Vegetarian athletes: Q&A with JB |


This is my first time writing for Gotoptens, so I’m nervous about this. But I figured I’d take the chance and interview a vegetarian athlete, and get some advice from someone who has successfully competed in endurance sports.

I haven’t spoken to JB in a while, but I’m still keeping up with him, and he’s still as interesting as the first time we spoke. Here’s a story about him from a few weeks ago. It was my first time visiting Austin, Texas, and I was expecting to find a lot of vegans and vegetarians in the city. This would make sense, since Austin is a vegetarian-friendly city and has lots of veg restaurants, like the vegan barbecue joint By Chloe’s . The problem is that I didn’t know how to react to the signs and flyers I saw all over Austin, all of which claimed that Austin is the vegan capital of the world. “Austin is the vegan capital of the world.”

I’m a 20 year old college student who is an athlete, and I’m a vegetarian. Some people have asked me how I do it, and I figured it wouldn’t be right if i didn’t try to answer their questions.

We like to think that our activities cater to a wide range of eaters at PN.

The PN System isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. It’s a set of ideas, principles, tools, and tactics that can be customized fast and easily to help you achieve your objectives, whatever they may be.

For some of you, becoming a successful plant-based eater is a goal.

Now, there’s a great difference between waking up and vowing not to eat meat and actually sticking to a plant-based diet. That’s why, a few months ago, I conducted my own plant-based experiment.

My own attempt at a plant-based diet

Yes, I enjoy clinical studies just as much as the next nutrition nerd. However, experience may also be a great teacher. I also published about my plant-based diet experience right here on the PN site, because I never ask a client to do something I haven’t tried myself.

JB makes the switch to vegetarianism – exactly what I did and why

What can we learn from each other as omnivores, vegetarians, and flexitarians?

Meat: Is it good for us or is it a sickness in the making? – deciphering the meat argument

The sexiest vegetarian – PN’s own Ryan Andrews and the findings of my experiment

Interview with Tim Ferriss

After it was all finished, Tim Ferriss, a well-known author and blogger, interviewed me about the plant-based experiment as part of his research for a new book.

I’ve attached a transcript of our conversation below. Hopefully, by posting it here, more light will be thrown on how to properly do the vegetarian thing, if you are interested in doing so.

Q1: What is the most difficult aspect of eating this way while competing at a high level?

There are a few obstacles that can be intimidating, especially for high-level athletes and those who are very active.

Calories are the first challenge.

Athletes who workout hard need a lot of calories to fuel their efforts. Nonetheless, rigorous vegan/vegetarian diets are low in calories.

To put it another way, when you consume largely plants, each unit of food has fewer calories. To summarize, eating a lot of vegetarian food is required to fuel performance and recovery.

Most vegetarian athletes fall short in this area, resulting in a persistent energy imbalance. The concentrations of sex hormones decrease. The quality of your sleep deteriorates. Muscle mass deteriorates over time. As a result, performance begins to plummet.


Digestion and elastic waistbands are the second challenge.

The second issue is that high-calorie vegetarian diets are difficult to digest. Plant-based diets, for example, are high in fiber and lectins.

Fiber is derived from structural components found in plants, such as cellulose, which gives them their stiff cell walls. Fiber, in moderation, is beneficial to our health. However, too much fiber (especially if we’re not used to it) can hinder other nutrients from being digested and absorbed. It also causes stomach distress, resulting in diarrhea, gas, and bloating.

Lectins are primarily present in beans and legumes. (For more information, see All About Lectins.) Lectin intolerance affects some people. This causes enormous bloating, gas, and diarrhea, comparable to lactose intolerance. In more serious cases, lectins can harm the gastrointestinal tract and possibly trigger a broad-based immunological response in those who are sensitive.

My waist measurement was 32 inches at the start of the day when I followed a plant-based diet. I’d grown to a full 42 inches by the end of the day. It’s not appealing. And it’s quite unpleasant. Other people may experience similar issues as a result of gluten in wheat. (For further information, see All About Gluten.)

Protein is the third challenge.

Despite the fact that some individuals claim that you can survive on incomplete proteins in little amounts, there are two scenarios where plant foods fall short.


