Prevalence in running events and running performance of endurance runners following a vegetarian or vegan diet compared to non-vegetarian endurance runners: the NURMI Study

Springerplus. 2016 Apr 14;5:458. doi: 10.1186/s40064-016-2126-4. eCollection 2016.


Background: Beneficial and detrimental effects of various vegetarian and vegan diets on the health status are well known. Considering the growing background numbers of vegetarians and vegans, the number of vegetarian and vegan runners is likely to rise, too. Therefore, the Nutrition and Running High Mileage (NURMI) Study was designed as a comparative study to investigate the prevalence of omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans in running events and to detect potential differences in running performance comparing these three subgroups.

Methods/design: The NURMI Study will be conducted in three steps following a cross-sectional design. Step 1 will determine epidemiological aspects of endurance runners (any distance) using a short standardized questionnaire. Step 2 will investigate dietary habits and running history from eligible participants (capable of running a half-marathon at least) using an extended standardized questionnaire. Step 3 will collect data after a running event on finishing time and final ranking as well as a post-race rating of perceived exertion, mood status, nutrient and fluid intake during the race.

Discussion: Our study will provide a major contribution to overcome the lack of data on the prevalence and running performance of vegetarian and vegan runners in endurance running events. We estimate the prevalence of vegetarians and vegans participating in a running event to be less compared to the respective proportion of vegetarians and vegans to the general population. Furthermore we will validate the subject's self-assessment of their respective diet. This comparative study may identify possible effects of dietary behavior on running performance und may detect possible differences between the respective subgroups: omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan runners. Trial registration Current controlled trials, ISRCTN73074080.

Keywords: Diet; Endurance running; Marathon; Nutrition; Running performance; Vegetarian.