Sports Nutrition for Vegetarians

Parkview Sports Medicine

​Sports Nutrition for Vegetarians

As a vegetarian athlete, it’s important to know that a balanced vegetarian diet can provide the energy and nutrients you need to support your training and athletic performance.

The key is choosing a variety of different foods rich in:

  • Protein. Protein gives you the energy you need to enhance your athletic performance and rebuild small muscle tears that occur during sports and exercise. As a vegetarian athlete, you can still meet protein needs by eating a variety of protein-rich plant foods like nuts, seeds, soy foods and whole grains. You should consume about 1.2 – 1.7 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of your body weight per day to stay healthy and achieve peak athletic performance.

  • Iron. Iron helps carry oxygen from your lungs to your working muscles, which can help enhance your athletic performance. Vegetarians need nearly twice as much iron per day as non-vegetarians because iron from plant sources (versus meat sources) is difficult for your body to absorb. Make sure you eat foods with higher levels of iron, including beans, whole and enriched grains, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

  • Carbohydrates. A vegetarian diet is naturally rich in carbohydrates because of all the pasta, rice, vegetables, fruits and grains you eat. As your body’s fuel of choice, carbohydrates can help boost your energy availability – which is essential to optimizing your athletic performance. Starting sports or exercise with stored carbohydrates, from previous carbohydrate-rich meals, can also help prevent fatigue.

  • Calcium. This is the primary nutrient that enhances bone health and muscle function. Athletes, especially female athletes, with low dietary calcium may have increased risk of bone and stress fractures. You can easily get calcium from foods like fortified soy or rice milk, fortified fruit juice, broccoli, kale, cheese, yogurt, almonds and carrots.

  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D is required for your body to properly absorb calcium – and it’s needed for a healthy immune system. You should consume about 1,000 IU of vitamin D-rich and vitamin D-fortified foods like fortified milk, yogurt, eggs, soy products and fatty fish. Spending about 20 minutes outside every day can also help boost your vitamin D levels. A vitamin D supplement may be needed if your blood level is low, and especially during winter, when sun exposure is at a minimum.

Vegetarian Meal Options

A balanced diet that contains adequate protein, iron, carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin D will help keep you healthy – and at peak performance. Here are some meal options that include these vital nutrients and minerals and are easy to prepare:

Day one:

  • Breakfast: Melon and cottage cheese with rye crackers

  • Lunch: Whole-grain pita with hummus and cucumber slices; baby carrots; fruit yogurt

  • Snack: Dark chocolate-dipped strawberries

  • Dinner: Black bean taco salad with guacamole and tortilla chips; skim milk

Day two:

  • Breakfast: Cooked oatmeal with raspberries and almonds; skim milk

  • Lunch: Zucchini and goat cheese pizza with a small spinach salad and vinaigrette dressing; fruit yogurt

  • Snack: Chocolate and banana smoothie

  • Dinner: Sugar snap and snow pea stir fry with brown rice; skim milk

Contact Us

For more information, or to schedule a sports nutrition consultation, call (260) 266-4007.

Parkview Sports Medicine

Services provided at AWP Sports Training –
Located within the SportONE Parkview Fieldhouse
3946 Ice Way, Fort Wayne, IN 46808
and on The Summit Campus
1025 W. Rudisill Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN 46807


Back to top