Many athletes are looking for that extra edge and play around with their diets knowing that what you put into your body is a crucial factor, most, unfortunately, get it wrong. Often, they look at it from an elimination point of view rather than adding. Start to focus on what you can and should have. Adding more whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables will give you the energy you need to fuel your athletic endeavours.
This is where the game changer is. Incorporating cleaner, healthier food in your plan while reducing inflammation from food is what can take you to the next level. Dr. Neal Barnard explains specifically why a plant based diet for an athlete can be beneficial:
1. Even athletes are at risk for heart disease: In one study, 44 percent of endurance cyclists and runners had coronary plaques. A plant-based diet keeps athletes’ hearts strong by reversing plaque, bringing down blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing weight.
2. Meat consumption and high cholesterol levels exacerbate inflammation, which can result in pain and impair athletic performance and recovery. Studies show that a plant-based diet may have an anti-inflammatory effect.
3. A plant-based diet, which is low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol, helps improve blood viscosity, or thickness. That helps more oxygen reach the muscles, which improves athletic performance.
4. Plant-based diets improve arterial flexibility and diameter, leading to better blood flow. One study found that even a single high-fat meal, including sausage and egg McMuffins, impaired arterial function for several hours.
5. Compared with meat-eaters, people eating a plant-based diet get more antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals. Free radicals lead to muscle fatigue, reduced athletic performance, and impaired recovery.
6. Plant-based diets, which are typically low in fat and high in fiber, can reduce body fat. Reduced body fat is associated with increased aerobic capacity—or the ability to use oxygen to fuel exercise. Studies show that athletes on a plant-based diet increase their VO2 max—the maximum amount of oxygen they can use during intense exercise—leading to better endurance.
We are excited to help you on this transitional journey with our newest e-book, Plant Based Meal A Day, ATHLETE EDITION. We have chosen 22 delicious, easy-to-make, and extremely healthy recipes that you can start incorporating immediately into your food plan. Get a copy of your book here.
Looking for extra inspiration? We recommend watching “The Game Changers” and “From The Ground Up” to see real-life examples of athletes who have taken their performance to the next level with a plant based diet.