Hamilton: Plant-based diet stopped my ‘mood swings and swollen belly’

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says his move to a plant-based diet two years ago have improved his overall health and had no adverse effect on his training to compete in Formula 1.

Speaking to Malaysia’s The Edge magazine, Hamilton described how he used to feel unwell before changing his diet.

“I cannot put into words how much better I feel. I used to eat all that stuff [meat and dairy] and enjoy it, like most people do, but I would wake up feeling groggy, have mood swings and my energy level would go up and down through the day. I always had stomach problems and a swollen belly and I thought it was normal.”

Hamilton said he changed his diet after he “met a few new people who were vegans and they started showing me some of the things happening in our world that I was completely oblivious to.”

“It freaked me out,” said Hamilton.

He said the idea athletes need to eat meat for protein is an example of “how we have been trained to think.”

“I often see messages on my Instagram saying ‘I need my protein because I am trying to bulk up’,” he said. “Well, I just bulked up.

“I put on five kilograms this year and have gone from 68 to 73kg on a fully vegan diet. Meat being the only source of protein is absolutely rubbish. I can train just as much and do just as many reps, if not more, and I get through races with a much cleaner state of mind.”

Not all of Hamilton’s F1 rivals are convinced by his change of diet. In October Romain Grosjean, who co-wrote a cookbook with his wife Marion Jolles Grosjean, said vegan diets are “negative” for athletes.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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59 comments on “Hamilton: Plant-based diet stopped my ‘mood swings and swollen belly’”

  1. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
    6th December 2019, 7:19

    Specific side effects for HAM though:
    – some ego swelling
    – theatheral behavior

    1. – winning

      1. RebelAngelFloyd (@)
        6th December 2019, 10:38

        ceterus paribus

        He already was winning for his diet change

        1. He already had a big ego, too.
          Like all winners.

          1. @liko41 Is it a “big ego” if he actually is the best though?

          2. @f1osaurus
            Yeah, I think it still can be defined “big ego”.
            I honestly think that literally ALL the drivers who made it through formula one have a giant ego, since it a must-have to climb the ladder and compete at world class level.
            Hamilton is no exception.

  2. Maybe he just has lactose intolerance?)

    On a serious note – well, great it works for him.
    Personally I still wish for lab-grown meat to become commercially viable (hopefully without makers taking dangerous shortcuts), so its production will not have that much effect on environment.

    1. Given he is one of top earning athletes, its not too difficult for him to hire a dietitian and get nutrition plan tailored to his requirements.

    2. My thinking too. lactose intolerance is relatively common in people of African descent too, and it gets worse as you get older. Quitting dairy a while back also helped me with headaches, gastro-issues, also saved a lot of money not buying Starbucks lattes anymore.

  3. Good for Hamilton, couple of us at work – dedicated meat eaters, are now considering Vegan diet because of Lewis.

    Why? Because we are developers, engineers, we need stable energy through out the day, our mind needs to be clear and productive. Lots of processed meat has very poor side effects of eating. Dairy is not the most brilliant source of sustenance either.

    When it comes to Lewis mood swings, hard to say they are gone, but overall look at his stability? He finished every race in the points this year right?

    Whatever he is doing is working for him.

    If he was doing 50 push-ups before each rate we wouldn’t even have a discussion, we’d all be cheering him on and suggest other drivers follow suit. But because food is sacred to most of us, and a steak is the definition of a manly meal, his diet is going against what most of us were brought up to believe is good for a sporty lifestyle.

    1. @jureo He finished every race in the points this year right?
      – Right, and did the same in 2017 as well, and was very close to achieving this feat already in his rookie season.

      1. But more impressive was the form he was at race after race. He didn’t have any “bad” races where he would totally loose his sheit.

        He had his balance always, except maybe Germany, but that was an exceptional race due to weather conditions.

        Emotionally he was stronger this year.

        He could also say he is not dating a drama queen or has less jet set distractions this year, but overall other drivers should look at his example and leave no stone unturned finding correct emotional balance within themself.

        Especially Seb Vettel should do so. A prime example of a driver with excellent speed who suffers from emotional meltdowns.

      2. @jerejjIf I was being a pedant I would say he technically didn’t finish each race in the points. He was out of the points at the finish in Germany and was promoted due to penalties to the Alfa Romeo drivers. :)

    2. So he’s better than Senna, Schumi, and even Jim Clark..?

      1. Gavin Campbell
        6th December 2019, 9:19

        Yep Schumi and Senna didn’t have any “red mist”, drama queen or moody moments ever…….. oh wait hang on. (I don’t really know too much about Jimmy Clark other than one damn fine racer)

    3. @jureo since you seem a little more open-minded that some of the folks here, I’d just want to add my experience: if you try a different diet, make sure you’re doing it with knowledge of the facts and with the help of a medic. I’m absolutely pro “close to zero meat” diet but moving to a vegan diet can easily cut not only “”””bad”””” things but also macro and micro nutrients that are helpful for your well-being (iron is one that comes to my mind). He’s a multi-millionaire and probably has someone choosing his meals; we mere mortals need to consider that consuming vegan sources of iron for instance is more effective if you associate with vitamin C (I don’t think Lewis is aware of this, he just doesn’t need to). We often concentrate on proteins and moving from meat to beans and seeds but that’s just a small part of a bigger thing.

