New evidence suggests ancient gladiators had a surprising diet

If asked, you’d probably guess that the gladiators of ancient times would eat a diet rich in protein in order to supplement their gruelling training regimes and help them heal from combat wounds.
Recent evidence, however, indicates that that guess would be wrong.
Tests at an ancient burial ground in the Ancient Roman province of Asia, have instead found that the gladiators were vegetarian.
Modern day athletes, with the benefit of science, tend to follow a protein rich diet in order to build and sustain muscle, as well as to recover after a workout.
Gladiators, on the other hand, ate a vegetarian diet, bolstered by staple foods of wheat and barley. However, there is evidence that gladiators drank a form of an energy drink, a mixture of plant ash and vinegar.
Researchers used spectroscopy and stable light isotope ratio analysis on the bone collagen of the bodies found in the graveyard to determine what minerals were present, and found that a high level of strontium in the bones supported ancient records that this drink existed.
It goes against what is thought today that people who do intense physical work, such as sprinting or, indeed, fights to the death, have to eat a lot of protein. That may not be the case.
The research was published online in the journal PLOS One.

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