Can a Vegan diet really increase athletic performance?The most recent trend in the nutrition and diet industry is a Vegan diet. A Vegan diet claims to provide lower risk of disease, increased energy, and increasing metabolic rate. The questions arise with performance and overall body composition. As a bodybuilder, can eating only plants really make you stronger? Will your testosterone levels lower? Will you feel weak and fatigued without meat? Let's take a moment and break down a vegan diet.
A vegan diet is essentially a diet that allows you to eat anything that is directly grown from a plant source. The diet limits your intake of any animal based products - this includes whey protein, milk, eggs, meats, fish, butter, etc. Initially you may think there are no options left, but what you have is any fruit, vegetable, grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, etc. Let's take a closer look at this diet and break down the benefits and downfalls.
The biggest question that surrounds a vegan diet is its ties to performance. When compared to a low-carbohydrate diet a high-carbohydrate diet helped athletes maintain force production for a longer period of time. This means you can exercise harder with longer sets and higher rep schemes during your workout without feeling fatigued.In addition to an increase in workout time, a high carbohydrate diet has also been shown to decrease recovery time. This means you can exercise more frequently throughout the week, getting in more sets and repetitions on a consistent basis.
In short, a Vegan diet may assist you in high-intensity - short duration workouts and its claim to increased energy may be true. A vegan diet may not be the best diet for optimizing body composition as the high intake of carbohydrates leaves stored fat as adipose tissue.
This is one aspect where a Vegan diet may fall short. Our physiology was built to run on carbohydrates and the more you eat, the more it fuels muscle contractions and leaves stored fat for emergencies. This means you likely won't find a Vegan diet best for losing fat. This is why a bodybuilder will never go on a high-carbohydrate diet prior to a show - cutting requires a significant decrease in carbohydrate stores.