A recent study conducted by the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences has concluded that plant based nutrition has its advantages for improving heart health and aiding sports performance and recovery.[1] “It’s no wonder that more and more athletes are racing toward a vegan diet,” says co-author James Loomis.

Plant based diets are typically very high in carbohydrates. Bananas, berries and brown rice, for instance, are all staples that have a high carbohydrate content. Why does this matter? Simply put, carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy, for working muscles as well as enabling fat metabolism, which can supercharge performance on field as well as training off field. Quality of carbohydrates is important, and the healthiest sources of carbohydrates found in unprocessed or minimally processed fruits, vegetables and wholegrains promote long lasting endurance by delivering vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre in its natural complex state.

The study also indicated plant based nutrition’s effectiveness in glycogen storage. Glycogen is glucose that the body saves for future use.  When energy is needed, glycogen is quickly mobilised to deliver the fuel that the body needs. [2]  When athletes run out of glycogen, they will almost immediately be unable to perform. This is commonly described as “hitting the wall.” The foods you eat influence the production of glycogen, and plant based foods can provide a more sustainable source of glycogen to enhance endurance. “Like any endurance athlete, plant-based athletes just need more calories than less active people,” says co-author Dr Susan Levin. “And if they’re eating a wide variety of nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, they will easily meet all their nutritional needs.”

It’s no wonder more and more athletes are exploring the benefits of what a diet high in plant based foods has to offer. Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton have adopted vegan diets, and boxer David Haye credits a plant-based diet for boosting his sporting performance. 

Prior to any dietary changes, we always recommend consulting your health care specialist for comprehensive dietary advice on the nutritional levels required for your specific needs.


[1] Chu, W 2019 ‘Plant-based diets’ nutritional profile favour endurance athletes’ heart health: Review,” Nutraingredients, Published 14 January, viewed 22 January 2019, <>
[2] Dolson, L 2018 ‘The Role of Glycogen in Exercise and Low Crab Diets,’ Very Well Fit, Published 20 September, viewed 22 January 2019, <>

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