Vegan athletes can compete with athletes who eat meat if they eat well. This applies to different types of athletic disciplines, including triathlon and even bodybuilding – this is the conclusion of a group of researchers from Australia, led by Professor Dr. Dilip Ghosh.
The results of the study were presented to the public in the form of a presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Expo.
Wholesome nutrition for the vegan athlete means that in order to achieve record sports results, he needs to specifically introduce into his diet foods that make up for the lack of substances that other athletes receive from meat and other animal products.
The impetus for the study was the recent discovery of the burial of the remains of ancient Roman gladiators, which gives good reason to believe that these fierce and tireless warriors were vegetarians. The scientists also took into account that vegetarians are some record-breaking athletes today, such as runners Bart Jasso and Scott Yurek, or triathlete Brandon Braser.
In fact, Dr. Ghosh concluded from the results of the research, it doesn’t matter if the athlete is a “vegetarian” or a “meat eater”, because only one thing counts in terms of sports nutrition and training outcomes: sufficient intake and absorption of a number of important nutrients.
Ghosh has calculated the ideal nutritional formula for track and field athletes, who can be either vegan or vegetarian or meat eaters: 45-65% of the food should be carbohydrates, 20-25% fat, 10-35% protein (numbers may vary depending on nature of training and other factors).
Ghosh stated that “athletes can achieve nutritional adequacy even on a purely plant-based diet (i.e. if they are Vegetarian) if they maintain their calorie allowance and regularly consume a number of important foods.” Ghosh identified non-animal sources of iron, creatine, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium as important.
One of the most important success factors for athletes is adequate iron intake, says Dr. Ghosh. He stressed that this problem is more acute for female athletes, because. it is in this group of vegan athletes, according to his observations, that non-anemic iron deficiency can be observed. Iron deficiency affects primarily the decrease in the results of endurance training. Vegans, in general, Ghosh notes, are characterized by reduced muscle creatine content, so these athletes should take the issue of nutritional adequacy very seriously.
Speaking of specific products for athletes, Dr. Ghosh finds the most beneficial:
• orange and yellow and leafy vegetables (cabbage, greens) • fruits • fortified breakfast cereals • soy drinks • nuts • milk and dairy products (for those athletes who consume milk).
Ghosh noted that his research is very young, and it will take years of scientific observation of athletes to form a detailed picture of sports training under the condition of a vegetarian vegan. However, in his opinion, the prognosis for vegan athletes is very favorable. G
osh also separately presented a program for vegans and vegetarians who are engaged in bodybuilding – that is, they strive to build muscle mass as much as possible. For these athletes, the proportional table of intake of carbohydrates, fats and protein will, of course, be different. But the main thing is that an ethical and heart-healthy diet is not an obstacle to winning victories even in this, especially “high-calorie” sport, the professor is sure.