You have to be careful with restrictive diets. However, a vegetarian diet can benefit athletes for several reasons that we will discuss.
The vegetarian diet has several drawbacks and certain benefits when framed in the context of sports. Although it is not the most recommended for amateur athletes in the context of elite exercise, it can be a valid option for various reasons that we will explain below.
First of all, the basis of a balanced diet is variety. It is essential to include foods from all food groups in adequate amounts, thus ensuring an energy balance.
The vegetarian diet is restrictive, especially in its most extreme versions. For this reason, it is necessary to guide a certain supplementation to avoid deficiencies, especially if the effort required from the body is intense.
Three benefits of a vegetarian diet in athletes
The vegetarian diet sometimes allows the intake of products derived from animals, such as eggs and dairy products. The strict currents only contemplate the consumption of vegetables, which is inappropriate. The benefits it provides are as follows.
1- Efficient weight control
Normally the vegetarian diet is characterized by an abundance of low-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables. This generates an imbalance in the energy balance in favor of spending, which causes a progressive loss of fat weight. However, it is necessary to ensure adequate protein intake. Otherwise, the muscle could be catabolized, which is never beneficial.
It is worth stressing the importance of protein intake to preserve good muscular health. This is indicated by a study published in the International Society of Sports Nutrition Journal. It is important to guarantee at least 1.4 grams of protein per kg of weight per day in athletes.
2- Improved recovery
One of the positive aspects of a vegetarian diet in sports is the continued supply of antioxidants. These nutrients, found primarily in plant-based foods, help reduce muscle damage and inflammation, according to research published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.
The most effective has proven to be curcumin (present in turmeric) and anthocyanins (present in red fruits such as cherries and blueberries). In any case, supplementation is not always indicated since it could interfere with cell signaling pathways. The right thing is to guarantee a continuous and sufficient dietary intake.
3- Reduce intestinal problems
Foods from the plant kingdom usually also stand out for their fiber content. This substance reduces the risk of intestinal problems, such as constipation or diarrhea. At the same time, it can increase the intestinal flora’s biodiversity, thus increasing the efficiency in the metabolism of nutrients. In this way, metabolic flexibility can be beneficial.
It is advisable to include foods with a high content of soluble fiber in the diet, such as oats and apples. In addition, the daily intake of insoluble fiber must also be ensured; for this, it is necessary to include whole grains in the diet. All this must be combined with an adequate hydration protocol to improve the effects.
A vegetarian diet can be beneficial in sports.
According to what has been said, a vegetarian diet can have certain benefits in sports. In any case, opt for the more restrictive versions, thus allowing the intake of eggs and dairy foods. Thus, introducing iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D supplements will not be necessary.
The stricter vegetarian diets, such as vegan, have a smaller spectrum of allowed foods, which conditions the appearance of certain dietary deficits that can negatively affect performance. Also, muscle health.
Also, if you are thinking of following a diet of this type, we advise you to visit a nutrition professional. They can create a menu that meets your individual needs, which minimizes risk. Otherwise, you could make a mistake in the distribution of nutrients, which can increase the risk of muscle injury.
Like many diets, the vegetarian diet can present benefits for the athlete if it is properly prescribed. Otherwise, it is better to opt for a flexible and varied eating plan, which guarantees the presence of foods from different groups.