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How To Create Your Own Plant-Based Athlete Meal Plans


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How To Create Your Own Plant-Based Athlete Meal Plans

 

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Over the twenty years that I have been a plant-based (vegan) athlete, I’ve realized that many people know what foods they want to avoid when they decide to become vegan, but they’re often unsure about the foods to eat to thrive as a plant-based athlete.

 

An obvious first step is to avoid eating animal products, but what to replace them with becomes the mission to conquer. Many animal products are 1500-3000 calories per pound, whereas most plant foods are 200-500 calories per pound. Naturally, there will be questions about what to eat to replace animal foods in order to maintain your current weight, build muscle, and burn fat on a whole-food, plant-based diet. In my latest book, Shred It! (Gaven Press, November, 2014), I provide many answers, listing specific types of foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, while also sharing what a typical day of plant-based eating looks like for me.

 

Furthermore, I explain why animal-based foods are not the best sources of protein, calcium, and essential fats, and reveal why they are not really even very good sources of nutrition. For example, plant foods contain 64 times more antioxidants than animal-based foods, fiber is only found in plants, cholesterol is only found in animal products, and leafy green vegetables are pound-for-pound the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat. Plant foods are vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant-rich, as well as hydrating and mostly alkaline-forming. Animal foods tend to have a lot of baggage besides all the environmental destruction, pain, suffering, and slaughter that come along with them, such as cholesterol, often saturated fat, acid-forming protein, and the ability to damage our artery walls and create plaque build-up inside our blood vessels.

 

As you’re creating a nutrition program based on your individual health and fitness goals, you will be happy to learn that plant foods contain the best sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, fatty acids, and hydration, coming from fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes. This reality puts you in a position to be successful, now you just need to know how to put the meal plans together.

 

The following is an excerpt from Shred It!, which will provide some helpful direction as you solve the puzzle of what to eat, in what quantities, and when to eat it:

 

The General Rules to Follow

A general rule to follow is to consume six meals a day, eating every three hours or so. This will keep your body constantly nourished and will help you avoid under eating, overeating, and help you maintain a productive metabolism. It will also ensure you are fueled to workout essentially anytime. Plan this into your meal preparations so you have meals prepared in advance and have access to high levels of nutrition any time of day, regardless of where you are. Keeping whole fruits and vegetables and nut and seed bars with you is an effective way to have healthy fast food while living a busy life on the go. I rarely go anywhere without packing snacks to take with me, consisting of bananas, apples, oranges, berries and other whole foods.

If you consume adequate caloric quantities based on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), you should be able to put on mass, increase muscle, and build strength. You can also get shredded by knowing the proper nutrition approaches to follow, and by implementing them. A low fat nutrition program will likely keep your body fat low. A high-energy nutrition program will keep your energy high. A diverse and calorically sufficient nutrition program will help you recover from exercise efficiently and build muscle. It really can be that easy.

 

First you’ll need to establish how many calories you are burning per day by using a Harris-Benedict calculator, as discussed in Chapter Five. Based on your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level you will find out how many calories you’ll need to consume to maintain weight. Given this data you can figure out how many calories you’ll need to consume to lose weight, gain muscle, or stay the same. By doing so, you can construct your meal plans according to your goals, based on real, tangible data designed to support your endeavors in a measurable way.

 

Some categories of foods to consume based on their nutritional impact include:

 

Fruits – Great for snacks and pre-workout fuel and for energy in general

Starches (Vegetables, Grains, Legumes) – Great as main courses

Greens – Great for overall nutrition

Vegetables – Great for snacks, for main courses, for overall nutrition and variety

Legumes – Great heavy base for filling meals

Nuts/Seeds – Great source of calories and essential fats, quick easy snack

 

A helpful tip is to prepare large quantities of specific staple foods to last for multiple days. This will save you time and money in the long run and allow more time for exercising, stretching, working, spending time with family, or whatever activities you prioritize. Some of those foods include:

 

Brown rice

Quinoa

Barley

Beans

Lentils

Potatoes

Yams

Soup

Chili

Salad

Nut and seed trail mix

Granola

 

Having some of these prepared staples, plus lots of fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, makes it easy to prepare filling meals any time.

