Will a vegan diet affect my performance?
Vegan diets are becoming more and more popular. There are many health benefits to becoming vegan but one question that seems to cross everyone’s mind is how do you get your protein on a vegan diet? Well what if I told you that meat isn’t the only source of protein and there are many plant-based sources of protein. In this post we are going to be answering the big question “can you still build muscle on a vegan diet”.
Firstly, we need to establish that protein is the building blocks of your muscles and is essential for muscle maintenance and growth. Although protein is abundant in meat and animal products there are also many other vegan sources of protein that are sure to keep those muscles in tip top shape. If you would like to discover why protein is essential for muscle growth, then check out this article by Top Fitness magazine on how protein helps you build muscle.
The protein myth
It is believed by many people that a vegan diet lacks the protein richness of a meat feast and is not great for building muscle. Well this belief is wrong and there are many protein rich vegan foods out there. These foods can include lentils, beans, soya and even meat substitutes. These vegan foods are also lower in calories than meat and will leave someone feeling fuller, there is also little saturated fat and cholesterol. To many “meat heads” the only thing they care about is protein intake, however it is important not to overdo it on the protein as this can lead to other issues.
There are many high protein foods out there, some examples of high protein vegan foods are tofu, lentils, beans and various seeds, there is also protein present in many other vegetables but in small quantities. Protein sources like tofu are especially good as these are a complete source of protein, meaning that they provide you with all the essential amino acids your body is not able to produce itself. Although with vegan protein sources you can eat more protein as the quality of protein isn’t the same. We say this as animal sources of protein contain more of the amino acids leucine and lysine, so you will have to have a higher protein intake to get enough of the essential amino acids. To read more about a vegan diet and protein check out this article by popular science.
Will it affect my performance?
Some people may think that a vegan diet will negatively affect their physical performance. However, there is no correlation between veganism and poor sports performance. There are many stories out there suggesting that a vegan diet can hinder performance but as long as the vegan diet is balanced there should be no difference at all. There are many other factors that can affect performance like motivation and recovery.
There are many articles out there preaching that a vegan diet will cause a negative effect on performance. Many are by fitness superstars and people very respected in the fitness industry. As there is no scientific evidence suggesting performance is affected, these cases must be down to not eating a balanced vegan diet and being malnourished. Or they could be down to the placebo effect as people will believe they are weaker and are performing worse due to knowing they are not consuming any meat. So overall if you have a well-planned and though through diet they there should be no effect on performance.
Health benefits of being vegan
Although a vegan diet might not be for everyone, there are many health benefits associated with a meat free diet. One benefit includes a vegan diet being associated with reducing the risk of certain cancers. A vegan diet is also linked to lower body fat which is another risk of cancer. This also eliminates the possible cancers associated with processed red meat and other health risks associated with meat.
A vegan diet will also cause you to eat different foods that are richer in other nutrients. These nutrients are essential for a healthy immune system and other bodily functions. Examples could include essential fatty acids, vitamin b12, calcium, iron and zinc. This allows us to get enough of the vitamins we would usually have to supplement to get our daily dosage.
Meat free diets are also very effective for weight loss. There are many studies that have concluded that veganism is associated with considerably better weight loss when compared to a meat diet. One thing to take into consideration is that in some of the studies one group was put on a calorie restricted diet and the other a vegan diet and they could eat until they where full. The study still showed that the vegan group lost more weight. This is due to many vegan foods not being very calorie dense, this means that you will have to eat more to get your usual calories. This is especially good when dieting as the increased volume of food will make you feel fuller and lie your not on a diet at all.
Overall, there are many health benefits to a vegan diet and if you eat the right foods there will be no side affects whatsoever. There is also the risk of many health issues dramatically decreased and it can aid in weigh loss. Many of the rumours about being vegan are not true and its best to do your research before making any judgement on the subject. With the many health benefits associated a vegan diet is something everyone should consider or try implementing into there diet.