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Vegetarian athletes: Special requirements

Author(s): Dilek Ongan | Gülgün Ersoy

Journal: International Journal of Human Sciences
ISSN 1303-5134

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 261;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Vegetarian Athletes | Nutrition In Sports

Vegetarian diets have been mentioned on having long and short term beneficial effects while they are important parts of the Western countries. Vegetarians are not homogeneous groups and subjects are motivated to be on a vegetarian diet because of culturel and regional reasons, ethical concerns including animal rights, health parameters and environmental situations. And these reasons differ from vegetarian and omnivour athletes. Athletes, especially endurance ones (sprinters, cyclists, triathlon athletes, …), eat vegetarian diets in order to meet increasing requirements of carbohydrate and manage their weight status. A healthily well planned vegetarian diet positively affect some parameters related with performance of the athlete. However in a diet based on vegetable, herbs and high fiber, inadequate energy intake should be avoided. Although many vegetarian athletes are warned about consuming high amounts of protein, athletes take less protein than omnivour ones. Therefore, vegetarians should increase dietary protein quality by mixing different foods such as legumes and cereals. Vegetarian athletes who avoid eating animal based foods are at risk of having inadequate energy, fat (essential fatty acids), vitamins B12, B2, D and calcium, iron and zinc. In this review, contribution of vegetarian diets on purpose of healthy eating and optimal athletic performance and nutritional strategies for vegetarian athletes were discussed.
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