      So, to recap, make your choices with a grain of salt. If you eat everything chances are you’re easily getting all the nutrients you need, just by chance. If you cut something, you need to be aware that you need to integrate what you’re missing.

      And lastly, from my personal experience as a fellow dev, I’d say try and see if it works for you. I’m not entirely sure the better focus is due to the lack of animal proteins; I’m more convinced it is due to the high awareness you have about your meals, the discipline in getting fresh products, eat more regularly and so on. So I believe that the side effects of sticking to a different diet (opposite to just eat) are more effective than the diet itself, but it’s absolutely just my opinion.

      1. I’m not entirely sure the better focus is due to the lack of animal proteins; I’m more convinced it is due to the high awareness you have about your meals

        this is true, I also changed my dietary habits and I feel the same way, I’m able to concentrate better now, and I’m on a non-vegan diet

        I do make the trouble to understand where my fish and meat protein comes from and I try to reduce it. I also eat almost to zero processed meat apart from bacon strips here and there, but that are also locally sourced

        1. now are different times. Reading some articles, we don’t eat meat, we eat engineered meat, full of chemicals and hormones to grow profit at the expense of our forests. Kids can’t be lean anymore, they are meant to be fat and meat it’s a great start. Don’t believe me? Average pants size in the 80’s was 34 and they hadn’t had any diet driven by fear. Now the fact is that times are different, Lewis is different, and it’s a good thing. I love that my kid can relate to Hamilton and yet ask for Senna and look at Schumacher.

      2. @jureo, @m-bagattini as a fellow dev I run almost exclusively on caffeine ☕️☕️☕️ :-p

      3. @m-bagattini

        Yeah it is all about science. I am sure Lewis is doing it in a scientific way with regular physical checkups, meal plan, private chef and full staff of support.

        When doin such a thing solo there is high degree of possibility for confirmation bias, placebo effect works so strong that it is hard to say what works and what does not.

        Animal protein for sure is not a problem I reckon, but most animal protein comes with various chemicals, antibiotics, growth hormones, is breed and feed on poor quality feed, etc, etc.

        Not all cattle is the same.

        I am convinced you get a major benefit just avoiding industrially processed food.

        But what works and to what extent is very hard to know without medical checkups and close monitoring of your body in its entirety.

    4. What a total load of nonsense!

      His vegan diet has stopped his mood swings?

      Not having some of the, if not THE, most dominant cars in F1 history for 6 years in a row with basically zero competition?

      Yeah right! Let’s see how good his fungus diet keeps his mood when he’s not driving a dominant car. We’ve all seen how that goes…

      1. @nick101 2017 Ferrari was equal and 2018 the Ferrari was better.

      2. Lewis suffered mood swings as close as 2018, and all years before that 2015, 2016, 2017… 2016 it lead to him loosing championship, because he was down even just a tiny bit enough for Nico to get a food in the door.

        I hazard a bet if his mind game was on a higher level he would have 7 championships. But as is he dropped the ball late 2015 and didn’t pick it up until late 2016.

  4. Ah, a reminder that the winter break is upon us.

    1. here is the comment of the day

  5. Gavin Campbell
    6th December 2019, 9:16

    Reminds me a little of Casey Stoner (Moto GP) – who had terrible lack of engergy problems to the extent he thought he had some mystery illness and took time out from racing. Turned out he was Lactose intolerant – ditched the milk and cheese then went on to win another world championship.

    The thing is Hamilton could well of had a mild interolerance to lactose or something similar – probably not enough to bother us “regular” folk who park bottoms on office seats and maybe do a little gym on the side. F1 drivers are hyper fit so at the levels these guys run at it could well of interfered with him.

    Also with regards to milk there are differences in how it is treated around the world prior to consumption and this could also have some unwanted effects for globe travellers.

    1. Bad example. Stoner has some kind of fatigue illnes (just an item on motorsport this week) that hinders him to do almost anything.

      1. Thought his underlying point is true.

        I have a lactose intolerance and I had bloating, lack of energy as well as other issues that were resolved by cutting out lactose. It is likely that there was some form of intolerance causing most of the issues that Lewis had. This is probably a case of baby and bathwater then claiming that it’s the only way to fix all your ills.

        That’s fine if it’s what he wants to do but claims of veganism being a miracle cure to everything are a little grand.

    2. Most persons of African descent are lactose intolerant. They lose the lactase enzyme after the toddler stage. Good on Hamilton though for turning his diet around. I need to do it too!

  6. Good for him, I’m honestly very happy he’s found a method that works for him, but I’m not giving up meat any time soon.

