It’s been one of the most hotly debated topics of the last few years: eating meat versus vegetarianism/veganism. Countless studies conducted by scientists around the world have proven the benefits of both diets, but with the environment at peril and more people calling for an end to processed meat and dairy farms, many are turning to a plant-based diet for all their needs.
But what does this mean for athletes, and is there any loss to switch over to a meat-free diet? The answer, surprisingly, is no, and it’s been proven time and time again that vegetarians are able to sustain an extremely healthy lifestyle while taking in the right amount of calories and nutrients that they need every day while also continuing to live as normal with family and work responsibilities, as well as recreational time for video and gambling online NZ games.
The Problem with Restricted Calories
Any athlete needs a high volume of calories to maintain the energy they burn off during exercise and training. Meat tends to be one of the most calorie-rich foods available to us at the store, which is why athletes tend to have a diet packed with lean poultry and fish.
Vegetarian-based diets also often pose the problem of not having the right nutrients necessary for creating and maintaining new muscle, oxygen transport, and bone density. Some of the nutrients that we get from animal products include protein, iron, vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fats.
Getting What You Need
There are plenty of plant-based foods out there that provide the essential nutrients the body needs. Foods like beans, broccoli, tofu, lentils, spinach, nuts, seeds, soy milk, and quinoa are all great substitutes for meat and dairy products, and will provide everything you need to continue training and exercising as you were on your old diet.
Pre and Post Workout
Before starting a plant-based diet, there are a few aspects that the athlete needs to be aware of:
- Changing over to a completely plant-based diet may cause some problems early on. The huge increase in fibre may heavily impact bowel movements, leaving you having to visit the bathroom a few times a day to deal with diarrhoea or bloating. This will normalise over time as your body becomes adjusted to the amount of fibre being ingested.
- Take the necessary time to learn about the type of nutrients you will need to maintain your training and exercise. Preparation is key when swapping over to an entirely new dietary plan, and having all the right ingredients to start creating healthy foods is extremely important.
- Ensure that you are ingesting enough protein, which is something that vegetarians and vegans tend to struggle with. 10 grams a day from a complete protein source should be enough, with a soy-based food or quinoa being the best choice for athletes.
- Drink water to keep your body hydrated. Switching from meat and dairy, you might find that you will lose some water to begin with, and it will be necessary to compensate by hydrating as much as possible.