Recently I had the opportunity to meet and interact with many vegan and vegetarian athletes. It was absolutely fascinating to listen to both competitive strength (well, body builders, but that's another blog subject) and endurance athletes discuss their successful use of a vegan dietary regimen. And some of these people were even RAW vegan, which means they choose to not cook any food. Can anyone say fiber?
Some speakers at this conference--the first annual Organic Athlete Conference--did a good job of backing up their information with research data. Others provided more of a personal, anecdotal story of their experiences. One of the most interesting topics was that of diet and recovery. Fast, complete recovery from hard training sessions is key if an athlete is to stay healthy and make progress. Athletes are now taught to consume specific types of nutrients during the "optimal window of recovery" with lasts anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes or so after a training bout. Overtraining, a failure to recover properly, is the enemy of the elite athlete.
There are more special "recovery" dietary products on the market than you can shake a stick at now. I am guilty of using and promoting the use of such specially-formulated products. I am beginning to reconsider some of my personal opinions on this subject.
One of my goals over the next few months is to explore anecdotal and research evidence regarding vegan and more whole food approaches to recovery in the competitive endurance and strength athlete. My guess is that I will find some surprising evidence that current "science" and cutting-edge technology doesn't hold a candle to nature's bountiful offerings.