Dr. Achyuthan Eswar - March 31 2021
How to Build Muscle using Whole Food Plant Based Diet?
Virat Kohli has turned a Vegan Athelete. (BCCI Photo).
The release of the Game Changers movie has catapulted plant-based diets to the mainstream like never before. More athletes and bodybuilders are adopting plant-based diets to enjoy better muscle recovery and better long term health.
Virat Kohli turns Vegan
Sunil Chhetri turns Vegan
Sunil Chhetri, captain of the Indian football team, also thanks a vegan diet for improving his muscle recovery. Chhetri says, "I have become vegan -- I don't take dairy or meat. It has helped me a lot in terms of recovery and digestion"
A growing of elite athletes all over the world, from Lewis Hamilton to Novak Djokovic, Patrick Baboumian to Venus Williams have adopted a vegan diet, and all of them have praised plant-based diets for helping improve their performance.
IGF-1 Growth Hormone, Muscle Bulk and Plant-based Diets
IGF-1 or Insulin-like Growth Factor One is a human growth hormone. It is responsible for how 'big' you become. IGF-1 in mother's milk stimulates growth of her baby's body. Once we grow up, though, excess IGF-1 taken through diet in meat and dairy foods may contribute to wrong kind of 'growth', stimulating the growth of cancer cells. Fortunately, plant-based diets reduce the amount of IGF-1 in your blood, thereby reducing cancer risk.
Some people believe that less IGF-1 reduces muscle bulk too. Research has shown that this is untrue - for example, people with unusually high IGF-1 levels suffer from acromegaly, where the bones grow large, but muscle bulk does not change. Even when you take IGF-1 injections, it does not seem to improve your muscle bulk or even bone strength.
Gladiator Diet for Muscle Strength
Who better to study than people who trained for one purpose, and one purpose only - to be the strongest and fastest possible human being? Roman Gladiators were called the 'Barley Men' for a reason. It may surprise you to know that traditional gladiators did not consume meat, fish, eggs or dairy products, but instead consumed a plant-based diet!
Archeological studies that assessed the carbon, nitrogen, and strontium isotopes in unearthed gladiator bones found that they ate a mostly plant-based diet. Interestingly, the legionnaires of the Roman army also ate am almost exclusively plant-based diet based on wheat and barley.
Even today, in Kenya and Ethiopia, which have a track record of having the best long distance runners, athletes eat a 99% plant-based diet.
Plant-based vs Meat-based Diets for Athletic Performance
Short term interventional trials show no significant difference between meat-based diets and plant-based diets for endurance, muscle strength or performance. Yes, if you are an athlete, you are primarily focused on performance. But think about this - if meat-based and plant-based both work equally well for performance, and plant-based diets can also protect you from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer - which are the leading causes of death among athletes, which one would you choose?
Be Blessed by the Divine!
Dr. Achyuthan Eswar
Founder, Sampoorna Ahara, India's First Whole Food Plant Based Kitchen
Founder, Nutrition Science, India's First Whole Food Plant Based School