Plant Based Diet And Fitness – Your Complete Guide

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Are you eating the super healthy plant based diet, yet neglecting your fitness? It’s easy to make this mistake, but the benefits of keeping fit alongside this already healthy lifestyle can be astounding.

Eating plant based can have a highly beneficial effect on your exercise and workout regime. You only have to look at the athletes out there who are getting great results in their sports from adopting this antioxidant rich, anti inflammatory diet to see for yourself.

In this post, we show you why physical exercise is SO important. Also, the best exercises for all-round fitness, plus a complete guide to the macronutrients you should be eating when you change to this lifestyle in order to become as fit as you can.

Why Is Physical Exercise Important?

woman at gym

There are just so other reasons why regular exercise should become a part of your life. Some of the obvious ones being getting that hot body you’ve always wanted. That’s not to mention an array of other health benefits that may prolong your life, slash your risk of disease, and generally make you a happier person due to increased endorphins in your blood stream.

Exercise floods your body with feel-good endorphins that will activate your opiate receptors. This helps to kick depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, fear, stress, and all those other lower self emotions to the the curb. But, that’s not the only generous pay off you get for all your hard work… Read on for more benefits of physical activity, and prepare to be astounded.

Benefits of Physical Fitness


As you can see, keeping fit really isn’t just an option. It’s an absolute necessity for you to live an amazing life and have the energy, drive and fitness to experience life to the full.

There are many different ways to keep fit and many different types of exercises to suit everyone, no matter what your current condition, fitness level OR budget.

To keep up enthusiasm and ensure that fitness is a long term thing, you should choose sports you actually enjoy. Or, at least pick something you think you may grow to like. Start slowly and go from there.


1. Sports with a Partner

two people boxing

Often sports that require a partner. Such sports include tennis and squash. Or team sports such as football, cricket, volleyball or netball can be a good choice as they encourage camaraderie and a little healthy competition is great for firing you up for a game. When you do start to enjoy it, it suddenly doesn’t feel like such hard graft.

2. Self-Defence

Self defence, or martial art classes like Karate, Boxing, Taeqwondo or Judo are all fabulous ways to get fit. And knowing you have self defence skills may also come in handy at other times in life, for obvious reasons.

There is nothing more empowering than the knowledge that you have a strong and healthy body. It will give you a confidence boost that can potentially change your whole life. That confidence will shine through every aspect of YOU, including your work, drive, ambition, and especially your relationships with others.

The benefits of exercise and fitness cannot be stressed enough. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, then exercise (especially weight bearing for depression) triggers a cascade of feel good endorphins that will help you to burn off stress hormones. This will help keep you calm, focused and ready to take on anything life throws at you.

Something amazing happens in your body when you workout. A chemical reaction releases endorphins and you feel uplifted, even euphoric. That feeling of satisfaction you get after a good workout can stay with you for days afterwards.

3. Dancing

Studies show that dance classes can reduce anxiety more than other forms of exercise. Dancing helps you to connect with your inner self because there is something primal and free about it. It can pull you out of a low mood and stimulate all your senses to make you feel sexy and alive.

If you are too shy for a dance class then throw on some of your favourite tunes at home and just go for it. Dance like nobody is watching (and maybe check that they’re not first). Soon you will start to feel more confidant than ever: Caution – this really works!

Dancing is a social activity

Dancing is a brilliant way to meet new people, make new friends and socialise. It also offers the myriad of added benefits of managing weight, improving coordination, flexibility, motor skills, boosting bone health, and will also give you a stronger heart and lungs. This makes it one of the best forms of all round exercise that covers all bases.

4. Weight Bearing Exercise

woman lifting dumbells

To stimulate all muscle groups, it is best to do a range of exercises. A couple of good gym sessions, power walk, stair climbing, hiking and kettle bells are all great ways of really flooding the system with a cascade of mood enhancing endorphins.

These endorphins will help vaporize stress and depression, keep PMS symptoms at bay, and serve as a good healthy outlet for anger and frustration. And these fantastic effects can last for hours, even days.

ALL weight bearing exercise will give you more muscle mass and tone. This is a good thing for keeping bones strong, protecting against osteoporosis, improving your sense of balance and coordination and lessening your risk of injury in general. All of these are especially important with age. We begin lose muscle mass continuously after the age of 35, unless we TAKE ACTION!

Muscle mass helps keep you slim!

