But how do you get enough protein? Too often, athletes campaigning their plant-based diets are met with this concern due to the popular belief that muscle growth and performance can only be achieved through meat and dairy-based proteins. In recent years, however, it has become clear that it’s possible to rise to the top and smash sporting goals through the power of a plant-based diet. The Game Changers film (a must-watch for vegan critics) is proof of that.
Switching to a diet centred around plants can help boost athletic performance in a number of ways – from increasing blood flow and muscle efficiency to providing carbohydrates for fuel and speeding up recovery by lowering inflammation. And these benefits aren't exclusive to athletes. If you want to feel and perform better in any aspect of your life, it's definitely worth trying.
It’s no secret that the popularity of plant-based diets has skyrocketed in recent years – even in the sporting world, where countless athletes (think tennis icon Venus Williams and former UFC fighter James Wilks) now attribute much of their success to this way of life. In celebration of World Vegetarian Awareness Month, we look at the science behind why more and more athletes are adopting a plant-based diet – and why you should too.
1. Healthier Hearts
A plant-based diet keeps the heart strong by reversing atherosclerosis (built-up plaque in the arteries) and ocardial damage (decreased blood flow in the arteries), reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and even helping you shed some excess weight – leading to optimal athletic performance.
2. Reduced Inflammation
Inflammation is our bodies’ natural immune response to injury, foreign germs and diseases, and even exercise. Meat consumption and higher cholesterol levels increase inflammation in the body, which can result in pain, impaired athletic performance and slower recovery. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are packed with natural antioxidants which help neutralize free radicals and boast anti-inflammatory properties that can help shorten recovery and healing times, soothe joint pain and decrease muscle soreness.
3. Cleaner Protein & Nutrients
Protein makes up every cell in the body and is the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Meat has traditionally been believed to be the only way that athletes can hit their daily protein requirements. But did you know that many plant-based foods are actually richer in protein than meat? For example, black beans contain 15g of protein per serve – more than a chicken drumstick; one cup of lentils has 18g of protein – more than a hamburger; and spinach carries more than twice as much iron as meat.
Our RawFIT Performance Protein contains a whopping 31g of certified organic plant-based protein, Protease for optimal absorption, and 5.5g of naturally occurring plant BCAAs for protein synthesis and endurance. Combine this with Glutamine, Iron, Magnesium and Tart Cherry and you have a non-synthetic formula that enhances muscle growth, recovery and repair for maximum results.
4. Increased Blood Flow
Blood is how oxygen and vital nutrients reach the cells in our muscles, brain, and the rest of our body – so efficient blood flow is crucial for optimal athletic performance. A single meat-based meal can quickly thicken the blood and constrict arteries by up to 40%, slowing down the flow of oxygen to where your body needs it most. On the other hand, plant-based diets increase the flexibility and diameter of the arteries and help to improve the thickness and viscosity of the blood. This is results in better blood flow and helps more oxygen reach your muscles during exercise – boosting athletic performance.
5. Fibre & Carbohydrates
Despite the common misconception that “carbs make you fat”, unrefined carbohydrates like those found in oats, sweet potatoes, and bananas are consistently linked with decreased body fat. Plant-based diets are also typically high in fibre and low in fat, again leading to a lower body fat percentage – which, for athletes, means increased aerobic capacity and endurance.