An increasing number of athletes are choosing plant-based nutrition to fuel their bodies. Their reasons can range from health concerns to taste preference. A few athletes even choose a vegetarian diet for performance, considering it a “cleaner” way to fuel their workouts.
Whatever the reason, experts agree that a balanced vegetarian diet can support an athlete’s performance just as well as a balanced omnivorous diet (1). However, for all the benefits of a plant-based diet there are a few nutrients that require special attention from vegetarian athletes to help ensure they continue to perform at their best.
Here are three performance-focused nutrients that are especially important for vegetarian athletes:
Creatine provides a source of energy to working muscle that enhances resistance to muscle fatigue and can lead to greater gains from training. The body naturally produces creatine in small amounts, but consuming additional creatine from foods or supplements can boost your body’s levels (2). Creatine has benefits for every athlete, but vegetarians are likely to notice even greater gains from adding creatine to their performance nutrition plan.
Since the primary food source of creatine is meat, vegetarians don’t consume creatine-containing foods and typically have lower levels of creatine than omnivores. People who start out with low levels of creatine typically experience an even larger training response when using creatine supplements (3).
The creatine in AMPED™ Power is produced using ingredients derived from legumes, so it’s vegetarian and dairy-free.
Carnitine is another performance-focused nutrient that can provide additional benefits for vegetarian athletes. This nutrient has several functions within cells, including helping the body to burn fat more efficiently and supporting muscle recovery (4, 5).
Similar to creatine, our bodies are able to make small amounts of carnitine naturally, but consuming additional carnitine through foods or supplements can increase levels and benefit both performance and recovery. Because carnitine is found mainly in animal foods, long-term vegetarians have levels of carnitine that are 20-30 percent lower than omnivores (6).
The carnitine in AMPED Recover is from a vegetarian source and is supplied alongside vegetarian branched-chain amino acids to support optimal recovery from intense workouts.
Performance-focused athletes know that getting the right amount of protein at the right time supports lean muscle building and recovery from intense workouts (7). Spreading protein intake evenly throughout the day and consuming a protein-rich meal after workouts are two effective ways to support athletic performance and spike your body’s muscle protein synthesis response (7).
For hard-training vegetarian athletes, the problem isn’t getting an adequate amount of protein. Vegetarian athletes can easily meet their protein needs through plant-based nutrition (1). The real concern is convenience and taste, particularly for athletes who want to avoid dairy.
The 22-24 grams of plant-based protein in Dairy-Free IsaLean® Shakes offer a complete amino acid profile making it a convenient choice that can be integrated into any athlete’s nutritional strategy.
These days it’s easier than ever to achieve a balanced vegetarian diet that can support athletic performance. For those athletes interested in plant-based nutrition, paying attention to a few key nutrients like creatine, carnitine, and protein with Isagenix products can help to support peak physical performance through increased training gains and effective recovery.
- Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(7):1266-1282.
- Branch JD. Effect of creatine supplementation on body composition and performance: a meta-analysis. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2003 Jun;13(2):198-226.
- Burke DG, Chilibeck PD, Parise G, Candow DG, Mahoney D, Tarnopolsky M. Effect of creatine and weight training on muscle creatine and performance in vegetarians. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003;35(11):1946-1955.
- Wall BT, Stephens FB, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Marimuthu K, Macdonald IA, Greenhaff PL. Chronic oral ingestion of L-carnitine and carbohydrate increases muscle carnitine content and alters muscle fuel metabolism during exercise in humans. J Physiol. 2011 Feb 15;589(Pt 4):963-73.
- Giamberardino MA, et al. Effects of prolonged L-carnitine administration on delayed muscle pain and CK release after eccentric effort. International Journal of Sports Medicine 1996; 17:320-4.
- Delanghe J, De Slypere JP, De Buyzere M, Robbrecht J, Wieme R, Vermeulen A. Normal reference values for creatine, creatinine, and carnitine are lower in vegetarians. Clin Chem 1989;35:1802–3.
- Campbell B, Kreider RB, Ziegenfuss T, La Bounty P, Roberts M, Burke D, Landis J, Lopez H, Antonio J. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Sep 26;4:8.