Athletes who are still choking down chicken or pounding whey-protein shakes can be relieved to know that they can trade in that garbage for gardein and soy protein powder. A new book, Bikeextreme, by sports scientist Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer is out to prove that as far as energy and vitamins go, vegan athletes are not at any disadvantage compared to those who eat meat. Wirnitzer also argues that even extreme athletes require far less protein than U.S. government guidelines (at the prompting of the meat, dairy, and egg industries) would have you believe.
“To maintain good health, a daily intake of 8–12 percent is more than enough and ideal for the highly strained metabolism of athletes,” Wirnitzer says. She makes it clear that vegan diets “are not only well suited for all phases of life, as well as for top athletes, but if adequately implemented and combined with a supporting lifestyle, also optimally suited for endurance sports.” To back up her research, Wirnitzer has first-hand knowledge of the subject—she’s a two-time finisher of the grueling TransAlp Challenge mountain-bike race.
With endurance athletes like Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer, Brendan Brazier, and Rich Roll reaching the peak of their performance on a plant-based diet, there is no question about it: If you’re a jock reaching for the top of your game, it’s time to go vegan!
Written by Jeff Mackey