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Acta Portuguesa de Nutrição

On-line version ISSN 2183-5985


DIAS, Mariana  and  CORREIA, Marta. THE VEGETARIAN DIET AND THE INCREASE IN MUSCLE STRENGTH AND MUSCLE MASS. Acta Port Nutr [online]. 2022, n.31, pp.90-94.  Epub Aug 02, 2023. ISSN 2183-5985.

The term “vegetarian diet” defines an eating pattern in which there is no meat or fish, and its definition includes several subtypes. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the General Directorate of Health defend that a well-planned vegetarian diet is healthy and nutritionally adequate at all stages of human life and for athletes, benefiting health and contributing to the prevention and treatment of some diseases. The increase of muscle mass, muscle hypertrophy, results from a change in the musculoskeletal system and neurological adaptations to the physiological stress caused by strength training. However, if protein intake does not match requirements, the increase in lean mass will be limited. Furthermore, the importance of protein goes beyond the amount of protein ingested, since its quality, namely essential amino acid content (namely leucine) and bioavailability, must also be considered. Energy intake also plays an essential role because hypertrophy includes very expensive processes from an energy point of view (tissue generation, metabolic adjustments). The minerals iron, zinc and calcium, as well as Cobalamin and vitamin D, deserve special attention in this dietary pattern, as they are also involved in muscle development and performance processes. These nutrients improve performance, participate in protein metabolism, contribute to the development of muscle strength and increasing exercise tolerance and prevent anemia.

Evidence seems to suggest that vegetarian diets can be viable options in athletes, promoting and increasing strength, endurance and performance, while also contributing to individual and environmental well-being. However, more studies with more concrete and precise data are needed, since samples are not always representative of this specific population.

Keywords : Vegetarian/vegan/plant-based diets; Physical exercise; Muscle Strength; Hypertrophy; Lean body mass; Muscle mass; Skeletal muscle mass; Protein; Resistance Trainig.

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