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Plant-based diet

How a Plant Based Diet Affects Muscle Mass

Thursday, July 10, 2008 by: Sarah Aitken
Tags: plant-based diet, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) I have had a keen interest in diet and exercise for several years. I work out extensively and eat a largely plant based diet. The question I often get is - "don't you need more protein, energy drinks, or those "recovery" foods to build muscle?" To be honest, I have never used energy drinks, or packaged recovery foods. I don't need to. And neither do you.

I have found two studies that complement each other that prove this point. A healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, with enough calories if you want to build muscle, will do the trick. Nothing fancy needed.

A study from the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has stated that a plant based diet can ward off muscle loss. After age 65, most people lose 4.4 pounds of lean tissue. In this study, 400 male and female volunteers aged 65 or older ate a diet higher in potassium - or an alkalizing, plant based diet. The members of the study had a potassium baseline established through urinary potassium, and further data were collected 18 months after the subjects had started the diet. Those that ate a plant based diet, high in potassium intake, had 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue than the group that consumed half as much dietary potassium.

A study from the May issue of the journal Developmental Cell, has stated that nutrient availability affects muscle growth. Muscle stem cells, called myoblasts, will not develop into mature muscle cells without the proper nutrient levels. The availability of glucose will determine whether a myoblast will develop, or differentiate, into a mature muscle cell. The article stated that there is a defined pathway that actively controls this differentiation in a low nutrient environment. One of the researchers, Dr. Sartorelli, says that the pathway discovered may be a cellular check point meant to prevent cells from going through the energy demanding process of differentiation. Once nutrients, in this case glucose, are abundant, the pathway is effectively turned off, and the muscle cells will undergo differentiation.

Both of these studies prove that you can be on a plant based diet, or a diet that is largely plant based, and still be athletic. You will prevent muscle loss due to the alkalizing nature of the diet, and those that eat processed carbs and a lot of meat cannot say this. This type of diet, with a sufficient caloric intake, will ensure muscle growth. So if there is anyone out there that has been thinking about becoming a vegetarian, or vegan, and worries that it will affect their athletic performance or ability in the weight room - now you can rest assured that it will not. Yet another great reason to keep eating those fruits and veggies!

About the author

Sarah is a Chemical and Materials Engineer by education. Through years of focused self-study, she has come to see the benefit of whole food nutrition and allowing the body to heal itself. A Field Center Certified Facilitator, Sarah is passionate about being helpful to others, in any venue, in their quest for a better life.

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