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Nutrition Deficiency in Vegetarian Athletes

NUTRITION
11th September, 2023

Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes

A combination of daily workouts, a balanced and healthy diet, and an active lifestyle are considered the best way of living. However, for anyone who indulges in regressive physical activities, the requirement of various nutrients in the appropriate amount becomes crucial and unavoidable. For athletes and sportspeople, stamina is a significant factor in winning any competition. This stamina is provided to them by the appropriate amount of nutritional elements in their diet.

Consuming a well-balanced diet containing adequate amounts of calories enriched with protein, vitamins, and minerals is essential for optimal health and peak performance for all athletes. Hence, nutrition and athletic performance go hand in hand. Several athletes find it challenging to obtain these key nutrients due to their vegetarian lifestyle, which restricts the intake of various animal-based foods that are undoubtedly good for their peak performance.

Although from ages, a vegetarian diet is considered the best diet for gaining a healthy body. But some studies proved that despite the numerous advantages of a vegetarian diet, herbivores still need supplements to suffice the deficiency of nutrients. The most common nutrient deficiencies in people who prefer a plant-based diet are B12, Zinc, Calcium, etc.

Nutrition deficiency is not the only hitch that vegetarian athletes can face; they can also come across unfavorable body changes like metabolic efficiency, altered hormonal status, and diminished bone health. All these changes can severely affect the athletes' careers and inhibit their performance.

Common Nutritional Deficiencies in Vegetarian Athletes

Below are some dietary deficiencies that most vegetarian or vegan athletes can face in their careers.

Protein Deficiency

Protein is one of the most recognized nutrients of concern amongst vegetarian athletes. It is not possible to complete your daily protein requirements solely with a vegetarian diet. Soybeans, milk, etc., are rich in protein but lack all the essential amino acids imperative for the body's well-being. These acids are responsible for tissue growth and repair in our bodies. They help in preparing the proteins that are required by our body.

Athletes need to consume protein in smaller portions throughout their day. However, some veggies do not consist of the correct amount of amino acids which we need. Athletes who depend only upon a plant-based diet should consume protein in every meal.

Calcium Deficiency

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This micronutrient becomes vulnerable for veggies who do not prefer consuming dairy products. Hypocalcemia, combined with inadequate energy intake, may result in some severe changes in the body. Insufficient intake of calcium and energy-enriched foods is associated with decreased bone mineral density. This can increase the chances of fractures in athletes. They should consume calcium-fortified foods, calcium-processed tofu, collard green, and legumes to accomplish their daily calcium consumption.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12, essential for maintaining healthy red blood cells and nerve fibers in the body, is present naturally only in animal products. Due to the consumption of a plant-based diet, deficiency of Vitamin B12 is quite apparent in vegetarians. Its lack leads to premature fatigue during exercise or nerve damage.

Athletes can easily attain this nutrient from fortified plant sources such as milk, soy burgers, nutritional yeast, and certain breakfast cereals. The body does not produce this Vitamin. Hence, one must depend on supplements to overcome the shortage. B12 is commonly found in yoghurt, milk, other dairy products, fortified cereals, etc.

Iron Deficiency

Most of us know that iron is a trace mineral and is a significant component of the body's red blood cells. The primary role of iron is to carry oxygen to several body tissues, including muscles, for use during any physical activity. Premature fatigue during physical activities is a major symptom indicating the deficiency of iron in the body. When iron is derived from several plant foods, its absorption rate decreases by 20 percent, making the scenario even worse.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency is another important name on the list, along with iron amongst most vegetarian athletes. The plant sources of zinc, such as legumes, whole grains, wheat germ, and fortified cereals, are not readily absorbed compared to animal sources of zinc. Athletes should include beans, milk, yogurt, tofu, and peanut butter in their diet to cope with the daily requirements.

Vegetarian athletes can be deficient in most of these nutrients. Hence, they should change their approach and look after the foods which can help them in their journey to win a medal or conquer a championship.

Strategies to Prevent Nutrition Deficiencies

By implementing effective strategies, they can ensure a well-rounded and balanced diet that meets their nutrient needs. This includes careful meal planning, incorporating a variety of nutrient-rich foods, considering supplementation when necessary, and regular monitoring of nutrient levels through blood tests. By following these strategies, vegetarian athletes can safeguard against common nutritional deficiencies and support their athletic endeavors.

Meal Planning and Balanced Diet

Our dieticians genuinely understand and respect your requirements. So, if you are planning to go meatless or are already on a plant-based diet, our team of experts provides you with a macro meal plan that can help you lose weight and achieve the required stamina for your performance in the upcoming events.

It's a very wrong perception of people that consuming meat is necessary for building muscles. So many famous athletes like Venus Williams & Carl Lewis stick only to the veggies, and they have already made their presence felt in their respective fields. Such people focus on eradicating nutrition deficiency by consuming alternatives rather than meaty meals.

Athletes and sportspersons immensely indulge in endurance training. As the word suggests, endurance means a person's capability to continue doing something painful or difficult for an extended period. Thus, to get involved in such activities, the athletes' body needs the energy to bear this pain. But the nutritional deficiencies of the veg-diet can be sorted out by opting for a meal that provides you with all the elements in an accurate amount without hampering your performance. Our master chefs have expertise in providing the best customized weekly meal plan for athletes.

Whether you just started training, you want to gain or lose weight, a need for a diet plan is always there. Moreover, if you are a vegetarian, the choice of food becomes limited, and you need to opt for a diet that fulfills the daily nutrient requirements. Also, limit the consumption of processed food. These processed foods can be tempting enough to increase your hunger pangs. However, they are not a good option if you want to stay fit or focus on losing weight.

Supplementation

Supplementation can be a valuable tool for vegetarian athletes to address potential nutrient gaps. Certain nutrients, such as iron and vitamin B12, may be more challenging to obtain from plant-based sources alone. In consultation with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians, athletes can identify specific supplements that meet their needs.

However, it's important to remember that supplements should complement a well-rounded diet, not replace it. Athletes should strive to obtain nutrients primarily from whole foods and use supplementation as a targeted approach to support their nutritional requirements.

Regular Monitoring and Blood Tests

These tests help identify any deficiencies or imbalances that may be affecting their performance. By tracking key markers like iron, vitamin B12, and other vital nutrients, athletes can make informed decisions about their diet and supplementation. Regular monitoring ensures that athletes stay on top of their nutrient status and make necessary adjustments as needed.

Conclusion

Preparing an athletic body with a vegetarian diet is no joke. However, we are always there to support you in this journey. Our experts provide tailored diet plans for your requirements and help you achieve your desired body and weight. We respect and appreciate the efforts and sacrifice you make to attain the goal of a healthy physique.

The healthy meal plans you opt for will aid in expediting the process of burning excess fat and providing you with the required stamina. We deliver food plan in dubai to your doorstep, so you need not worry about rushing to an eating point. The food prepared by our chefs is extremely hygienic and comprises all the vital nutrients that can help curb the issue of vegetarian deficiency. So, what are you waiting for? Just anymore. Still thinking? Let us help you to overcome your fears. contact us, and we are ready to provide you with the best of our services.

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