Before we continue, we must discuss some words that you may not be familiar with. We will use this terminology throughout the course.

Bio-availability

Bio-availability refers to the availability of nutrients that are eaten, to the body. Just because we eat something in our diet doesn’t mean that 100% of that nutrient will be absorbed and used by our bodies. Various things can happen to the nutrients.

  • The nutrient in a particular food can be stored in a way that makes it difficult to digest. It passes through the body without being absorbed.
  • Other compounds in the diet bind to the nutrient, blocking absorption. For example, tannins in tea can bind to iron, blocking absorption.
  • Even if the nutrient is absorbed across the digestive tract into our blood stream, the nutrient may not be used efficiently in the body. Protein containing foods that are low in certain amino acids are less efficient as building muscle.

The concept of bioavailability is important when talking about vegan diets. We will discuss the importance of bioavailability later in this course.

Satiety

Satiety refers to the feeling of fullness we get after eating a food or meal.

  • Low satiety means that we still feel hungry after eating.
  • High satiety means that we feel full after eating.

Because of their high fibre content, vegan diets can have a high level of satiety. They can blunt your appetite. This means you may eat fewer calories that you need. This is of particular importance for athletes who train hard and burn several hundred/thousand calories per day (e.g. endurance athletes – runners, cyclists, triathletes). Over a period of months and years, not eating enough calories to support your training can lead to several serious health complications.

g/kg BW

In sports nutrition, carbohydrate, protein and fat (macro-nutrients) intakes are expressed in grammes per kg of body weight. This allows a scaled intake depending on your body size. This allows the determination the number of grammes you need to eat to hit your targets. As an example:

  • Recommendation of carbohydrate intake 3-5g/kg BW
  • Person weighs 75kg
  • Carbohydrate intake range is:
    • 3 x 75 = 225g
    • 5 x 75 = 375g
  • Therefore, required intake of carbohydrate is between 225-375g.

This is important because based on the training you do on a given day, your carbohydrate and protein targets can change. Carbohydrate intake on a rest day will be lower than carbohydrate intake on a heavy training day.

Using a free app like MyFitnessPal allows someone to periodically measure their food intake and determine if they are eating the correct amount of carbohydrate, protein or fat based on their activity levels.

Fortified Foods

Fortified foods are foods that have vitamins and minerals added to the food during the manufacturing process. As we will talk about in the micro-nutrient section, a vegan diet can be low in certain vitamins and minerals. Eating fortified foods can increase the quantity of certain vitamins (e.g. Vitamin D and B12) and minerals (e.g. calcium, iron, iodine) in a vegan diet and can help to prevent deficiency.

Anabolic

Anabolic refers to building in humans. This can refer to building new enzymes, new components of cells and new tissues. When we refer to anabolic throughout this course, we are generally referring to building new muscle tissue.

Omnivores

An omnivore is an animal that eats both plant (e.g. fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses) and animal matter (e.g. meat, fish, eggs, dairy etc).

Grains

Grains are edible dry seeds from plants called cereals. They provide more food energy worldwide than any other food group. Examples of grains include:

  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Freekeh
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Quinoa
  • Cous-cous
  • Corn/maize

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

A condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron in the diet.

Lack of red blood cells reduces the ability to transport oxygen to cells and tissues. This can lead to: tiredness, lethargy and reduced exercise performance, especially in endurance sports.

Legumes/Pulses

Legumes are plants that bear fruit that grows in pods. Examples of legumes include:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Peanuts