Plant Based Athletes
With the olympics over, diet is always on the forefront of what elite athletes are eating to get the gold. A new trend in the diet of athletics is the choice of going vegan. But why would an athlete go vegan? How the heck are these plant based athletes getting enough plant based protein?
One of the major reasons elite and everyday athletes alike have chosen to go vegan is the benefit of the anti-inflammatory benefits of a vegan diet. A plant based diet touts the benefits of a quicker recovery time, a major decrease in inflammation, and increased stamina and energy. Research has shown that the decreased inflammatory response as a result of a plant based diet has even resulted in decreased depression and anxiety. Both that have been related to inflammation in the body. Dairy in general is one of the major contributors to inflammation in the body and athletes are steering clear. The myth that milk is essential to the athlete with media campaigns perpetuating this myth is finally being debunked and athletes are steadfastly steering clear.
How Do Plant Based Athletes Get Protein?
A major inquiry to those who have chosen a plant based diet is the concern over getting enough protein. But, as many nutritionists have asserted, the need for protein in one’s diet has been overemphasized. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that 10% of total daily calories be protein based. This 10% can be met quite easily from any plant protein source, such as legumes, grains, and nuts. After all, some of the strongest mammals on the planet are herbivores. Elephants, gorillas, and rhinos are all plant based!
Long gone are the days that meat is required to get enough protein and be an athlete. Recent studies have even concluded that a vegetarian or vegan diet are comparable if not better for athletes and the everyman alike. A vegan diet does not compromise performance of athletes and has been proven to facilitate aerobic capacity in athletes.
So, which athletes are plant based, you ask? Here are a few:
Duhamel is a plant based athlete who took gold recently in PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics with her partner Eric Radford in the pair figure skating event. At 32 years old, the benefits of her vegan diet are many. Through a vegan diet she has been able to better maintain her weight, had a clearing of her skin, and has noticeable increased energy levels.
Lewis was one of the fastest men in history and vegan! In the year before the 1991 World Championships, Lewis took to a plant based diet and never went back. The 1991 World Championships was the year of Lewis’s greatest performances. Lewis still holds to this vegan diet today for the health benefits he feels as a result of eating strictly plant based and because he can eat a larger quantity of food and still remain lean.
Williams is an elite tennis athlete who is a practicing raw vegan. After being diagnosed with a crippling autoimmune disease that took her off the tennis court, Williams turned to a raw vegan diet and was amazed by the transformative results. Not only did it put her autoimmune diagnosis at bay, she reaped the benefits of a plant based diet. She turned food into fuel and has been thriving on and off the court since adopting this vegan lifestyle.
Are plant based athletes the future?
The new age of plant based athletes is upon us. Animal products are not necessary to be elite and are hindering the athletic pursuit of greatness. If you need more convincing, two new plant based athlete documentaries are set to release later in 2018, The Game Changers and From The Ground Up. Both inspiring and thought provoking films about a what it is to be a plant based athlete.
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