Should athletes eat vegan? Zoe Neal, The Weald School

Over the past decade, the veganism movement has grown rapidly among athletes around the world. Its benefits have been promoted and promoted worldwide, with a focus on how nutrition can significantly improve a person’s health and, moreover, their athletic performance. In fact, several footballers who took part in the 2022 World Cup are vegans, including Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, who made the move after injury, Gareth Bale and world champion Leonel Messi, who is often cited as the best footballer in the world and is said to be the elements of veganism into their eating habits.

So there is scientific evidence to support claims of increased health, but is a vegan diet actually the key to athlete success?

Research has shown that a vegan diet is often high in foods that contain nitric oxide, which has anti-inflammatory effects; It should be emphasized that by adhering to this diet, athletes can benefit from a reduction in inflammation and therefore recovery times. Additional studies show that athletes on a plant-based diet increase their VO2 max — the maximum amount of oxygen they can use during intense exercise — which leads to better endurance. Factors like these are some of the main benefits that vegan athletes experience after making the diet change. In an interview with vegan basketball player Wilson Chandler, he said, “My energy levels are higher, I recover faster, I feel stronger and lighter.” Ultramarathon winner Scott Jurek has also adopted this diet and, like him, has been writing since he went vegan, got stronger and faster, reduced recovery time and felt like he could keep going when other athletes stopped, quoting, “I wasn’t just a runner anymore, I was a racer.”

It has already been shown that a vegan diet has had a positive effect on many athletes. So why are the majority of athletes reluctant to make this change? The answer to this is often concern about the lack of protein that a vegan diet has to offer. Low vitamin B12 and sodium levels are also associated with vegans, leading to consequences such as muscle cramps, stiffness and an increased risk of stroke. Athletes can address this issue by supplementing their diet with other sources of these essential vitamins and minerals, but they need to be aware of the deficiencies.

The vegan diet can bring great benefits to athletes when properly followed, but it is up to each individual to decide if they are disciplined enough to ensure they are consuming enough essential nutrients to avoid adverse effects. Should athletes eat vegan? Zoe Neal, The Weald School

Fry Electronics Team

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