Can an athlete continue to perform at the highest level without eating meat? Venus Williams, along with other athletes like Alex Morgan, Tom Brady and Cam Newton, just to name a few are playing at the professional level, crediting veganism for their performance. Vegans do not consume dairy, eggs or any other products of animal origin, especially meat. People switch to veganism for ethical, health or environmental reasons. So what’s the big deal? Historically, protein has been the best source of recovery for athletes. Yet, these professional vegan athletes excel without eating meat, a significant source of protein. How do they do it?
How Important is Protein?
These days we’re a far cry from athletes posing with milk mustaches in commercials. Vegan athletes are shattering the stigma of requiring protein for recovery. Alex Morgan, a star forward on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, dedicates her performance to being vegan. She claims her recovery and her energy during practice and games have improved. Is protein no longer that important in the diet? Athletes who expend energy for a living, and have always recovered with a healthy protein intake. But how important is protein if professional athletes are going vegan?
Protein is Still Critical
Don’t be fooled. Protein is still of the building blocks of the body. The amino acids in protein makes muscle, bone, tendon, skin, hair and other tissues. For athletes, protein repairs and rebuilds muscle that is broken down during exercise. When all the carbs athletes take in are expended as energy, protein is next in line to be used as fuel. Protein also optimizes carb storage in the form of glycogen. So, yes, protein is important in an athlete’s diet.
So, How Do Vegan Athletes Do It?
Without a significant source of protein derived from animals, athletes can maintain their level of performance. Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback has dedicated his vegan lifestyle for his famous stamina. Veganism has helped Brady play at the MVP level into his 40s. Another example is the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton. When he underwent surgery on his shoulder, he renounced meat, becoming a vegan to help him recover better and faster. More and more athletes show improved recovery, increased energy and aided stamina. How is this happening? For one, athletes choose nutrient-dense foods to receive adequate fuel. The carbohydrates, protein and fat, in addition to the necessary vitamins and minerals help support oxygen transport, recovery and immunity.
The Secret is…Vegan Athletes Eat Protein
Vegans just get their protein from plants instead of animals. Soy products such as tofu and edamame are the richest source of protein in a plant-based diet. How can plants, usually known for their complex carbohydrates, be used for protein? The trick is that there are specific plant products that contain all nine essential amino acids that the body needs. And, if you recall, animal protein contains those same amino acids, they are getting what they need to rebuild and repair muscles. Soybeans and quinoa, for example, are complete proteins containing nine essential amino acids. Because vegans do not eat animals, their diet consist of a variety of plant-based foods to get the required range of amino acids including foods like tofu, tempeh, lentils, nuts, seeds, and quinoa.
So it’s true: athletes who are vegan can aid recovery, boost stamina, and increase energy. A plant-based diet may give the nutrients your body needs if you eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods. Natural Recovery Greens may also help your recovery with our scientifically-chosen superfoods. If you’re considering veganism, be sure to listen to your body and consult your doctor.