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Can vegan diet work for Bradley?

/ 11:47 PM June 06, 2012

Out of the countless articles flooding the Internet regarding the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight  on June 9, the one that has caught my  interest is that of the 28-year-old Bradley being a vegetarian.

I know that most people who live longer, healthier lives are vegetarians, but this is the first time I hear of a boxer being one.

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It seems that as a rule, fighters are encouraged to be carnivores  because it is believed that animal meat is a source of  strength and power.

Bradley’s  strict vegetarian diet is therefore exactly the opposite of the conventional diet recommended to boxers before a big fight. Being a strict vegan means Bradley does not eat animal meat or anything that comes from an animal like eggs or dairy, a drastically different diet from the norm, according to writer Jason Gay in the Philboxing website.

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“Fighters will burn a massive amount of calories everyday and they will need a sizeable amount of protein to replenish micro-tears in the muscle fiber. However, this protein needs to be quite lean to keep weight gain in check. Most people choose red meat,” said Gay.

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“Dude, I swear it’s the most unbelievable feeling ever,” Bradley said, praising the diet he believes would give him a definite advantage in the ring.

“The reason I love it so much is I feel connected to the world. My thoughts are clearer, crisp. I am sharp. Everything is working perfectly. I feel clean. It’s a weird feeling, man, it’s just a weird feeling,” Bradley said.

According to Jason Gay, Bradley has been following this vegetarian diet  since his 2008 bout with Junior Witter in England. He only goes into this diet  in preparation for a big fight.

“His results have been great  since he made the decision.”

He goes on to ask the boxing fans: “Do you guys think that being a vegan is an advantage for Timothy Bradley?”

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I posed the same question to  Filipino doctor George Canlas, sports medicine specialist, and nutrition coach Jeaneth Aro.

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Doc Canlas said that while certain athletes can perform on a purely vegetarian diet, they are not maximizing their potential.

“This is because of bio-availability of nutrients and elements. Iron in meat, for example, is more available than iron in vegetables.” He said.

Coach Aro, on the other hand, said that protein availability even from a purely vegetarian diet, shouldn’t be much of a concern.

“A well-planned vegan diet can provide all the protein requirements of an athlete in much the same way as a regular diet. However, the major consideration for the vegan athlete is the availability of energy during high intensity exercise. Plant-based protein sources are also high in fiber. Fiber delays the digestion of food, hence the absorption of nutrients.

“Power is a function of strength and speed that relies heavily on immediate source of energy.

“But the fact remains that that there are many vegan champion athletes and  I think the key here is not their vegan diet, but the timing of their nutrient intake before, during and after exercise.”

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And what does Pacquiao coach-trainer Freddie Roach have to say?

With all the rippling muscles in Bradley’s body, Roach said he looks great for a bodybuilding contest.

“But for a boxer? How long can he carry that body, how hard can he throw a punch? With all that muscle, he’s going to be slo-mo,” Roach  said.

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TAGS: Boxing, Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley
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