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» Nutritional Tips for Healthy Vegan Diet

Nutritional Tips for Healthy Vegan Diet

Plant-based and vegan diets are getting more and more popular.

Vegan diets are very healthy and are very helpful with weight loss and weight control. Following a plant-based diet can be nutritionally healthy for many people, but a vegan diet is a bit more restricted. Depending on your body type and exercise intensity, if you are following a nice vegan diet, you have to make sure that you focus on balancing your diet with all the specific nutrients that vegan people tend to get depleted of to help support your physical health. For People who do regular training or intense exercise it can lead to some suppressed immune function by increasing natural killer cells and neutrophil function. This impact on the immune system can increase the risk of bacterial infection, which can also cause some illnesses. On the other hand, if your vegan diet is well balanced, then your well-planned vegan diet will be highly beneficial to help nourish the body with plant-based foods. Many ultra-runners and athletes following a balanced-vegan diet, see a great increase in their performance and energy level, faster recovery and overall well-being. Vegan people need to focus on seven primary nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are often lower in plant-based diets.

 

Vegan Primary Nutrients, Vitamins and Minerals

 

  1. Protein: This nutrient is a vital part of an athlete’s diet or even more sedentary people, to help with muscle recovery and energy, and body refuelling. Often people following a vegan diet tend to feel hungrier. Not eating any animal foods makes it a bit more challenging to include enough protein with all the required amino acids. The recommended option to eat enough plant-based protein nutrients and amino acids, is to include a great variety of plant-based protein foods in your daily diet.

 

Protein-Rich Food Sources

 Tempeh

 Tofu

 Nuts and Seeds

 Hemp seeds, flour

 Beans

 Legumes

 Soy

 Unsweetened soy milk or almond milk

 Plant-based protein powder

 

  1. Healthy Fat: This nutrient is crucial for our body to absorb certain nutrients, help with recovery, have anti-inflammatory properties, help reduce the hunger and provide some energy for training. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial nutrients for anti-inflammation and help speed up repair of soft tissue damage and recovery.

 Healthy Fat Food Sources

 Extra virgin oil

 Avocado oil

 Avocado

 Flax seed meal, oil

 Hemp seeds, Hemp seed oil

 Chia seeds

 

      3.Iron: Adequate iron intake is critical for runners, especially long-distance or intense training. Iron is used to transport oxygen to muscles, often after running long-distance races our body gets depleted of several vitamins and minerals including iron. Women athletes have higher issues of iron deficiency. Without enough iron our muscles feel weak, our breathing is challenging, especially when running uphill. To sustain the iron absorption, you need to include some high vitamin C foods with the high iron foods. 

 

Iron-Rich Foods Sources

 Green leafy vegetables- Spinach, kale, Swiss chard

 Beans

 Legumes

 Tofu

 Tempeh

 Vegetables- Tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli

 Fruits- Prunes, olives, mulberries

 

      4.Calcium: Calcium is essential for bone health and muscle function. Including calcium-rich foods in your daily diet is important. Some plant-based calcium-rich foods also contain components such as oxalic or phytic acids which can reduce the ability of the body to absorb the calcium (spinach and soy beans) When you eat these foods, ake sure you include other calcium-rich foods in your meal.

 

Calcium-Rich Food Sources

 Green leafy vegetables

 Nuts- Almonds

 Seeds- Sesame seeds

 Figs

 

        5.Vitamin D: These days up to 80% of the population is depleted of vitamin D. This vitamin is necessary for bone health, calcium absorption and muscle function, as well as energy levels. Runners and athletes following a strict vegan diet might consider being tested for vitamin D deficiency, to see if adding a vitamin D supplement is required. Most of the vitamin D rich foods are animal based.

 

Vitamin D-Rich Foods

 Mushrooms

 Unsweetened soy milk

 

       6. Vitamin B12: This vitamin is necessary for DNA synthesis and nervous system function. Once our body is depleted of vitamin B12 the side effects include neurological damage and increased risk of heart disease. Vitamin B12 sources are only found in animal-based foods. It is important for people following a vegan diet to include some daily vitamin B12 supplements.

 

       7. Iodine: Due to today’s soil depletion, most plant-based foods are very low in iodine, which is necessary for the thyroid function. According to some research, 80% of vegans tend to be deficient in iodine. A good option is to take a multi vitamin that contains iodine and other vitamins and minerals as a good back up.

 

Iodine-Rich Food Source

 Seaweed

 

Final words

When following a vegan diet, make sure you focus on including foods and supplements containing all the vitamins and minerals vegans tend to get depleted of to support an overall health. A healthy vegan diet will have many benefits in terms of providing antioxidants, faster recovery, and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

Dereck Fu

Physiotherapist

 

Dereck completed his physiotherapy training at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. After graduation, he started practicing in a public hospital where he had extensive experience in treating different musculoskeletal, orthopedics, and sports conditions. He recognizes the complex contribution to pain and musculoskeletal injuries and is keen on using a wide range of skill sets such as exercise therapy, manual therapy, and acupuncture tailored to individual conditions.