The more lean muscle mass you have on your body, the more calories you will burn daily even when at rest. This makes weight-bearing exercise also a relevant weight and fat loss tool. Just be sure to push yourself more as you build up strength and stamina. And remember to up the heaviness of your weights as your body adjusts and becomes more accustomed to your regime.

Try our homemade, fat torching spice mix to help boost your metabolism further alongside your exercise plan.

5. Hula Hooping

(A great belly fat toner!)

If you want to blast belly fat, then hula hooping really cuts the mustard and is one of the quickest ways to target specifically this area. But, you do have to be steadfast in your commitment if you want to see good results.


‘In my first 2 months of using a weighted hula hoop (I used it a lot – up to 5x 30 minute sessions a week) I went down 2 dress sizes and lost about 8lbs in weight, and I did nothing else differently. This made hula hooping one of the best exercises I had tried for burning stomach fat specifically.’


exercise bikes

Cardiovascular exercise, the likes of running, jogging, swimming, cycling, HIIT (high intensity interval training), or anything that gets your heart rate up for a significant amount of time has many benefits. These include (most strikingly) a 50% lower risk of heart disease, and a lower instance of many other diseases in general.

Cardiovascular exercise is also good for your general well-being. It may help to alleviate depression, anxiety and low mood. Don’t forget that many exercises are both cardio and weight bearing at the same time.

Exercises such as HIIT, power walking, running, indoor rowing and kettle bell sessions all give you the best of both worlds. 

6. Boxing

Boxing is one of the BEST all rounders, for not only its cardiovascular benefits, but also for self defense, muscle building, toning, balance and coordination. It’s a great self esteem booster! You can easily do some sparring at home with a partner and an inexpensive sparring kit; or you can go to organised boxercise classes or gyms.

If you suffer from joint problems, you may prefer to do the lower impact sports such as swimming or cycling. These are great as they do not pound down hard on joints like some other exercises do, and so keep the pressure off. But, you may need to go at these harder to get the same muscle building benefits as other weight-bearing exercises.

It’s important to address the physical demands of boxing. This is where sports massage becomes an integral part of a boxer’s regimen. Regular sports massage sessions help alleviate muscle tension and pain, which is common in high-intensity sports like boxing. They aid in the recovery process, enhance flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury. By ensuring that the body remains in top condition, especially after rigorous training sessions or bouts, sports massage is an essential tool for maintaining peak physical performance in boxing.

7. Swimming 

Swimming uses practically every muscle in your body, so great for people who suffer insomnia because it tires out ALL the muscles and induces sleep. It also controls blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

8. Cycling

Cycling is another exercise that is also much easier on the joints than other types of sports. It’s not only aerobic, but builds strong muscles, especially in the legs and abdominals. Cycling also builds strong bones and boosts endurance.

It’s also fantastic for balance, and if nothing else is a great reason to get out in the fresh air which in itself will make you feel good.

Plant Based Diet and Fitness

green smoothie

When deciding to embark on any exercise regime, you will want to make sure you are eating all the right foods and obtaining all the macronutrients you need for a well-rounded and healthy diet. Any effects you get from exercise can be doubled from eating a diet high in plant protein and nutrient dense foods.

A diet high in plant based proteins (as opposed to animal) is superior in the respect that it causes much less chronic inflammation in the body. This means you can build leaner, cleaner muscle, fasten your recovery time, and even boost your endurance during exercise itself

This is the very reason many athletes are now experimenting with this lifestyle.

What are Plant Based Proteins?

Plant proteins include:-

  • Pulses
  • Lentils
  • Whole grains
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Organic soybeans and soy products
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Nut butters
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Many vegetables contain protein, especially broccoli, sprouts and asparagus

Do I Need Protein Powder?

Protein powders can provide a crucial role on a fitness or training plan, and can help boost your muscle tone and fat burning. When it comes to the plant based diet (and fitness specifically), obtaining enough protein is very important, especially if you aim is to build muscle mass.

This is where you may find it a whole lot easier to use a protein powder. Isolated proteins are frowned upon on a whole foods plant based diet due to the fact that the amino acids have been extracted from the “whole” food. But, a lot of people into fitness still use them alongside a healthy, whole foods plant based diet.

Which protein powder should I use?

plant based protein powder

You can buy already made up blends of protein powder. Blends not only contain the perfect ratios of different plant proteins for a good all round amino acid profile, but many also contain added digestive aids, greens other superfoods, even probiotics.

Some protein powders even use the whole food these days, so are therefore considered whole foods plant based.

