7 Vegan Superfoods for Fitness Buffs

7 Vegan Superfoods for Fitness Buffs

Many people choose veganism for different reasons. Some take the moral stance, others desire the health benefits, and some just love the lifestyle. However, no matter the reason, vegan nutrition requires a conscious dietary choice. This couldn’t be more true for the vegan fitness enthusiast.  On top of the nutrients necessary for daily activity, the vegan fitness buff also needs ample vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants to support muscle development, endurance, and immune function. Fortunately nature has provided the micro and macronutrients to fuel the vegan athlete, it’s just a matter of learning which ones will do the trick. In this post we’ll explore some of the best vegan food (and recipes) to fuel your lifestyle and take your fitness to the next level. 


Spirulina is a blue-green alga that’s been popularized by NASA as a dietary supplement for astronauts during space missions. This sea moss really does have “out of this world” properties. Spirulina has the ability to boost immune function and anti-inflammatory agents by blocking the release of histamines.

The medical world has put it to the test to understand its potential for treating several diseases. While there’s lots left to uncover about spirulina, researchers are convinced of its healing properties, some claiming it may have anticancer, antiviral, and anti-allergic effects (1).

From a nutritional standpoint, spirulina is a complete protein that’s packed with 60-70% of all the essential amino acids necessary for peak physical health. This superfood is also rich with vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and many more.

These benefits make it an excellent pre workout for vegan fitness enthusiasts or a great overall source of protein to aid in muscle recovery after workouts.

Fortunately, spirulina is a very versatile cooking ingredient- if you can imagine it, spirulina can likely be used in it. From chia seed pudding, to toast spread, or even dressing this algae not only ads a different dimension to flavor, but also brings out the fun vibrant colors of the sea!

Hemp Seeds

Hemp also known as Cannabis sativa is not only a superfood but a super plant. It’s practical and societal applications are vast with its uses for producing clothing, textiles, biodegradable plastics, paper, biofuel, animal feed and even lighting oil. However, one of its most interesting facets is what it can accomplish nutritionally for the health conscious.

Hempseed represents a potent source of essential fatty acids, micronutrients, and fibers on top of essential amino acids found in the highly digestible proteins edestin and albumin. Hempseed oil serves as a concentrated source of polyunsaturated fats, which has the power to prevent heart-disease, cancer, and inflammatory conditions.

In addition hemp seed sprouts (which are edible) have high amounts of flavonoids, polyphenols, and flavonols- powerful compounds known for their positive cardiovascular and metabolic effects.

Hemp is as versatile an ingredient in the kitchen as it is in its varying domestic uses. Its tempered, nutty taste makes it a good supporting flavor, and it’s also great for adding texture and fiber to low carb foods. Hemp hearts are also useful binders for making low-carb meatloaf, meatballs, or patties.

Whether you’re looking for a hearty meat supplement for added protein or an earthy accent to a post-workout smoothie, hemp is always a useful go-to for the fitness enthusiast.


Lentils are a staple of the vegan diet, and for very good reason. Studies have shown eating lentils has a strong association with reductions in diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.

This legume is a great option for vegans interested in muscle building. For the fitness buff lentils offer a high percentage of protein, including essential and non-essential amino acids such as globulin and albumin which are essential for cellular health and function. Because of their high fiber content, they are excellent for stabilizing blood sugar levels, providing slow and steady releases of energy for athletes during workouts.

They are also a great amount of prebiotic carbohydrates that keep the digestive system healthy and protect it from gut-associated diseases. Additionally, lentils are rich in iron, which is particularly important for individuals with low-iron diets, such as vegans and vegetarians.  On top of that lentils are rich with vital minerals like zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and boron as well as vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and much more (2).

All in all lentils represent one of the best dietary sources of health promoting benefits the body could ask for, especially for gym-goers.

Whether used as a meat substitute, tossed in salads or boiled into a soup, lentils can be incorporated into a healthy diet in numerous tasty ways.

Sweet Potatoes

For one sweet potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrates, which support energy levels, making them ideal for fueling workouts. 

