Vanessa Rodriguez is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and blogs daily at Vanessa Runs. She is currently training to run her first ultra marathon this spring, and enjoys experimenting with natural sports nutrition.
Is it possible to perform well athletically on a strictly vegetarian diet? In a word, yes.
It may be a challenge and depending on the circumstances, may require supplementation. But provided you are getting the nutrients your body requires, there are tremendous health benefits in a vegetarian diet. These include a lower likelihood of suffering from illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diet-related diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Although vegetarian and non-vegetarian athletes can compete side by side, a vegetarian diet in itself will not do much to improve athletic performance as far as aerobic capacity or muscle glycogen concentration. That said, eating more healthfully (a common side effect of a vegetarian diet) can go a long way to improve performance.
Good protein sources for vegetarians include beans, lentils, peas, whole wheat grains, nuts and seeds, and fermented soy products. Special consideration should be given to minerals like iron and zinc, both commonly consumed in animal products. Good sources of iron for vegetarians include wholegrain cereals, wholewheat bread, nuts, fortified cereals, seeds, and green vegetables such as broccoli, watercress, and spinach. Vegetarians who don’t eat fish may need to supplement Omega 3s. Vegetarian omega 3 sources include pumpkin seeds and flaxseed oil.
Personalized Sports Nutrition
It’s important to remember that every athlete is different. We all have different needs, challenges, and potential deficiencies. For more information on a personalized nutritional assessment to fit your current exercise goals, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.