By Whitney E. Akers
Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.
The film aims to make the case that a vegan diet isn't only the most advantageous diet for long-term health, but for an athletic edge as well.
From Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris and cycling champion Dotsie Bausch to top distance runner Scott Jurek and Arnold Schwarzenegger (a producer of the film), the documentary chronicles several professional athletes who attribute getting faster and stronger, and recovering from injury more quickly, to adopting a plant-based diet specifically vegan.
Vegans don't eat meat or products derived from animals, like eggs or milk.
While there's not much data to back a trend of professional athletes going vegan or vegetarian, Barbara Lewin, RDN, CSSD, LDN, a sports nutritionist who works with professional athletes, including Olympic athletes and members of the NHL and NBA, certainly sees her pro-athlete clients embracing a plant-based diet.
"My clients see so many benefits to eating a plant-based diet that postseason, they don't go back to eating as an omnivore or a carnivore," Lewin noted.
Healthline asked that question to David C. Nieman, DrPH, FACSM, a professor of health and exercise science and director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, where he studies athletes and diet.
Nieman is a vegetarian and marathon runner who sees many reasons someone would want to become vegan. Still, he had a clear answer: No.
"The only possible way it [a vegan diet] may help some people is if they're involved in a sport that takes more than an hour," Nieman stated.
"And that's only if they were on a low carb, high fat diet and switched to a vegan diet, which would mean they'd be taking in more carbs. Those people would see improvement in endurance not sports skill," he said.
Studies on the correlation between performance and vegan, vegetarian, and meat-eating diets are rather limited.
One recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition tracked the maximum exercise capacity of 76 recreational runners, 18 to 35 years old, for 6 months. Of the group, 26 followed a diet that included meat and plants, 26 ate a vegetarian diet, and 24 ate a vegan diet.
"The results suggest that there are no differences in exercise capacity between vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarians and omnivorous recreational runners," the study's authors wrote.
The bottom line: "All kinds of diets are compatible with performance," Nieman said.
That's if you make healthy choices compatible with whatever diet you want to follow.
Lewin agrees that any diet needs to include wise choices if you're eating for health or performance.
"If you're living on crackers, vegan cheese, and other processed foods, it's not a good choice. For a vegan diet to be healthy and to work for the elite athlete, it has to have a strong foundation in vegetables and fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds," she told Healthline.
"The Game Changers" shares stories of both long-term health on a vegan diet and immediate improvements in performance. Bouncing back quickly between workouts is also important for professional athletes and many more casual athletes too.
According to Nieman, you've got to look at nutrition's effect on three areas to get an overall sense of how diets affect athletes: long-term, acute, and post-workout recovery.
"Long-term health is important for athletes. Plant-based dietary choices are at the heart of all healthy eating patterns," Nieman explained, whether your diet of choice be vegetarian, Mediterranean, or DASH, for example.
The 3-day period before a sports event matters a lot. Athletes should eat a high carb diet, with most carbs coming from grains and dried fruit.
"What you eat every day counts towards your health and overall performance. However, the pre-workout or prerace meal is extremely important," Lewin said.
"A high fat meal can leave you feeling sluggish and is not a good fuel for the muscles, whereas a meal with the right balance of carbohydrate and protein will digest efficiently and provide good energy," she said.
Finally, Nieman points to an area of study called metabolic recovery, or bouncing back to normal after a race or workout.
This area of study has discovered what you eat can improve your return to homeostasis. The simplest snack? Fruit. Nieman's research has found bananas, pears, and blueberries all support your body's recovery after exercise.
Fans of the vegan diet claim that if you eat vegan, it's easier to bounce back between workouts with plant protein since it's less inflammatory.
Nieman, who's currently studying athletic recovery after 90 minutes of hard exercise when someone eats pea vs. whey (dairy) protein post-workout, strongly disagrees.
"It's nonsense that plant protein will help you recover any differently," he said.
But Lewin believes the anti-inflammatory effect of plant foods help with recovery.
"With higher levels of exercise intensity you produce more free radicals and byproducts that can cause inflammation in the body. A vegan, plant-based diet rich in antioxidants can have an enormous impact on reducing inflammation," she said.
Lewin and Nieman agree on one point, though: It's not at all necessary to consume animal products to excel in pro sports.
Whether you're biking or training for a Tough Mudder, weekend warriors can experiment with vegan meals that'll fuel your body.
"The prerace meal needs to be high in carbohydrate, low in fat and fiber (which both slow down the digestive process), and can contain moderate amounts of protein," according to Lewin.
