Just as diversification is an important element of effective triathlon training programs, the diversification of protein sources to include plant-based proteins in triathletes’ diets is crucial for maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet.
As a vegan athlete, the question I am mostly frequently asked is, “where and how do you get your protein?” The simple answer is: ample quantities of protein can be found in natural plant based foods including legumes (beans), nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and plant-based protein supplements.
While I am not advocating a strict vegan based diet for all triathletes, the incorporation of plant-based proteins into endurance athletes’ diets is an effective way to diversify protein sources.
Vegan and vegetarian athletes have excelled in endurance sports, including triathlons and ultra-marathons. Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, Laura Kline, for example, have excelled as endurance athletes while maintaining vegan diets. Based on personal experience, I have not experienced the symptoms of protein deprivation in any of my athletic endeavors.
The most important part of becoming a successful vegan athlete or incorporating vegan dietary concepts into conventional athletes’ diets is learning what constitutes a healthy, plant-based diet. The keystone of a healthy, plant-based diet is the incorporation of whole foods (grains, legumes and veggies) and high quality plant-based protein supplements, rather than processed vegan proteins designed to emulate meat (i.e., vegetarian bacon).
To get you started on the integration of plant-based proteins in your diet, my delicious recipe for summer quinoa is provided below. This simple and easy to make dish contains a variety of plant-based proteins, including quinoa, almonds and chickpeas, and is also packed with vegetables. Each serving includes approximately 17 grams of protein and provides essential amino acids, healthy fats, among other benefits.
Enjoy this well-balanced, protein-packed dish that will keep your energy and endurance up as a meal, side, or snack!
Melissa Robbins teaches vegan and macrobiotic cooking classes in New York City. Melissa apprenticed with renowned macrobiotic chef and counselor, Melanie Waxman. Melissa graduated from Boston University with a degree in Biology. Outside of the kitchen, Melissa enjoys running, swimming, cycling, Yoga, and CitiBiking.
For more information on the importance of proteins in an athlete's diet, check out this article and our amino patch!
Melissa’s Summer Quinoa (pictured above)
Serves: 3-5 People
Preparation: 40 Minutes Total - 20 minutes preparation & 20 minutes cooking
Cookware: Medium Saucepan, Grater, Measuring Utensils
1 Cup Quinoa Washed and Soaked (Soak minimum of one hour prior to cooking)
1 Can Chickpeas
1 Yellow Onion Diced
1 Carrot Grated
½ Cup Almonds Roasted and Chopped
½ Cup Raisins
1 Ear Fresh Corn or ½ Cup Frozen Corn
2 Tablespoons Ume Plum Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Brown Rice Vinegar
Handful of Parsley or Cilantro Chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Cups Water
1 Pinch Salt