Document Detail

Physical fitness and vegetarian diets: is there a relation?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  10479233     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The available evidence supports neither a beneficial nor a detrimental effect of a vegetarian diet on physical performance capacity, especially when carbohydrate intake is controlled for. Concerns have been raised that an emphasis on plant foods to enhance carbohydrate intake and optimize body glycogen stores may lead to increases in dietary fiber and phytic acid intake to concentrations that reduce the bioavailability of several nutrients, including zinc, iron, and some other trace minerals. There is no convincing evidence, however, that vegetarian athletes suffer impaired nutrient status from the interactive effect of their heavy exertion and plant-food based dietary practices to the extent that performance, health, or both are impaired. Although there has been some concern about protein intake for vegetarian athletes, data indicate that all essential and nonessential amino acids can be supplied by plant food sources alone as long as a variety of foods is consumed and the energy intake is adequate. There has been some concern that vegetarian female athletes are at increased risk for oligoamenorrhea, but evidence suggests that low energy intake, not dietary quality, is the major cause. In conclusion, a vegetarian diet per se is not associated with improved aerobic endurance performance. Although some concerns have been raised about the nutrient status of vegetarian athletes, a varied and well-planned vegetarian diet is compatible with successful athletic endeavor.
D C Nieman
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American journal of clinical nutrition     Volume:  70     ISSN:  0002-9165     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. J. Clin. Nutr.     Publication Date:  1999 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1999-10-20     Completed Date:  1999-10-20     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376027     Medline TA:  Am J Clin Nutr     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  570S-575S     Citation Subset:  AIM; IM    
Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Diet, Vegetarian*
Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*,  metabolism
Energy Intake
Exercise / physiology*
Physical Fitness*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Dietary Carbohydrates

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