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Plant-Based Nutrition: Why Should you Care?

Plant-Based Nutrition: Why should you Care?

Athletes focusing on high performance are fast realizing the benefits of plant-based nutrition. Although there are some skeptics around this type of nutrition, we’re focusing on consciously consuming fewer animal products and more plants. When you already know the numerous benefits available, why not make a shift? So, plant-based nutrition basically means consuming tons of nuts, veg, seeds, superfoods, berries, seeds, and beans to become a strong athlete capable of a speedy recovery and laughing in the face of injury and illness. Being plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean being a vegan, raw, vegetarian, or fruitarian, which may lead to social pariah status among the less performance-minded individuals. 

Why care?

There’s a lot of scientific evidence that eating fewer fish, dairy, and meat and consuming more nutrient-dense plants leads to energy levels boost, faster recovery from training, and injury reduces risks of illnesses from diseases ranging from the flu to cancer and heart disease. Besides, this plant-based nutrition is also great for the environment. Growing plants requires fewer resources compared to rearing animals. Plants also reduce the carbon concentration in the air and provide the much-required oxygen gas. 

Benefits of Plant-based nutrition

Switching to plant-based nutrition can bring about significant benefits, such as discussed below:

Optimal fuel

The hard-working muscles operate mainly on glycogen, which is a form of carbohydrates that are stored in the muscle and the liver. Carbohydrates come almost solely from plants and provide the brain with its preferred and primary fuel- Glucose. Therefore, Glucose helps athletes stay focused and sharp during intense competitions and training sessions. The performance-based diets that are centered on animal products often give dietary fat instead of carbs. This fat cannot provide energy fast enough to cater to the intense training demands and hence impair the high-intensity performances. A low-carb diet has also been proven to cause fatigue and affecting the motivation to start and finish a training session. Proteins are also very inefficient as they waste around 20-30% of every calorie as heat. 

Increasing blood flow

Increased blood flow is another major factor for optimized performance. This is because blood is how vital nutrients and oxygen get to the cells in the brain, muscles and helps eliminate waste. One animal-based meal can thicken the blood, which consequently slows the flow of nutrients and oxygen the blood transports to the muscles used when exercising and competing. On the contrary, plant-based nutrition allows the blood to stay fluid and flow quickly to most areas. Animal-based plants can also thicken the arteries reducing the blood flow. Plant-based nutrition such as lettuce, carrots, beets, and spinach can signal the blood vessels to open and allow more blood to flow faster. 

Improved muscle efficiency

There are limited energy reserves in the muscles required for competition or intense training. Therefore, when these reserves run out, that’s it! So, the more efficiently the muscles work, the more the energy reserves take us. For instance, the nitrates found in the plant foods allow the muscles to contract more effectively, saving the energy reserves and allowing them to do more work with the same effort amount. This leads to better performance.

Reduced Inflammation

Inflammation is an urgent and vital part when it comes of the healing process. It is the body’s natural immune response to foreign invaders, exercise, and injury. If ignored, inflammation can lead to a prolonged healing process from sickness or injury, slowing recovery between training and competition, and increased swelling and soreness. Plant-based nutrition comes with naturally packed high doses of anti-inflammatory compounds such as numerous antioxidants. Plant-based foods have an average of 64 times the antioxidant content of animal-based foods. This can explain why plant-based nutrition can reduce inflammation measures by around 30% in just three weeks. Therefore, it is not a wonder that most research has confirmed that the anti-inflammatory nature of plant-based nutrition can reduce soreness, muscle damage, and accelerate recovery, thus improving performance. 

Real Athletes using Plant-based Nutrition

  • Fabian Delph- Soccer
  • David Haye- Boxing
  • Jermain Defoe- Soccer
  • Scott Jerek- Ultramarathon
  • Kyrie Irving- Basketball
  • Collin Kaepernick- Football
  • Lewis Hamilton- Formula 1
  • Venus Williams- Tennis
  • And many more….

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