This past week, I had a friend of mine made the (horribly uneducated) decision to “go vegan.” This suggests that he, who plays two sports and is incredibly active, will not eat any animal products. To take it a step further, he chose to get all of his carbohydrates and protein from fruits and vegetables. As healthy as this diet option may seem, for an athlete like him, it is ultimately anything but. The rigorous wearing down of your body through sports is eased by a diet that consists of a fair amount of each food group. The problem with going vegan, especially in this case, is that people unknowingly begin to consume less and less protein and carbohydrates. For him to continue consuming the same amount of protein and carbs he once was, he would have to eat a ridiculous amount of fruits and vegetables.

While this isn’t exactly a big deal for some people, it is for athletes: by not eating the right amount of protein and carbs, the individual is giving it’s body a chance to more or less begin to shut down. There are chances that you will begin to feel weak, lightheaded even, will feel constantly hungry, or throw off your sleep schedule.

It seems to be increasingly common that people are confused with their diets. The misconception that proteins and carbohydrates are bad for you is a common one. As an athlete, protein and carbs are most likely to your benefit if consumed in the correct amounts. Protein is a prominent building block of your muscle and tissues, and carbs are responsible for energy. Heather Mangieri, author of Fueling Young Athletes, claims, “We are built out of the foods and fluids we put in our body; build something strong.”

As I praise protein and carbs, the emphasis must be clarified and put on lean meats and wheat products. Also, I am in no way denoting the importance of fruits and vegetables. At mealtimes, fruits and/or vegetables should take up around half of your plate.

The transformation from fatty meats as protein to lean meats is more or less simple: eliminate ground beef, sausage, bacon, and red meat. As far as carbohydrates are concerned, eliminate any white flour products such as white bread, pasta, and tortillas, and replace it with wheat products. White flour is heavily processed and therefore not as nutrient rich as wheat products are.

Here are examples of good sources of protein and carbohydrates:

Protein:

  • Chicken Breast

  • Turkey

  • Lean Beef

  • Salmon

  • Nuts/Nut Butter

  • Beans

  • Eggs

Carbs:

  • Wheat Bread

  • Wheat Pasta

  • Quinoa

  • Wheat Tortillas

  • Brown Rice

  • Oatmeal

Guest Post By: Taylor Bouchard