Sports Nutrition. Although vegetarian diets are well-accepted in the public health arena, some coaches and professionals express concern that vegetarian athletes may not receive the proper nutrition required for optimal training and performance. In truth, vegetarian athletes, from recreational to elite, can meet their energy and nutrient requirements on the various types of vegetarian diets Table 1. Little is known, however, about the prevalence of vegetarianism among athletes. Among the general population, recent nationwide polls in the U. Vegetarian diets may have many health advantages over the typical Westernized diets. Despite the ergogenic potential, however, a vegetarian diet may also have the potential to impair both health and performance if food choices are consistently suboptimal. Energy requirements vary among individual athletes according to the specific sport, intensity and periodized training activities at which athletes participate which are likely to vary from day to day and across the season. Other influencing factors include sex, age and body composition. Athletes with high-energy needs should be encouraged to eat frequent meals and snacks i.
Now, a new review my colleagues and I published in the journal Nutrients examines the science behind the advantages a plant-based diet provides to athletes. Download our free e-book to learn how plant-based foods can fuel athletic performance and to get started with plant-powered recipes! Fill out the form below and the download link will be delivered to your email inbox. Even athletes are at risk for heart disease: In one study, 44 percent of endurance cyclists and runners had coronary plaques. Meat consumption and high cholesterol levels exacerbate inflammation, which can result in pain and impair athletic performance and recovery. Studies show that a plant-based diet may have an anti-inflammatory effect. A plant-based diet, which is low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol, helps improve blood viscosity, or thickness.
From Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris and cycling champion Dotsie Bausch to top distance runner Scott Jurek and Arnold Schwarzenegger a producer of the film, the documentary chronicles several professional athletes who attribute getting faster and stronger, and recovering from injury more quickly, to adopting a plant-based diet — specifically vegan. Healthline asked that question to David C. Nieman is a vegetarian and marathon runner who sees many reasons someone would want to become vegan. Still, he had a clear answer: No. Studies on the correlation between performance and vegan, vegetarian, and meat-eating diets are rather limited. One recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition tracked the maximum exercise capacity of 76 recreational runners, 18 to 35 years old, for 6 months. Of the group, 26 followed a diet that included meat and plants, 26 ate a vegetarian diet, and 24 ate a vegan diet. Bouncing back quickly between workouts is also important for professional athletes — and many more casual athletes too. The 3-day period before a sports event matters — a lot. Athletes should eat a high carb diet, with most carbs coming from grains and dried fruit. Finally, Nieman points to an area of study called metabolic recovery, or bouncing back to normal after a race or workout.