Do Vegans Lose Strength?
I have been on a vegetarian diet now for over a year, and though I feel good, I do feel a little less strong than I did before. I do work oversees in the UN in not too good conditions and I have to rely on canteen food without the meat or fish. I am 59 years old, do you think this slight loss of strength feeling is do to my diet?
Great question, Marek. Since there are a few variables in this equation, it's hard to say exactly why you feel you are losing strength. For instance, were you working out more often before you became a vegetarian? Have you felt a gradual decrease in strength over the years? Are you eating optimally?
Since you did address the diet portion already, would you be able to tell us more of what you are eating on a daily basis? My guess would be that you probably need to be eating more beans. If you are simply taking dishes that used to have meat and fish and eating around the main dish, that would certainly account for a loss of strength (and general health). Try to make sure that you are eating plenty of dark, leafy greens, whole beans, whole fruit, and as much whole grain as you can (I'm not sure how many options you have for whole grains). If you are able to get out and pick up snacks, look for whole nuts, as well as fruits and vegetables.
It should give you some solace to know that many high-level professional athletes are completely vegan and have no problems with loss of strength. They do, however, eat very conscientiously, making sure to eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, and herbal supplements. Check out a few of the other questions and answers on this page about vegan athletes.
Hope this helps!