Active Vegetarians Show Better Lower Limb Strength and Power than Active Omnivores

Int J Sports Med. 2022 Jul;43(8):715-720. doi: 10.1055/a-1753-1322. Epub 2022 Mar 23.


Vegetarian diets have become popular among athletes and active individuals and can have advantages for physical performance, but the results are still conflicting regarding muscle strength and power. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diet and physical performance of vegetarians through tests of dynamic, isometric, and relative strength; muscle power; and aerobic capacity. In this cross-sectional study, 32 vegetarians and 26 omnivores, who were physically active, were evaluated for the Healthy Eating Index and performance tested back squat, handgrip strength, isometric deadlift strength, jump with countermovement, and maximum aerobic speed (MAS). Improved diet quality (63.24±14.40 vs. 54±16.80, p<0.05), greater relative strength (1.03±0.23 vs. 0.91±0.12, p<0.05), and greater jump height (43.77±9.91 vs. 38.45±8.92, p<0.05) were found among vegetarians. No difference was seen in MAS (13.5±2 vs. 11±3, p>0.05) or isometric strength of upper limbs (77±29 vs. 70±50, p>0.05) and lower limbs (89±41 vs. 97±50, p>0.05). Thus, we conclude that vegetarians and omnivores show similar performance in strength and aerobic capacity, but in our sample, vegetarians show higher levels of relative strength and power.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / methods
  • Diet, Vegetarian / methods
  • Hand Strength*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Vegetarians*