WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—applauds Formula One race car driver Lewis Hamilton, who credits his vegan diet for his fourth world title win at the Mexican Grand Prix on Oct. 29.
“Congratulations to hard-driving Lewis Hamilton whose vegan diet fueled his fourth Formula One world title,” says the Physicians Committee’s Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., who specializes in sports dietetics. “He joins the growing number of athletes across the world of sports whose plant-powered diets give them the competitive edge.”
Hamilton started a vegan diet in September 2017 after watching What the Health, a documentary about the detrimental health effects of meat and dairy products. By mid-October, he was experiencing health improvements and had no desire to return to animal products.
“It’s been 4 weeks being on a plant based diet. I feel the best I have ever felt in my 32 years, energy is super high, can lift more weight in the gym, skin is in better condition, feel light, never bloated, feel fresh. … Am disgusted by what’s in the foods I used to eat such as meat,” he wrote on Instagram.
Several National Basketball Association and National Football League players have also embraced plant-based diets to up their games, including the NBA’s Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and Wilson Chandler, and the NFL’s David Johnson, Cardale Jones, and Griff Whalen.
They join the ranks of plant-based tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic, and vegan ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, who set a speed record for completing the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail in 2015. It was a feat of endurance at 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes.
A plant-based diet, which emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, provides healthy complex carbohydrate for energy, balanced with the protein and fat the body needs for training sessions and competition. It also improves blood viscosity for better tissue oxygenation and glycogen stores for better endurance. A vegan athlete will get all the vitamins and minerals he or she needs to best perform, recover, and perform again.
“Plant-based diets promote better blood flow and reduce inflammation, which can help athletes run laps around their competition,” says the Barnard Medical Center’s Stephen Neabore, M.D. “Fruits, veggies, grains, and beans are the ideal power foods for athletes.”
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.