Blog Diets The Ultimate Yoga Diet Guide: Fuel Your Body Right For A Better Practice

The Ultimate Yoga Diet Guide: Fuel Your Body Right For A Better Practice

Yoga is so much more than a set of trendy, gram-worthy poses. It’s an ancient practice that has been used for centuries to bring balance and harmony to the body, mind, and spirit (7). And while it’s easy to think of yoga as a physical activity only, what you eat can significantly affect your practice too. That’s why incorporating a yogic diet into your lifestyle is essential if you want to get the most out of each session. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about eating right for better yoga performance – from basics of a yogic diet and its benefits, essential nutrients for better practice, how to plan and prepare meals, practical tips for integrating the diet into daily life – even a sample meal plan. So let’s dive in and see how proper nutrition can help take your yoga practice up another level.


How Important Is Diet To Yoga?

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone – whether you’re a yoga practitioner or not (5). But if your goal is to deepen your practice and get the most out of each session, then it’s even more essential to pay attention to what you eat. 

The yogic diet is important because it:

  • Supports the body with essential nutrients needed for optimal yoga performance. 
  • Provides energy for longer, more intense sessions. 
  • Helps to reduce inflammation and aid in recovery time. 
  • Enhances mental clarity and focus during practice. 
  • Encourages a healthier relationship with food
  • Encourages a sense of peace and balance in the body
  • Encourages a sense of connectedness and well-being with other living beings
  • Encourages overall holistic wellbeing

yoga diet

Here’s What Yoga Says About Diet

The yogic diet is not necessarily a specific set of foods, but rather a way of eating that encourages mindful consumption. It means being aware of the food you eat and focusing on nutritious, wholesome ingredients (18). 

Yogic philosophy teaches us to be conscious of our impact on the environment, which is why many practitioners opt for organic and locally-sourced ingredients. Additionally, yogis are encouraged to honor the sanctity of life by avoiding animal products whenever possible. 

There are five main concepts of the yogic diet: 

  • Ahimsa (non-violence): Refraining from harming any living being and respecting all life with kindness and compassion. 
  • Sattva (balance): Striving for balance between the body, mind and spirit. This means eating wholesome and nutritious food that will energize the body, sharpen the mind, and bring peace to the spirit. 
  • Saucha (cleanliness): Eating foods that are natural, organic, unrefined, and free of preservatives. Staying away from processed, fried and genetically modified food.
  • Santosa (contentment): Eating mindfully and being satisfied with meals – not eating too much or too little. 
  • Aparigraha (non-attachment): Letting go of attachments to food, such as cravings and emotional eating.
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So, What Should My Diet Be Like Doing Yoga?

Based on the above principles, here are the steps to create a balanced yogic diet: 

1. Consider A Plant-Based Diet

The principle of ahimsa encourages us to not harm any living being, which is why many yogis choose a vegan diet. Eating plant-based meals is a great way to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals, while honoring the sanctity of life (13). 

Vegetarianism is one of the more popular yogic diets as it offers a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes (17). You can also include dairy and eggs if you’d like, especially if they are organic, free-range, and hormone-free. 

Veganism is a more extreme form of vegetarianism, as it excludes all animal products. It requires more planning and preparation but can be done with relative ease if you have the right resources (17). 

Fortunately, plant-based diets are becoming more accessible and there are tons of options while grocery shopping, cooking, and dining out.


2. Choose Meats That Are Organic And Grass-Fed

If you’re not ready to go vegetarian or vegan, then organic and grass-fed meats are a great option. They are filled with essential nutrients and have a much lower environmental impact than factory-farmed meats. 

Organic means that the animals are raised without the use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. Grass-fed meats come from animals that have been fed a diet of natural grasses and some grains. 

The environmental impact of grass-fed meats is much lower than factory farmed, as they require significantly less water and emit fewer greenhouse gasses (9). 

In addition, organic and grass-fed meats are much healthier for your body and contain higher amounts of essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and vitamin E (3). 

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3. Buy In-Season Produce Directly From Local Farmers

To ensure that you get the freshest and most nutrient-rich food, when possible, it’s important to buy in-season produce directly from local farmers. Not only is this better for the environment, but it also helps support small businesses in your area. 

Preservation of energy and resources is key when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint. Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables saves the energy used to process and preserve out-of-season produce. 

