You may suffer from nutrient deficiencies
In addition to vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin D are some key nutrients in which your body may be deficient because some vitamins and minerals from plants are absorbed less well by the body than versions found in animal products. Also, experts say overdoing kale and spinach or beans and seeds that contain phytic acid can compromise the absorption of these essential nutrients. “Any food in excess, out of moderation, out of balance is not advised,” Dr. Applegate says. “You want variety. That’s what it’s all about.” For example, nutritionists say vitamin C-rich foods help the body absorb three to six times as much iron from plants because it puts iron into a more bioavailable form. Adding salsa to a rice and beans dish or red bell peppers and citrus dressing to a leafy green salad are all ways you can help your body absorb iron better. As for vitamin D, experts either recommend a daily dose of 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen. But if you are worried about skin cancer, drinking vitamin D-fortified soy milk or eating irradiated mushrooms works just as well. Pay attention to these nutrients it’s easy to miss on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
You may see a decline in your athletic performance
Studies show that there isn’t truly any difference in physical performance between a vegan and a meat eater. But as with any diet, if you’re not giving your body the nutrients it needs, it could impact your abilities. Iron and zinc deficiencies can have a major impact on your daily exercise regime. Iron carries oxygen throughout your body, which gives you endurance and stamina. Zinc helps your body heal from exercise wounds. Without these essential minerals in your diet, you may see a decline in your athleticism. Vegan female athletes require 80 percent more iron than a female athlete who eats meat because the bioavailability is lower. Watch out for these other sneaky signs of a vitamin deficiency.
Your muscles may need more time to recover from a workout
Dr. Applegate says she’s seen some vegan athletes take the meat off their plate but not supplement it with a healthy alternative that meets a recommendation of 20 to 30 grams of protein serving per meal, especially in older people. “New research shows that for recovery from exercise we actually need more protein than a younger version of ourselves,” Dr. Applegate says. Your muscles break down during exercise and protein synthesis builds it back up post-workout. Fortunately, both animal and plant protein get the job done, except plant-based protein takes longer. Experts recommend blending up some post-workout protein smoothies to help your body absorb the protein faster. The good news is that a high-carb vegan diet is excellent for muscle recovery because it helps build back up your own storage of glycogen. Add more of the best vegan protein sources to your diet.