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Kaepernick goes vegan, but claims it hasn’t led to muscle loss

Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick watches his teammates warm up before an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem has overshadowed what may be a more important issue to the 49ers: He has significantly declined as a player. One reason for that decline may be his loss of muscle mass.

That loss of muscle mass is obvious to anyone who looks at him: Kaepernick, who was once so muscular that then-49ers coach Jim Harbaugh worried that his huge muscles could affect his throwing motion, now looks skinny.

And yet Kaepernick, who confirmed to reporters that he went vegan nine months ago, claims he hasn’t lost any body mass. That’s hard to believe not only because he looks so much skinnier but also because it’s hard for anyone not to lose muscle when on a vegan diet because protein is essential to maintaining muscle mass and most protein sources are animal-based. (Former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez briefly tried a vegan diet during his playing career but started eating meat again after he lost too much weight.)

San Francisco coach Chip Kelly confirmed that Kaepernick has lost muscle, although Kelly said it’s because he hasn’t been able to lift weights while recovering from offseason surgeries.

“He’s limited in the type of lifting so he’s not the same size,” Kelly said. “He’s not back to where he was before.”

Getting back to where he was before from a size and strength perspective will be essential to getting back to where Kaepernick was before as a quarterback. That’s going to be harder to do as a vegan.