10 great vegan athletes who claim to have improved their performance after they stopped eating

Chris Paul Novak Djokovic Lewis Hamilton and Patrik Baboumian, are some of the vegan athletes
Chris Paul Novak Djokovic Lewis Hamilton and Patrik Baboumian, are some of the vegan athletes

For years it has been taught that nutrients from the animal world are vital for high performance sports, however there are people who have challenged this and have succeeded in carrying out a diet totally different from that of their rivals. The testimonies of these stars who have broken with stereotypes and the opinion of specialists about the risks that this entails.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 racer (Twitter: @LewisHamilton).
Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 racer (Twitter: @LewisHamilton).

The six-time Formula 1 champion took plant-based foods in 2018, when he was already one of the best drivers in the world. According to himself he told the magazine GQ Hype, the abandonment of the meat allowed him to avoid "great oscillations and ups and downs in his energy levels".

The Briton explained that this decision was made at the age of 32 because it was when the problems in his performance settled: “When he was 22 years old, he was raw talent. You have a lot of energy, you are fit, there are no pains or discomforts. "But when he reached the age of 30, the constancy had begun to lose: "Veganism has eradicated that."

"Your gut is your second brain. They taught us to drink milk and eat meat to obtain protein and I began to look for other areas of research around this, ”the pilot who was one of the executive producers of the documentary noted in that interview. The Game Changers and that he is a co-owner of a restaurant serving vegan food in London called Neat Burger. "For me, it has been a change of life," he admitted in The New York Times.

Morgan Mitchell

Morgan Mitchell, Olympic athlete (Shutterstock)
Morgan Mitchell, Olympic athlete (Shutterstock)

The 400-meter Australian two-time national champion went vegan in 2014, before becoming an Olympic athlete. "My now ex-boyfriend had seen some documentaries and he showed them to me and said we should go vegan. I left everything instantly and I did it, "he said in dialogue with the site. Live Kindly.

Once he made the decision, he did not regret it due to the changes that ensures that his body immediately manifested: "I recover much faster than I used to. It's easier to keep my weight down and I haven't been sick at all! "

Two years later, he managed to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the 400-meter and 4x400 races. Her confidence has grown so much that the 25-year-old is currently training to compete in 800 meters and wants to reach Tokyo 2020 in this modality. As for his diet, he assures that he does not miss meat or dairy: "I eat a lot of peanut butter, green apples, dates, vegetable dumplings and Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup)," he said in dialogue with the site. Great Vegan Athletes.

Patrik baboumian

Patrik Baboumian was elected the strongest man in Germany in 2011
Patrik Baboumian was elected the strongest man in Germany in 2011

The man born in Iran, but to Armenian parents, emigrated as a child to Germany. As a teenager he fell in love with gyms and his obsession with his body became the center of his life. For a few years he was a bodybuilder but then he focused on becoming the strongest man in the world.

During that transformation of his body, in 2006 he became a vegetarian and in 2011 he obtained the title of the strongest man in Germany. After the achievement, he decided to go vegan and the following year he won the European Weightlifting Championship, something that caught the attention of the rest of the competitors. In addition, since 2012 it has the world record for beer barrel elevation (150.2 kg), and front retention of 20 kilos (1 hour, 26 minutes and 14 seconds).

"The most powerful animals on the planet are herbivores. Gorillas, buffalo, elephants, and me.", usually responds when asked about the lack of meat in his diet. His radical change has made him a figure of global veganism and his goal is that several of his colleagues stop consuming vitamin products of animal origin, since according to him these are not at all necessary.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic, tennis player (Reuters)
Novak Djokovic, tennis player (Reuters)

In 2011, the Serbian tennis player's win at Wimbledon came as a surprise to many experts who point out that meat is central to high-performance competition. The current number one in the world is a fervent defender of animal rights and carries out a vegan diet: "I attribute much of my professional success to my diet ”, he declared after winning his first Grand Slam.

However, he has never liked to speak about the subject publicly and in each interview he has avoided it so as not to generate controversy. Even when he suffered some injuries, several media accused that this was the product of his eating routine, comments that he decided to ignore.

In 2018, he was also executive producer of the documentary The Game Changers, available on Netflix that tells the experience of various vegan athletes. Despite being one of the faces of the project, he did not give any testimony.

Djokovic is one of the best tennis players in history (currently number 1 in the ATP ranking) and holds 79 titles, 17 of them Grand Slam.

Dotsie Bausch

Dotsie Bausch, former Olympic cyclist (AP)
Dotsie Bausch, former Olympic cyclist (AP)

The American cyclist practiced for the London 2012 Olympics when she decided that her diet should be entirely plant-based, something that worried her coach and colleagues immediately, since this radical decision could harm her. However, not only did it not make their times worse, it improved them.

