To attain sound nutrition, yogis and athletes need to simply return to a diet of whole foods, meaning foods that have not had many nutritional refinements.
WHOLE GRAINS: This refers to foods from one or more of the grains (wheat, oats, rye, barley, rice, millet, and so forth). The grains have nutritious germ and bran intact with minimal refinements and flours have not been bleached. Here are some high quality grains:
Amaranth – contains more high-quality protein than any other grain except quinoa. The flavor is nutty. It has tiny seeds that range in color from dark purple to buff yellow.
Barley – Barley can be used for soup, as a cereal, or grain accompaniment in Taboule.
Buckwheat – Buckwheat is full of vitamin E, calcium, B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. Whole-roasted buckwheat is known as kasha and gives your taste buds a hearty, nutty experience.
Corn – Corn is often referred to as maize and is the dominant crop of the Western Hemisphere. Blue corn contains 21 percent more protein, 50 percent more iron, and twice the manganese and potassium of other corns.
Millet – Millet is another high quality protein, with significant iron content, and more amino acid balance than any other grains beside amaranth and quinoa.
Oats – An oat come in the form of rolled oats, flaked, steel-cut, and groats, and contains a high soluble-fiber.
Quinoa – Quinoa is an ancient Inca “super grain” which is cultivated in the Andes since 3000BC. Quinoa is a complete, high-quality protein with an abundance of amino acids, lysine, methionine and cystine. It is super rich in B, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and E.
Rice – Rice has been cultivated since 4000BC in China, Southeast Asia, and India. Brown rice, wild rice, and basmati rice will provide you the most value as far as rice goes.
BEANS: A superfood when combined with grains, seeds, or dairy products, beans provide your body an excellent source of complete protein. Beans are categorized as a legume. And legumes are high in carbohydrates and soluble fiber, B2 and E vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. You’ve got all kinds of beans available to you. Some preferred beans are:
Adzuki Beans (Japanese) – easily absorbed and digested. Highly nutritious when combined with rice or millet, soy or tamari, ginger, any type of pepper, and winter squash.
Black Beans (Japanese, Chinese, and Latin American) – Try black beans and rice, seasoned with onions, mushroom, garlic, tomatoes, and lemon or lime.
In addition, you can have Split Peas, Lentils, Small Red Beans, Chickpeas, Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, and so on.
OTHER WHOLE FOODS: Additional food categories in a whole-food diet include:
Sea Vegetables (wakame, kombu, nori, dulse and others): typically Asian, rich in boron, magnesium and B vitamins.
Soy (tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, soy flour, soybeans and soy nuts): poor sources of complete protein and contain phytoestrogens, which may be problematic with postmenopausal women.
Fruit and Veggies (red, orange, and yellow): Great sources of antioxidant carotenoids and others plus the C vitamin.
Vegetables (leafy and dark green variety): beet greens, kale, book Choy, collar greens, chard, mustard greens, all deep colored leafy greens.
Cruciferous Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, napa, red and yellow cabbage, brussels sprouts, turnips, daikon, asian radishes, red radishes, watercress, and kohlrabi. Contain cancer-preventive properties for stomach, colorectal, and respiratory cancers.
The biggest concern for vegetarian yogis and athletes is how much protein of high biological value is actually being consumed. If the athlete is consuming a variety of plant based foods it is possible to sustain adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids, but it requires due diligence and monitoring due to inferior biological value. If the athlete is receptive to dairy and egg products, the consumption of essential amino acids gets allot easier. The most important recommendation for the vegetarian athlete is to consume adequate calories to meet your energy needs, and ensure that you are eating a wide variety of high quality foods that will fuel your body with all of the essential nutrients necessary to get peak performance.