Currently, the vegetarian diet is becoming more popular by several factors, they may be: religious, physiological and anatomical, spiritual motivation, health, ecological, among others. (DE BIASE et al., 2007).
Vegetarian diet have the characteristic absence of animal products, or synthesizing, fish and meat. In this lifestyle, there are derivations: Lacto-ovo-vegetarian food is based on cereals, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, as well as dairy and egg; Lacto-vegetarian excludes eggs, meat (including white meat), fish and seafood, using only the milk in addition to plants; and finally the Vegan or also called total vegetarian, this concept the practitioner excludes all animal products including its derivatives (eggs and dairy) (NIELSEN 2007).
The diet of athletes is differentiated from the rest of the population due to their different needs for nutrients, which varies according to the activity and the intensity (TIRAPEGUI, 2005).
According to Ferreira, Burini and Maia (2006), vegetarian diets tend to achieve high levels of carbohydrates leading to better glycogen synthesis is not mandatory supplementation of macronutrients. However, the vegetable proteins are incomplete with respect to amino acid composition.
According to the American Dietetic Association (2011), vegetarian diets offer some nutritional benefits, such as low consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol and control of these markers. However, such a diet without due or restrictive monitoring other during exercise can cause nutritional deficiencies.
The presence of a professional nutritionist is very important in monitoring the practitioners of vegetarian diet that has an appropriate energy balance without causing losses (WINCKLER, 2004).
One should pay special attention to the protein intake in vegetarians. Consumption should be higher than that recommended for subjects who consume meat, because some sources of protein digestion of these diets is difficult due to cereals and legumes (WINCKLER, 2004).
Vegetarians that feed on milk and eggs do not require food combinations that include complete protein foods. Milk and dairy products and eggs contains all the essential amino acids needed for functions such as growth, repair and maintenance of tissues (OLIVEIRA; CUNHA; MARCHINI, 1996).
Regarding the iron mineral the human body has more difficulty absorbing iron originated vegetables compared to the source (KLEINER, 2002). Excessive use of iron exceeding the dosage of 75mg by athletes is not recommended because they can cause interference with zinc absorption well, coming across some problems difficulty in healing, deficiency in strength and muscular endurance. (Kleiner 1998). Iron supplementation should occur only when the deficiency, therefore, when there is no need can lead to problems reaching up to the formation of bowel cancer from the high concentration of free radicals (SLYWICH, 2006).
Milk is considered the most efficient source of calcium. The amount of calcium intake is not a problem for vegetarians who use regular milk and cheese and is usually more suitable than omnivores individuals. However, for vegans intake is usually below the recommended (500 to 700 mg / day). (VITOLO, 2008).
Nutritional supplements are not good substitutes for the food, but in the case of zinc and iron, being low in a vegetarian diet. Daily supplementation of zinc at levels of 100% of the recommendation is a good security against failures. (Kleiner 2002). Whole-wheat flour, pulses, dairy products and flaxseed are examples of foods rich in zinc. (SLYWITCH, 2006).
Therefore, to be healthy, vegetarian diet requires planning and balance, adapted to each situation, including pregnancy, lactation, childhood and adolescence, and provide adequate support to sports performance. (FERREIRA; BURINI; MAIA, 2006).
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