Additionally, having accessory foods such as avocado, hummus, olives, mushrooms, spreads, dips, and other foods that often get included into snacks or main courses will help enhance the variety and flavor of meals you prepare. You’ll want these items to be oil-free since oil is pure fat at 4,000 calories per pound!

 

Good Breakfast Options

Fruit

Oats

Grits

Green smoothie

Fruit smoothie

Potatoes/yams

Miso soup with greens

Steamed greens

Brown rice

Breakfast burrito

Breakfast wrap

Yerba mate

 

Good Snack Options

Fruit

Vegetables

Nuts/seeds

Hummus

Smoothie

Flax crackers

Dried fruit

Prepared food leftovers

Avocado rolls

Fresh vegetable wraps/soft spring rolls

Edamame

Almond butter or other nut butters

Fruit, nut and seed trail mix

Homemade whole-food bars

Green salad

Fruit salad

 

Good Lunch Options

Starches (beans, lentils, brown rice, potatoes)

Quinoa

Vegetables

Green salad

Fruits

Soup

Fresh salad rolls

Avocado rolls/plant-based sushi

Hummus wrap

Burrito bowl

International foods including plant-based friendly options from Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mexican, Japanese, North African, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine

 

Good Dinner Options

Starches (beans, lentils, brown rice, potatoes)

Quinoa

Vegetables

Green salad

Fruits

Soup

Chili

Stuffed bell peppers

Portobello mushrooms

Plant-based burgers, wraps, burritos, or other whole foods

All-you-can-eat plant-based buffets (Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese)

International foods including plant-based friendly options from Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Japanese, North African, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine

 

Sample Meal Plans

 

The following are sample meal plans from my personal experiences and from the experiences of numerous colleagues who have contributed meal plans to this chapter. All of the meal plans are made up exclusively from whole plant foods and are primarily common allergen-free as well. They are nutrient-dense focused on high net gain nutrition, not total calories at all costs, like many athletes are used to consuming.

 

These meal plans are designed to be guidelines and examples. Chances are good that these meal plans will yield more nutrition than you are currently consuming because they don’t have refined or processed foods, fillers, or empty calories and are very nutrient-dense. You can follow them exactly, or you can alter them based on your own food preferences, the foods you have access to, based on your own unique health and fitness goals. You may require more or fewer calories based on your BMR, and ultimately based on your very specific goals, which you have established back when you read Chapter Two. You are also advised to consult your own nutritionist, physician, or health expert before starting a new nutrition program inspired by the suggestions in this chapter.

 

There will be numerous samples containing a variety of foods from international entrees to exotic fruits, to very common foods you’ll find in essentially any major metropolitan grocery store worldwide. I hope you find some meal plans that resonate with you, and that provide a baseline from which to work as you formulate your nutritional approach to achieve your goals. Be forewarned that some meal plans are deceptively simple. That is by design. Good nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. It can still be exotic, full of flavor and incredibly satisfying, but it can also be amazingly practical, simple, and effective. I tend to focus on the latter. I am not a chef, I am not a foodie, and I am not a culinary expert, but I do know how to fuel my body to achieve the results I am looking for, be it fat-loss, muscle gain, or something else like strength gain, or incredible endurance. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate tantalizing plant-based culinary delights, and I do indulge in exotic entrees at high-end plant-based restaurants in San Francisco, Vancouver, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Asheville, Portland, and other plant-based cuisine hot spots, but that is not the foundation for which my nutritional desires are based, and I am going out on a limb to assume it’s not for most of you either. Whatever your nutritional desires, I hope you find some of the following sample meal plans to be helpful, even if they are deceptively simple.

