Do you suffer from a tired, fagged out feeling and wonder why? Almost everyone knows that such practices as smoking decrease one’s endurance, but few realize that a high-meat diet may have a similar effect. Professor Per-Olaf Astrand, M.D., conducted experiments to determine the best diet for athletes. He gave nine male subjects a mixed diet of protein, fat and carbohydrate, and found that they could pedal a bicycle 1 hour and 54 minutes before exhaustion. Then after three days on a diet high in fat and protein (meat, eggs, and milk), the subjects again exercised on the bicycles. This time they pedaled an average of only 57 minutes before becoming exhausted. But the experiment was not over yet.
Next, the nine participants followed a carbohydrate-rich diet (cereals. fruit, and vegetables) for three days before again exercising on the stationary bicycles. Now the man could pedal an average of 2 hours and 47 minutes-almost two hours longer than when they were on the meat and dairy products diet. Some of the men on the vegetarian diet managed to continue for four hours.
Astrand stated that on the basis of his experiment “we even know how to increase the stamina of athletes 300 percent.”There seems no doubt that it is proper to exclude protein from consideration as a fuel for working muscle cells,” he said. “Consumption for several days of a carbohydrate rich diet will improve the capacity for prolonged exercise.” In conclusion, he urged, “These are the basic facts. Forget the protein myth and the other superstitions.”-Nutrition Today, June, 1968, p. 9.
Jean Mayer, nutrition adviser to President Richard Nixon. lamented the fact that a while science has refuted again and again during the past hundred years the concept that muscular work rewires large protein and fat intake, it continues to be “common practice at training tables to back athletes with high-fat foods such as meat, eggs, and milk.”–“Food fads for Athletes,” The Atlantic Monthly, December, 1961. p. 52.
A person who desires a high level of energy for a prolonged time can look with confidence to the vegetarian menu as his best fuel source. Jean Mayer indicated that “contrary to the contentions of the quacks, the optimum diet for an athlete in training is not different in any major respect from that which would be recommended to any normal individual.”