Cam Newton proudly announced that he had become a vegan at the start of the 2019 season, but with multiple injuries this season, some are wondering if that plant-based diet is tanking his career.
Newton’s season has thus far been underwhelming with two less-than-thrilling starts and several injuries the latest a foot sprain that will keep him out of play for at least two more games. This lackluster start stands in contrast to Newton’s enthusiasm about his new diet just ahead of the season.
But according to some sports nutritionists, Newton’s new diet, which he apparently started in February, could be to blame for his inability to snap back from small injuries.
According to several experts that the Charlotte Observer spoke to, Newton may have made a horrible choice with that new diet.
‘Go back to 2015 Cam, badass Cam. He was a pescatarian,’ said Chris Howard, a certified nutritionist, and strength and conditioning coach from Waxhaw. ‘Salmon, shrimp, you get a lot of good fats and complete proteins. In fact, (fish) is one of the best protein sources there is.
‘Now you take away the most valuable part of that (diet), and … there’s just no way around it: He can’t recover as well with less nutrients, with less calories, and with less muscle mass. It’s just not going to happen.’
Boston-area nutritionist Nancy Clark insisted that it is certainly possible for an athlete to do well on a vegan diet, but, she added, it takes extremely careful planning and even extensive overcompensating, the paper said.
“The question is: Can you be a vegan athlete and be successful? Of course, you can. And if you Google vegan athletes, you’ll see a whole bunch of Olympians and names in every sport,” Clark told the paper. “The concern is: Is he consuming enough protein and enough calories? When you’re in calorie deficit, which he obviously has been because he’s been losing weight, some of the protein that you eat gets burned for gas in the car instead of getting used to build muscle.”
Other experts agreed that veganism is a hard sell for athletes. Former bodybuilder John Howie noted that it can be hard to keep a balance between losing fat but also losing muscle mass at the same time. The lack of protein is the hardest thing to figure since everyone’s body reacts differently to diets.
Chris Howard, also felt that Newton just might have made the wrong diet choice.
“He’s adopted a healthier lifestyle — and kudos for trying to do that — but I just think this really is the wrong choice,” Howard concluded.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.