Wednesday Wisdom from Framar Health Marathon Training and a Vegan Diet

06 March 2019

Wednesday Wisdom from Framar Health Marathon Training and a Vegan Diet

Wednesday Wisdom with Sarah Trimble Nutrition from Framar Health, providing expert nutritional advice & recipes to help support your marathon training.

When training for a marathon protein intake is essential, especially during the immediate post-run period to support muscle recovery and development, and prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). However, the protein sources recommended to support athletic training are often animal- based sources such as meat and eggs. The question is, how do those with a plant-based or vegan diet ensure that they are getting the right amount of protein to support their training?

Quality: the issue of the quality of protein is the most important when we look at the difference between animal and plant protein sources. Plant proteins are sometimes classed as incomplete because they don’t contain sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein that our body uses for muscle recovery). However, by combining different sources of plant proteins our bodies will ‘complete’ the protein by combining the amino acids from different sources together.

The main rule to follow is to combine two of the three groups of plant protein to ensure that you are getting the right mix of amino acids in your diet. These 3 main groups are grains (such as oats, rice and whole-wheat), beans and lentils (including chickpeas, black bean, kidney beans and soya beans), and nuts and seeds (such as almond, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts). These sources of plant protein should be combined in the post-run meal and included in your diet throughout the day.  

Quality: some plant proteins offer ready-made complete proteins so try and include these in your diet regularly during marathon training, they include, buckwheat, soya products (such as tofu or fresh soya/ edamame beans), quinoa and chia seeds. In fact one study indicated that post-exercise soya consumption was more effective than a dairy based protein shake at promoting muscle recovery.

Quality: the amino acid leucine promotes muscle synthesis, repair and recovery above all other amino acids. Try to include plant sources of leucine into your post exercise meals, these include soya beans, black beans, peanuts and pumpkin seeds.

Timing: it is important to consume a protein rich meal within 45 minutes of a training session for optimal muscle recovery. However, it is also important to try and have a source of plant protein at every meal and snack throughout the day, this will ensure that you maintain a constant supply of amino acids for your body to use. Therefore try and ensure that every time you eat you are including whole grains, nuts or seeds or beans or lentils.

Quantity: the evidence is slowly emerging that a plant protein based diet can be just as effective in supporting athletic performance. However, it is important that effort is made to ensure that sufficient plant protein is consumed. Plant protein is more poorly absorbed than animal protein and, therefore higher quantities should be consumed to meet needs. In the post exercise period try to consume around 30g of plant-based protein.

Meal ideas: combining different sources of plant protein will ensure that you meet your protein needs and provide the body with a variety of amino acids. So add hemp seeds and nut butter to porridge, mix quinoa and chickpeas in a lunchtime salad or serve a veggie stir-fry with buckwheat noodles, soya beans and cashew nuts.