Vegans may have better athletic endurance than omnivores, a study suggests.
According to the researchers behind the study – titled Is a vegan diet detrimental to endurance and muscle strength? – ‘there is a popular belief that a vegan diet may be associated with a lower exercise performance due to the lack of certain nutrients in vegan individuals’.
But the researchers said they found that ditching animal products is not detrimental to endurance or muscle strength – and can even be better for the former.
The study’s co-author Guy Hajj Boutros, a lecturer at l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and researcher at McGill University, told CTV: “It’s a popular belief [that a vegan diet may be associated with a lower exercise performance], and I don’t believe in this, and this is why we decided to do the study.
“We saw that there aren’t a lot of studies done on this topic. If there are, they’re done more on vegetarians. They didn’t focus on vegan diets.”
Endurance and muscle strength
They therefore wanted to examine endurance and muscle strength differences between vegan and omnivore participants.
The study included 56 women the authors described as young, lean, and physically active. Half were vegan, half omnivores, and had been following that diet for at least two years. They were asked to log their meals for three days, then perform strength tests and endurance tests.
One endurance test, which was designed to test how long the participant could go on without stopping, yielded an interesting result. Hajj Boutros said: “It’s a fatigue test, and the vegans actually performed better.”
He said increased carbohydrate intake could be why the vegans outperformed the omnivores.
According to the study’s conclusion: “The results suggest that a vegan diet does not seem to be detrimental to endurance and muscle strength in healthy young lean women.
“In fact, our study showed that submaximal endurance might be better in vegans compared with omnivores. Therefore, these findings contradict the popular belief of the general population.”