By now you have read about at least one top athlete in your favorite sport choosing to eat plant-based. From Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic in tennis, to the NBA's Kyrie Irving, F1 racing champ Lewis Hamilton, and many more, some really high-profile athletes have chosen to go plant-based. They're not being trendy. They are simply following the growing body of scientific evidence that shows a plant-based diet, when done right, can provide your body with powerful, clean-burning fuel. In fact, when asked their reasons for choosing plant-based, almost every athlete offers reasons that include: "I want to perform my best."
While scientists debate whether a plant-based diet enhances athletic performance relative to a 'standard Western diet' one indisputable fact emerges from these athletes' stories: eating plant-based sure doesn't seem to hurt their performance! That said, anyone who has transitioned to a plant-based diet quickly learns that you must be careful to ensure you get a proper amount of calories and sufficient amounts of key vitamins and nutrients. Here is a quick primer on what you should be mindful of as you embrace a plant-based diet.
Protein, Amino Acids, and more
One of the first concerns someone might have about a plant-based diet would be whether they eat enough protein. As a recent article in Discover Magazine points out, plant-based proteins are also a little harder for our digestive tracts and biceps to convert into the gains someone might be looking for, though meal planning can get around that problem.
The article interviews a university researcher, who observes, of the 20 amino acids, nine of them we can’t make and have to come from our diets. Animal protein sources have all nine, but a vast majority of plant proteins are missing one or two. Since wheat, soy, nuts and bean varieties each lack different kinds of amino acids, the workaround is pretty simple: Eat a wide variety of plants. With 15g of protein per serving, black beans for example, have more protein than a chicken drumstick and one cup of lentils has 18g of protein— more than a hamburger.
Don't Avoid Carbs
Researchers at UC Berkeley investigated the effect of a plant-based diet on athletic performance and made key observations around the role of carbohydrates. I summary, they observed that complex carbohydrates, which do not break down quickly like simple carbohydrates do, are important for enhanced athletic performance, particularly for endurance training lasting more than 90-minutes. And plant-based diets are beneficial because they contain a significant portion of complex carbohydrates and will help athletes have a longer, more stable, and more constant supply of energy throughout the day.
Plant-Based Diets Help Recovery
According to this article in Forbes, evidence from Harvard Medical School shows that plants’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to shorten recovery times, reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, lessen joint pain, and enable quicker healing from injuries. Plant based diets also improve blood viscosity, which helps to efficiently deliver oxygen around the body, promoting healing. All of these factors can also contribute to career longevity.
Making it Easier to Eat Plant-Based
At Vie 4 Health we recognize the benefits and challenges of eating a plant-based diet. That's why we created our Vie vitamin-infused energy powder. It contains a 100% plant-based, fizzy mix of 24 essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids — along with smooth, long-lasting energy from guarana and green-tea caffeine.
Key ingredients and benefits include:
- Vitamin B12: 3267% of DV
- Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B-complex
- Omega 3s (from flaxseed powder)
- Grape seed extract for circulation and cholesterol
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids for muscle recovery and growth
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) for antioxidant, anti-inflammation
- Beta Alanine for endurance
- Smooth boost of caffeine (100mg green tea + 15mg guarana)