Why Canelo Alvarez switched from a vegan diet after his recent loss

Why Canelo Alvarez switched from a vegan diet after his recent loss

Canelo Alvarez will complete one of the most exciting boxing trios of the century when he faces Gennady Golovkin on September 17 in Las Vegas. The rivalry has hallmarks of some of the best sports ever – the explosive punching power of both fighters inside the ring, along with a fiery mutual dislike for each other outside it.

Going into the trilogy, the fight also features a subplot of its own: Alvarez fondling a vegan diet, and returning to eating red meat after his recent loss.

Before facing WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Dimitri Bevol last May, Alvarez revealed that he adopted a semi-vegetarian diet. He said he stopped eating red meat in 2018 after testing positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance sometimes illegally fed to cows in Mexico. Alvarez claimed he came into contact with Clenbuterol after eating contaminated meat in his home country. Regardless, the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended him for six months, delaying his second fight with Golovkin—a fight that the Mexican boxer won by split decision.

“I’m not complicated when it comes to food,” Alvarez told ESPN earlier this year. “I am eating [a vegan diet] All week now, and if one day the opportunity allows you to eat red meat or chicken or something else, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But I try to keep vegan [right now]. “

The impetus for Alvarez’s change to a vegan came after watching “The Game Changers,” a documentary about athletes incorporating vegan diets. During training, Alvarez relied only on plant-based protein five days a week but ate fish and chicken on the weekends.

“His production hasn’t changed at all, physically he looks very strong and I don’t see any change in him after he changed his diet,” said Mounir Somoya, who worked with Alvarez as part of his coaching team.

Come fight in the night, Bevol dominated Alvarez and retained his crown by unanimous decision. Bevol relied on his superior size and ability to hold Canelo to a career low, landing 84 punches over 12 full rounds. In combat at his preferred weight, Bevol used his two-inch reach and taller frame, along with fluid movements and high power output throughout the Alvarez Flemox. In the later rounds, the usually enduring Alvarez, who has won titles in four different weight classes, looked sluggish and tired.

Alvarez’s sudden dietary shift became a moot point after the fight. Among the critics, former Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya questioned the boxer’s choices in the run-up to the Pevol fight.

“When you change something as drastic as your diet overnight, you risk it not working for your body, not adapting properly,” De La Hoya told reporters.

Since the loss, Alvarez is no longer training on a primarily vegan diet as part of his combat plan to take on Golovkin at the super middleweight on Saturday.

“I’ve been trying to do that for a few weeks and it’s very difficult to suddenly change everything,” Alvarez told The Associated Press in an interview. “And now, as I have done all my life, I am eating what I used to do.”

While Alvarez hasn’t used diet to justify his loss, his flirtation with veganism is notable in the sports world. In recent years, a number of elite athletes have emerged, including tennis stars Novak Djokovic And the Venus Williams In addition to the legend of Formula 1 Lewis Hamilton Follow a vegetarian diet.

A consistent plant-based diet over a period of months or even as fast as weeks can positively affect the maximum amount of oxygen a person’s body can absorb and use during exercise, while maintaining strength through a similar level of plant-based protein intake. This is according to the effect of plant-based diets on physical performance and molecular signaling in skeletal muscle, Academic paper published in 2021 By members of the Institute of Sport Sciences at Hildesheim University in Germany. However, the authors acknowledge that “research on the effect of a vegetarian or vegan diet on exercise performance is scarce.”

Due to the lack of research, it is still impossible to make any definitive verdict across the board for any athlete who chooses to transition to a plant-based diet. Experts say that any change – whether vegan or not – can have adverse effects for the high-performance athlete.

“In Canelo’s case, a mostly vegetarian diet wasn’t supposed to take place so close to battle,” said Colette Gonzalez, a dietitian from the town of Alvarez in Guadalajara. “We can’t change the diet of high-performing athletes in such a drastic way and expect them to perform the same.”

