There is a myth rolling about that athletes and vegan/vegetarianism don’t go hand in hand. We decided to go on a little research experiment and see what evidence we could find out there to support this theory. While there are plenty of arguments for either side, we have to say that the evidence supporting the “no meat athlete” became more profound once we tried it ourselves.
As an athlete and one of our contributors, I decided to take the challenge and go vegan as my New Years Resolution.
Before going vegan, I was eating meat proteins, dairy and yogurt (my favorite thing on earth) on a daily basis to ensure optimum nutrition and fuel for my performance. I train 6 days a week with soccer, distance running, yoga and weight training and have a high-demand job which requires high energy levels to stay sharp so nutrition is vital to my success both actively and in my career.
I used the ToneitUp Vegan Nutrition plan to teach myself how to create complete proteins without meat, and added in my Vega protein shake to be make sure I maintained healthy levels of protein. This guide, and it’s two trainers Karina and Katrina have honestly kept me going throughout the last months since I have found them. Their community is inspiring and the nutrition plan was 180 pages of raw nutrition information and I have never found a source that has taught me as much as that guide. I also studied Matt Fraizer’s guide called the “No Meat Athlete” in an effort to prepare myself for the change. After this, the transition from meat to a vegan diet was not very difficult at all, in fact the hardest to remove was dairy.
Once I took the challenge and changed to a vegan diet my energy levels and focus improved within the first week. I woke up easily and was motivated to get the day started, but by week 4 I noticed my levels started dropping, this was due to the fact that I had not been eating enough in general and had neglected my multi-vitamins for a few days. Once I resumed the healthy balance, my levels increased once again.
IMPORTANT: I would like to note that a vegan diet may not be for everyone, and may not be a healthy choice for everyone either. It takes a lot of discipline and it is VERY important to make sure you are making your nutrient requirements to ensure you do not become deficient in any area which could lead to serious health risks.
If you are considering the pros and cons of vegan/vegetarianism. Men’s Fitness wrote a great article on this a while back:
Meat is the best source of protein, which the body needs to function optimally. Red meat is also a good source of iron, vitamin B, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
“Meats have high levels of saturated fat and can raise cholesterol,” Frechman says. Because of it’s high-fat content, red meat has been linked to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. And processed meat is loaded with sodium, which can raise blood pressure. Although it’s often thought of as the healthier option, chicken and turkey have been found to be more strongly associated with weight gain than eating red or processed meat, a new study finds.
Vegetarians generally have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, several forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity because these diets are usually lower in fat and higher in fiber. Vegetarians as a group are often healthier, as they tend to be nonsmokers and drink less alcohol.
A vegetarian diet will result in a quicker weight loss because it tends to be low in calories. “You may loose weight but you also may lack energy,” says Frechman. You’ll get more vitamins, minerals and nutrients but you probably won’t get enough calcium (from diary) or essential fatty acids (from fish) or folic acid (from grains). Also noticeably absent from most vegetarian menus: Protein, which protects your immune system and builds muscle mass. “If you’re on a vegetarian diet long enough, you could suffer from malnutrition.”
That’s not to say that an all-vegetarian diet can’t be done—people clearly do it. You just need to work harder to make sure you’re getting a balance of all the necessary vitamins.”