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The Vegan Diet for your Athlete Teen Featured

February 13,2015 02:29 AM
The Vegan Diet for your Athlete Teen

Many athletes who attend Summer Camps follow a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons. A lot of people think that a vegan diet can put athletes, especially teen athletes who are still growing, at a disadvantage compared to others. However, it’s not nearly as complicated and difficult as many people may believe. If you eat the right kinds of food in the right proportions, a vegan diet can be absolutely beneficial for a teen athlete. As long as teens make sure to follow a balanced diet and ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need, it’s no more complicated than the dietary requirements for any other teen athlete. Here are a few key nutritional tips for any vegan teen athlete to consider: 

  • Athletes generally require more protein than most people, so it’s important to incorporate protein into each meal or snack. Things like beans, tofu, nuts, and soy products are a great source of protein for vegans. 
  • Athletes must also ensure they are maintaining proper iron levels to reduce risk of anemia and fight off low energy levels. Vegans can get iron from many natural sources, such as dark leafy vegetables, quinoa, lentils, soybeans, fortified cereal, raisins, and more. 
  • Vegan athletes should also make sure they are getting an adequate amount of vitamin B12, which can be found in many fortified cereals, soymilk, and nutritional yeast. 
  • A vegan diet may be low in calories, so it’s important to ensure you’re eating a healthy amount of calories for the active vegan lifestyle. Try to incorporate 200- or 400-calorie snacks throughout the day in the form of a granola bar, soy yogurt and fruit, trail mix, or a bagel and peanut butter to make sure you are getting the proper amount of calories even between larger meals. 

Complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the foundation of a vegan’s nutritional needs. Vegans should be eating 0.5 and 0.8 grams of protein a day for each pound they weigh. In addition to the above requirements, iron, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 are important for all athletes, vegan or otherwise, to maintain healthy levels of. It is, by no means, difficult to live a vegan lifestyle and stay in good health and in good shape. Even athletes, whose dietary requirements are slightly more complicated, can easily maintain proper nutrition by means of a vegan diet.

-Shreya Wadkar

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