Effect of Vegetarian Diets on Performance in Strength Sports

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Kenny Croxdale
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Effect of Vegetarian Diets on Performance in Strength Sports

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:14 am

This article noted that few strength athletes are vegetarians. http://www.sportsci.org/jour/0201/cf-e.htm

Here are some interesting points in the article.

1) Strength and power athletes almost invariably include meat in their diets, although it is unclear whether the benefits of meat consumption for strength and power are real or imagined.

Body Composition and Fitness of Vegetarians

2)...it is possible that in non-vegetarians, higher protein intakes, or protein specifically obtained from meat, leads to greater muscularity. Another possibility is that meat eating may lead to increased muscular hypertrophy in response to resistance training.

3) Nieman did point out one difference between omnivores and vegetarians of possible significance to performance in strength and explosive sports: intramuscular creatine concentration. Vegetarians generally have less intramuscular creatine than=2 0omnivores

Does Meat-eating Benefit Strength Athletes?

4) Campbell and two other correspondents (Mathew Jordan from the University of Calgary and Mike Stone of Edinburgh University) were unaware of any vegetarians at the elite level of weightlifting, despite 30 years experience in Stone’s case.

5) Kathryn Russell argued that a perceived dearth of vegetarian weightlifters may not reflect a lack of effectiveness of the vegetarian diet for strength athletes; rather, the cultural/anthropological background of vegetarians may make them unlikely to take up strength sports.

6) a 12-week study to compare the effects of a vegetarian diet with an omnivorous diet on changes in body composition and skeletal muscle size in older men (51-69 y) in response to resistance training. There were substantial benefits for omnivores, who lost 6% fat mass, gained 4% fat-free mass, and increased Type II fiber area by 9% relative to the vegetarians.

7) Raben et al. (1992) found higher testosterone in young men consuming a high-protein, meat-containing diet compar ed with those consuming a high-protein, vegetarian diet

8) Volek et al. (1997) showed an inverse relationship between protein intake and testosterone concentration.

9) Proulx summarized his argument by stating that "there is no research supporting the necessity of meat in an athlete's diet and any such opinions are just that, opinions." Campbell’s final comment was in the form of a question to Proulx: "can you cite for me [any] studies showing that elite strength athletes perform just as well on a long term vegetarian diet?"


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Post by Rucifer » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:33 pm

I think one thing a vegetarian diet ultimately fails at is iron absorption. And the funny thing is most vegetarians aren't the guys squatting at the gym (as the article itself points out it sort of goes against the idea of the culture of vegetarianism). So most of the time you see them sweating away on the cardio stuff or running, which actually is worse for people with low iron counts. So not only is their diet taking negatively effecting it, but their workout habits as well. Does this mean endurance athletes would do benefit more from a higher meat diet? I think so...look at the case of my sister (a vegetarian long distance runner who has to take iron pills...)

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Post by pdellorto » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:21 am

"can you cite for me [any] studies showing that elite strength athletes perform just as well on a long term vegetarian diet?"
That's going to be a hard study to conduct. You'll need to find a scientifically significant sampling of elite strength athletes, put them on a vegetarian diet for the long term, and compare their results with other elite strength athletes on a non-vegetarian diet.

Good luck with that one. That's probably why there aren't studies the other way around, about requiring meat, since finding a control case to compare them too is going to be equally difficult.

That said, one of the MMA guys I train with is a raw food vegetarian. There are at least two vegan pro MMA fighters as well, Ricardo Moreira and Mac Danzig. Moreira doesn't have an impressive fighting record (0-2-0) but Danzig does (18-6-1). So I don't think a vegetarian or vegan diet is going to remove you from potentially being elite in a sport, although it's going to be hard to organize a study.

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Post by anandsr21 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:57 am

Its not that Vegetarians cannot excel in strength sports. They can and do eat a lot of Milk and Eggs. These are not available to the Vegans. So this theory applies really only to the Vegans.

There are several strong vegetarians, but yes they are in a very low minority. You can have a look at the Sushil Kumar Yadav a vegetarian who does not even take eggs and managed to win the bronze medal in Wrestling at the Beijing Olympics. He managed to do it just with milk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushil_Kumar_(wrestler)

So meat is not necessary but if you have to do it with milk only then it becomes very necessary to burn all the extra carb based calories that you get with milk.

-anand

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Post by anandsr21 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:00 am

I am curious whether the Vegan Pro MMA fighters are taking some protein supplements. It is not possible with a natural diet.


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Post by pdellorto » Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:53 am

I was actually thinking of vegetarian Indian wrestlers when I posted.
anandsr21 wrote:I am curious whether the Vegan Pro MMA fighters are taking some protein supplements. It is not possible with a natural diet.
There are vegan protein supplements - soy protein, for example, or brown rice protein. Plus plenty of foods have incomplete protein sources and you can mix them together to get complete ones. I think it is a myth that vegans can't get protein just because they can't eat animal protein.

Here is an article on Mac Danzig's diet.
http://www.mikemahler.com/articles/macdanzig.html

He's a little misinformed on the "lots of protein can hurt your kidneys" front, but he's still getting a lot of it in total.

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Post by aman » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:11 am

To add to his story, his mother said in one interview that he drinks around 4.5 litres of milk and plenty of almond oil everyday apart from a healthy diet. This guy comes from a countryside location and was finding difficult to get quality milk, so the family decided to own a cow. Milk is sort of substitue to meat for vegetarians.(both high in fat and protein)

Exceptions are always there, but in general its the meat eaters who excel in sports and it is likely to remain that way.

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Post by Jebus » Fri May 01, 2009 1:31 am

lol i wish i had my own cow

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Post by KPj » Fri May 01, 2009 5:02 am

John Berardi went vegaterian as an experiment, and documented the process. Here's the original article on T-mag,

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ild_muscle

Results article - http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sexy-vegetarian

KPj

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Post by pdellorto » Fri May 01, 2009 8:19 am

Thanks KPj, I was hoping you'd post that when he finally finished up the experiment. I'm going to pass the links along to my vegetarian friends who train, when it comes up.

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Post by nygmen » Fri May 01, 2009 2:51 pm

pdellorto wrote:Mac Danzig.
Doesn't he fight at his walking around weight? No cutting or any of that?

/hijack


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