Muscle mass declines as we age. We lose function and mobility as we lose muscle, increasing our risk of forced idleness, accidents, and falls. As a result, carrying more muscle mass is preferable to carrying more bone mass. It has nothing to do with vanity. It’s not about making subjective decisions about what’s “beautiful.” It’s about maintaining objective health and avoiding becoming toilet-bound at the age of 70. It’s also difficult to maintain muscle mass without consuming a sufficient amount of complete protein.


Additional protein is required in sports that demand strength and power (or a high muscle-to-fat weight ratio). It doesn’t have to come from animals, of course. If you don’t receive your protein from animals, you should probably supplement with vegan protein supplements and/or amino acids.

This is something that people dispute over all the time. They are, however, incorrect. And I have the authority to say so since I’ve spent my whole career working with elite athletes, as well as doing several research on the connection between exercise and protein intake in both athletes and the elderly.

Q2: How would a sample food plan for two days look for you?

Every day, I ate the same meal. (I know, it’s dull, but it’s all in the name of science.) My objective was to increase muscular bulk and performance. So here’s what you should eat:

Prior before breakfast

5 BCAA tablets (Biotest – total 5 g) 2 resveratrol capsules (Biotest) 1 vitamin supplement (Genuine Health) 1 vitamin D tablet (1000 IU total, Webber Naturals) 500 mL water 1 serving sublingual B-12


1 slice of cheese and 3 whole eggs 2 sprouted grain bread slices 1 pound of vegetables 500 milliliters of water 1 green tea cup

Snack #1

2 cups granola (homemade) (mix includes pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, whole oats, almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, and dried fruit) 1 tablespoon honey 1 cup soy milk, unsweetened


1/2 cup hummus (homemade) 2 tortillas (whole wheat) 1 cup vegetables a half cup of mixed beans (not canned) 1 cinnamon-topped sweet potato

Snack #2

2 cups granola (homemade) (mix includes pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, whole oats, almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, and dried fruit) 1 tablespoon honey 1 cup soy milk, unsweetened

Drink before and after your workout

2 tsp BCAA (14 g total, Xtreme Formulations) 2 carbohydrate servings (Avant Labs – 22 g total) 1000 milliliters of water

Following a workout

1 pound of mixed beans 1 quinoa cup (measured uncooked) 2 c. green vegetables 2 garlic cloves 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp flax oil (flavored) curry powder, 1 tbsp 1 vitamin supplement (Genuine Health) 1 vitamin D tablet (1000IU total, Webber Naturals)

Snack before bed

2 tbsp protein (Genuine Health Vegan) 1 cup of greens (Genuine Health Perfect Skin) a handful of uncooked nuts 1 piece sprouted grain bread, 1 natural peanut butter and honey sandwich

Q3: What supplements did you take, and why did you take them?

Protein/amino acids, B12, calcium, iodine, omega 3 fats, vitamin D, and other macro- and micronutrients must all be considered by strict vegetarians and vegans. As a result, here’s what I used when following my strategy:

Amino acids and protein

Protein losses from the body can result from a lack of amino acids, affecting everything from cellular health to bone mass and muscle mass. To assist rebuild the muscles I was injuring with my workout, I used a vegan protein supplement and a branched chain amino acid supplement.


Many vitamins and minerals that are found in animal sources may be lacking in a vegan diet. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals affect practically every system in the body, including the energy-producing cellular responses. Vitamin deficiencies, in other terms, make you weak and exhausted by preventing you from converting nutrition into energy. So, in their absence, I took a multivitamin to make sure I got enough vitamins.

B12 (cobalamin)

In vegetarians and vegans, this is the most prevalent deficit. B-12 is a high-energy nutrient that participates in a variety of chemical reactions that result in the production of ATP. To be sure I wasn’t deficient, I took a B-12 vitamin.


Another prevalent deficit is hypothyroidism. Calcium deficiency can affect a wide range of physiological functions, including heartbeat and skeletal muscle contractions. I got a good portion of it through my multivitamin and the remainder from eating.


Another prevalent deficit is hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency can cause thyroid hormone production to drop substantially, slowing the metabolism and causing hair loss, among other things. I got a decent quantity from my multi and the remainder from food once again. Fortunately, plant-based eaters may easily replenish this; one of the greatest sources is marine vegetables, also known as seaweed. At your favorite Japanese or Korean restaurant, try a salad with dulse or nori flakes, or even a full wakame (seaweed) salad.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids.

