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While many athletes, such as Manny Pacquiao and Brad Pyatt, normally include meat and fish in their diet, there are others who prefer vegan discipline.
Athletes like the aforementioned are required to maintain a balanced diet to keep their bodies in shape and make them deliver high-quality performance. In most cases, protein is a staple on their diet. However, there are a number of athletes who choose vegetarian lifestyle, making it hard for them to eat meat, the most common source of protein.
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The following are basic food recommendations for vegetarian athletes to help them avoid deficiencies and meet protein (among other nutrients) requirements without the need to deviate from their vegan diet:
• Low-fat dairy products and plants, like soy, are excellent alternative sources of protein. Heme iron, which is normally found in animal protein, can also be obtained from plant-based food items, such as wholegrain cereals, leafy green vegetables, figs, lentils and kidney beans, and some dried fruits.
• Ascorbic acid, commonly known as Vitamin C, is another required nutrient for athletes. Citrus fruits and Vitamin C-rich vegetables help synthesize non-heme iron from other foods. Hence, it is ideal to have a serving of citrus juice or vegetable salad in combination with iron-fortified wholegrain cereal or beans.
• Vitamin B12, a nutrient crucial in blood formation, is one of the most common nutrients missing from the diets of vegetarian athletes since it is only available in animal products. To get enough of this nutrient, B12-fortified foods like soymilk and cereal can be eaten and added to one’s meal.
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