Starting a plant-based diet rich in grains, legumes and root veggies can boost an athlete's intake of healthy carbs. Endurance, both before athletic events and in the long term, is enhanced by higher carb intake.
LISA ESPOSITO: ‘Athletes who follow plant-based diets could see improvements in their heart health, performance and recovery, suggests a new review of studies published in the journal Nutrients. First, researchers looked at evidence of traditional dietary shortcomings and negative health effects in athletes. Next, they summarized potential benefits of plant-based diets on athletes’ heart health, recovery and performance. Vegan diets, which include no animal products whatsoever, were the main focus of the review, researchers noted. However, benefits also appeared from vegetarian diets, which allow dairy products such as milk and eggs.
Review authors included Dr. James Loomis, medical director for the Barnard Medical Center in the District of Columbia and a former team internist for the NFL’s St. Louis Rams (now the Los Angeles Rams) and the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals. The review cited a 2017 study on coronary plaque buildup in older endurance cyclists and runners. Another study found that fewer than half of its Ironman triathlete participants were meeting the recommended carbohydrate intake for endurance athletes. Carbohydrate is the primary energy source during high- and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, authors noted. Endurance, both right before athletic events and in the long term, is enhanced by higher carb intake, they added. Starting a plant-based diet rich in grains, legumes and root veggies can boost an athlete’s intake of healthy carbs.
Other studies in the review showed increased artery plaque or heart-muscle damage in U.S. men and German runners who competed in multiple marathons, compared to sedentary study participants. “Athletes are not immune to atherosclerosis or cardiac events,” authors wrote. “Surprisingly, endurance athletes may have more advanced sclerosis and [heart muscle] damage, compared with sedentary individuals, even as they age.” What the studies did not show, researchers continued, was whether these changes are consequences of the athletic activity itself, or the type of food, such as animal products, used to fuel it’. SOURCE…