If a vegetarian or vegan isn’t attentive, Omega 3s can be scarce. Metabolisms slow down, disease risk rises, glucose tolerance declines, and skin quality deteriorates when omega 3 intake is inadequate. Unfortunately, the conversion of ALA (found in plant sources such as flax) to EPA/DHA is poor. Animal foods, which are usually already in EPA/DHA form, give Omega 3s more effectively. To ensure a proper amount of the highly effective omega 3, DHA, I included nuts and seeds as well as an algae-based nutritional supplement.

Vitamin D

Another typical issue among vegetarians and vegans. In the winter, however, practically everyone in the northern hemisphere, regardless of dietary intake, is D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency can show itself in a variety of ways. The most important factor for athletes is a loss of muscle mass and force generation. Vitamin D is also important for maintaining a healthy immune system. To guarantee proper levels, I took a D supplement.

This may appear to be a large list of things to be concerned about. That’s correct.

However, if you choose to live a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, you must face the responsibility that such a choice entails. If you don’t, you’re simply being careless. You can anticipate health issues as a result.

Q4: What are the most common errors made by vegan/vegetarian athletes?

There are perhaps too many to name in this short summary. But first, let’s look at the biggies:

Mistake 1: Simply removing animal foods from the diet.

Stopping eating meat is the worst mistake any would-be vegan could make. Then their lifestyle choice is about negation, not positivity. Instead, they should concentrate on what they will eat more of in the future. In other words, a proper vegetarian meal plan revolves around eating mostly/only plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, legumes, and so on. It’s not only about avoiding meat and stuffing your face with processed junk food.

Unfortunately, this is something that a lot of vegetarians do. There’s no plan for receiving enough calories, protein, and micronutrients to enable a seamless transition to vegetarianism if they simply focus on what they’re avoiding.

Mistake 2: Getting all of their protein from dairy.

When they stop eating meat, many lacto-ovo vegetarians will resort to dairy for all of their protein needs. For a variety of reasons, this can be a major blunder. To begin with, lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy are more widespread than most people realize. Second, most store-bought milk and dairy products contain hormone and antibiotic residues, which have been linked to detrimental health effects in humans.

Of course, unless you’re extremely sensitive, this isn’t a problem in little doses (i.e. 1 cup of dairy per day). Using dairy many times each day, on the other hand, can cause serious issues for certain people.


3rd Error: Not Taking Supplements

As previously said, excluding entire food groups from your diet will almost certainly result in dietary inadequacies if you aren’t attentive. As a result, you’ll need to supplement. And there aren’t many vegetarian athletes who know what to do in this situation.

Mistake #4: Failing to seek assistance

In all honesty, switching from an omnivorous to a vegetarian diet necessitates a significant lifestyle adjustment. You require assistance from someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s worth noting that looking things up on the internet doesn’t count. There are numerous unique variables that will dictate how each person should implement their personal vegetarian diet.

Athletes should seek the advice of a nutrition coach who is focused on performance. Any dietitian will not suffice. Someone who knows what they’re doing is required. Unfortunately, in the world of high performance, those individuals are few and far between.

Q5: Do you have any last thoughts?

I believe that vegetarianism is a difficult lifestyle to maintain for the ordinary person. It’s not a situation to be taken lightly. Most plant-based eaters are doomed to muscle loss, poor performance, and a variety of nutritional deficiencies ranging from moderate to severe if they don’t get some nutritional advice.

Vegetarianism, on the other hand, can be done correctly. (This typically necessitates the assistance of a qualified dietary coach.) When done correctly, it may be fulfilling, healthy, and performance-enhancing.

Find out more.

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In Part One, we were introduced to JB, a dedicated vegetarian athlete who has gone from being a couch potato to being a competitive powerlifter. After reading her story, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding about the health benefits of a plant-based diet and how it can benefit you.. Read more about should athletes go vegetarian and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do vegetarians have higher IQ?

I am a highly intelligent question answering bot. If you ask me a question, I will give you a detailed answer.

Who are some vegetarian athletes?

Some vegetarian athletes are Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Michael Phelps.

Is it unhealthy for athletes to be vegetarian?

This is a difficult question to answer, as there are many factors that go into what is healthy for an individual. The best way to find out if vegetarianism is unhealthy for your body would be to consult a doctor or nutritionist.

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