The human body is capable of incredibly physical achievements. Athletes are constantly redefining the limitations and boundaries of the physical performance. Attempts to increase the athletic performance and reach new reach a new record are never-ending. Without a doubt, nutrition is a major factor in the success of the athletic performance. Intense physical training increases nutritional needs. Plant-based supplements for vegetarian athletes are an efficient way to provide all the essential nutrients. Getting all the necessary vitamin, minerals and macronutrients as a vegetarian athlete can be a challenge. Finding the right supplements will make your diet more enjoyable and easier to follow.
Is a vegetarian diet adequate for athletes?
One common concern about plant-based diets is whether they are adequate for all stages of life. Can you perform at your max capacity while following a vegetarian diet? Will cutting out most of the animal products from your diet have a negative effect on your training? Can you be a competitive athlete without consuming most of the animal products? Let’s put all the anecdotal stories and myths aside and take a closer look at some relevant scientific studies!
According to the study of the American Dietetic Association appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthy and they might even provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain health conditions. The American Dietetic Association, which is one of the most reputable and well-known nutrition science organization in the world, come to the following conclusion after conducting their scientific study.
“Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”1
Not surprisingly, the findings of the study was a clear yes for the application of vegetarian and vegan diets in all stages of life. We have you covered with some empirical evidence if you still do not feel convinced yet. Some of the best athletes in the world follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
- Mac Danzig: Mac Danzig is a world-famous Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitor who has reached the highest levels of his sport. His grappler and boxing skills are well-known among MMA enthusiasts. Danzing follows an all plant-based diet due to ethical reasons. Some of his greatest athletic achievements:
- Winner of UFC 6
- King of The Cage Lightweight Champion
- Won 21 of 34 fights
- Scott Jurek: Scott Jurek is one of the most recognizable icons of ultramarathon running. Besides his unbelievable ability to run long distances he is famous for following a vegan diet.
- Patrik Baboumian: Patrik Baboumian is recognized as one of the strongest people in the world. He is a German, vegan strongman competitor, strength athlete, and former bodybuilder. Baboumian holds the world log lift record for under 105kg and he passionately promotes veganism.
Supplements for Vegetarian Athletes
Many falsely claim that a vegetarian diet can meet all the nutritional needs in every case without supplements. Well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets tend to contain supplements to provide certain micronutrients.
“A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients.”1
Finding the perfect supplements for vegetarian athletes depends on many factors. Individual differences between athletes, the physical intensity and time duration of the given sport are factors that need to take into consideration when you choose your food supplements. The below mentioned-supplements considered to be “must-haves” by many vegan and vegetarian sports enthusiasts.
- Vitamin B12: Reaching your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 can be extremely hard as a vegetarian. According to a study2 that was published in 2013 vegetarians have a high risk for vitamin B12-vitamin deficiency due to suboptimal intake. The conclusion of the study points out food supplements as a potential solution for preventing vitamin B12 deficiency for vegetarians. “Vegetarians should thus take preventive measures to ensure adequate intake of this vitamin, including regular consumption of supplements containing B12.”2
- Iron: Iron plays an important role in the formation of new DNA and red blood cells. It is also crucially important for the maintenance of energy-yielding metabolism. Reaching the daily recommended intake of iron can be difficult for vegetarians. Therefore, iron supplementation is highly recommended for those who follow a plant-based diet.
- Plant-based protein powders: pea protein powders, soy protein powders, hemp protein powders and other plant-based protein powders can offer precious amino acids that can help your muscle recovery after your intense training sessions. Consuming 30-45 grams of protein in a few minutes is not possible with the help of a tasty, vegan protein shake.
Did you like this article? Why don’t you check out our article on the benefits and risks of raising a vegan child?
What are your thoughts on veganism? Have you ever considered following a vegetarian or vegan diet as an athlete? What do you consider to be the most important supplements for vegetarian athletes? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!