“I discovered that the switch to plants had the exact opposite effect: I felt it had become my secret weapon. I was able to breathe better during training and literally hang around my teammates who were many years younger than me. Also, my recovery time was greatly decreased. I didn't have to spend almost as much time resting from exhausting workouts as I used to, which meant I could train more often and get stronger, faster. ".

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His performance in London was sensational. At 39, she was awarded the silver medal in cycling in the team chase mode, making her the longest-running athlete to participate in this discipline and, logically, to win a medal.

“I saw a drastic improvement in both my performance and my recovery. To give you perspective, I could move 300 pounds on the inverted leg press before starting the diet, but just before the olympic games, i had gained up to 600lbs x 60 reps x 5 sets! I felt a big change almost overnight in the way I felt, I really felt incredible"

"I attribute my plant-based diet to the incredible longevity of my 13-year cycling career. It really has had the most positive impact of any training decision I have ever made," he assured OMD For The Planet, where he also explained that his nutritional change was initially due to a way of contributing to the fight for animal rights.

Chris Paul

Chris Paul, NBA player (USA TODAY Sports)
Chris Paul, NBA player (USA TODAY Sports)

The Oklahoma City Thunders basketball player is one of the NBA figures and for much of his career he never worried about whether or not eating meat might be affecting his performance. However, when he crossed the 30-year-old barrier he realized that in training he was being overtaken by young people of 19 or 20 years, so he consulted with the specialists on how he could keep up with the new litters.

After hearing several recommendations, he decided to change his eating habit: “I chose a life based on plants. So far so good. Is not easy. But for me it is working. I started plant-based meals in June. I went cold turkey. I tell you: I missed him. I thought you needed a chicken wing or something. But somehow I did it, "he told the magazine. Men’s Health, in which he described the effects his body had at age 34: “I think the biggest change for me is the aches and pains of the season. I started training and training and I got to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and thought, ‘Am I not lifting enough? Am I not training enough? Why am I not in pain? "

Paul, Olympic champion in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, maintains this diet and has given several interviews where he invites his colleagues to try it for at least a year so that they are the ones who notice the physical changes. One of the most curious facts is that in 2019 he was thinking that his retirement was close, but now, at 35, he believes that he will be able to continue in activity for at least five other seasons.

James Wilks

James Wilks, former UFC fighter (@lightningwilks)
James Wilks, former UFC fighter (@lightningwilks)

The 42-year-old Briton stopped feeding on animal-based processing products in 2011, after a ligament injury that forced him to stop his training. The former mixed martial arts fighter began studying how to recover quickly and found articles in which nutritionists recommended plant-based and seed-based diets.

After several consultations, he decided to try leaving meat and dairy to discover an unexpected effect: his performance, according to his optics, had improved markedly. "My strength increased. I put 20 pounds on my dumbbell bench press (10 pounds each arm) in just 2 weeks and my endurance improved. Running is much easier now. I have more energy and recovery is also better ”, at that time had a dialogue with the site Great Vegan Athletes.

Already retired from mixed martial arts, the taekwondo black belt is currently an assistant instructor for Jui Jitsu, in addition to being an instructor at the British Combat Association. By changing his diet, Wilks began to notice changes in his physical gym work quickly, notably resilience: “Plant-based foods are also inherently loaded with antioxidants, helping athletes in Recovery. If someone wants to be the best athlete they can be, they need to feed their body the best diet available and it is a comprehensive plant-based diet."

Although it has become a benchmark of veganism in the discipline, it is actually vegetarian since there is still an animal source food that it continues to consume: honey.

Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek, ultramarathon runner (@scottjurek)
Scott Jurek, ultramarathon runner (@scottjurek)

The 46-year-old American is an ultramarathon runner, races that last several days and his journeys are hundreds of kilometers. His jump to veganism came from a decision to find a way to eat healthier, and he found that a possible solution was simply to avoid animal products.

It is worth clarifying that as a young man the Minnesota native used to hunt and fish, so his loved ones were already struck by the fact that he simply left meat. But he decided to make the jump. He did not do it from one day to the next, but he was replacing food little by little: “I started to change my diet, I started to notice the benefits of recovery, in my body's ability to be consistent for training and racing. And that is very critical ”, declared to the portal No Meat Athlete

He is currently vegan and for years he has not tried meat or dairy products again: "With a vegan diet, it not only improved my body composition, but also increased muscle mass.. And a lot of people assume that you need to eat animal products to gain a lot of muscle mass or enough muscle mass even for power sports, and that has definitely been proven to be false over and over again. ”

Jurek stopped eating meat in 1997, but only in mid-1999 did he go vegan. Since then he has won races such as the Hardrock Hundred (161 km and part on terrain that is more than 3,400 meters above sea level), the Badwater Ultramarathon (217 km), the Spartathlon (246 km), and the 100 miles of Western States Endurance Run, many of them on more than one occasion. In addition, he completed a race across the Appalachian Trail, breaking the speed record for over three hours by completing the course in 46 days, eight hours, and seven minutes.

