While a plant-based diet may be associated with lower bone mineral density and increased fracture risk, there might be a way to counteract that: pumping iron.
New Austrian research shows that vegans who lift weights or do strength training have stronger bones than vegans who only do other forms of exercise such as biking or swimming.
“Veganism is a global trend with strongly increasing numbers of people worldwide adhering to a purely plant-based diet,” said Dr. Christian Muschitz, of St. Vincent Hospital Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. “Our study showed resistance training offsets diminished bone structure in vegan people when compared to omnivores.”
Generally, people who follow vegan diets eat only plant-based foods and avoid all meat, dairy and eggs.
To study the issue, researchers compared the data from 43 men and women who had been on a plant-based diet for at least five years with the data of 45 omnivores, people who ate meat and plant-based foods for at least five years.
The research team found that vegan participants who used weight machines, free weights or did body weight resistance exercises at least once a week had stronger bones than vegans who did no resistance training. Vegans and omnivores who did resistance training had similar bone structure.
The findings were published Aug. 4 in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
“People who adhere to a vegan lifestyle should perform resistance training on a regular basis to preserve bone strength,” Muschitz said in a journal news release.
About 6% of people in the United States now follow a vegan diet, according to the study.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more on vegan or plant-based diets.
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, news release, Aug. 4, 2022