With the growth of social media as a platform to share information, veganism is becoming more visible, and could be becoming more accepted in sports and in the health and fitness industry. However, to date, there appears to be a lack of literature that discusses how to manage vegan diets for athletic purposes. This article attempted to review literature in order to provide recommendations for how to construct a vegan diet for athletes and exercisers. While little data could be found in the sports nutrition literature specifically, it was revealed elsewhere that veganism creates challenges that need to be accounted for when designing a nutritious diet. This included the sufficiency of energy and protein; the adequacy of vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium, iodine and vitamin D; and the lack of the long-chain n-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in most plant-based sources. However, via the strategic management of food and appropriate supplementation, it is the contention of this article that a nutritive vegan diet can be designed to achieve the dietary needs of most athletes satisfactorily. Further, it was suggested here that creatine and β-alanine supplementation might be of particular use to vegan athletes, owing to vegetarian diets promoting lower muscle creatine and lower muscle carnosine levels in consumers. Empirical research is needed to examine the effects of vegan diets in athletic populations however, especially if this movement grows in popularity, to ensure that the health and performance of athletic vegans is optimized in accordance with developments in sports nutrition knowledge.
Athletes can optimize athletic potential with the vegan diet, but athletes should consider supplementing vitamins and minerals lacking from this nutritional plan. If you are a vegan athlete, consider working with a nutritionist to ensure proper intake for maximizing performance.
- Rogerson D. Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Sep 13;14:36. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0192-9. eCollection 2017. Review.