According to a study by the University of Quebec, vegetarian athletes have better endurance than meat eaters.
The basics in brief
- A study conducted by the University of Quebec examined the performance of vegetarians.
- The results showed that vegetarians have better endurance than omnivores.
- The reason is the complex carbohydrates in a vegetarian diet.
The principle of training in sports is that you have to eat a lot of animal protein in order to perform and build muscle. A vegan diet is associated with lower or even poorer performance.
A new study from the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada, now proves otherwise. According to the study authors, switching to a plant-based diet does not result in any performance loss.
A diet that avoids animal products can be beneficial for athletic endurance.
Vegetarian athletes performed better
The study, conducted by the Department of Exercise Science, examined the effects of plant-based diets on endurance and muscle strength in athletes.
56 athletes participated, half of whom were vegetarians for two years and the other half were carnivores. The researchers measured strength and endurance on a stationary bike.
To do this, they note how long athletes can ride at 70 percent of their peak performance until they are exhausted. Body composition and maximal oxygen uptake capacity (VO2 max) were also measured.
The study found that vegetarian athletes had the best VO2 max. They were also able to train more aggressively before they reached exhaustion.
Research is only slowly approaching the topic of plant-based nutrition and sports. However, there are actually many athletes who eat vegan and report better performance.
This includes, for example, NBA professional basketball player Chris Paul. He credits the plant-based diet for keeping up with his teammates with half his life.
Novak Djokovic, number one in the tennis world rankings, also relies on plant energy. Arsenal footballer Hector Bellerin is also a vegetarian defender.
Complex carbohydrates as a cause
But how does the body actually react to plant-based nutrition and where does it get the energy for endurance sports?
During endurance training, the body uses three primary fuels: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. The body hardly burns protein as fuel, but relies on complex carbohydrates.
These are found in vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts that form the basis of a vegetarian diet.
Protein is essential for building and repairing body tissues and muscles. Endurance athletes also have increased protein requirements, but they mainly need good sources of energy that the body can use quickly.
In summary, the study showed that submaximal endurance was better in vegetarians than in meat eaters. Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, grains, and legumes are useful for endurance training and high-performance activities.
This finding could also help meat eaters improve their endurance.
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