Before joining HKSC, Dereck completed his Master of Clinical Physiotherapy (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy) and accreditation in Level 1 strength and conditioning coach under the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA). These exposures enriched his practice, considering the psychosocial, biomechanical, and training load aspect of the clients’ story.

He has a particular interest in treating sports-related injuries and desk job conditions, assisting clients on their way back to function, and prevent recurring injuries.

Dereck has been a sports enthusiast since his teenage years. He is a keen football (soccer) and badminton player who treasures the enjoyment and satisfaction brought by both team and individual sports.

Icy Bo Lin

Head of Mobility

Icy has spent thousands of hours studying yoga, stretching and mobility through a broad range of in-depth courses. She has more than 7 years of experience teaching group and 1-on-1 classes to people ranging from athletes, pregnant ladies and new mums, children and especially the average Joe’s.

Icy is passionate about helping people move better, recover well and get pain free.

She believes it takes a combination of tools to help build a healthy body and has therefore spent substantial time practising strengthening and conditioning as well

Her passion for her craft is demonstrated through a focus and attention to detail with her clients.

Icy is a mother, experienced former banker and we are proud to have such an accomplished person on our team.

Below is a list of her completed training:

Leslie T. Evangelista

Head of Strength and Conditioning

Leslie’s athletic achievements speak for themselves. She is a true world class power lifter and continues to compete at the highest level. She has reached the pinnacle of her sport, medalling in a number of international powerlifting federation events. She has been Asia’s best lifter and holds a number of national records.

As impressive as it is, Leslie’s athletic resume pales in comparison to her passion, knowledge and dedication to the science of physical human performance. She is a student and expert of strength and conditioning, working in the industry as a coach and consultant for 10 years. We are very glad to have her on our team as her technical knowledge of compound movements and training methodology helps us bridge the gap between injury and a better you.

Leslie takes most pleasure in teaching the average person. Leslie’s deep knowledge and experience means she can build you from the bottom up or take you to a level beyond your expectations. Whether you are a mother or a mother to be, an office worker wanting to learn how to keep strong, or a youth wanting to learn the essentials of training, she is the expert for you.

Leslie is available as a consultant for long or short-term basis if you are serious about improving your health. She is an invaluable asset to have on anyone’s team.

Hideo “Harry” Loasby

Head Running Coach, Founder of BuffCo

Harry discovered running at 16, and quickly rose through the ranks in Hong Kong and became a national champion over 1500m when he was 17. He represented Hong Kong at the Asian Schools Championships and won several gold medals in cross country and track. Harry’s performances earned him a place on the Loyola Marymount University cross country and track team.

Towards the end of his university career, Harry became increasingly interested in studying various training methods and running philosophies. After moving back home, and knowing first hand the gap in grass roots development in Hong Kong, he set up Buffalo Running Company (BuffCo) in the hopes of changing that for the better. While coaching full time, Harry has remained competitive in the local scene, winning the 2020 China Coast Marathon by over 8 minutes. During the absence of races, he coached himself to personal bests in solo road time trials in the 10k and half marathon, running 31:38 and 70:30 respectively.

After running and now coaching in Hong Kong for the majority of his running career, Harry builds his coaching and training philosophy around the context of the city and what it means to be a runner here. He enjoys hunting for excellence in every level of runner, because he knows what Hong Kong’s running scene has to offer despite the tough conditions. From complete beginner to aspiring college athlete, on any surface over any distance, Harry is keen to help you with your running journey.

Harry is available as a consultant for any race you have on the calendar, but he is particularly passionate in developing runners over several years and building a sustainable relationship with all aspects of the sport, so that you can enjoy a lifetime of healthy, happy running.

May Lee
Sports Massage Therapist and Sports Scientist

May is an Internationally experienced Sports Massage Therapist, she focuses on deep tissue massaging to aid recovery, optimise performance but also general health and well-being. Throughout her years of training and watching others train, May has found that many people neglect the recovery process. The recovery process is fundamental for muscles to grow and develop and more importantly to reduce injury in the long term. Deep tissue massage helps to smooth out those little aches and pains you experience in normal day to day activities.

May has studied Sports Science at degree level and has completed her Level 4 Diploma in Sports Massage Therapy in the UK as well as being qualified in Dry Needling, Myofascial Release, Trigger point therapy and Pre-Hospital immediate care in sport.

She has previously worked a ski season in Niseko followed by working in clinical practice in Tokyo before deciding to move to Hong Kong to pursue her career further.

May has always had a keen interest in sports, training and exercise which has allowed her to pursue a successful career within sports and exercise rehabilitation.

Lizemari Marais
Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor

Liz is a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor from South Africa. Her greatest passion is health education and empowerment, which is why she flourishes in the corporate wellness setting. She’s good at analysing corporate settings to determine risk factors to individual health as well as employee productivity. She will not just remind your employees to sit up straight – she will walk a path with your company to encourage healthy lifestyles and happy employees.

Liz’s approach to rehabilitation is grounded in the balance between mobility and foundation strength. She explores this in her calisthenics, yoga and pilates. She believes that with the right foundation and training, the human body can do anything.

Liz values independence and wishes to equip her patients with everything they would need to maximise their body’s potential, allowing them to pursue independent lives.

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