Gonzalez said that although Alvarez made other diet changes during his career before winning fights, a vegan diet — or even a semi-vegetarian diet — takes time to adapt. “There has clearly not been enough time to gauge how the change will affect his muscle mass or energy requirements for such an important fight.”

For the apparent fatigue that Alvarez showed during the later rounds in his last game, Gonzalez says diet isn’t entirely to blame. Higher weight and muscle mass requires the body to put in more energy, and although Alvarez has competed and fought at 175lbs before, a fast-handed opponent like Bevol simply outperformed him over time.

“Anytime you gain weight, your body has to adapt. If your opponent is more used to that weight, that’s a disadvantage,” Gonzalez said.

Combat sports in general can demand some high-ranking ambassadors for vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. Former heavyweight champion David Haye became famous for adopting a vegan diet in 2014 in defense of animal rights, maintaining his diet towards the end of his career. However, Hay’s change of lifestyle came after his heyday waned, as he only fought a few rounds on a vegan diet.

“If you didn’t have any examples of plant-based athletes succeeding in your sport, you’d think that doesn’t work here,” said Brian Danielson, an AEW professional wrestler who became vegan in 2009. “You need people who look like you or do what you do to succeed.”

Danielson initially adopted the diet for health reasons – while training for WWE events, he contracted three bacterial infections over the course of a year. Prior to that, Danielson had a lifelong weakened immune system. Soon after switching to the vegan diet, the infection disappeared and the diet became permanent.

Under the coach’s guidance, Danielson – better known as Daniel Bryan during his WWE days – reached peak financial yields under the diet. “I gained 518 pounds while on a full plant-based diet,” Danielson said. “There was no difference in my performance. The only difference was that I immediately stopped sick.”

When Alvarez chose to drop red meat before his second meeting with Golovkin, he was still eating other types of animal protein. This transformation was made in direct response to, arguably, the lights of his career.

Alvarez tested positive for clenbuterol in 2018, a banned substance classified as a performance-enhancing drug. He claimed it had accidentally entered his body through contaminated meat. In Mexico, the illegal practice of feeding ground cows with Clenbuterol pills in order to stimulate their growth and obtain more meat has been documented.

A six-month suspension followed, pushing his shift in May into September, leading to allegations of faulty play from the Golovkin camp. For his part, Alvarez has embraced moving forward with extreme caution when it comes to what he puts in his body.

“After what happened to me, I was very careful,” Canelo told ESPN at the time. “Really very careful, I think, [to the point] of not eating meat.”



Learn about the history and use of Clenbuterol in cattle and the effects it can have on professional athletes.

When they finally clashed in a rematch on September 15, Golovkin and Canelo staged The Ring’s 2018 Battle of the Year, with Alvarez narrowly winning on two scorecards. The score did little to quell the debate over which of the two fighters was the best, as the controversy behind the tie in the first fight, along with Alvarez’s previous doping suspension, created plenty of fodder.

With their third fight — and as Canelo recoils from the circumstances surrounding his second pro loss — Golovkin continues to make the case, suggesting that Alvarez’s success may have less to do with diet and more than the pursuit of unfair advantages.

“There are lab results,” Golovkin told The Orange County Register in August. And when I was asked, I said: Yes, I think he cheated. And if someone on his team doesn’t like my words, I think it’s their problem.”

Alvarez will enter the ring at a unique and dangerous point in his career. After losing only a second time, he’ll stand up to a man he hasn’t yet convincingly beaten – both on the scorecards and in the court of public opinion. Although Golovkin, who turned 40 in April, is likely to be in the final stages of his career, a loss or even an unconvincing win will put critics front and center.

Furthermore, Alvarez’s flirtation with veganism would do little to subdue the debate over whether a championship-level athlete in the most brutal of combat sports can thrive solely on a vegan diet. Somoya no longer advises Alvarez and goes to work with another Mexican fighter, heavyweight Andy Ruiz.

“One day, you will have a fighter [Alvarez’s] “The level who wins championships is on a vegan diet,” Gonzalez said. “But that person has probably been on a diet for years — not just a few weeks.”

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