    Humans have evolved to be omnivores and I see no reason to change my current, balanced diet just because a raft of celebrity and sporting vegans tell me to do so.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      6th December 2019, 9:44

      I don’t think he is telling you to do anything. You’re happy, he’s happy, we are all happy 😃

      1. I know, perhaps I’m just being sensitive because it seems like someone is saying “go plant based” literally everywhere I look at the moment.

        1. I think you should, you wouldn’t be so testy if you did. :)

          1. Or, how bout this…

            Get in the most dominant cars on the grid for 6 years in a row with zero competition and eat ANYTHING you want = great mood.

    2. Well, if “a raft of celebrity and sporting vegans” telling you to go plant-based is the only incentive you have, you probably need to change your sources of information on food.

  7. It more coincides with Bottas becoming his teammate, who is hardly a threat like Rosberg was, Ferrari meltdowns and uber Mercedes reliability. When he is not in front, he is still very stressed out.

    What if Ferrari and Verstappen are dicing for the title next year? Will it then be his diet that caused it?

    1. Yeah, this is what I thought to. Having the best car and a weaker teammate has to be good for your belly and soul.

  8. What I take from this is that it’s not bad to experiment with food and find a solution to some gastro issues. However, there is no way I’ll be blaming cows for global warming.

  9. We are not even eating the ‘right’ meat. The only reason we eat the small selection of meats that we do is that thousands of years ago these were the only animals we could easily domesticate. Modern diets are based on what prehistoric man could achieve.

    1. I disagree, I think man could domesticate pretty well any animal, it’s all about what the payback is, how much effort is involved in training, how easy it is to stay safe, animal life expectancy, etc. My observation is animals, even insects, have an awareness that man is different from other animals and do respect man. Elephants have been used for millennia. I was told by a zoo keeper at our local zoo, while feeding some sea lions, that the animals there are trained to open their mouth on request so their teeth can be easily inspected. Presumably this applies to all the other supposed “wild” animals there as well, like the lions, elephants, hippos, etc.

  10. The main reason for his improved mental health is the Rosberg-free environment.

  11. If it works for him, why should anyone complain. Personally, I eat meat, but almost exclusively wild game, no added hormones or antibiotics, and very lean meat.

  12. “Meat being the only source of protein is absolutely rubbish”

    Does anyone actually think this?

    1. A lot of people actually think so – plus the lie that egg and meat proteins are the most bio available and called “first class” proteins.

      1. Well, animal based proteins are actually the most bio available. By far actually.
        Please take your fungus diet propaganda somewhere else where soft headed people will actually believe it.

        1. No, they are not. That theory does not bear out in real life.

          I was an amateur body builder fanatic in my younger years who wanted to do it the clean way (without steroids). This meant I had to consume up to 7K calories/day – including 40 egg whites a day (20 in the morning, and 20 in the evening). These were in addition to various whey isolate/concentrate shakes.

          Whilst i got up to almost 300lbs with 7% bodyfat, the diet caused me major digestive distress – including bloating, gas, cramping, diarrhea, and IBS.

          Remember, “bioavailability” is the proportion of a substance that is actually absorbed into the blood stream. This is turn is based on digestibility.

          Basically, meat, egg, and dairy proteins are not easily digested in the human alimentary canal. This is a well known issue.

          Anyway, after i moved to mainly plant based protein in the form of pea protein powders, the digestibility improved and so did the rates of absorption. Furthermore, the majority of the gastric issues i suffered disappeared.

          Of course, if you have a more believable personal story on this topic, I’d like to hear it.

  13. The true sign of an athlete ascending to the top step …. when the public fascination with their life extends to … what did he eat for breakfast.
    Who cares, we all know where it winds up.

  14. Ofcourse it did, and now he is pooping rainbows as well.

  15. So Ferrari meltdowns are due to them eating more meat and milk than others?

    Anyway this “news” would not have appeared if he said that he changed to eat meat. That would be censored.

  16. People don’t understand the health benefits from going vegan are not all necessarily from the plant based diet.

    They come from the cutting out of the additives, antibiotics, preservatives, and various chemicals that inadvertently come with eating meat, dairy products, and processed food.

    And that would undoubtedly make anyone feel better.

    The point is, we unknowingly eat so much junk – even in the so called “healthyfoods”, that we have no idea of how better we can feel until we cut out all the crap. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do without going down the plant based route.

    1. @kbdavies Perhaps that’s the trick yes.

      I have seen from plenty of athletes that their body can’t cope with vegan diets though. They tend to start adding fish or meat back into their diet at some point.

  17. I’m sure that Nico Rosberg helped to give him mood swings, which ended about 3 years ago.

  18. Arguing about the benefits of healthy eating is weird!

  19. Maybe Grosjean would be less crap if he stopped eating all those animals.

  20. I here the Bottas diet is good for mood swings.

  21. It wreaked havoc on his hair though.

  22. Well he has invested in it heavily so of course he feels great!

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