You were wrong if you thought you must follow a meat-based diet to get enough protein to participate in CrossFit. You can see the same results as your meat-eating counterparts as a CrossFit athlete without impacting your recovery times or increasing your chances of injuries.
The transition away from meat for several CrossFit athletes has not harmed their performance. On the contrary, documentaries like “Cowspiracy” and “Forks Over Knives” played pivotal roles in the changes in the eating habits of some athletes since many started out relying on animal-based proteins to sustain their strength for their strenuous sport before turning to plant-based diets.
5 Successful Vegan CrossFit Athletes
The five top CrossFitters below prove that a vegan lifestyle has helped boost their performances while also helping them keep them in better health and shape.
1. Lisa Eble
There are several successful women CrossFit athletes in Germany, including Lisa Eble. Eble gave up meat almost four years ago, saying that vegetables provide her with enough protein to maintain her strength.
Another reason for choosing a plant-based diet was to prevent more animals from suffering. Eble told PlantBasedNews Org., “Anyone with a pet knows that animals experience suffering, pain, and fear.”
Lisa Eble ranks fifth in her country and holds 1st in CrossFit Aorta for her affiliate.
2. Jeremy Reijnders
Dutch athlete Jeremy Reijnders has not always been a vegan. The CrossFitter used to think that vegans were “weird” and featured in a documentary a few years back shopping many pounds of animal proteins.
It’s been several years now since Jeremy Reijnders started following a plant-based diet, and he says he has never felt better. The pivotal moment for the 6th ranking athlete in the Netherlands and the man who has held the title of the fittest man in the Netherlands was watching “Forks Over Knives.”
“I really, really liked meat, but this documentary convinced me that we can control the “disease of affluence” by ditching animal-based and processed foods.” He told Men’s Journal that it took him four weeks to transition to veganism in 2015> He slowly cut out one animal product at a time as he figured out the best vegan protein sources to substitute his meals with.
Reijnder’s muscle mass increased by five pounds since he became vegan, and he saw a marked improvement in his recovery times.
3. Danielle Sidell
American CrossFit athlete Danielle Sidell switched to veganism in 2016 after watching the documentary “Cowspiracy.” Since becoming vegan, Sidell has transitioned into an almost exclusive raw food diet and has completely stopped eating greasy foods.
Despite eating 1,000 fewer calories a day, the athlete told Men’s Journal that she feels faster, fitter, and more energetic to perform in the gym. She admitted that she noticed a slight decrease in her personal lifting record. However, Sidell’s recovery time improved significantly.
Sidell has competed individually and as part of a team that ranked 2nd globally.
4. Katharine Isele
Another German CrossFit athlete that ultimately gave up meat a few years ago is Katharine Isele. She initially gave up eating animal products in 2020, making it easier for her to transition to veganism at the beginning of 2021.
Isele made the change to see how her body would feel. She told Plant Based News that she feels physically great and is pleased that no animal suffers because of her diet.
Isele is currently ranked first in Germany and holds the 88th rank worldwide.
5. Ed Bauer
Ed Bauer, the offspring of a competitive powerlifter, has been a vegan since 1996, when he was only 16. The CrossFit coach believes that athletes can remain strong and healthy as vegans. Moreover, he says, “Plant-based foods are nutrient-rich, allowing faster recovery times in athletes as opposed to those relying on animal products for their protein source.”
Like the other CrossFit athletes above, Bauer believes everyone who wants to achieve in the sport can attain the strength required on a vegan diet.
How to Eat as a Vegan CrossFit Athlete
If you have considered going vegan but aren’t sure how to start, here’s how:
Consider Your Diet Overall – Vegan does not necessarily mean healthy. Some of the most unhealthy plant-based foods include French fries, candy, crisps, and Oreos, but they contain ingredients like fats and sugars that you should avoid.
The healthiest vegan or plant-based foods are not processed meals but the meals you prepare from the freshest ingredients at home.
Include Lots of Raw Fruits and Veggies – Athletes, like everyone else, must consume plenty of raw fruits and vegetables to help increase their overall health, energy levels, and recovery rates.
Add Alternative Protein Sources – It’s a myth that only animal sources contain the proteins athletes require to build their muscles and strength. Proteins also abound in plant-based foods. Finding the proteins that agree with you may take some time, but several sources exist. These include plant-based protein, nuts, seeds, pea protein, lentils, beans, tofu, and edamame.
Importance of Iron – Low iron levels in your bloodstream cause muscle fatigue, affects your immune system, and lowers your performance. Therefore, increase your intake of leafy greens, whole grains, lentils, molasses, nuts, pureed tomatoes, dark chocolate, and dried fruits. However, your body needs vitamin C to aid iron absorption. Therefore, include more vitamin C-rich foods or take a supplement.
Fats and Carbs – If you intend to include carbs in your diet, add oatmeal, starchy vegetables, brown rice, and quinoa for the healthiest options.
Fats are vital in the diet, and as a vegan, you must ensure you get enough to absorb fat-soluble hormones and vitamins. Besides nuts and seeds, include avocado and coconut flesh in your meals.
Supplements – You will need supplements unless you have enough vitamins B12 and D, Omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. Don’t wing it. Instead, test your levels annually and ask your doctor to prescribe supplements if needed.
Find your best eating plan – You can follow the same eating cycles as other athletes when embracing a vegan lifestyle or take a different approach. It doesn’t mean that everything changes because you are eating different foods. Ask your coach for advice and see how others you follow make it work, but you can also adapt what you eat pre- and post-workout to match your needs.
CrossFit athletes invest considerable time in training to achieve strength and toned physiques. However, their eating habits play a massive role in ensuring they can meet their workout intensity. The five successful athletes above thrive on plant proteins and nutrients, achieving the desired low body fat levels and perfect bodies that have helped them excel at their game.
Vegan CrossFit athletes consume a variety of plant-based protein sources, such as legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and whole grains.
Vegan CrossFit athletes can perform just as well as their meat-eating counterparts if they consume enough protein and other nutrients. Some studies suggest that a plant-based diet can improve athletic performance and recovery.
Some potential challenges of following a plant-based diet as a CrossFit athlete include ensuring adequate protein intake and getting enough nutrients such as iron, calcium, and vitamin B12. However, with proper planning and supplementation, these challenges can be overcome.