Vegetarian food and healthy life for sport

Vegetarian diet for sport is very good and also to have an healty life but must be carefully practiced because dangerous nutritional deficiencies can be encountered. So have an healthy diet with the vegetarian diet is not complicated.


Then if you add milk, milk products and eggs to vegetables and legumes you will get a complete diet. However, even a sportsman can follow a vegetarian diet without difficulty. In fact milk, dairy products and eggs provide the athlete with noble proteins and branched amino acids. In fact they are essential for building muscle mass.

Of course an athlete who follows a vegetarian or vegan diet for sport activity should not have contraindications if he practices an amateur sport or gym. In fact, for a moderate muscle anabolism it would be enough a little more meat or fish or two or three weekly portions of legumes. Then, to have an healty diet, would be better BIO soy or derivatives. So they are good to ingest the amino acids necessary to build new muscle mass and make it suitable for the chosen sporting activity.


Legumes are rich in iron but little of it is bioavailable, that is, it is able to be used by the body. So , the consumption of legumes should be increased and BIO and no OGM selected. Then that their high consumption does not create problems. In addition to increasing the introduction of legumes, the absorption of the iron contained in them should also be increased. So inorganic iron prevails, which is not  very bioavailable (it is not very usable by the body).


Anyway to increase the absorption of iron it would be necessary to introduce discrete rations of vitamin C. In fact it greatly increase its assimilation so it would be good to associate in the same meal. Or in any case on the same day a dish based on legumes. Then would be preferably BIO soy and no GMO) with a portion of undercooked vegetables.

These vegetables would be cooked with a little water or steam is preferable so as not to disperse the vitamin C which is water soluble). Then would be better, with a portion of salad or tomatoes or both or a portion of citrus fruit at the end of the meal.

Vitamin C is in fact a component  of enzymes that act in the iron absorption process. So you can have a good number of circulating red blood cells and a correct value of hemoglobin. It is a protein with a quaternary structure built around an iron atom called heme group.

Soy and vitamin C give you the possibility to adsorb iron. So this appens even without ingesting meat that despite having a good dose of iron can contain antibiotics. Moreover it raise the values ​​of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Steak with a side dish of salad is a classic of “nutritious” cuisine that is very popular with athletes. but it can be replaced by a dish based of legumes or derivatives always with a good side dish of salad. So he can have an healty diet.


The discussion is a little different and requires more skills if we talk about not only about healty diet but also about competitive sports. In fact the energy and protein demands are much greater and more diversified. Then, the organism, is subjected to a much more demanding activity, daily because it is constant over time and differentiated according to the sport practiced. So, a footballer, a boxer, a “cross-country” athlete, a bodybuilder or a swimmer have very different nutritional needs.

The difference lies in the fact that, for example, a cross-country athlete must “feed” the aerobic metabolism. The bodybuilder must follow a diet that favors muscle anabolism. It is, the construction of new mass so many branched chain amino acids are needed to generate new fibers muscle.

The cross-country runner needs a moderate amount of protein because he has to generate a not very high number of type 1 fiber. They are called “slow” which can sustain a light but prolonged effort having a mainly aerobic metabolism. They burn fat and sugar with a prevalence of the first ones .

The cross-country athlete must endure a very prolonged effort. He must prepare himself sometimes for two or three days before the race. He has to do it by carrying out the so-called “carbohydrate load” thus creating reserves of sugar in the muscles and glycogen in the liver.


So as not to risk going to meet what in the jargon of cross-country skiers is called “hypoglycemic crisis”. This hypoglycaemic crisis is something that frightens cross-country skiers a lot. When it occurs it generates a state of general malaise. So the brain begins to send what are called “negative messages” to the body. So the mind persistently tells the body to stop the race because there is no more fuel to feed the muscles.

To prevent this problem, it is necessary to prepare two or three days before a marathon. You can use a vegetarian diet for this sport. You have to do the same thing the night before for a long and demanding race. In fact, as I have already said, it is necessary to take high quantities of complex carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. In the hours preceding the race, you need to think of an easily usable supply of carbohydrates. So a meal in which foods that do not make the blood sugar rapidly rise (non-hyperglycemic foods) and that contain slow-release sugars are fine.

These foods to be taken in the hours immediately preceding a demanding race must therefore contain fructose and maltodextrin. These two substances are present in sweet and ripe fruit and in bread, pasta, corn. So in the days before the race, medium-high portions of pasta, bread, rice and potatoes are recommended to carry out the “glycemic load”.


A plate of pasta with tomato sauce can be part of a vegetarian diet for sport activity (it provides complex sugars and maltodextrins), a portion of tofu (it supplies proteins and above all B vitamins that favor muscle energy production processes) and a side dish of green salad (it provides mineral salts and vitamin) and / or fruit represent the ideal meal in the hours before a demanding cross-country race. Meals containing soy (soy burgers, soy bean salad, etc.) are very useful in the hours and days following the race. It is because the organism in cross-country races “burns” sugar at the beginning, shortly after fat but more there it also burns muscles by drawing energy from proteins.

Therefore, during the race, a part of the muscle mass is consumed which in the following days must be reformed so it is necessary to provide a good protein intake to favor the anabolic processes, that is, of building muscle mass. A vegetarian diet can also be used by bodybuiders, in fact, soybeans can supply large quantities of proteins. It can do it without there being an increase in triglycerides and blood cholesterol that would be ingested by large quantities of eggs and meat. Furthermore, a diet very rich in food of animal origin would create liver problems. It would be much less problematic if the source of protein was mainly vegetable.


A calculation of the protein intake is simple in fact it must be considered that soy has a protein content of 36%. I wrote about the formation of muscles after a cross-country race. It happen to “recover” the “burnt” mass thanks to the branched amino acids contained in soy. The same thing has value for a bodybuilder who wants to have an healty diet and to increase the volume of his muscles. He can do it by obtaining branched amino acids with anabolic action from soybeans. So he is not forced to overdo it by ingesting foods that, in large quantities, can be harmful to health such as meat and eggs.

In fact, in the long run such foods would give problems to blood parameters, liver and blood pressure values. It must always be remembered that a diet rich in proteins requires the presence of an efficient liver and kidneys. Therefore an examination of liver enzymes and kidney parameters would be recommended before starting a diet in which proteins abound. I never get tired of advising in my posts that the purpose of sport is the achievement of physical and mental well-being. A good diet made with judgment and much better than the supplements that are sold in stores that, are very bad for health .

So a correct vegetarian, vegan or otherwise rich in legumes and other vegetables diet would be absolutely recommended for every sportsman. He would obtain big advantage without any loss of performance.                                                                                                                                                                                                              doc. Massimiliano Mangafà

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