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Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Clients and/or Athletes

It is well known that proper nutrition is an integral component of successful exercise and sports participation. The quantity and quality of nutrients consumed as well as meal timing can have a significant impact on measures of athletic performance or goal-specific milestones associated with routine exercise. That being said, personal trainers should become familiar with specific challenges and considerations related to clients who do not subscribe to optimal dietary strategies. In some cases, clients do not follow recommended dietary prescriptions for economical, social, religious, or other personal reasons; or they may have specific health or idealistic purposes such as is common of vegetarians. It is believed that a plant-based diet is a much healthier way to eat compared to the more common omnivorous diet. But many people do not fully understand plant-based diets, and some vegetarians actually make unhealthy food selection in their efforts to avoid animal products. A vegetarian’s dietary intake can vary greatly depending on the individual’s palate, dietary knowledge, access to food, and how strict the individual is on avoiding animal-based foods (e.g., meat, poultry, seafood, fish, eggs, or dairy). The following figure briefly describes the dietary measures engaged within the common forms of vegetarianism.

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