i’m a young female athlete who has been a vegetarian for 3 1/2 years. i eat fish while i am in training, and take calcium and vitamin and mineral supplements. as long as i am consuming enough calories, is there convincing, legitimate research to suggest that i would gain substantially speed-wise from reincorporating meat into my diet?


There was a good discussion about this by members of the Sport Science forum. I just tried the link to the article which was had collected the various opinions. Unfortunately the link didn’t work. But here is the URL for Sport Science. On the left you’ll see sport science - click on sport nutrition - hopefully the vegetarian article will be up again soon.

Krasnayafleur, the main consideration will be protein requirements to recover and develop muscle from speed training and weight training if you do it. When fish or supplements are not providing your protein intake, you need to combine vegetable foods to prevent dificiency in certain amino acids, ie. combine grains (rice, wheat, barley etc) with peas, beans or lentils. For lay people there is some evidence that complementary veg foods don’t have to be combined within the same meal to prevent deificiency; they can be spread throughout the day. However, with the athletes protein requirements it is probably much better to combine within each meal.

A consideration with males on a meat free diet, is saturated fat and testosterone production, and especially if dairy products are not eaten either. Sufficient intake of saturated fat helps to optimize testosterone production, but I’m not sure how significant this is in the female - does anyone know?

Richard - glad you raised the point that Krasnayafleur is a female.

K - are you making sure that you get enough iron from your diet? If not you may want to check this out - get your various iron parameters tested by your GP, and find out what foods are good sources of iron for you. You may want to consider iron supps.

Iron and B12 will most likely be low. Easily the best source of these is red meat.

However, as you are in the US, I can understand some of your reservations. Floridex is a great product for iron replacement esp. for female athletes.

B12 has been covered on the site fairly extensively. I would suggest you do a search, but Rupert (or more likely the search software) has limited the search words to four characters or more, but it should be easy to find.

As a dietician (and vegetarian), I do not know of any research that states one will gain improvements in speed work with the implementation of animal products into the diet. The others on this thread are correct though, in that meat provides a great deal of nutrients that are hard to get in a pure vegetarian diet. You must make sure that as a female that you are getting more than sufficient amounts of Iron, Folate and B’s, as well as other minerals. Make sure that you are educating yourself on proper food choices and take the time to eat a well-balanced diet every day. I would recommend getting on a protien supplement for good measure.