The Vegan Diet for Running? - She Runs Eats Performs

Episode 91

Published on:

24th Mar 2022

The Vegan Diet for Running?

The Vegan Diet for Running

The Vegan Diet for Running……is it a suitable one? The vegan diet has certainly become very popular in recent years and many well know athletes have adopted this lifestyle choice, however is it suitable for a runner? We explore this question and:

  1. Delve a little deeper into what exactly the Vegan diet is
  2. Explore some of the potential advantages and disadvantages of The Vegan Diet for Running
  3. Discuss some of the nutritional factors of a vegan diet that a runner would need to be consider



Outlining the vegan diet and the various reasons why people adopt this lifestyle choice 


Discussing some of the potential advantages of a vegan diet for general health 


Looking at some of the potential advantages of a vegan diet for a runner: 


Outlining how a vegan diet could potentially hinder running performance 



  1. Low energy availability is more common in female athletes than their male counterparts, especially in sports where lean body mass is required. Some athletes may adopt the vegan diet as a way of reducing body mass through low energy intake
  2. It has been found that female vegans appear to have lower iron stores than female omnivores (so females who eat meat and plant-based foods) and are more prone to iron-deficiency anaemia BUT…male vegans appear to have a SIMILAR iron status to their male omnivore counterparts 
  3. Also, male vegans appear to be less impacted by iron status than female vegans, which would make sense as women have their menstrual cycle, which is known to impact significantly on iron status…certainly in some females 
  4. Iron deficiency (without anaemia) is known to reduce endurance capacity, increase energy expenditure and impair endurance exercise adaptations in females as we mentioned earlier. This seems to occur when iron is deficient at TISSUE level, not storage level


Focussing on the importance of optimal protein intake if following a vegan diet with an emphasis on the Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and anti-nutrients limiting protein absorption.  


Outlining some protein-rich foods suitable for the vegan diet and how to combine them to ensure “complete protein” is consumed daily. Also determining the recommended daily intake of protein when following s vegan diet 


Considering the importance of Vitamin B12 when following a vegan diet



1) The vegan diet is becoming more and more popular, certainly in the UK and across Europe….and possibly elsewhere in the Western world

2) There are several well-known athletes who follow a vegan diet, suggesting it could be an approach to eating that may support athletic performance…

3) Paying attention to key nutrients would be essential to a healthy vegan diet for a runner: Nutrients include:

  • Protein
  • Omega 3 FA
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B12
  • and others

4) It must be noted that certain nutrients CANNOT be obtained from a completely plant-based diet therefore supplementation would be recommended. For example: Vitamin B12 and Omega 3. 

5) To attain an adequate intake of the other nutrients the diet would need to be varied and attention paid to anti-nutrients that may limit absorption

6) Finally, research suggests that a well-planned and appropriately constructed vegan diet COULD be nutritionally adequate for most individuals, however there is currently very little evidence-based research supporting the vegan diet for athletes. Most evidence is still either anecdotal or clinical

Related Topics:

Iron Woman: The mineral not the event

FOCUS ON Calcium

Eating Enough to Run


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and

advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.

If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact

your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell met at as nutrition students (Institute for Optimum Nutrition, London) and became lifelong friends and nutritional buddies! Both have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living.

Together they host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.

We are excited to be able to share our expertise, experience and short cuts with you. We hope you'll join us again. If you'd like to know more about us and She Runs Eats Performs please check out our TRAILER.

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Happy Running!

Aileen and Karen 


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About the Podcast

She Runs Eats Performs
for mid-life female runners of all abilities
Are you confused about the science around nutrition for runners? Listen in to learn about the WHY, HOW, WHAT, and WHEN of eating to fuel your running performance.

We are here to help you translate sports nutritional science, into easy to apply tips and plans, helping you enjoy peak running performance. We focus on the FEMALE FACTORS every mid-life woman needs to know to be a healthy runner.

About your host

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Aileen Smith

Nutritionists, Educators, Podcasters, Runners and Friends

We have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living. She Runs Eats Performs for female runners of all abilities who are looking for simple ways to improve their running performance and their health with nutrition and lifestyle.
We enjoy sharing our nutritional expertise, reviewing the latest sports science and most of all helping you to take easy action so you can enjoy your running life to the full.
We are here to help you achieve great health and good shape whilst staying injury-free with easy-to-understand sports nutritional concepts and easy-to-implement tips and plans.

Aileen and Karen are BANT and CNHC Registered Nutritional Therapists.