I Don't Have a Beef With You, Unless Your Vegan

I received another question today and it just so happens i've been listening to the RobbWolfe podcast lately and these topics almost match up. Robb Wolfe is a paleo based "physician" who has written a book or two on the topic. He's got a masters degree so he's not some 300 doll hair personal trainer ranting, and really believes in the paleo/genesis diet. He's also very anti vegan, which brings me to the question of the day:

Dear Team Endunamoo,
My 16 year old daughter has decided to try a vegetarian diet, she's not heavy set and I was just wondering what the risks or benefits are of this diet style?

I think first i should cover the benefits of being vegitarian because the negatives will be a longer list. A clinical research team decided to see the benefits of a vegetarian diet [high in antioxidants and fibrous plants and fruits] compared to omnivores or the general public. The research suggested that vegitarians had low oxidative stress [low mitochondrial damage due to antioxidants] reduced bodyweight, reduced bodyfat, and lower cholesterol levels; in other words overall lower lipid levels [1] It would be important to point out that some of the overall mass loss would be in the muscle, probably by a negative nitrogen balance [low protein leads to negative nitrogen balance and the body will "eat" muscle to retain at least a neutral balance].

Where to begin, where to begin? We'll go from the head to the toes of the human anatomy and the damage that can occure. First issue would be the mental status of an individual. One research study suggests that women who go vegetarian are more likely to experience eating disorder because they now have an excuse to not eat certain foods [2]. Heavy Vegan or strict vegetarian diets can result in Vitamin and mineral defficiency [3]. One study found that vegetarians compared to the general population were more likely to suffer from mental disorders such as: Depression, anorexia, anxiety disorders and somatoform disorders. [4] Vegetarians are more likely to be Vitamin B12 defficient and suffer from impaired atriel endothelial funtion and without propper supplementation be at risk for artherosclerosis.[5] Don't forget there will probably be muscle wasting due to decreased protein synthesis and a negative nitrogen balance.

So remember kids eat your veggies but you better have a giant steak sitting right next to it.

  1. Kim MK, Cho SW, Park YK. (Apr 2012) Long-term vegetarians have low oxidative stress, body fat, and cholesterol levels. retrieved (155-61. Epub) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22586505
  2. Bardone-Cone AM, Fitzsimmons-Craft EE, Harney MB, Maldonado CR, Lawson MA, Smith R, Robinson DP. (Aug 2012) The Inter-Relationships between Vegetarianism and Eating Disorders among Females.(J Acad Nutr. Diet: 112(8):1247-52.)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22818732
  3. McEvoy CT, Temple N, Woodside JV. (Apr 2012) Vegetarian diets, low-meat diets and health: a review. retrieved. (1-8. [Epub ahead of print]) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22717188
  4. Michalak J, Zhang XC, Jacobi F. (Jun 2012) Vegetarian diet and mental disorders: results from a representative community survey.Retrieved.(7;9(1):67. [Epub ahead of print]) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22676203
  5. Kwok T, Chook P, Qiao M, Tam L, Poon YK, Ahuja AT, Woo J, Celermajer DS, Woo KS. (2012) Vitamin B-12 supplementation improves arterial function in vegetarians with subnormal vitamin B-12 status. Retrieved. (16(6):569-73.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22659999
  6. Wongprachum K, Sanchaisuriya K, Sanchaisuriya P, Siridamrongvattana S, Manpeun S, Schlep FP. (May 2012) Proxy indicators for identifying iron deficiency among anemic vegetarians in an area prevalent for thalassemia and hemoglobinopathies. Retrieved. (127(4):250-5. Epub) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22572177

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.