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People who follow vegan diets generally have weaker bones than omnivores, a new study shows. However, vegans and omnivores who practice resistance training have comparable bone strength.

The study included 88 healthy adults. About half had followed a vegan diet for five years or more, while the other half had followed an omnivorous diet. Participants provided information about their dietary intake and exercise practices, and researchers assessed their bone microarchitecture – a measure of bone strength.

They found that, overall, vegans had altered microarchitecture compared to omnivores. However, the bone microarchitecture of vegans and omnivores who practiced resistance training was comparable, suggesting that resistance exercise compensated for dietary differences between the two groups. Interestingly, aerobic exercise alone did not confer a protective effect on bone microarchitecture.

These findings suggest that resistance training protects against bone loss associated with vegan diets. Aerobic exercise did not appear to confer protection, however.

Vegan diets are rich in plants and plant-based proteins. People who follow vegan diets often experience more bone loss over time than those who follow an omnivorous diet. Evidence suggests that plant-based proteins – when consumed in sufficient quantities – can support muscle hypertrophy in resistance training, which would in turn support bone health. Learn more in this episode featuring Dr. Stuart Phillips.

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