(Jacob Rumans) #1
says Phoebe Schecter, captain
of Great Britain’s women’s
American Football team

‘It is hard to look at a plant and
think that it is going to make you
bigger, faster or stronger! Meat
looks like muscle and, for a lot of
people, it is then a small, logical
step to assume that animal-based
diets are key for building and repairing
muscle – the secret to becoming a
better athlete. But, in truth, animals are just
the somewhat unfortunate “middlemen” for us to get plant
nutrition in our bodies. Sheep, cows, chicken and other readily
available sources of meat all, in their natural state, have a

‘I’ve never felt as

good as I do now’

nutritionist and author of The
Plant-Based Cyclist (Global
Cycling Network, £14.99)

‘I work with several Olympic
athletes who follow a plant-based
diet, and they feel that if it’s not
helping them to perform better, it’s
certainly not negatively impacting on
their performance. However, I don’t
believe that someone transitioning from an
omnivorous (meat and plant-based) diet to a
plant-based one will automatically improve their performance,
unless there were some nutritional gaps in the first place.
For example, the nutrient lutein is critical for eye health and is
found in brightly-coloured vegetables. If someone following an
omnivorous diet was low in this nutrient, they might find that
switching [to a plant-heavy diet] improves eye function and,
in turn, sports performance.
‘Going meat-free has a number of specific challenges, but
it can be designed to achieve the dietary needs of most
athletes. If you are a serious athlete, there are a few things to
consider. From a fuelling point of view, it isn’t hard to get the
carbohydrate you need. The bit that is more challenging is
getting enough protein and fats – all too often people cut out
animal foods and do not replace them with plant options.
You should also consider your intake of micronutrients, in
particular vitamin B12, which plays an important role in energy
metabolism. Look to include foods that are fortified with
vitamins such as vitamin B12 – most soya milk is fortified (and
provides more protein than most other non-dairy milks)
and mushrooms contain vitamin B12 in varying amounts.
Supplementation can help. While you can get what you need
from food, I recommend taking supplements – not only to
plant-based athletes, but also to any athlete whose sporting
demands will benefit from them. Choose a supplement from
a company like Healthspan (healthspan.co.uk), which is
Informed Sport and WADA tested.’

‘I recommend taking


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