“I’m a big guy so I do need a lot of protein… For me, I need meat.”
Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty has revealed he ditched his vegan diet as it cost him muscle mass and strength.
The athlete made the claim in an interview with Joe ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
According to Peaty, he struggled to get enough protein from his diet after he transitioned to a plant-based diet back in 2018.
“It’s hard to understand how much protein you need. For me, I need meat to get enough protein,” Peaty said.
“It’s a hard diet to adjust to. It’s just too hard with the amount of muscle I have to sustain.”
While the diet didn’t work out for the swimmer, the 26-year-old said he was open to giving the diet another shot and would’ve likely followed a more plant-based diet if he was not competing at the Olympic level.
“It could just come down to education, or not knowing what I was consuming [when I was a vegan],” he added.
“I’m a big guy so I do need a lot of protein. Sometimes I will swap meat for a vegetarian option – I think it’s important to branch out and explore different options.”
Are vegans deficient in protein?
Despite Peaty’s claims, several studies have debunked the myth that you can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet.
In fact, researchers have shown that protein from plants is healthier than meat and going vegan brings a host of other health benefits, from better glucose regulation to reduced risk of heart complications, in addition to the lower carbon footprint it entails.
A Montreal study published in the Nature Research Journal is supposed to be “the ﬁrst study, to show that a vegan diet may be associated with a better submaximal endurance performance, which is independent of VO2 max levels.”
It also debunks the popular misconception that vegans have lower endurance levels than omnivores and that meat is essential for stamina and strength.
According to registered dietitian Emily Wood, “It’s a really big misconception that going vegan means you’re immediately going to gain weight or lose all your muscle.”
She added: “Meat isn’t the only way to get protein, and tons of protein isn’t the only way to keep your muscles strong.”
Also, contrary to popular belief, muscles are not built by eating meat, they develop by being used.
Among the other benefits of a wholesome vegan diet, is that it provides complex carbohydrates, plant protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre while avoiding unhealthy saturated animal fats, animal protein and cholesterol – all of which are linked to several health diseases including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and more.
Dr. Barnard, president of nonprofit organization Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, says: “Individuals consuming animal products have considerably higher risk of serious diseases, compared with people who avoid them.
“Avoiding animal products is the surest way to simultaneously improve body weight, glycemia, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.”
Research also shows that a vegan diet helps reduce recovery time. When compared with meat-eaters, vegans get considerably more antioxidants in their diets, which help counteract free radicals – the harmful molecules that can cause muscle fatigue, impair recovery, and reduce athletic performance.
- Read: Venus Williams says going vegan has been a ‘game-changer’ for her health, performance, and skin
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