How To Fuel Your Workouts With A Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based (vegan) diets are becoming more and more popular. They have many advantages, such as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced cancer incidence, and lower rates of obesity. But how do people fuel their workouts on a plant-based diet?

Here is a list of plant-based foods you should be eating before and after four different types of workouts:

1. Long-Distance Running

Running keeps you fit and supports a healthy cardiovascular system

Carbohydrates are one of the most important components when it comes to fueling a long-distance run. A quick way to evaluate your carbohydrate intake is to look at what percentage of your diet is carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates should make up about 50% of a runner’s diet. Complex carbohydrates are preferred over simple sugars and starches, but all carbs regardless of form need to be balanced in the nutritional profile for proper energy release over time.

Foods to eat before your run:

  • Beets
  • Fruit
  • Whole-Grain Toast With Bananas
  • Sweet Potatoes

During your run:

  • Dried Fruit (Raisins Were My Choice)
  • Dates

After your run:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • A large salad with a base of dark leafy greens, beans, and a handful of nuts
  • A brown rice-based bowl paired with your choice of vegetables and beans
  • A smoothie with dark leafy greens, fruits, and seeds

2. High-Intensity Interval Training

HIIT workouts burn a massive amount of calories

When it comes to getting in a good workout, high-intensity interval training or HIIT is the best. The workout session is short, but intense. High-intensity interval training relies on short bursts of maximum effort with low to moderate rest between efforts, usually less than 20 seconds.

When performing a HIIT workout, you will have time between sprints to refuel and recover. Be sure to stay hydrated, and eat a small handful of dates or nuts to keep your energy levels high.

Foods to eat before a HIIT session:

  • Sweet Potato
  • Whole-Grain Oatmeal With Fruit
  • Dark Leafy Green Paired With Fruit
  • Fresh Fruit

Foods to eat after a HIIT session:

  • Dates
  • Whole-grain pasta with vegetables and tomato sauce
  • A smoothie with fruits, dark leafy greens, and seeds

3. Circuit Training

Resistance bands are versatile and can be used to work out multiple muscle groups

Circuit training is another form of high-intensity exercise. In circuit training, a variety of exercises are repeated with minimal rest at a rapid pace.

Circuit training, similar to HIIT workouts, relies on short bursts of maximum effort with low to moderate rest between efforts, usually less than 20 seconds. It uses resistance machines and body weight for resistance; the exercises don’t require gym equipment so it is more convenient for people on the go.

Foods to eat before circuit training:

  • Whole-grain, old-fashioned oatmeal
  • Fresh fruit
  • Potatoes (preferably sweet potatoes)
  • Dried fruit with no added sugar

Foods to eat after circuit training:

  • Whole-grain oatmeal with nut butter and fruit
  • A smoothie with your choice of fruit, dark greens, seeds, and plant-based milk
  • A large salad with a base of dark leafy greens and your choice of beans
  • A legume-based veggie burger with a whole-grain bun

4. Weightlifting

Listing weights builds muscle quickly

Weightlifting is similar to circuit training except weight is added to the barbell and has a greater impact on muscles and joints. Weightlifting relies on explosive bursts of effort with moderate rest between efforts, possibly up to 2–3 minutes in duration.

Unlike most other workouts, weightlifting takes longer for the body to recover. Therefore, refueling is necessary before and after work outs.

Foods to eat before your weightlifting session:

  • Whole-grain oatmeal with dried fruit and a nut butter
  • A smoothie with dark leafy greens, high-carb fruits, and nuts
  • Whole-grain toast with a nut butter

Foods to eat after your weightlifting session:

  • Tofu or edamame
  • Raw vegetables and hummus
  • A smoothie with high-carb fruits, nuts, and dark leafy greens


A plant-based diet provides ample nutrition to fuel any type of workout. Consume a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts for optimal health and energy. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is important not only for your overall health, but it will help you perform at your maximum potential in any workout regimen you choose. Use these four workouts as a base to form your ideal workout plan!

Struggling to get enough protein to support peak muscle growth? Check out 5 Low-Key Sources of Plant Protein for easy and delicious ways to up your protein intake.

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