Buying quality goods at reasonable prices is a must if it’s going to be something you will be using long term. We have devised a list for you of the best 15 protein powders of 2023 that is gleaned from hundreds of reviews of the highest quality brands at the most affordable prices.

Please take the time to find something that is suitable for your specific needs because they can all be quite different. Some of them are specifically designed for bulking, some for weight loss, some for athletes. The list goes on, and it can be a personalised thing for everyone.

How much protein do I need?

You should be consuming between 1-2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight, depending on the kind of training you are doing. Opt for the higher end of  protein with less carbs if you are looking to cut fat and build muscle, OR if you’re weight training or lifting heavy weights.

Adapting To Your New Diet

woman cooking healthy food

Give yourself time to gain the skills required to be plant based.

This is something that most people do not get told (or even understand) when they make such drastic changes to their diet overnight. Yes, it’s very healthy but there will be a period of your actual body and mind getting used to this new way of living.

Let’s not forget to mention the relearning of nutrition and understanding and putting together complete nutritional profile meals. Also, coming up with new and interesting dishes instead of eating repetitive meals every day in the absence of knowing what else to cook.

Preparation is key. Get yourself prepared first and you won’t make too many mistakes.

Budget Plant Based Foods

Eating plant based doesn’t have to be expensive. We are now living in the middle of a plant based explosion. 2023 is the year plant based will go mainstream and you will find that you can mostly get everything you need from your local super market quite easily and affordably.

In fact, there are whole aisles and fridge sections dedicated just to plant based foods, so there really couldn’t be a better or easier time to make this change if you are going to.

What are the best budget plant based foods?

  • Quinoa
  • Canned or dried pulses
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat grouts, flakes or flour
  • Oats and oatmeal
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts and seeds (if you shop in big, budget supermarkets)
  • Fruits and veggies in season are cheaper

Check out our EASY Aldi Grocery List and take it with you on your next shopping trip. It is really helpful and will show you all the best, budget but HEALTHY buys in this popular Supermarket.

Plant Based Diet and Fitness Supplements

plant based supplements

Again, you may find it hard to get all the nutrients you need when eating plant based (especially whilst in training). That’s why there are some supplements that are really useful for filling in any nutritional gaps. They also make up for the fact that your body is burning up nutrients at a much faster rate when you are physically active.

Best vegan supplements for training:-

  • Omega 3’s – (you can buy vegan omega 3; or you can use omega 3 fish oil if you don’t mind some fish products).
  • Vitamin D3 – in the winter months especially.
  • Magnesium – to ease muscle aches and pains from exercise.
  • B- vitamin complex.
  • BCAA’s – If you are doing heavy weights (or are actively trying to build muscle) then you may also require a branch chain amino acid supplement. This is another area you should look more in depth into if you feel you may need it. I have sourced some trusted information for you here.

Green Superfood Powders

Another truly awesome and very easy way to ensure you are getting top quality food derived nutrients is through green superfood powders.

You can buy these in most health food stores and even Supermarkets these days. Always go for organic when it comes to this supplement in particular.

Benefits of green superfood powder:-

  • Stronger immunity
  • Ridiculously glowy skin
  • Energy boosting – so great before a workout
  • Anti inflammatory to help ease muscle aches and pains
  • Detoxifying
  • Super high in nutrition
  • High in chlorophyl
  • They help lower blood sugar
  • Helps with insomnia
  • Good for weight loss

You can buy many different types of superfood powder, but you must buy quality and organic if you would want the above benefits.

Protein powder can come in many forms, such as wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, moringa, chlorella and blue-green algaes to name the most popular. They all contain their own unique nutritional profile as well.

As with the protein powders, it is always best to buy a blend to be sure you get the best of everything.

Read our top reviewed superfood powders for the best products available on the market right with the highest reviews.

Bodybuilding And Fitness Macros

man doing bicep curls

Here is a full list of all 3 macronutrient food groups that you should be putting together to make a complete meal on a plant based diet, along with what is considered to be a portion size.

To make things a little confusing, many plant foods contain 2 or even 3 macronutrients all in the same food. However, we have put them into the groups that they predominantly fall into to make it easier to understand. You will see that some of them are predominant in more than one group, so therefore can be used either way.

You can do quick and easy portioning for your dinner plate by using the size of your hand. The bigger you are, the more food you will need, but the bigger your hands will naturally be so it usually works out well.

Note that this is for your main meal dinner plate and other meals and snacks will be less.

