This week Mark answers the question “can you achieve optimal fitness on a vegan diet?” A hot topic in the industry, watch Mark’s video reply and leave a comment to let us know what you think.
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“Can you achieve optimal fitness on a vegan diet?”
For the purpose of this Q&A, I feel it need be addressed that the term ‘fitness’ is fairly vague. To clarify, in this blog post the term ‘fitness’ is referring to optimal body composition and optimal strength. So with that said, “Do I believe that you can achieve optimal strength and optimal body composition on a vegan diet?” Put simply, no. I don’t think you can achieve optimal strength or body composition on a vegan diet.
Having formed my opinions on extensive research, discussions and anecdotal evidence, in my opinion, I feel that a vegan-based diet is devoid of too many important nutrients that are needed to achieve optimal body composition.
I understand that there are many people out there who will not see eye to eye with me on this topic. However I feel it necessary to point out that a lot of bodybuilders who present themselves as vegans, have (most of the time) built their physiques eating a meat-based diet or, their definition of vegan and vegetarianism is very different to what ‘true veganism’ really is.
When a person seeks out my service at Enterprise Fitness, the question I ask myself is “How can I help this client achieve optimal body composition as fast as possible?” If a vegan diet allowed this client to do that, I would have no problems advising a vegan diet. But the reality is that in the line of work that I do, I don’t find this to be true.
If you want to embark on a vegan diet due to ideological or political beliefs, then I would also challenge that. Again, in reference to The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre demonstrates that if you are eating a (vegetarian) soy-based diet, you’re giving money to exactly the same people who are promoting factory-farmed foods. The only way you’re truly going to do right (from a political perspective) on a vegan diet is through freedom of choice. That is, the choice you make when it comes to purchasing food. Choose to buy locally.
If you were pursuing a vegan diet with the intent to improve your health and to optimize body composition, I would encourage you to reconsider your views. In looking at some of the more ‘mainstream’ opinions on this topic, leading health authorities such as Chris Kresser and Denise Minger express views in line with my own. In fact, both have spoken out about the flaws, and resulting fabrication of The China Study.
However, in contrast you have world-renowned personal development guru Anthony Robins. Anthony is a vegetarian. Many admirers or fans of his may choose to follow suit, believing that a vegetarian diet is going to enhance their health and/or body composition. However Anthony is just one individual. And I reiterate, I don’t know many athletes, champions, bodybuilders or figure competitors who too have excelled on a vegan diet.
In expressing my opinion, I mean no disrespect or to discredit what other sportsmen, competitors or professionals do in respect to their diet and nutrition. But, when it comes to personal training, namely optimizing body composition, my view is no, you cannot achieve optimal body composition on a vegan diet.
If this is a topic you’re passionate about, and would like to further your understanding and deepen your knowledge, I strongly recommend you listen to my podcast with Lierre Kieth. If you have any further questions, or would like to express your own opinion about this topic, do it at the Enterprise Fitness Facebook Page.