Shopping locally means that your produce doesn’t have to travel long distances, therefore reducing the amount of fuel and energy used to transport it. 

Plus, locally-grown produce is typically picked at peak ripeness, meaning it contains more vitamins and minerals than food that has been sitting in a warehouse or on a truck for days or weeks.

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yoga diet

4. Eliminate As Many Processed Foods As Possible

The principle of saucha reminds us to eliminate as many processed foods from our diets as possible. Processed foods are stripped of their essential nutrients and replaced with additives and preservatives to extend their shelf life. They present three major problems: 

First, they contain ingredients such as sugar, salt, and trans fats. Eating too much of these can lead to chronic health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (15). 

Furthermore, most processed foods are made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These have been proven to have negative health effects and can lead to reactions such as allergies, digestive issues, and fatigue (8). 

Second, processed foods are loaded with empty calories that don’t fill you up, meaning you tend to overeat them (14). This goes against the yogic principle of ahimsa, which emphasizes kindness to oneself and all living beings. 

Finally, the e-waste associated with processed foods is detrimental to the environment. The amount of energy and resources used to produce, package, and transport them is immense and can be avoided by choosing whole foods instead. 

5. Eat Superfoods To Boost Essential Nutrients

Yogis believe that the body needs specific nutrients to maintain optimal health and functioning. Eating superfoods is a great way to ensure that your body is getting all the essential nutrients it needs. 

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Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods that contain high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds (1). They are powerhouses of nutrition that provide your body with the necessary fuel to perform at your best. 

Some examples of superfoods include: 

  • Chia seeds – packed with protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Other seeds, such as flax and hemp, also offer many health benefits (12). 
  • Dark leafy greens – spinach, kale, collards, and Swiss chard are loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as calcium for strong bones. 
  • Nuts – almonds, walnuts, and cashews are excellent sources of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamin E. 
  • Berries – blueberries, goji berries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in vitamins and fiber. 
  • Avocado, olive oil, and coconut oil – these are packed with healthy fats that are essential for optimal health. 
  • Spirulina and chlorella – these are single-celled algae that contain high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and healthy fats. 
  • Turmeric and other spices – rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds (2)

6. Know Your Hunger Cues

The principle of Santosa reminds us to be mindful of our bodies and appreciate what they are capable of. This includes listening to your hunger cues and knowing when to eat and when to stop. 

The next time you head for the kitchen, pay attention to how your body is feeling. Are you truly hungry, or just bored? Are you actually thirsty and mistaking thirst for hunger? If something is calling to you, ask yourself why. 

Avoid grazing on snacks all day. Instead, eat at regular intervals, ideally every three to four hours. This will keep your metabolism regulated and blood sugar levels steady (6). 

You’re more likely to make better food choices when you’re not desperate, so plan meals and snacks accordingly (10).

Read More: 10 Foods High In Fat For Keto And Low-Carb Diets

yoga diet

7. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is an essential part of a yogic diet. It involves paying attention to your body and the food you’re consuming, as well as being mindful of where the food comes from and how it affects your body (11). 

When you sit down to eat, take a few moments to be mindful of your food. Smell it, feel its texture, and savor the flavor. Take small bites and chew slowly. Notice how it tastes and how your body responds. 

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Be mindful of any distractions that might prevent you from being present and paying attention to what you’re eating. Turn off the screens and put away your phone while you eat. 

It helps to set an intention before eating, such as sending love and gratitude for the food and its nourishment, or being mindful of how it will affect your body, mind, and spirit

If you have a habit of eating until you’re stuffed, take a pause to evaluate when you notice you’re full. You don’t have to finish everything on your plate and it’s ok to leave food if you’ve had enough. 

8. Practice Portion Control

Portion control is an important part of eating a yogic diet. Eating more than your body needs can lead to digestive discomfort and weight gain (16). It goes against the principle of Santosa and can cause a disconnect between your body and mind. 

Visual cues are helpful for determining portion sizes

For example, a serving of protein should be the size of your palm, or about three ounces. A serving of vegetables or grains should be the size of a tennis ball. Fats like oils and nut butters should be the size of your thumb. 

Start by using smaller plates—this will help to keep portion sizes in check. Take note of how much you’re eating and how full you feel. Stop when you’re 80% full, as it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full.

