Xavier credits his vegan diet for his athletic success. Eat Well

Whether you are a vegan, a vegetarian or simply want to try eating more plant-based meals, it’s important to give your body the essential nutrients it needs to get through the day. Take a cue from Xavier Desharnais, a professional Canadian open water swimmer and Vega spokesperson.

open water swimming, athlete, Xavier Desharnais, vegan

Xavier Desharnais is a Canadian open water swimmer.

Xavier, who recently spoke at the Montreal Vegan Festival,  placed third in the world with the FINA (Fédération internationale de natation) in 2015 and he is a double champion of the Traversée internationale du Lac Saint-Jean competition. In 2012, he became a vegan.

Xavier was interested by the benefits that could be brought from eating vegetarian and vegan food. The transition was gradual: He cut out red meat from his diet after getting sick from eating a burger in Argentina, but he continued eating white meat and fish. After his Olympic tryouts, he cut out all other meats but kept consuming eggs and dairy.

“The vegan diet really helped and made me become a champion, it’s my secret weapon,” says Xavier. He noticed positive changes in his swimming. He also became sensitized to the environmental aspect of veganism.

Xavier Desharnais, Canadian athlete, open water swim, vegan

Xavier credits his vegan diet for his athletic success.

Here he shares his tips on fueling your active lifestyle while eating a plant-based diet.

Eat Colourful One-Dish Bowls 

Xavier enjoys biting into vegetables and he assures us that he gets all the nutrients and carbohydrates he needs to maintain his active lifestyle. He does not measure any food and eats whatever he wants. He loves healthy bowls because they are easy to make and require less effort and dirty dishes. Cut your veggies of choice, add a source of vegan protein (beans, tempeh or tofu work), throw everything in a pot and drizzle with a homemade vinaigrette.

Don’t be Afraid of Supplements 

Xavier says it’s important to pay attention to your body and to not hesitate to take supplements, especially if you are working out at a high intensity and frequency. When you exercise, you need the essential nutrients that will help your body recover. “The product line Vega really helped me in the beginning and has everything I need for recuperation,” he says. For example, the Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator is perfect after a workout.

Always be prepared

Xavier always carries some snacks with him, especially when he’s travelling to other countries. It can be difficult to eat properly when on a plant-based diet and you don’t want to end up eating pasta and potato chips for every meal. He suggests carrying hemp and flax seeds, which are packed with healthy fats, protein and fibre and can easily be sprinkled on other foods, as well as meal-replacement bars.

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Incorporating the right foods to a plant-based diet will help your body get the nutrients it needs.

Cover your nutritional bases by eating these power foods before and after a workout:

Before training

  • Dates
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews)
  • Fig bar
  • Apple

After training

  • Bowl dish: protein (quinoa, rice, couscous) and vegetables


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