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Athletes turn to plant-based and vegan diets to gain edge in a growing sports world trend

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DR. JAMES LOOMIS: 'It’s a factual myth that we have to have animal protein to perform at a high level. With plants, food becomes more like medicine.'

SCOTT GLEESON: ‘Veganism is on the rise in the United States — the plant-based market increased 17% in dollar sales this last year, according to The Good Food Institute — and more athletes are turning to the diet, particularly at the peak and latter stages of their careers. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the most prominent athlete to embrace veganism, crediting his mostly plant-based diet for allowing him to play at an MVP level into his 40s… Times are changing. Brady appeared in a 2002 Got Milk? ad. Nowadays he’s promoting his own plant-based protein shakes…

Athletes have been exposed to plant-based diets for a variety of reasons. NBA guard Chris Paul said his children’s nanny was vegan. Recovering from a shoulder injury, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said in April he’s gone vegan to aid his stamina and rehabilitation. Tennis star Venus Williams adopted a vegan diet in 2011 after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. A gluten allergy led Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic to go plant-based, and in 2016 he opened up a Monte Carlo vegan restaurant…

James Loomis, who practices internal medicine at Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said he believes a vegan diet is a natural fit for athletes: It “leads to quicker recovery from workouts and better injury prevention. The food pyramid is misleading and that’s stayed with us from a young age… Loomis collaborated with experts for a 2019 study that outlined evidence of plant-based diets benefiting endurance athletes in heart health, overall performance and recovery.

“It’s a factual myth that we have to have animal protein to perform at a high level,” he said. “With plants, food becomes more like medicine.” Loomis is one of the doctors featured on “Game Changers,” a documentary set to debut in September that features MMA fighter James Wilks exploring the differences between protein from plant-based and meat-based diets’. SOURCE…

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