Article written by Annie Skidmore- BSc Sport & Exercise Science Student
A growing popularity for a plant-based diet has taken place over the last few years with more and more people adopting a meat-free lifestyle. This change in dietary intake must be carefully adjusted for the youth athlete. They need to ensure they are still getting a well-balanced diet with plenty of meat-free protein alternatives included to promote growth and recovery, as well as the essential vitamins and minerals from a varied diet for optimal performance.
A plant-based diet consists of nutrient-dense foods with minimal processed foods, added sugars, oils, and animal-based foods being consumed. It is a way to increase your vegetable and fruit intake and reduce fat intake from adopting a meat-free diet .
A plant-based diet has shown to have significant health benefits including treatment for obesity , diabetes , high blood pressure,  and heart disease . They also help to limit environmental damage from limited use of destructive resources, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions compared to raising animals for consumption. Overall, research has shown in recreational athlete’s exercise performance is not impaired when adopting a plant-based diet as long as appropriate nutritional intake occurs .
While vegan and vegetarian diets can certainly be very beneficial to health, they do require careful planning and consideration to ensure your body is getting everything it needs to perform well and stay healthy. That's why we've put together some easy to read guides on some of the key areas youth athletes need to pay attention to when it comes to plant-based diets.
Download your Guide to Vegetarian Athlete Nutrition Here.
Download your Guide to Vegan Athlete Nutrition Here.
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