Studies have shown that products containing sweet potatoes improve performance during long-term physical activities and should be eaten regardless of age. And why wouldn’t you want to? Aside from its delicious flavor, it is rich in fiber, vitamins A, C, and B6, manganese, and potassium, which promote health benefits like reduced risk of cancer, better digestion, eye health, and immunity. 

The beauty of sweet potatoes is that they’re a pleasure to eat. You enhance their sweetness with cinnamon and sugar, you can bring out their savory flavor and texture with chili, it’s really up to you!


Oats are one of the ancient grains harvested and nurtured as a cultural staple world-wide.  Oatmeal (or porridge in some cultures) is the de-husked oats (groats) that’ve been cut into small pieces (steel-cut) steamed (to soften the groats), and flattened with rollers (rolled oats). Irrespective of its processing, all forms of oatmeal are 100% whole grain and have similar amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. What differs is the cooking time, shape (rolled or steel-cut), texture (chewy or smooth), and whether or not they are all natural or fortified with B-vitamins and iron.

For the athlete, oats are one of the most cost-effective grains, and considering that half of your daily grains should be whole grains oats are an excellent place to start. The beta glucen in oats is a slow-absorbed carbohydrate that slowly releases glucose into the bloodstream and keeps you full longer, which makes it an ideal fuel source for longer sporting events. Oatmeal has around 5g of protein per half cup and when combined with a milk source and fruits it is a powerhouse for protein and energy.

In addition oats have the antioxidant avenanthramide (AVA). AVA can alleviate the oxidative stress created by vigorous exercise. There’s a growing body of research suggesting that pre-exercise oatmeal may also reduce inflammation and muscle damage. 

Oatmeal is a very straight-forward, simple dish to add to the nutrition of the health conscious vegan. The great thing about oatmeal is that its flavor can always be enhanced by adding more healthy ingredients such as spices, fruits, milks, and nuts. Regardless of how you stay fit, starting your day off with a fresh bowl of oatmeal may be the best way to peak performance.


Walnuts are a delicious treat that need no introduction or excuse to be added into a vegan fitness enthusiasts’ diet. For starters they are a solid source of calcium, fiber, and a very substantial amount of protein with as much as 12g per serving! Walnuts are also PACKED with polyunsaturated fat, providing around 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving, which ultimately improves heart and brain health. On top of their immediate benefits, they may also protect against certain cancers and heart disease long term due to their high antioxidant profile.

Thanks to the distinct, earthy note of the walnut, this nut excels in numerous flavor ranges. They can embody the sweet and savory, be prepared raw or toasted, all while easily grounding any dish with delicious flavor. Whether used as a substitute for pine nuts in pesto, transformed into a tasty vinaigrette, or adding delicious taste and texture to chocolate pastries, walnuts can make you vegan fitness nutrition into a pleasure.  


Before the rise of modern wheat, oats, and rice, ancient grains like freekeh fortified the bodies of our ancestors and nourished civilizations around the world. It was (and still is) a powerful nutritional source considering they often contain more dietary fiber, protein, bioactive compounds, and antioxidant activity than modern grains.

Because of its rich balance of carbohydrates and protein, freekeh is a good fuel source for a wide range of training styles (cardio, muscle building, etc.). It’s specifically an excellent source of iron, making it excellent for blood/oxygen transport and bone health. When considering fitness foods as a vegan micronutrients can be just as important as the macronutrients for optimal health. Fortunately freekeh contains important minerals like zinc, manganese, calcium as well as glutamic acid (glutamine), an essential amino acid for muscle building. 

If you’re considering adding this nutty, slightly smokey grain to your diet, think about taking the Mediterranean approach. Countries of the region have been devising nutritious and delicious ways of incorporating ancient grains into their nutrition for centuries.

Freekeh is very easy to cook on stovetop and you can substitute it with any other grain in side dishes, tossed in salads, or mixed in wholesome soups.

In Conclusion

If you haven’t experienced the benefits and the flavor of the foods listed, I strongly urge you to try! The beauty of vegan nutrition is that while you have to be conscious of what’s on your plate, this awareness lends itself well to strategizing the health benefits you want and how to create the best tasting dishes with each ingredient. With patience and consistency in cooking and exercise, the fitness lifestyle combined with vegan nutrition will help you feel a new level of vitality and energy that you’ve never experienced before.  

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10097385/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5713359/

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