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‘Weak Like a Vegan’?: What science says about veganism for athletes

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Many may doubt whether a restrictive plant-based diet can help athletes to step up their fitness game. But what science says about veganism and exercise may surprise you.

ANNA GORA: You’ve probably heard countless stereotypes about vegan athletes. Maybe you’re even convinced that there’s a grain of truth to some of these beliefs. But what science says about veganism and exercise may surprise you. And with a growing interest in environmentally-friendly lifestyles, it’s more important than ever to bust the myths that surround vegan athletes.

So what exactly is veganism? According to the Vegan Society, veganism is ‘a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose’. As such, vegan diets completely cut out meat, dairy and eggs, but they also don’t allow foods that use animal derivatives, such as honey, shellac or bee pollen.

Understandably, many may doubt whether such a restrictive way of eating can help athletes to step up their fitness game. Here, we’ll dive into some common misconceptions about training on a plant-based diet and look at some of the potential benefits of veganism for athletes. We will also provide useful tips on how to achieve peak performance if you do follow a plant-based diet…

There are so many myths doing the rounds about veganism for athletes, so let’s have a look at some of the most common.

Myth #1: ‘Vegans are malnourished and get ill a lot’

According to a study published in Nutrition Reviews, vegan diets tend to consistently rate higher than others in terms of their quality and nutritional value. They may also provide many health benefits…

Myth #2: ‘Vegans can’t get enough protein’

“But where do you get your protein from?” If you’re a vegan (or have considered becoming one), it’s almost a given that you’ve been asked this question. There’s a strong belief that animal-based products are the only good sources of protein, but in reality, this isn’t the case…

Myth #3: ‘Vegans suffer from low energy levels’

A common stereotype is a lethargic, weak vegan who can’t get through the day without taking a nap. While a myth, it could be true in certain cases. Plant-based diets that are balanced and contain all necessary nutrients will not lead to excessive fatigue. However, if you’re deficient in vitamin B12 and iodine – which are found mostly in animal-based foods – you may experience a drop in your energy levels…

Myth #4: ‘All vegan diets are healthy and promote weight loss’

Is a vegan diet healthy? If done right, plant-based diets can be extremely beneficial for athletes. But with the abundance of vegan processed foods available on the market these days, it’s quite easy to make the wrong choices… Similarly, plant-based foods can be great for weight loss as they tend to have more dietary fiber and a lower calorie density…

Myth #5: ‘Vegan diets will slow down your recovery’

Recovery is an essential part of every training program. This is when your torn and exhausted muscles rebuild themselves to get bigger and stronger… A well-rounded vegan diet may actually speed up your recovery, because of the high level of anti-inflammatory compounds found in plant foods… For competitive athletes, a quick recovery means more time spent training, and ultimately, better end results…

There are definitely benefits to be had for those athletes who decide to go vegan. Here are a few perks that going vegan can offer you. SOURCE…

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