  • Palm of hand = 1 portion of protein.
  • Balled fist = 1 portion of carbohydrates
  • Size of thumb = roughly 1 portion of fats.
  • 2 x balled fists = 1 portion of vegetables.


  • Soy meats
  • Soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Pulses such as lentils, beans, legumes of all kinds
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Nuts
  • Seeds


  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Whole grain bread
  • Sourdough bread
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Pearl barley
  • Rice
  • Teff
  • Noodles
  • Coconut
  • Flour
  • Root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets)
  • High sugar fruits (bananas, pineapple, mango, papaya, grapes)
  • Dries fruits


  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • vegetable oils
  • Peanut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Canola oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Grape seed oil

These are your 3 macronutrient groups and the main foods that each group contains.

Other fruits and vegetables that are lower in starches and sugar can be eaten unlimited (but in moderation if you need to keep your weight in check).


HEALTHY SWEETENERS: (to be eaten in moderation only)

  • Xylitol
  • Maple syrup
  • Raw honey
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Date syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Agave nectar

meal plans


The plant based diet can boost your fitness levels dramatically, due to it being anti inflammatory. You will recover quicker, leaving you able to train harder and more frequently.

One you get your diet correct, we’ve no doubt you will be feeling fitter than you have ever done. This can be true no matter what age you are starting out. It’s never to late to take charge of your own destiny and health and this lifestyle is a great place to start.

For a structured fitness and diet plan, please check out our ZestForever Fit Program. It is especially designed for beginner’s to the plant based diet and fitness. It will teach you EASY at home exercises and delicious, 100% plant based recipes.

Thank you for reading this post today. Your support of this website is always very much appreciated. 

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14 thoughts on “Plant Based Diet And Fitness – Your Complete Guide”

  1. I work out regularly (in fact I run a health and fitness business) and so my calorie demands are pretty high, but it is becoming easier and easier to swap the meat out of my diet, particularly beef, in favor of plants, although as you point out, you do have to pay greater attention to the kinds of plants you are eating, particularly to ensure you are hitting all the essential amino acids.

    One thing I’d love your take on is protein bars. This is a staple of mine as I am often on the run, and there too, the variety and availability is amazing, from nut butter-based bars to quinoa, brown rice, pea protein, and all the rest, including ones that incorporate green foods.

    They even have chocolate-covered ones!

    You just have to be really careful you aren’t getting one of those glorified candy bars, but if you go organic, the nutritional profile is usually pretty solid.

    Thanks again for a great post, as I continue to look for ways to swap out meat for plants.

    1. Hi Jon, I love the fact you are starting to swap some of your usual meat for plants. You will really start to notice the difference in every part of your body when you really get into this, especially if you do it the right way.

      My take on protein bars is I love them and think they are great for filling a hole, especially after a workout. Or even before as they are usually just the right size and have enough carbs to give you good energy. I did smile at your chocolate covered greens bar as I am literally addicted to those and have one almost every day for breakfast. They are SO GOOD! We are probably taking about the same bars I’m sure.

      You are right, a lot of them are full of junk and refined sugars so you really have to be careful with what you buy. Some of them are worse than candy bars! If you are talking about the raw organic greens bar then yes this seems fine as it’s sugars come from brown rice syrup and dates. But having said that, you still need to be careful with sugars of any kind. I only eat these kind of bars every day because I can get away with it as I exercise a lot to burn it off, plus your muscles mop up the rest when they reglycogenate (not sure if that’s a word but you probably know what I mean).

      Another alternative is to use protein powders without added sugar and wizz them up with a ripe banana for sweetness. Fact of the matter is, I do find that I need bars and powders on the plant based diet to get enough protein. Others may say different, but this is my experience.

  2. Definitely something to think about. I am usually against and “diet” in term of restriction from one part of food (not talking about soda drinks or junk food). But you pointed some interesting facts and specific type of food (extra point for included recipe) which I love to see here.

    As someone who is studying nutrition and to be a fitness instructor, I generally want to adopt several different points of view on such topics, so this was really good one to read.

    1. Hey there, that’s great you are training to be a fitness instructor and studying nutrition. Yes, it is good to understand food and diets from different points of view, especially from somebody who has been living the lifestyle and in training as I am. The fact is, there are sports people and athletes who are adopting a plant based diet and thriving on it, so there really must be something in it worth looking into.

      Thanks for your comment, I am glad you found the post interesting. Good luck with your studies!

  3. Hi Stephanie, how do you recommend someone get started on a plant based diet? I struggle so much to sticking with being healthy i usually crash after a week. This seems like a good life change and as i am getting older I would love to try it.

