While most of us imagine triathlon competitors and marathon runners loading up on meat-heavy meals, the truth may be just the opposite. Or at least, the protein may not be coming from animal products.
New evidence seems to show that a plant-based diet, also known as a vegan diet, may be particularly beneficial to athletes. In fact, several prominent athletes are long-time vegans, including skier Seba Johnson, martial artist Mac Danzig, and tennis player Venus Williams.
Personal trainers and dieticians have commented that of their athlete clients who have adopted the vegan lifestyle, many have seen maximized training, and above all, improved recovery from injuries. Research suggests that a plant-based diet high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds could aid in faster recoveries for athletes, for whom physical damage can easily mean the end of a career.
That’s not to say veganism isn’t without its pitfalls. People who adopt a plant-based diet without properly informing themselves are at risk of suffering from vitamin deficiencies or protein insufficiencies. Lentils, beans, nuts, and soy are all excellent sources of alternative plant protein for vegans, and vitamins and minerals found in animal products, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium, can all be purchased over the counter at local grocers and vitamin shops.