Also, be aware of your environment and any external factors that could influence how much you’re eating. If serving sizes at social gatherings are bigger than usual, fill your plate with greens and veggies first. This will ensure you get a good dose of nutrients while keeping portion sizes reasonable. 

9. Eat Your Biggest Meal At Lunchtime

Ayurvedic philosophy recommends eating your largest meal at midday, when the digestive fire, or Agni, is at its strongest. 

Eating a big lunch will give you the energy boost you need for the afternoon, whereas eating a heavy dinner can make it harder to sleep. 

If you’re used to having your biggest meal at night, try shifting it gradually. Start by having a light dinner and then include more food in your lunch over the next few weeks.

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10. Use Healing Herbs And Spices

Herbs and spices can make all the difference when it comes to a yogic diet. They add flavor to food and can make meals more interesting. Plus, they are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that benefit your health (4). 

Common healing herbs and spices include turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, rosemary, oregano, and fennel. Feel free to experiment with different combinations in order to find flavors that you enjoy. 

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Overnight oats with chia seeds, almond milk, and blueberries 
  • Mid-morning snack: Apple slices with almond butter 
  • Lunch: Lentil curry over brown rice 
  • Afternoon snack: Hummus and vegetable sticks 
  • Dinner: Roasted vegetables over quinoa with tahini dressing 

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Smoothie bowl with banana, almond milk, and spinach 
  • Mid-morning snack: Walnuts and raisins 
  • Lunch: Avocado toast on whole grain bread with a side salad 
  • Afternoon snack: Carrot sticks and hummus 
  • Dinner: Baked sweet potato with steamed vegetables and tahini dressing 

Day 3

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal porridge with almond milk, cinnamon, and banana slices 
  • Mid-morning snack: Celery sticks with peanut butter
  • Lunch: Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and chickpeas 
  • Afternoon snack: Dark chocolate and almonds 
  • Dinner: Vegetable stir-fry with tofu

yoga diet

Day 4

  • Breakfast: Chia seed pudding with almond milk and berries 
  • Mid-morning snack: Apple slices with almond butter
  • Lunch: Vegetable curry over brown rice
  • Afternoon snack: Hummus and vegetable sticks
  • Dinner: Baked sweet potato with steamed vegetables and tahini dressing

Day 5

  • Breakfast: Smoothie bowl with banana, almond milk and spinach 
  • Mid-morning snack: Walnuts and raisins 
  • Lunch: Avocado toast on whole grain bread with a side salad 
  • Afternoon snack: Carrot sticks and hummus 
  • Dinner: Lentil curry over quinoa

The Bottom Line

The yogic diet is an ancient approach to eating that emphasizes mindful eating and nutrient-rich foods. It can help you cultivate a stronger connection between your body and mind, as well as improve your overall health. 

By following the guidelines above and making thoughtful food choices, you could transform your diet and reap the benefits of a yogic lifestyle.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. ‘Superfoods’: Reliability of the Information for Consumers Available on the Web (2021.
  2. Antioxidant Activity of Spices and Their Impact on Human Health: A Review (2017,
  3. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef (2010,
  4. Culinary Herbs and Spices: Their Bioactive Properties, the Contribution of Polyphenols and the Challenges in Deducing Their True Health Benefits (2014,
  5. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease (2020,
  6. Effect of Short-Term Increase in Meal Frequency on Glucose Metabolism in Individuals with Normal Glucose Tolerance or Impaired Fasting Glucose: A Randomized Crossover Clinical Trial (2019,
  7. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life (2011,
  8. Health risks of genetically modified foods (2009,
  9. Is Grassfed Meat and Dairy Better for Human and Environmental Health? (2019,
  10. Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults (2017,
  11. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat (2017,
  12. Specialty seeds: Nutrients, bioactives, bioavailability, and health benefits: A comprehensive review (2021,
  13. The Safe and Effective Use of Plant-Based Diets with Guidelines for Health Professionals (2021,
  14. Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain: An inpatient randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake (2019,
  15. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review (2020,
  16. Understanding the science of portion control and the art of downsizing (2018,
  17. Vegetarian Diet: An Overview through the Perspective of Quality of Life Domains (2021,
  18. Yoga, bioenergetics and eating behaviors: A conceptual review (2015,
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