Cream the Competition: Be a Dairy-Free Athlete
It’s no secret that many athletes are now eating veg in order to gain a strong edge on their meat-eating competitors (ultramarathon, anyone?). The reason is simple: Plant-based foods are jam-packed with nutrients and, unlike animal products, aren’t loaded with the cholesterol and saturated fats that jam your arteries and majorly slow you down.
Dairy products have been shown to be particularly dangerous for bone health, in addition to contributing to other medical problems. The Harvard School of Public Health recently created its own Healthy Eating Plate, which, unlike the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guide, doesn’t designate an image for dairy products.
But astonishingly, there are still sports-medicine doctors who are unable to see the correlation between the promotion of cow’s milk as a “sports recovery drink” and the development of early onset osteoporosis and stress fractures in young runners. In some cases, the very same doctors talk about both things but fail to make the connection! This is surely confusing for school officials who simply want to help their athletes reach peak performance but don’t know where to start. Such is the case at one supposedly “Big Green” Ivy League school, which shockingly promotes chocolate cow’s milk as the “official sports drink” of its athletic performance program. BIG FAT FAIL.
Want to leave those udder-sucking athletes in the dust? Tap into your body’s natural strength by eating a variety of plant-based foods, including whole-grain breads and pastas, cereals, brown rice, quinoa, fruits, vegetables, and good fats (e.g., nuts, seeds, and avocados), which are full of all the protein, complex carbohydrates, and other nutrients that you need to become a true warrior!*
*You can give your workout some extra oomph by fixing yourself a quick power smoothie a few hours before—or as a recovery drink after—you work out. Just grab a banana or two (I like to peel mine and keep them in a container in the freezer so that they’re all ready to make my drink a creamy one), a handful of something green (e.g., spinach, kale, or collard greens), a handful of whatever other fruit you have on hand (e.g., berries, oranges, and pineapples), a scoop of soaked chia seeds or ground flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds, a scoop of your favorite vegan protein powder, and enough water so that it’s all able to blend, and you’ll have yourself one tasty muscle-building boost!