    1. Hi Jane, that is so great that you are thinking about making this change. Yes, it may seem daunting at first, but honestly, you will get used to it and never look back after you have done if for a few months. It just comes down mostly to preparation and learning how to put some simple meals together. I find that I eat so many more different foods now I am plant based than I ever did before. Sounds strange right? But this is because it forces you to try new recipes and foods you may never have eaten before.

      As for not sticking to things, this could be because you are trying to hard initially and not giving yourself any leeway for treats. Plant based simply means to make the bulk of your diet from plants; nobody is saying you need to go totally 100% vegan straight away. You can start off by experimenting and finding dishes that you like then take it from there. Even if you have a couple of meat and dairy free days per week to start of with you will still be cutting down and learning as you go.

      Please find more information in this link, and good luck. Please feel free to contact me any time if you have any questions

  4. Thank you! This article helps me a lot! I know fitness needs to match with food like meat, but I never knew you can use plants! Cool information! Gonna share this to some of my friends who love exercise!

    1. Hey, thanks, that would be fantastic if you could share this post and spread the word. Very much appreciated indeed!

      Lots of people are still unaware of plant based fitness, but it’s totally a thing and many athletes and sports people now eat a vegan diet and are perfectly healthy. It all comes down to knowing what you are doing and understanding food, because without this knowledge you may do more harm than good on this diet.

  5. Neat post and website!

    Thank you for the awesome info about going to a plant-based diet. Although I lift regularly and wouldn’t want to go to a diet like that, thinking about peanut butter and bananas (my two primary ingredients in my protein shakes) makes it easier to stomach.

    I can see how fats wouldn’t be too much of a problem, especially if you dump coconut oil into shakes and stuff.

    Recently I learned that the great Tom Brady is selling his own plant-based protein powder, so there must be something about it!


    1. Hi Ben, that’s great you lift weights. I’m sure you understand the importance of protein then, which is a whole different ball game on the plant based diet. It really needs to be understood properly, and many don’t realise this.

      That’s great about the plant based protein powder! So many people (including celebrities and sports people) are turning to this lifestyle now and it’s set to explode even more this coming year. There are certain athletes that are fully plant based and get their best times with this diet so it must be good right?

      Thanks for the complement about my website; it’s been a lot of work in the making!

  6. My diet is predominately plant-based though I do throw in meat on occasion. I like your recommendations and I’ve actually incorporated a lot of them into my own lifestyle. Quinoa became a go-to and it became one of my favorite foods as well. Nuts and seeds are a daily thing for me. They’re like candy to me and I can’t imagine going without them. I do believe it’s challenging to get enough protein in a plant-based diet but if one knows where to look, the challenge dissipates. Excellent article.

    1. Hi Todd, sounds like you are a really healthy eating guy! Quinoa is one of my daily go to’s too as it’s just so versatile that you can have it any time, and there’s not a lot of foods you can say that about.
      You are right, you need to know exactly how and where to obtain protein on a plant based diet otherwise you will fall short. This lifestyle can definitely be challenging to begin with until you educate your self.

      Thanks for the compliment too!

  7. Hey Stefanie, Iove this article thanks for sharing. I am looking at starting a new diet to lose a bit of belly fat. I keep reading reviews about the Half Day Diet but can’t make up my mind because of the price. I understand it has a ton of value which I can kind of justify for the price but then again in this review, they are saying it is great. Would love to get your opinion on it and is it something someone needs when first starting out. Thanks again for the tips. I’m on the fence if I should sign up or not.

    1. Hi Dylan, I have never heard of this diet, but I did give it a read through, and to be honest it’s probably just another one of those diet fads, though I’m not saying it doesn’t work as I’m sure if you cut calories and exercise like it probably tells you to then you will indeed lose weight.

      I was limited to what I could find out about it without purchasing it, but just bear in mind that to sell their product they are going to have a background sob story and a million reasons why this diet works above all others. It’s been done a million times. I f I were you I would save my money and just eat healthily and exercise. It’s that simple. Cut out refined sugars and trans fats (basically all junk food), eat lots of wholegrains, lean meat (if you eat it), and lots of raw fruits, veggies and salads, and a small amount of healthy fats. Do all these things and you will lose weight.

      In fact, you will probably find this post useful as it will give you a list of all low GI foods to help you lose weight. Low Glycemic Food List

      Please feel free to message me if you have any more questions!

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