A game-changing takeaway from the film? It's not at all necessary to consume animal products to excel in pro sports.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web
Read this article:
Elite Athletes Are Going Vegan. Will It Help You? - EcoWatch
- The Top Trending Diet and Exercise Searches of 2019 - Yahoo Lifestyle - December 12th, 2019
- Doctor says diet, exercise are more important than hair dye when it comes to breast cancer - FOX 5 DC - December 12th, 2019
- Labelling food with exercise to 'burn it off' could increase obesity and eating disorders - inews - December 12th, 2019
- More Bexar County Youth Are Being Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes, Prediabetes - Texas Public Radio - December 12th, 2019
- Embodied: Deconstructing Diet Culture And The Science Behind It - WUNC - December 12th, 2019
- More and More Very Young Children Across the Nation Lack Health Insurance. Guess How Texas Fares. - Dallas Observer - December 12th, 2019
- 10 Years of Fertility Advances - NYT Parenting - NYT Parenting - December 12th, 2019
- Colon Health: All You Need To Know About Diverticulitis; Diet Tips And More - NDTV Food - December 12th, 2019
- Fitness: Five expert tips for staying in shape over the festive season - Express - December 12th, 2019
- Dementia: The hot drink shown to help lower your risk of developing the condition - Express - December 12th, 2019
- 4 ways to get comfortable with change: Philly CIO of the Year winners share - The Enterprisers Project - December 12th, 2019
- Can constipation cause a headache? What to know - Medical News Today - December 12th, 2019
- People eat less when food labels show how much exercise is needed to burn it off, but that could have dangerous consequences - Business Insider - December 12th, 2019
- How to live longer: This diet has been proven to help you live longer and stave off cancer - Express - December 11th, 2019
- High blood pressure: Do this for 30 minutes in the morning to lower your reading - Express - December 11th, 2019
- Diverticulitis diet: Foods to eat and avoid - Medical News Today - December 11th, 2019
- Here are some useful diet tips to help you get fit this winter! - Global Village space - December 11th, 2019
- How To Lose Weight Using The GOLO Diet Plan? - International Business Times - December 11th, 2019
- Why you need to know about telomeres - MultiBriefs Exclusive - December 11th, 2019
- Hutto families spreading the word about dysautonomia in hopes of finding help closer to home - KVUE.com - December 11th, 2019
- The old-fashioned approach to reducing your risk of cancer and heart disease is still one of the best, according to new research - MarketWatch - December 11th, 2019
- Ex-Vegan Influencer Alyse Parker Switched To The Carnivore Diet, And Fans Are Pissed - Women's Health - December 11th, 2019
- Back pain: 10 proven ways to help alleviate back pain without surgery - Express - December 11th, 2019
- Type 2 diabetes: Add this fruit to your breakfast to lower your blood sugar - Express - December 11th, 2019
- From avoiding exercise to taking Rennie tablets before bed a docs guide to beating the work Christmas par - The Sun - December 11th, 2019
- Weight loss: The 4 keto diet mistakes that could be making you fatter and how to avoid them - Sky Statement - December 11th, 2019
- Blue Zones Diet: Will following this diet help you live for 100 years? - Firstpost - December 11th, 2019
- 'Counting Macros And Calories Helped Me Shed 80 Pounds' - Women's Health - December 11th, 2019
- Alison Hammond weight loss: How did she slim down? This Morning star followed this plan - Express - December 9th, 2019
- Weight-loss tips that go beyond the 'eat less, exercise hard' formula - The National - December 9th, 2019
- The man who unlocked the world's secret to living to age 100 says you can skip the gym - INSIDER - December 9th, 2019
- Weight loss: How this woman lost 11 kilos and beat PCOD without going to the gym! - Times of India - December 9th, 2019
- I'm fit and healthy. Do I really need to take multivitamins? - Rappler - December 9th, 2019
- How Fans Are Handling Their Favorite Influencer Going From Vegan To An All-Carnivore Diet - BuzzFeed News - December 9th, 2019
- Singer and Talk Show Host Syleena Johnson Shed Over 50 Pounds For a Fitness Competition - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - December 9th, 2019
- We Can Train Our Brain to do Just About Anything, So Do Not Forget to Exercise, Take the Test! - Live Trading News - December 9th, 2019
- Best weight loss: Eating more of this food can help you slim - what is it? - Express - December 9th, 2019
- Is the vilification of NZ's meat and dairy justified? - Noted - December 9th, 2019
