Some of the high-profile athletes in the world follow plant-based diet plans. This is contrary to the mainstream belief that animal protein is the key to building muscles. It is because we are conditioned to believe that animal-based food products are the best source of protein and plant-based food is low on this nutrient. Read on to know more about why athletes are choosing plant-based diets.
What Is A Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet focuses on eating more plant-based food. There are different types of it depending on the amount of animal-based food included in the diet. The two main categories are the vegan diet and vegetarian diet; the former avoids all types of animal food products and byproducts, while the latter include some form of animal food products.
How Does A Plant-Based Diet Benefit Athletes?
Compared to a traditional animal-based diet, a plant-based diet brings significant improvement in the performance of athletes. Research has shown that this is due to the micronutrients Vitamin C and E, and antioxidants like polyphenols. Also, most plant-based foods have higher amounts of dietary fiber that helps to manage blood cholesterol levels and systemic inflammation due to athletic training. Finally, a plant-based diet improves muscle recovery and boosts immune system performance.
How Do Plant-Based Nutrients Improve Athletic Performance?
A typical plant-based diet is high in antioxidants and dietary fiber. This combination helps to combat oxidative stress and inflammation post-training. As a result of this, muscle recovery is improved. Intense athletic training has the adverse effect of suppressing the immune system, and this makes athletes more prone to infections. The anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits of plant-based diet help to overcome this to a certain extent.
Studies have shown that micronutrients like carotenoids, folate, vitamin B6, B12, C, E, and minerals like copper, iron, selenium, and zinc help to reduce immune system suppression. Also, plant-based food like nuts and seeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that help to maintain cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation. Other plant-based compounds that augment this are lignans and sterols.
Is There Any Risk Due To Plant-Based Diet?
Poorly planned plant-based diet plans increase the risk of deficiency diseases, and this is especially true for vegans. Some of the possible deficiencies are protein n-3, vitamin B12 and D, and minerals like calcium, iron, iodine, and zinc.
Carefully planned plant-based diet plans are superior to the traditional animal-based diet followed by athletes. This is the reason high-profile athletes are switching to vegan or vegetarian diets.