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.
You might have better bone health
There’s conflicting data that shows whether vegans have stronger bones than meat eaters. But according to a literature review in Switzerland, vegans may be protected from a decrease in bone mineral density, thanks to the low acid load in fruits and vegetables, which decreases bone resorption, a process that breaks down bones and releases minerals from the bone into the blood. Only a small number of studies looked at this low acid content, so future research is needed. Even if you’re not quite ready to give up all animal products, learn 11 things that happen to your body when you stop eating red meat.