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Plant-Based eating has the ability to improve your athletic performance and give you a competitive edge. These 4 reasons can make any athlete stand out. There are numerous elite athletes that have made the switch to plant-based eating.
The question is why are they plant-based?
Top athletes are always seeking an edge against their competitors.
In professional sports, the smallest advantage in speed or strength can determine who comes in first or second.
Making an improvement in your running routine that shaves off a second of your mile time or losing half a pound in weight can make the difference in competitive sports.
Elite athletes searching for competitive advantages have found that plant-based diets can boost their game.
At the end of this article are common concerns people have about going plant-based as an athlete of which I’ve addressed.
Muscle soreness comes after working out or any physical activity. Athletes with intense training routines and back-to-back game schedules cannot afford to be sore. For example, basketball players are required to play in back-to-back games.
Performing at elite levels consistently is important in professional sports. One bad day for an athlete can cost big money.
Muscle soreness is often referred to as DOMS – Delayed onset muscle soreness. When your muscles are sore they become stiff and it can hurt to exercise.
Athletes are eating plant-based foods that are rich in antioxidants to reduce inflammation which is caused by their bodies being under stress.
Foods to reduce soreness include but not limited to:
It is extremely common among professional athletes to use Cherry Juice Concentrate. If you want to read more about its effects, check out my blog post about it.
There are many causes of high blood pressure but the main two for athletes are stress and diet.
Other causes include smoking, being overweight, older age, alcohol consumption, and more.
The harder it is for your heart to pump blood means higher blood pressure.
Maintaining healthy blood pressure is important for athletes.
It’s the measurement of how hard the blood is pressing against the walls of the arteries.
Blood pressure is measured with 2 numbers.
#1 systolic pressure
Systole pressure is the highest pressure and is measured when the heart is beating.
Diastole pressure is lower and is measured when the heart is not beating (in between heartbeats).
Normal blood pressure is <120 (systolic)/ <80 (diastolic)
Elevated: 120-129 / <80
High: >140/ 80-89
One of the easiest ways to reduce blood pressure is to eat more plant-based foods such as:
Potassium reduces blood pressure by negating the effects of salt (reducing the amount of fluids stored in the body). Excessive water retention in your body can cause soreness and muscle stiffness.
Plant-based foods are naturally high in potassium and fiber and low in salt.
Foods high in fiber are beneficial for multiple reasons. A high fiber diet can reduce high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol floating in the blood can lead to high blood pressure because the cholesterol starts clogging the arteries, which adds extra pressure.
Diets high in salt result can increase your blood pressure. This is due to the fact that your kidneys are responsible for filtering your blood of excess fluids and by increasing the amount of sodium (salt) in your diet, it weakens your kidney’s ability to rid remove water.
Simple fact: To lose weight you must eat fewer calories than you burn.
With that being said, plant-based diets make it easier to lose weight.
One reason plant-based diets reduce weight is that it’s high in fiber. Fiber keeps you fuller longer so you won’t overeat. You’ll be less likely to eat unhealthy snacks.
Plant-based foods typically are lower-calorie than other foods. Vegetables, for example, have way fewer calories than processed foods or snacks.
The key takeaway is that by eating plant-based you’ll get fuller on fewer calories.
If you stick to eating unhealthy processed foods, the only way you can lose weight is to simply eat less which may backfire on you in the long run.
Antioxidants are chemicals that prevent cell damage in our bodies. They are found in most plant-based foods.
Some common examples of antioxidants are Vitamin A, C, E.
Vitamin A –> improves vision and bone strength
Vitamin C –> overall injury recovery
Vitamin E –> Lower’s risk of cancer, skin health, prevents inflammation
The world is full of harmful substances in the air and water that are body can’t help but absorb. Eating foods high in antioxidants, you are arming your body with the firepower it needs to fight harmful viruses or delay damage to your body’s cells.
With all of the potential benefits of antioxidants, any athlete aware of their power would be digesting as much as possible in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Diets high in plant-based foods contain most of the necessary antioxidants any athlete should need to succeed. Of course, taking extra supplements doesn’t hurt but it isn’t necessary.
While the options in plant-based diets are plentiful, there are certain ones that are the richest in antioxidants.
The simple answer is yes.
Check out our in-depth post about getting enough protein without meat HERE
However, if you’re used to eating animals’ meats you need to learn the different types of protein sources in a plant-based diet.
There are many types of plant-based foods that contain protein.
Plant-based protein sources: Tofu, Lentils, Quinoa, Hemp Seeds, Almonds, Peanuts, Chickpeas, Edamame, Tempeh, etc. What’s really important when it comes to protein and eating plant-based is making sure you’re getting all the essential amino acids.
Our bodies naturally create 11 out of the 20 necessary amino acids. The other 9 we receive through foods.
If you’re wondering if you can go without the other 9 amino acids, the answer is yes but your body wouldn’t function at full capacity; therefore, resulting in poor athletic performance.
You’ll need to ensure your diet includes foods with all of the essential amino acids.
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INGREDIENTS 1 Cup of Un-sweet Soy Milk (or any other plant milk)