vegetarian protein sources

How To Maximise CrossFit Performance On A Vegan Diet

Whether you’ve opted to go meat, egg and dairy free, or are simply flirting with the idea, it’s worth knowing that ditching animal products doesn’t have to negatively impact your performance.


A varied vegan diet with a strong emphasis on whole foods will provide your body with most of the vitamins and minerals it needs. That being said, there are a couple of exceptions you might want to keep an eye out for:

1) Vitamin B12

Our bodies use B12 to make protein, for muscle repair and to produce enough oxygen-transporting red blood cells. Because whole plant foods lack B12, vegans should rely on fortified foods and / or supplements to ensure an adequate supply. Adequate intakes can be achieved through either:

  • 3 micrograms from fortified foods consumed each day
  • 10 micrograms from a daily B12 supplement
  • 2000 micrograms from a weekly B12 supplement.

2) Iron

Iron is important for oxygen transport in the body as well as energy production. Too little can lead to muscle fatigue, lowered performance and a weaker immune system. Research shows that at similar levels of iron intake, vegetarian athletes have lower iron stores, possibly because iron from plant-foods is less well absorbed (3). For this reason, vegans are encouraged to aim for a 40-80% higher iron intake than omnivores (4, 5).

  • Iron-rich plant foods include:
  • Leafy greens,
  • Tomato puree,
  • Asparagus,
  • Heart of palm,
  • Leek, lentils,
  • Beans,
  • Dried fruit,
  • Nuts,
  • Whole grains,
  • Molasses,
  • And, my personal favorite, dark chocolate.

To boost iron absorption, aim to consume your iron-rich foods in combination with a source of vitamin C (i.e. fruits and veggies). Soaking and fermenting foods can also help increase iron absorption.

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