The Vegan Series: Top Nutrition Tips from the Experts
MEET THE EXPERTS
Kate Shilland, MSc, ANutr – @kateshilland
Kate is a sports nutritionist who provides no-nonsense, healthy and sustainable eating plans that aid her clients in optimising their sports performance.
TJ Waterfall MSc, ANutr – meatfreefitness.co.uk, @tj__waterfall
A nutritionist with a passion for fitness, TJ is the founder of Meat Free Fitness – a hub of delicious and healthy vegan recipes, nutrition guides, and fitness tips.
Selene Nelson – Yes Ve-gan! (Gaia Manifestos, £20), @selene.nelson
Selene is a vegan activist, journalist, and author – her call-to-action book, Yes Ve-gan!, was published on 26 December 2019.
1. BE PATIENT WITH YOUR BODY
BEAT THE BLOAT
Don’t fret if you experience issues with bloating and digestion when you first go vegan.
Kate says: “An increase in fibre simultaneously increases the fermentable carbohydrates, which can initially cause wind and bloating. Be sure to up your intake gradually while your digestive system gets used to the changes, and your diversity of gut bacteria increases to deal with the additional fibre.”
FEND OFF THE FATIGUE
With meat containing so much iron, suddenly cutting it out can make way for fatigue. Vitamin C-rich foods such as leafy greens, nuts and seeds are a great source of iron, and are prime for snacking on if you find low energy levels are leaving you helplessly craving meat.
Selene says: “Try snacking on dried fruits such as apricots, dates and figs – all high in iron – as well as Brazil nuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.”
2. DON’T PANIC ABOUT PROTEIN
THE AVERAGE JOE
Don’t sweat about the health implications of sacrificing that steak – contrary to popular belief, there’s actually a large amount of protein in most plant-based foods.
TJ says: “You certainly don’t need meat, fish or animal products to get enough protein. Pulses [beans, chickpeas and lentils] contain around 15-20g of protein per cup, and other high protein foods such as tofu, tempeh and seitan typically contain around 20-25g per serving – making them ideal swaps for vegans.”
THE ATHLETIC JIMMY
Whether you’re a regular gym-goer or semi-professional athlete, a vegan lifestyle won’t detract from your ability to up your game. Just ask the likes of Jermain Defoe or David Haye.
TJ says: “In terms of performance benefits, whole-food vegan diets have been shown to reduce inflammation, speed up recovery times, and improve arterial function, leading to better blood flow to muscles and organs.”
3. GET YOUR SUPPLEMENTS
While many forms of omega-3 can be found in plant-based sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts, the same accessibility can not be said for DHA – a fatty omega-3 acid primarily found in oily fish. Essential for sustaining attention and processing information, supplementation of DHA is key for vegetarians and vegans.
Kate says: “Omega-3 fats are particularly beneficial for brain function, heart health and lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.”
BALANCE recommends: Heights Smart Supplement, yourheights.com
This essential nutrient is generally only found in animal products such as fish, meat, eggs, as well as dairy produce, so vegans can often be left deficient.
Kate says: “Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the release of energy from food, keeps the blood cells in the body working at their peak, and helps in the production of DNA. A lack of this vitamin can lead to tiredness, weakness, damage to the nervous system, low mood or depression and trouble concentrating.”
BALANCE recommends: BetterYou Boost B12 Oral Spray, betteryou.com