 

This is what a typical day looks like for me:

 

Breakfast

• Water

• A few pieces of whole fruit

• A bowl of oats with berries or other fruit

• A green smoothie made from green leafy vegetables, water, and fruit

Snack

• A few pieces of whole fruit

• Vegetables and hummus

• Yerba Mate drink

Lunch

• International cuisine such as Thai, Indian, or Mexican

• Small green salad

• Water

Snack

• A few pieces of whole fruit

• A fruit, nut and seed bar

• Water

Dinner

• Potatoes, lentils, beans, brown rice, quinoa or other starchy complex carbohydrate food

• Green salad

• International cuisine

• Water

Snack

• A few pieces of whole fruit

• A fruit, nut and seed bar

• Occasionally something heavy such as potatoes, beans, lentils

 

The usual variations include more salad greens as snacks, foods such as plant-based sushi (avocado and vegetable rolls) as snacks or primary meals, occasionally nuts and seeds, and other types of international foods. I traditionally keep potatoes, yams, beans, lentils, brown rice, and quinoa as my foundational staples and include salad greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and complimentary foods that add flavor, texture, variety and nutrition to the main courses of my meals. Most of my snacks are fruit-based, comprised of the following: Bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, melons, tangerines, pears, mangos, and whatever is in season at the time. Cherries are an all-time favorite fruit of mine, with lychee, mango, watermelon, and persimmons all making my list of preferred fruits when in season. For convenience sake, I often snack on fruit, nut and seed bars for quick dense calories before, during or after workouts, and when traveling.

 

Ultimately, I want to eat nutrient-dense foods as often as possible, therefore salad greens are added to most of my main courses and fruits are consumed throughout the day, including pre, post, and often during muscle-building workouts. Starchy complex carbohydrates always provide me with the most fuel. Those are the true staples of my diet, with fruit and yams and potatoes being favorite foods, and Thai, Indian, and Mexican being my absolute preferred foods based on diversity of nutrition, overall taste, flavor, enjoyment, and the satiation that comes from these amazing meals.

 

I hope this example from Shred It! gives you some helpful tips to create your own plant-based athlete meal plans. For additional meal plans, dozens of recipes, and detailed chapters on precisely how to build muscle and burn fat on a whole-food, plant-based diet, please refer to Shred It!, available on www.veganbodybuilding.com.

 

As always, train hard, eat well, smile often, and pursue your goals with passion, consistency, accountability, and transparency. I wish you all the very best in health and fitness. Let’s get shredded!

 

- Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Shred It! and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – www.veganbodybuilding.com.

 

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Order your copy of Shred It! here -------> www.veganbodybuilding.com/shredit

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What a fantastic and informative post Robert. Thanks for taking the time to share this MF

 

Thanks buddy!

 

I'm hoping to bring my book tour to your country sometime!

 

Hope all is awesome with you. Have a great one!

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Thanks buddy!

 

I'm hoping to bring my book tour to your country sometime!

 

Hope all is awesome with you. Have a great one!

That would be fantastic, make sure you get in touch with me if you do. I'll make sure I take you out to all the great restaurants we have here in little old NZ

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Yo, Daniel Negreanu here. Just took a look at your meal plan post and it looks quite different than the one you promoted in your previous book. When I read your old book I was already on a path in line with what you are doing now as opposed to before. I also saw that you are no longer with Vega. Does this mean you no longer use their products at all? Also I see that you have green and fruit smoothies on your list, but are you adding any added protein to those shakes? I also noticed the complete elimination of tofu or tempeh. Do you no longer eat tofu?

 

I've been gluten free for a year, avoiding wheat and have noticed the difference. I do a smoothie in the morning and a post workout smoothie with a combination of fruits, greens, nuts, seeds, and either Vega protein powder or Pea Protein. I also eliminated oats a year ago after doing a food allergy test claiming that my body was sensitive to both gluten and oats. I'm considering adding back the oats.

 

Have you ever done a food allergy test?

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Robert,

 

Thanks so much. You have a wealth of knowledge. Thanks for sharing some of it.

 

Question - I cannot process beans and legumes (incredible bloating and continuous flatulence) with the exception of soy beans and other soy products. I am also good with peanuts and most tree nuts. I also have a pea allergy. My main sources of protein are soy, oats and rice. Is a high soy intake healthy? I'm half Japanese so that may explain why I process soy without any gastrointestinal issues.

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