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Macrobiotic diet promotes a well balanced lifestyle and diet, with minimal meat consumption. Would it be possible for athletes to follow a diet with little or no meat and still perform well?

Is it appropriate for athletes, amateur or professional, to follow a moderate diet consisting of little or no meat, and based on locally grown, natural foods? Very active people usually eat plenty of meat to get enough protein, but the macrobiotic diet, which has slowly gained momentum since its conception, has appealed to many athletes.

BMX racer Taj Mihelich, marathoner Ambrose Burfoot, track and field athlete Carl Lewis, and sprinter Leroy Russel Burrell are all successful athletes who proudly follow the macrobiotic diet. For these athletes, using this well balanced diet does not take away from world-class performances. They are able to train and compete at a maximum physical peak on diet which is considered balanced, and just the opposite of extreme.

The macrobiotic diet is more than just a diet, and it aims to bring together an overall balanced lifestyle to promote wellness and health. Putting the right foods into your body is a part of maintaining the health of your 4 bodies, according to macrobiotic experts. Keeping your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves in balance and well is the objective of this lifestyle.

For athletes who arguably practice a fairly extreme lifestyle of eating, physical training and mental training to achieve a singular goal (to be the best at their sport), the macrobiotic diet wouldn't be the first lifestyle choice to come to mind. So why is it that elite athletes (as mentioned above) and many others continue to turn to this lifestyle? Athletes have unique bodies, and require unique nutrition.

Diet for athletes

Athletes usually eat more calories in a 24 hour period because their physical demands require a much greater energy input. In addition, muscle, cell and bone growth, repair and maintenance all rely on various amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies tissue, and they make up proteins. Proteins are generally found in meat and meat products, including poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products and red meats. This is essential for athletes to help maintain optimally functioning muscles and energy system.

The unique dietary needs of athletes mean more of both carbohydrates for energy and proteins for recovery and maintenance. The macrobiotic diet is more of a flexible vegetarian diet, which focuses on foods to be consumed based on their yin and yang balance, and not based on macronutrients, or biological values.

Macrobiotic foods are categorized into Yin and Yang to signify two opposing types of foods. Both of which are essential and should only be eaten in moderation. Over-consumption of a good thing is problematic in the macrobiotic diet.

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