When I tell people that I am vegan, the first question I always get is the same: "What do you eat?"

When I tell people that I am vegan who works out five times a week, I always get the same question: "What do you eat?!?!?"

Since many people equate protein with milk and meat, they can't quite comprehend how I take in enough food to make up for what I am expending. In truth, it's quite easy to properly fuel your workout without the aid of animal byproducts.

I contacted Lori Zito, a fellow vegan and certified health coach, to help lay out a 100 percent vegan-based nutrition plan.

Pre-Workout
Coconut Water: Since proper hydration is a must in any workout plan, Zito recommends all-natural coconut water. "It provides the hydration along with naturally occurring electrolytes such as calcium, potassium and magnesium,” Zito says. Her two favorites are Taste Nirvana and Exotic Super Foods.

Whole Foods: Dates, bananas, and mangos all make the cut for pre-workout snacks. β€œIt’s best to consume foods that are easily digestible. Less energy will be available for the exercise if your body is using all its energy to digest food.” If you are working out for over an hour, try and work some chia seeds and flax seeds. They are easy to use in a shake or just sprinkle on a meal.

Post-Workout
Simple Carbs: Proper workout nutrition is a must in helping your body reduce inflammation and speed up recovery time. Zito recommends basic carbohydrates, such as berries and bananas. "Pudding or liquid form is best," she says. "The blended form will allow nutrients to enter then bloodstream quicker." Blend your berries or bananas with a little coconut water to make a pudding or fruit smoothie.

Protein Bars "Protein bars are protein and Omega-3 dense and so are great for a second post workout meal," she says. Her favorite is Organic Food Bar.

Protein Powder: If a protein bar isn't for you, try a powder-based form instead. "Try Sun Warrior protein shakes," she says. "It is very clean, raw and soy-free powder that tastes great."

Even if you aren't worried about animal-rights or concerned about where your food comes from, you can still benefit from adopting a vegan workout meal.

"When you choose plant-based, whole-foods nutrition, the energy you save breaking down the food can be used instead to flush out lactic acid, clear out toxins and waste products, deliver nutrients, and aid in rebuilding muscles," Zito says.

-- Lori Zito is a certified Health Coach and holds a degree in Physical Therapy. You can contact her at LiveInTheBalance.com.

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