Nutrition is a cornerstone of effective training for runners. For vegetarian runners, ensuring the right balance of nutrients can be challenging but essential for peak performance and recovery. In a recent episode of the Ask Coach Parry podcast, Coach Lindsey Parry offered valuable insights on supplementation and nutrition for vegetarian runners.

Understanding Nutritional Needs

Vegetarian runners need to pay special attention to their dietary choices to ensure they receive all essential nutrients, especially complete proteins typically sourced from meat. Combining various plant-based foods can help achieve a balanced amino acid profile. Consulting a dietician is highly recommended to create meal plans that cover all nutritional bases.

Related: Mastering Running Nutrition

Key Supplements for Vegetarian Runners

  • Multivitamins: A high-quality multivitamin can help bridge any nutritional gaps, ensuring the intake of essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Vitamin C: Supplementing with Vitamin C is crucial, especially during periods of intense training, to support the immune system which can be compromised due to high physical stress.
  • Protein Supplements: Depending on dietary preferences, incorporating a protein supplement such as 100% whey protein can be beneficial. For those who avoid dairy, plant-based protein powders made from peas, hemp, or brown rice are excellent alternatives.

Importance of Recovery

Recovery is a critical aspect of any training regimen. For vegetarian runners, a well-balanced recovery meal is essential for muscle repair and replenishing glycogen stores. Consuming a recovery drink or meal within 15-30 minutes post-exercise can significantly enhance recovery. Options could include:

  • Whey Protein Shake: If dairy is acceptable, whey protein mixed with water or plant-based milk.
  • Plant-Based Protein Shakes: For strict vegetarians, shakes made from pea or hemp protein.
  • Balanced Meals: Combining carbohydrates and proteins, such as a smoothie with bananas, spinach, and a scoop of plant-based protein powder.

Crafting a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet for vegetarian runners should include:

  • Carbohydrates: Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to provide the necessary energy.
  • Proteins: Legumes, beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and quinoa to support muscle repair.
  • Fats: Healthy fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil for sustained energy and overall health.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Given the complexity of balancing a vegetarian diet with the nutritional demands of running, professional guidance from a dietician is invaluable. A dietician can tailor dietary plans to ensure adequate intake of all essential nutrients, enhancing both performance and recovery.

Balancing a vegetarian diet as a runner involves careful planning and supplementation. By incorporating a multivitamin, Vitamin C, and appropriate protein supplements, vegetarian runners can meet their nutritional needs. Focusing on recovery with timely and balanced meals further supports training efforts. Ultimately, professional dietary advice is highly recommended to optimize health and performance.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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