Understanding Veganism (Part 1) - Going Vegan: Implications in Swimming

Many Olympians and World Champions have followed veganism and it has only pushed them towards getting better at their sport. One such Australian Olympic Star Swimmer is Late Murray Rose. He was a 15-time world record holder and winner of 6 Olympic medals. He often attributed his success in swimming to his vegan lifestyle.

While there have been a few following a vegan diet, there have been quite others opting for an eggetarian or non-vegetarian meal plan to balance protein requirements. We shall dwell deep on the advantages and disadvantages of a Vegan lifestyle and its dietary considerations in the next article and focus on understanding veganism in this one!

Vegetarianism is typically defined as a dietary practice that involves complete abstinence from ingestion of animal flesh including red meat, poultry, fish and sea foods. This dietary regimen could be divided into various types of adherents.

Vegan: A vegan diet is a strict vegetarian meal plan devoid of foods with an animal origin such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy. It is a diet exclusively derived from plant proteins.

Read more about vegans at Vegan Liftz

Lacto-Vegetarian: A vegetarian meal plan allows the use of dairy but without all other animal foods such as meat, fish and eggs. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains along with milk products is a lacto-vegetarian meal plan.

Lacto-Ovo-vegetarian: A vegetarian who combines milk products and eggs along with a wholesome vegetarian diet is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian.

Non-vegetarian: A non-vegetarian meal plan includes all vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods including dairy, eggs, meat and fish.

Let us take a closer look at a recommendable sample vegan and/or vegetarian meal plan of a 10-12y old competitive swimmer. The guidelines have been partially adapted from the vegetarian food pyramid; General Conference Nutrition Council.

Food Groups Serving Size (1 Serving = 1 Item) Nutrients Rich in No. of Servings for A 2200 Kcal Diet Eg: Food Choices
Whole grains
6-11 servings/day
1 slice bread (20g)
1 cup dry cereal (30g)
½ cup cooked rice or pasta (100g)
2 wheat phulka (30g)
1 paratha (30g)
1 jowar, bajra, ragi bhakri (90g)
Complex Carbohydrates, Dietary fiber, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, Iron, Magnesium 8-9 Oats, brown/red rice, wheat flour, ragi, bajra, jowar, quinoa, barley, broken wheat, multigrain etc.
5 servings/day
3/4th  cup cooked leafy vegetable (200g)
3/4th cup cooked vegetable (100g)
½ cup raw chopped vegetables (50-75g)
1 glass vegetable juice (250g)
Dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Folate, Potassium, Sodium 4-5 Spinach, Fenugreek, cabbage, kale, pumpkin, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, tomatoes, beet root, carrot, ladies finger, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, brinjal etc.
3-4 servings/day
1 medium whole fruit (100g)
¼ cup dried fruit (100g)
1 cup berries (100g)
½ cup canned fruit (125g)
1 glass fruit juice (200-250g)
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Dietary fiber, Potassium, Folate 3-4 Fruits: Oranges, sweet lime, peaches, plums, kiwi, apples, papaya, bananas, strawberries etc
Dry fruits: Raisins, dates, prunes, figs etc.
Legumes, nuts, seeds
2-3 servings/day
4-5 servings/day when vegan
½ cup cooked beans/ peas (100g)
1 cup tofu (150g-200g)
1 cup raw dal (30g)
1 cup cooked dal (100g)
Handful of nuts (15-20g)
¼ cup seeds (20-30g)
1 glass soy milk (200ml)
1 glass almond milk (200 ml)
1 cup soy curd (200-250g)
Protein, dietary fiber, iron, zinc, calcium, B6, B3 2-3 OR 4-5 Legumes & pulses: soybeans, rajma, all dals, lentils, chick peas, green peas, split peas etc
Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, groundnuts etc.
Oilseeds: flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seed, sesame seeds etc.
Other meat/dairy alternatives: tofu, soy milk etc.
2-3 servings/day
If lacto-vegetarian
1 glass milk (200-250 ml)
1 fine slab paneer (100g)
1 cube cheese (15-25g)
1 cup curd (150g)
Calcium, protein, Vitamin D, A, B2, B12, Probiotic 2-3 Milk, curd, yoghurt, cheese, fresh cheese, white butter etc.
Vegetable fats, oils, sweet, salt
Eat sparingly
1 tsp oil (5g)-(45 kcal)
1 tbsp butter (12g)- (108 kcal)
1 tbsp mayonnaise (12-15g fat)- (100 kcal)
1 tsp sugar (5g)- (20 kcal)
1 tsp salt (2400mg sodium)
Energy Limit the usual use Limit desserts, fried items
Use jams, honey, high fructose corn syrup sparingly
Limit soft drinks and colas
Limit foods that are processed

A vegetarian lifestyle in the long run has been researched to be associated with a reduction in risk of a number of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, hypertension, certain cancers etc. The American Dietetic Association acknowledges that a vegetarian diet can adequately meet nutritional needs although emphasis on meal planning and adherence to the plan is important. Nutrient needs are required to be adequately planned in order to prevent deficiencies and further compromises to athletic performance.

Author: Mihira A R Khopkar

B.Sc. Dietetics, M.Sc. Sports Nutrition


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SwimIndia does not guarantee results of any sort, before making any changes to your diet plans, please consult an expert.

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