In the gym: plant-based for perfomance

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

With PT Will Ducos

Veganism in fitness raises a thousand questions, particularly from seasoned gym-goers. Whether it be concerns about hitting your protein quota, losing weight or beating your deadlift PB, we're here to iron out any confusion. On hand is personal trainer and certified vegan William Ducos to answer all our questions.

Get to know Will

"I’m a personal trainer and sports massage therapist. After years of struggling with my mental health I got into health and exercise, shortly after this I went vegan. A phrase that resonated with me at the time was along the lines of “how are you going to feel well if you consume suffering and death?”. I had started to follow a traditional athletes diet and the frequent trips to the butchers made me all too aware of all the animals that were dying in order for me to build muscle. Once I made the decision to go vegan I changed overnight and instantly felt lighter in my body and soul. My only regret was that I hadn’t done it sooner."

Do you promote going vegan to all your clients?

"I low key promote veganism to my clients planting seeds rather than direct confrontation. I believe in the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet so that will naturally be the answer to questions regarding to nutrition. Some of my clients have gone plant based or vegan and others are more open to it and report to me when they have had a plant based day or meal."

"Going vegan has been a voyage of discovery for me and opened up a world of delicious plant foods, it seems to have given me more variety rather than less. Over 6 years in and I feel great, I feel happy and I would never want to go back."

How can going vegan help you reach your training goals?

Weight loss

"Whole plant foods are nutrient dense and often light on calories. For some people, a mistake they make when changing to this way of eating is to not eat enough volume so they find it difficult to maintain their weight. If fat loss is your goal then whole plant foods make it easier because you can eat a large volume which is crammed with nutrients, water and fibre.

It’s also a simple way of eating: eat whole plant foods in a range of colours, have nuts and seeds in moderation and supplement with B12. Pay consideration to your sources of omega 3’s and iodine."


"It’s perfectly possible to gain strength and muscle on a plant based diet with the advantage of reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer associated with consumption of animal products.

Plant foods contain on average 16 times the amount of nutrients than animal products. Considering the relatively small amount of vegans in the general population we have seen a disproportionate number of plant based athletes rise to the top in all fields including strength sports. In 2014 Barney Du Plessis won the Mr Universe bodybuilding contest as a vegan, Patrik Baboumian, a vegan strongman still holds a world record for his yoke carry."


"Legendary ultra athletes like Scott Jurek the ultramarathoner and Rich Roll the triathlete have shown the world that a plant based diet is perfectly suited to endurance sports. The food is so nutrient dense and easy to digest that they can consume it to fuel their long training sessions and during races that often last well over 100 miles."

What about protein?

"I think if you consume a varied diet with enough calories you will get enough protein. Beans, lentils and chickpeas are great sources of protein but even oats are around 15% protein. I do use a protein powder for convenience and because I like it. Tempeh is a favourite of mine as is black bean spaghetti and lentil pasta which are all very high in protein."

What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

"Breakfast - Oats, pumpkin seeds, a brazil nut, frozen berries, milled flaxseed to which I added hot water and then protein powder. I also had a coffee with oat milk.

Lunch- Salad with chickpeas, sauerkraut, mixed grains and a dressing made from tahini and cider vinegar.

Dinner - Mexican style bean stew which I also added quinoa and lentils to. I roasted seasoned baby potatoes and served it with wholegrain rice. I don’t use oil.

Snacks - Grapes, dried mango and vegan yoghurt. I drank around 3 litres of water. I also supplement with B12 and omega 3 from algae. I’ll often take an iodine supplement if I feel it’s lacking in my diet."

"In the past I’ve been too strict with my diet attempting to consume only whole plant foods with no salt, sugar or oil and although this is probably good for the body it can lead to anxiety surrounding food and alienate you from certain social situations. My partner got me to lighten up and now I can enjoy eating out and certain less healthy foods as long as the majority of my nutrition is good."

Huge thank you to Will. Find him on our directory here.


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