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Kendrick Farris

Kendrick Farris, Olympic Weightlifter (AP)
Kendrick Farris, Olympic Weightlifter (AP)

The American had been an Olympic athlete in London 2012, where he finished 11th in the final table and did not doubt his eating plan, until in 2014 he decided to abandon animal food, after the birth of his second son to whom he wanted to instill respect for all living things.

Almost by chance, he found his performance had improved thanks to the new dishes his wife cooked for him: "My body recovers much faster. I feel lighter. My mind is much clearer. I feel like I can focus much better, it's not like I wasn't a focused individual before, but now I feel like I'm totally locked up. ”, he told in an article in Men’s Journal during the Rio 2016 Games.

He was the only weightlifter to get a ticket to the event held in Brazil and during the qualifying tests, Farris broke his country's record by lifting a total of 831 pounds (377 kg).

Tennessee Titans

In 2017, this NFL franchise had multiple vegan players (USA TODAY Sports)
In 2017, this NFL franchise had multiple vegan players (USA TODAY Sports)

In 2017, 11 players in the NFL franchise had gone vegan in a surprising turn that caught many of the other teams and several specialists off guard. Who took the first step was Derrick MorGan, whose wife is a chef and accepted the record of preparing the appropriate meats. At first, his teammates had been shocked to hear him, but with the running of the training, curiosity was contagious in the locker room.

“When they realized that his performance didn't decrease, his stats didn't decrease, and that he didn't die in the field, it was like,‘ Sign me up! because the food already looks and smells good, '”Charity explained. ESPN. Those who joined were Wesley Woodyard, Jurrell Casey, Tye Smith and DaQuan Jones, among other outstanding players of that squad. The surprising thing was that that year, the Titans made the Playoffs for the first time in a decade, and the following season another four were added to the diet. But they are not the only ones in the NFL.

“I feel the difference, especially in the morning. In the morning, when I wake up, I have a lot of energy as soon as I wake up. ”Andre Patton explained in dialogue with his team's website, the Los Angeles Chargers, which experienced effects similar to those of open wing Griff Whalen.: “My joints felt smoother, everything felt better. I could run and breathe easier. "

For his part, Cam Newton, who came to the Superbowl with the Carolina Panters in 2015, also went vegan and related his experience to WCCB News: "It helps a lot. I feel good. I recover well. And that's more or less what it's all about. "

The opinion of the specialists

This handful of testimonials are more than striking and that's why Infobae consulted several experts to better understand why these athletes show various improvements when they stop eating animal products. It is important to note that none of the nutritionists who testified for this article claimed that eating a vegan diet ensures greater sports performance.

"What happens is that those who leave these products (of animal origin) usually abandon other foods that are really harmful to the athlete in that 'combo' and then the difference in performance can become noticeable for them in the change, "explained Luciano Spina, a nutrition graduate who worked alongside athletes at the Argentine Basketball Confederation (CABB), volleyball (FEVA) and Hockey (CAH) ).

Something similar was pointed out by the nutrition graduate Ivana Chinelli: “It would be necessary to see previously how they ate because they perhaps had carbohydrate deficiencies, main source of energy for athletes. Having a vegan diet, the main source of intake is carbohydrates. Suddenly the performance improvement could have come as a side effect then. ”

On the other hand, they highlighted that it is true that in foods of plant origin there is usually a higher concentration of antioxidants that help the body to recover quickly after a physical demand: "It is true, it is real, fruits, legumes and vegetables have more antioxidants, although those of animal origin also have, but not as many”Said nutritionist Natalia Simoni. In turn, Spina clarified that within sports, these types of nutrients "are not of the utmost importance as proteins and carbohydrates could be."

In addition, the nutrition graduate Lucas Herzovich assured that a complete and well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can have great benefits, but recalled that “Each person has different degrees of adaptation to their diet and can undoubtedly improve their performance, which does not mean that it is useful for everyone at a sports level. In other words, it is not a magic formula to be repeated by all athletes. ”

What they did agree on is that any athlete who wants to abandon meat, for whatever reason, can do it, although everyone advised that they do so accompanied by a professional, since the substitution of food is not so easy and the patient You may come across an adverse effect to the one you were looking for.

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