- Princess Beatrice used this plan to slim - will she follow a diet for royal wedding? - Express - December 9th, 2019
- Column: Water restriction is the key to treating too-low salt levels - SouthCoastToday.com - December 9th, 2019
- Beware of supplements and botanicals: Consumer Reports - WSYR - December 9th, 2019
- How Intuitive Eating Works, and How to Get Started - LIVESTRONG.COM - December 9th, 2019
- Ask Jillian Michaels: I recently gave birth to my first child how do I lose the baby weight and get back in shape? - Business Insider - December 9th, 2019
- Seventy Nine Per Cent Of People Have A "Heart Age" Higher Than Their Biological Age - Men's Health - December 9th, 2019
- Weight loss: The best carbs to eat to shed pounds based on your body type - The Sun - December 9th, 2019
- Robbie Williams weight loss: Gave up one thing to slim down and shed fat - what was it? - Express - December 9th, 2019
- Aerobic exercise, improved diet could slow memory problems in nursing home residents - News - McKnight's Long Term Care News - December 2nd, 2019
- Diet, Exercise, and Apologize to Your Sister: A Prescription for Long-Term Health - Tennessee Today - December 2nd, 2019
- Susanna Reid weight loss: GMB host cut one thing from diet plan to shed 1st 7lb - Express - December 2nd, 2019
- Back pain remedies: Exercise, diet, and numerous other ways to prevent back pain - Republic World - Republic World - December 2nd, 2019
- Donald Trump Challenged to Go Vegan in January for $1 Million Donation to Veterans - Newsweek - December 2nd, 2019
- UNC athletes find allies in effort to avoid eating disorder risks - The Daily Tar Heel - December 2nd, 2019
- How to live 40 percent longer | Health - Williston Daily Herald - December 2nd, 2019
- What is Diet Culture and 4 Steps to Navigate It - Thrive Global - December 2nd, 2019
- How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat: Best Exercise To Have Fantastic Abs - International Business Times - December 2nd, 2019
- The Power of Point of Care in the Marketing Channel - DTC Perspectives Magazine - December 2nd, 2019
- Thought for Food: Walter Willett on Diet for Personal and Planetary Health - The Good Men Project - December 2nd, 2019
- Can Green Coffee Really Help You Lose Weight? Find The Answer Here - NDTV News - December 2nd, 2019
- $1 Million Offer to President Trump: Go Vegan for January and the Veterans Will Receive $1M - VEGWORLD Magazine - December 1st, 2019
- Medical News Today: Possible reasons weight loss is not working - Stock Daily Dish - December 1st, 2019
- Grueling gym routines, restrictive diets, and no dating: K-pop stars tell us about the dark side of their industry - Business Insider - December 1st, 2019
- LETTERS: Cardio program participants being thrown under the bus - Peace Arch News - December 1st, 2019
- Excessive hygiene: Can this be a bad thing? - Stock Daily Dish - December 1st, 2019
- How to live longer: This type of exercise could increase life expectancy - Express - December 1st, 2019
- How to lose weight in 6 months like this guy who lost 18 kgs without hiring a personal trainer or a dietician - GQ India - What a man's got to do - December 1st, 2019
- Learn to say 'no' as well as ho-ho this holiday season - theday.com - December 1st, 2019
- Serena Williams Cheats on Her Diet in a Truly Indulgent Way - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - December 1st, 2019
- The Eating And Exercise Habits Behind Elsa Pataky's Seriously Strong Physique - Women's Health - December 1st, 2019
- Exercise will help you lose belly fat, but do away with associated myths first - TheHealthSite - December 1st, 2019
- Jamie Oliver weight loss: TV chef ditched one food to shed an astounding two stone - Express.co.uk - December 1st, 2019
- How to master intuitive eating during the toughest time of the year - Inverse - December 1st, 2019
- How to recover from Thanksgiving - KRON4 - December 1st, 2019
- Mike Sorrentino Shocked Family With His Post-Prison Weight Loss - Screen Rant - December 1st, 2019
- Chichester ranks in second place in a survey to find the healthiest town - Chichester Observer - December 1st, 2019
- Weight Loss With Swimming: THIS is why swimming is the BEST weight loss exercise - PINKVILLA - December 1st, 2019
- LETTERS: Cardio program participants 'being thrown under the bus' - BCLocalNews - December 1st, 2019
- Type 2 diabetes: Include this 55p food in your diet to lower your blood sugar - Express - December 1st, 2019
- How one woman lost 95 pounds and still got her Taco Bell fix - NBC News - December 1st, 2019
- 4 Ways to Improve Your Circulation - South Florida Reporter - December 1st, 2019
- Miranda Lambert Gets Candid About Struggling With Ups and Downs in Weight - countryliving.com - November 29th, 2019