The problem is that most sports nutrition textbooks and resources tell athletes to eat lots of carbs like pasta, bread, and other grains as a way of maximizing their glycogen stores.
The problem with that, though, is that most people are sensitive to these food. In fact, there's even debate as to whether the human body has sufficiently evolved to even digest grains.
I can tell you from my own experience that eating a big plate of pasta before a game makes me feel tired, lethargic, and even makes my body crave simple sugars within a few hours.
So how can a raw food diet benefit athletes?
Having played professional soccer and subsisting on pasta and bread, then transitioning to more of a raw food diet, I can tell you firsthand that eating more raw foods can make a huge difference in your performance and your ability to recover from exercise.
First, raw foods are packed with food enzymes. These enzymes facilitate digestion, which means that your body doesn't feel bloated and lethargic after your meals. It also means that your body can spend more of its energy, not on digestion, but on recuperation and regeneration!
Second, eating more raw fruits and vegetables means that your body will be receiving a huge influx of needed alkalinity.
Why is alkalinity so important for athletes (let alone everyone else)? Well, an alkaline environment promotes high oxygenation. Considering that oxygen is needed for energy and body movement, the answer should be pretty clear.
Furthermore, diseases cannot flourish in an alkaline, oxygen-rich environment. This has been demonstrated by numerous Nobel Prize winners including Otto Warburg and Linus Pauling.
Oxygen is essential for performance. Alkaline foods (fruits and vegetables) oxygenate your body!
Third, you don't need meat to be strong!
In a study published in the Yale Medical Journal, Professor Irving Fisher conducted a study in which he compared the strength and stamina of meat-eating athletes versus that of vegetarian (both athletic and sedentary) individuals.
The study concluded that of the 3 groups tested (meat-eating athletes, vegetarian athletes, and vegetarian sedentary subjects) the vegetarians' (including the sedentary group) average stamina was double that of the athletic meat-eaters.
There is strong evidence that a meat-less diet is conducive to greater endurance.
Similar results have been demonstrated by several studies including that of Dr. Ioteyko from the Academie de Medicine de Paris, in which vegetarian athletes averaged 2 to 3 times more stamina and required one-fifth the time to recover from exhaustion compared to their meat eating rivals!
Here are just well-known athletes who are (or have been) vegetarian (or raw vegan):
- World Champion gymnast Dan Milman
- "Mr. International" bodybuilding winner Andreas Cahling
- Tennis great Martina Navratilova
- Olympian Carl Lewis
- Football Hall-of-Famer Art Still
- Four-time "Mr. Universe" title-holder Bill Pearl (described in more detail later)
- Swimming World Record Holder Bill Pickering
- World Class marathoner Gail Olinekova
- Canadian champion tri-athlete Brendan Brazier
If you're an athlete (or recreation exerciser) and want to have more energy, more strength, greater endurance, and improve your overall performance, then adopting more raw foods into your diet will be greatly beneficial.
Try it for yourself and experience the difference!
Fisher, I. (1907). The influence of flesh eating on endurance. Yale Medical Journal, 13(5): 205-221.
Ioteyko, J et al. Enquete scientifique sur les vegetarians de Bruxelles, Henri Lamertin, Brussels, p. 50.
|Yuri Elkaim is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and author of the raw food diet book Eating for Energy|
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