produce milk. Add in those extra years, and that’s a lot more water, feed and energy to make a meal. Then we get to the production, processing and delivery of food around the world. Production and distribution relies on the burning of fossil fuels which directly contributes to global climate change. While both plant and animal foods are processed to varying degrees, taking steps to eat more whole food can result in fewer emissions.
The Benefits of Plant-based Nutrition
This isn’t all gloom and doom. The great news is making small shifts in the type of food you consume can have a huge positive impact on the planet. One of the easiest ways to reduce your food-related emissions is to add in more plant-based meals. Focusing on plant-based foods means less CO2 emissions, water and energy consumption. As an added bonus, your athletic performance will benefit as well. This isn’t an all-or-nothing type of situation. Even if you’re not eating 100% plant-based, every plant-based food choice makes a difference. You can start small by swapping your traditional post-gym routine of chocolate milk followed by a whey protein bar, with a plant-based smoothie. Blend fresh and frozen fruit, non-dairy milk, nuts, seeds and a plant-based protein powder for a post-workout smoothie that is lower in carbon emissions.
These additions can even help boost your performance if you are active. Because plant-based foods are easier to digest and assimilate, your body doesn’t have to waste energy on digestion and can put that energy towards pushing harder, lasting longer and performing better. Plant-based foods are also more nutrient dense than many other foods found in a typical diet. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts all provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, with relatively low calorie counts. Adding more plant-based foods to your diet can help your health—those who eat mainly plant-based tend to have lower BMIs and less risk of cardiovascular disease.1
The Vega Sport Performance System
Vega Sport is the first, complete, all-natural, plant-based sport performance system specifically developed to help athletes perform at their best— before, during and after training or competition. Every ingredient in the Vega Sport System is selected for a specific, performance-boosting function. Each Vega Sport product is formulated so its ingredients work in synergy within the individual product—and across the system as a whole—for maximum impact (so you get better returns on your workouts).
Vega’s plant-based nutrition is as much about empowering health as it is about supporting the health of our planet. From the ingredients to packaging to suppliers, Vega lives their commitment to sustainability through constant improvement. Because all products are 100% plant-based, the sourcing of ingredients emits fewer carbon emissions that most supplement companies. Vega Sport Performance Protein and Vega One tubs are also now made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic—saving 278 tons of CO 2 or 63% less CO 2 greenhouse gas than virgin plastic per year.
Prepare: get in the zone with energy to burn
Fueling before even starting your workout can make or break your performance, and pre-workout fuel should provide immediate and sustained energy that won’t spike or crash. For workouts longer than 30 minutes, the combination of low- and high-glycemic index carbohydrates found in Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer offers slow, steady energy. But not every workout needs carbohydrate fuel. For shorter, light workouts, consider Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer, which is sweetened with stevia and contains only 5 calories. Both Pre-Workout Energizer and Sugar-Free Energizer contain 100mg of caffeine from green tea and yerba mate to help get you in the zone, mentally. Carefully chosen supplements, such as ginseng, rhodiola, turmeric, and devil’s claw support proactive performance—not only for the workout you’re about to do, but for the ones to follow.
Sustain: push harder, last longer, take it to the next level
Mid-workout fuel and electrolyte-enhanced hydration can help you go the distance. Simple carbohydrates are the primary source of clean-burning, easily digestible fuel found in Vega Sport Endurance Gel, while Vega Sport Energy Bar delivers a little protein to extend the burning time of carbohydrates. Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator replenishes the essential minerals and electrolytes lost through sweat, helping maintain a well-hydrated body for greater efficiency with every stride.
Recover: recharge and repair so you can do it all again, sooner
Faster recovery allows for you to train again sooner and ultimately make gains faster. Post-workout recovery is a complex process with multiple factors contributing actual recovery speed. It’s not just about consuming protein for building and repairing muscle— it’s also critical to replenish muscle glycogen, reduce inflammation, repair soft tissue, and provide immune system support. Well-timed, the right ratio of nutrients, mindfully selected herbal and dietary supplements can result in a faster recovery advantage.
Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator delivers a functional 4:1 carb-to-protein ratio to speed muscle glycogen replenishment when taken with 20 minutes immediately after a workout, and is uniquely formulated to address all key elements of post-workout recovery. Vega Sport Performance Protein features 5,000 mg of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) plus 5,000 mg of glutamine to help build and repair muscles post-workout, in addition to giving you 25 grams of plant-based protein blended from multiple plant-based sources. Vega Sport Protein Bar packs 15 grams of protein into a delicious, take-anywhere bar to help meet the additional protein needs of athletes in hard training.
For more tips on clean, plant-based eating, recipes and charts to show the environmental impact of plant-based diets, register today for ThriveForward.com. Start today with this plant-based gingersnap recovery smoothie:
* 1 scoop Vega Sport Performance Protein Vanilla
* 1/2 cup frozen peaches
* 1/4 cup oats
* 1 cup of almond milk
* 1 frozen banana
* 1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional: fresh ginger to taste)
* Sprinkle of cinnamon
* Scoop of ice
Blend and enjoy!
1. Craig WJ, Mangels AR. (2009).Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 109(7):1266-82. Accessed 6/4/13 from http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf