Is muscle soreness reduced by a vegan diet?

When I switched from paleo to vegan a few months ago, I did so because in the 21 days of a vegan detoxification program I (1) lost weight that I thought I had no chance of losing, (2) my lower leg and foot cramps were gone, and (3) my eyes were not burning all the time like they used to. Given those results, I figured I’d try a vegan diet for a year or so, then re-assess at that time.

I have discovered an unexpected side effect of my plant-based diet, though: I am not nearly as sore the day after a workout as I used to be.

At first, I thought this lack of delayed onset muscle soreness — abbreviated as “DOMS”, that’s the soreness I would always feel the day after a workout and beyond — was because I was not fully recovered from The Reset, so I just wasn’t pushing it that hard. As the weeks passed, though, and the DOMS remained severely diminished, I decided to put it to the test.

One sure way for me to feel sore the next day is to do my Steve’s Chest & Back routine. I do all the exercises to exhaustion, so there is no way to dog it, and I have felt so sore from this in the past that I could barely move my arms the next day, because of all the DOMS in my chest and lats.

I did it, gave it all I had, and the next day … nothing. Well, not completely nothing, but not nearly close to any kind of soreness I’d felt in the past.

“Okay,” I thought. “Maybe there is some connection between a plant-based diet and a lack of muscle soreness.” But I was not convinced. So I waited 6 weeks and tried it again.

Again, I was barely sore the next day. Hmmmmm….

I started looking around a bit, once again, at DOMS, and there is still not a lot of consensus as to what makes us feel DOMS. Some say lactic acid. Some say lack of stretching. Some say muscle spasms. No one seems to know for sure.

I did discover, though, that Brendan Brazier, the guy who wrote the book Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, also noticed his DOMS was much less severe when he went vegan.

Again, hmmmmm….

I will continue to test this hypothesis on myself, but I would say that my soreness is at least 65% to 70% less as a vegan than it was when I was eating a high-animal-protein diet.

And that’s a good thing.