As an athlete, you want the best for your body. With so many contradicting recommendations out there, it can be difficult to know what nutrition plan is truly best for you. For athletes, a diet high in protein from lean meats, fish, and eggs is often the obvious choice. However, if you find your results have hit a plateau, it may be time to consider a vegan diet to take your athletic performance to the next level. While you may think you need meat, dairy and other animal based proteins to thrive, there are numerous advantages of a vegan/plant based diet in sports. By definition, vegans do not consume any animal products or by-products and follow a strictly plant-based diet of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Consider these benefits of the vegan way of life to determine if it’s worth a try for you.
Improved Digestive Health
No one can jump their highest or run their fastest when weighed down by bloat or constipation. A plant based diet is high in fiber, which supports digestive health and keeps your body running smoothly. Juicing or blending fruits and vegetables creates a nutrient rich energy source that is easy to digest, contributing to improved digestive health while also providing the nutrition you need to for a long training session or race. Because of this, a vegan diet for sports can lead to better performance and generally be feeling better while you train.
Athletes need to recover after intense workouts and proper nutrition is one of the best ways to restore your body after working it to fatigue. Lean animal protein like chicken or eggs is often considered the go to sources to promote recovery. However, meat and dairy products are known to produce high levels of acid in the body. This can increase acidity in blood pH, which can lead to inflammation and, ultimately, impede your recovery process. Alternatively, a plant based diet and plant-based protein powder produces alkaline rather than acid, which lowers risk of inflammation and can actually improve your recovery after a workout.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
While there are advantages of a vegan/plant based diet in sports, many of these advantages improve health and quality of life for athletes and non-athletes alike. Vegan athletes who eliminate meat and dairy from their diets reap the benefits of better cardiovascular health. Improved cardiovascular health means a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other chronic health issues. For athletes, this can also mean improved endurance. Even when your days of competing are over, a healthy heart is always something to strive for and maintaining a vegan diet contributes greatly to this.
With better digestive health, a quicker recovery process and a stronger heart, improved athletic performance is sure to follow. Whether you strive for a faster time, more reps or a more explosive jump, improvements in all of these areas will certainly support better performance. The advantages of a vegan/plant based diet in sports are numerous, but making gains in the sport you love is perhaps most important. Give veganism a try to see what changes for you – you just might never go back.
Written By: Elevate Nutrition Founders, Jillian Salomone and Paul Salomone