We are starting to hear a lot about pro-athletes moving towards or being plant based. Tennis champions like Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, several of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and of course, women’s soccer player Alex Morgan. These are people whose livelihood depends on their body being in peak condition and on gaining whatever edge they can over their competition. 

Is it possible they are succeeding in spite of not eating animal protein or are they gaining an edge BECAUSE they aren’t eating animal protein? There is a good bit of evidence it is because they aren’t eating animal protein and are eating lots of great nutrients in the form of plants. 

Here are just a few things to consider about eating less animal products and more plants:

  • Leaner body composition (less unnecessary body fat)
  • Good glycogen storage (better endurance)
  • Improved blood flow (more oxygen to the muscles and waste away from the muscles)
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation (less tissue damage, better motivation)
  • Healthy, flexible arteries (reduced fat intake = reduced arterial stiffness)
  • Strong heart (reduced cholesterol reverses plaque buildup)
  • Reduced muscle fatigue (all of the above help muscles perform at peak levels longer)
  • Quicker recovery (do more, faster)
  • Healthy carbohydrate intake (better fuel source – it’s worth noting that a 2016 study of Ironman triathletes found that less than half were getting the recommended amount of carbs for training 1-3 hours a day) 

Okay. So maybe you’re not an athlete and your livelihood doesn’t depend on your ability to do a physical activity better than 99% of the world. But your livelihood DOES depend on your ability to go to work or run your business. If your health goes, so does your income. So let’s use what we know about eating plants and peak athletic performance and apply it to everyday life.

  • Leaner body composition = Healthy body weight? ✔
  • Good glycogen storage = Function all day without being exhausted? ✔
  • Improved blood flow = Blood flow is always a good thing ✔
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation = less tissue damage ✔
  • Healthy, flexible arteries = cardiovascular health ✔
  • Strong heart = more cardio vascular health ✔
  • Reduced muscle fatigue →maybe this one doesn’t matter to you. I like it for me.✔
  • Quicker recovery = body heals itself faster, yes please ✔
  • Healthy carbohydrate intake = feed your body right and your body will take care of you ✔

I’d say that’s some pretty good data for eating plants being good for all of us, not just athletes. Here’s a few tips to get started:

  • Take note of how many times a day you are eating animal products. If you are like most, it’s likely three or more times every day.
  • Replace dairy milk with a plant milk (we like almond, oat and soy)
  • Replace meat with beans or lentils at least a few times a week
  • Eat oatmeal with fruit and seeds for breakfast
  • Join the Whole Food Muscle Club for tips, advice, recipes and support

Your health is your most valuable asset. Don’t treat it like an inconvenience

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.