Giving up red meat and meat in general is a growing trend in today’s society. With the growing numbers of people who eat less meat as well as those becoming vegan or vegetarian, it is important to study the health benefits of plant based diets. It is also important to study the effects on overall performance in both the general public and athletes. There are a growing number of studies that look at athletes who have changed to plant based diets and have actually improved performance.
Two case studies done in 2019 showed that a well-planned vegan diet with b12 supplementation promoted building muscle mass, strength and good performance in athletes. The effect of plant-based diets on cardiovascular risk factors, particularly plasma lipid concentrations, body weight, and blood pressure, and, as part of a healthful lifestyle, reversing existing atherosclerotic lesions, may provide a substantial measure of cardiovascular protection. In addition, plant-based diets may offer performance advantages. They have consistently been shown to reduce body fat, leading to a leaner body composition. Because plants are typically high in carbohydrate, they foster effective glycogen storage. By reducing blood viscosity and improving arterial flexibility and endothelial function, they may be expected to improve vascular flow and tissue oxygenation. Because many vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants, they help reduce oxidative stress. Diets emphasizing plant foods have also been shown to reduce indicators of inflammation. These features of plant-based diets may present safety and performance advantages for endurance athletes (Barnard 2019).
Plant based diets promote a leaner body mass, increased the facilitation of glycogen storage, reduced blood viscosity and increased tissue oxygenation, reduce oxidative stress, and reduced inflammation. This article did a great job in explaining the factors that help enhance athletic performance. It would be very helpful to see more studies examine the actual measures in performance within athletes in terms of speed, recovery, and physical abilities amongst athletes.
Barnard ND, Goldman DM, Loomis JF, et al. Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports. Nutrients. 2019;11(1):130.