What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a Vertical Diet?
This brief guide will address the query “What are the benefits and drawbacks of a Vertical Diet?”. It presents what is a vertical and how it is known within the scientific community, allowed foods, and possible benefits and drawbacks. Since Vertical Diet is intended for athletes, this guide is focused on this diet and athletes performance.
What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a Vertical Diet?
The main benefit of a Vertical Diet is that it will help to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea or abdominal pain; in contrast, the food restrictions could lead to a nutritional deficiency, especially in micronutrients like vitamins and minerals (1).
What is the Vertical Diet?
A Vertical Diet is a meal plan that prioritizes easy to digest foods (2). In sports, performance is the priority, and there are several factors influencing performance. One of them is being comfortable during the competition (3).
Athletes might feel uncomfortable by fatigue, dehydration, or gastrointestinal inflammation; this latter is mainly caused by fermentation of fiber, oligosaccharides, or lactose in people with lactose intolerance (1).
It is important to note that gastrointestinal symptoms could lead to serious problems in sports, for example, if you have diarrhea, it is more probable to get dehydrated during exercise (1).
If you reduce your food intake caused by gastrointestinal symptoms, you will not get the valuable nutrients and energy for a good performance or recovery (1).
Therefore, Vertical Diet is focused on preventing these symptoms through avoiding all foods with high content of fiber, with lactose, or containing oligosaccharides. In this sense, this diet excludes most vegetables and some fruits, legumes, and dairy products (1).
What foods are included and excluded in a Vertical Diet?
The foods included in a vertical diet are those with a low content of fat, spices, fiber, oligosaccharides, lactose, and fructose (1).
You can consume the following foods (1,4):
- Lean meat like chicken breast and red meats with low content of fats
- White rice and potato without skin
- Low-fructose and fiber fruits (strawberries, plum, nectarine, peaches, citrus juices without pulp), and low-fiber (and cooked) vegetables like tomato, bell pepper, and carrots.
On the other hand, there are much more restricted foods (1,4). For example:
- Broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy vegetables
- Wheat and whole grains products
- Fruits and honey
- Dairy products
- Industrialized foods with polyols (a common sweetener used in light products)
- All legumes (i.e.: beans, chickpea, pea, lentils)
What are the benefits of a Vertical Diet?
The main benefit of a Vertical Diet is to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea or abdominal pain that could reduce your sports performance (1,4).
Due to the high quality proteins consumed through lean meats, it could help to improve your muscle hypertrophy and strength. In addition, meat protein may also help you to a faster recovery after workout (3).
What are the drawbacks of a Vertical Diet?
The main drawbacks of a Vertical Diet is a possible nutritional deficiency due to the restriction on most vegetables and fruits (1,4, 5, 6).
Veggies and fruits are the major source of vitamins (i.e.: vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamine and riboflavin), minerals (i.e: potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium), and antioxidants (i.e.: chlorophyll, carotenoids, polyphenols) (5, 6).
On the other hand, a low consumption of fiber in the long term could modify your microbiota; these are the bacteria that help you defend against pathogens like Salmonella, among many other essential functions (1).
Is there scientific evidence on Vertical Diet?
Actually, yes but no, there are no scientific articles of Vertical Diet, but instead it is known as “Low Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols diets (low-FODMAP)”. So if you need more scientific information on this, make sure to look for low-FODMAP diets (1).
Regarding the low-FODMAP diet or Vertical Diet, there is evidence that could be efficient in endurance athletes like triathlon, marathon, or road cycling, it could be beneficial to prevent gastro-intestinal symptoms like diarrhea or abdominal pain (7).
How can you incorporate the Vertical Diet?
The best way to incorporate a Vertical Diet or low-FODMAP diet is to consult a nutrition specialist. Due to the risks associated with the food and nutrient restrictions, you need to have constant monitoring to prevent any nutritional deficiency (1,7).
A good approach to start on a low-FODMAP diet is reducing partially all FODMAP instead of strictly avoiding all those foods. For instance, you could reduce your oligosaccharides (legumes) and lactose intake (1,7).
If it results well, you do not have to exclude whole grains and vegetables from your diet.
This brief guide addressed the query “What are the benefits and drawbacks of a Vertical Diet?”. It presented what is a vertical and how it is known within the scientific community, allowed foods, and possible benefits and drawbacks. Since Vertical Diet is intended for athletes, this guide was focused on this diet and athletes performance.
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- Lis DM. Exit gluten-free and enter low FODMAPs: A novel dietary strategy to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in athletes. Sports Med, 2019;49(Suppl 1):87–97.