Is a vegan diet the secret to Bradley's success?
Timothy Bradley Jr's win over Manny Pacquiao on June 10 stunned Filipinos and boxing fans around the world. But for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia, Bradley's victory only proved what they already knew — "plant-powered athletes, such as Bradley, pack quite a punch," the group said in a press release.
Months before the bout, Bradley adopted a vegan diet, eschewing animal products entirely. The decision was based on an adviser's request for Bradley to switch to greens prior to a fight in London in 2008.
"My thoughts are clearer, crisp. I am sharp. Everything is working perfectly—I feel clean," Bradley was quoted in a previous report on this site.
An article on the Wall Street Journal said Bradley follows a strict vegan diet for three months before a fight, but not year round.
Other boxers also have unusual diets, some quite bizarre. According to boxing writer Gary Andrew Poole in an article on Grantland.com: "Juan Manuel Marquez used to drink his own urine; Archie Moore swore by an 'Aboriginal diet' in which he chewed on meat, sucked out the blood, and then spat out the meat; Ray Robinson supposedly drank human blood (an old-timer who was in the Robinson camp swore to me he witnessed it); Evander Holyfield turned to prayer to help a heart condition; Oscar De La Hoya ate deer and kangaroo meat because his trainer told him, 'Deer run fast,' and because kangaroos' 'legs are strong and when you get in the fight you'll be strong like a kangaroo."
On the other hand, Pacquiao's diet includes beef and chicken. According to an article on www.livestrong.com, his secret is a simple diet featuring two post-workout meals.
“My favorite meal for my fighters and myself is the post-workout meal: Raw oatmeal, nonfat milk, fresh berries and honey,” Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza told Monique Savin on LiveStrong.com.
Pacquiao's first post-workout meal is meat-free, but it's still not allowed in Bradley's vegan diet because honey is an animal product.
Pacquiao's second meal consists of beef tapa, steamed white rice, tinolang manok, and a plate of melon and mango, the article said.
Protein sans animal fats and cholesterol
According to PETA, "vegetarian diets provide all the protein athletes need without all the artery-clogging saturated animal fats and cholesterol found in meat, giving meat-free fighters, including Bradley, UFC's Mac Danzig and Jake Shields, WWE's Daniel Bryan, and women's boxing champ Maureen Shea, the energy to go the distance."
Other athletes who have tried a vegetarian diet include Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier, Home Run Derby winner Prince Fielder, marathon runner Scott Jurek, hockey's Georges Laraque, "Olympian of the Century" Carl Lewis, NFL Hall of Famer quarterback Joe Namath, tennis champion Martina Navratilova, bodybuilder and four-time Mr. Universe winner Bill Pearl, Ultraman Rich Roll, basketball's John Salley, snowboarding champion Hannah Teter, and football star Ricky Williams.
"You don't need any kind of animal products to be an athlete in this day and age," Danzig told PETA US.
PETA explained that unlike animal protein, plant-based protein sources are easily absorbed by the body and contain healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates.
"Vegan athletes stay lean and build muscle without slowing themselves down with cholesterol and saturated fat," said PETA. They add that vegans are less prone to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, and a meat-free diet has even been shown to reverse the effects of heart disease.
Animal sources of protein are superior
Animal sources of protein are superior
On the other hand, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) said protein derived from animal sources such as dairy, eggs, meats, fish and poultry is all high-quality. "A well chosen vegetarian diet can provide adequate total protein intake over the day, with the full complement of essential amino acids being provided by mixing and matching plant protein sources. However, some studies have shown that although recovery eating based on vegetable protein foods such as soy milk can promote protein synthesis after exercise, it is not as effective as an animal source like dairy milk," the IAAF said in its "Nutrition for Athletics" booklet.
The IAAF does not discourage athletes from adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, but it does note that athletes must be more aware of their food choices. "If there are no animal foods in the diet, then a Vitamin B12 supplement may be necessary. Avoiding red meat means that special attention must be paid to ensuring that the diet contains enough iron from plant sources, combined with other foods that aid iron absorption: for example, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, consumed at a meal containing Vitamin C (a glass of orange juice)," the IAAF said. –KG/HS, GMA News