Vegetarian Bodybuilding

Want a Break From Meat?

A low-carb diet might seem like the greatest dream you’ve ever had, until the thought of another pork chop, omelet, or slab of cheese makes you sick to your stomach. So, if you’re ready to skip the steak, you can substitute your meat entrees with vegetarian options. The easiest way to take your low carb diet on a vegetarian trip is by using meat substitutes.

Benefits of vegetarianism include the fact that this lifestyle is kinder to animals and friendlier to the environment, it increases the possibility of giving food to hungry populations, it helps preserve what is left of the rain forest and it decreases the national medical care cost.

It is frequently said that you cannot be a successful bodybuilder and vegetarian. Vegetable proteins are usually of inferior quality to animal proteins. A satisfactory bodybuilding diet is in fact tricky for vegans, who keep away from all products of animal origin. Protein sources that both vegetarians and vegans can enjoy are mixed and baked beans, hummus, tofu, quorn, textured vegetable protein, soya, coconut, oat and rice milk, and much more.

A lot of myths surround the concept of vegetarianism. Many of these are mistaken beliefs and are simply untrue. Here are a few examples:

Myth 1: Vegetarians can’t get enough protein.
Myth 2: There are certain nutrients one can only get from eating meat.
Myth 3: A vegetarian cannot grow muscle mass the way a meat-eater can.
Myth 4: Vegetarians lack energy and strength.
Myth 5: Being vegetarian is not healthy.
Myth 6: One cannot be a competitive bodybuilder as a vegetarian.

Carbohydrates, fat, protein, and alcohol all supply energy. It is important to note that not eating enough calories to meet your requirements will tend to decrease not only your energy, but also your muscle mass. Protein requirements among weightlifters are reported at values equal to the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) up to values as high as four times the RDA, depending on the source. To accurately determine an individual’s protein needs, a nitrogen balance study needs to be done.

Selecting a Dietitian

There are pros and cons to using a registered dietitian if you need a nutrition counselor, especially if you’re new to vegetarianism. On the plus side, dietitians have at least basic knowledge about nutrition science. Another thing that sets dietitians apart is that they know both nutrition and food. When choosing a dietitian, evaluate his or her knowledge of vegetarianism by asking how many vegetarians he or she has counseled and how often he or she sees vegetarian clients.

Different Types of Vegetarians

Vegetarianism is the fastest growing dietary form in the Western world at the moment, and within it veganism is also rising in popularity. It is estimated that there are over 15 million vegetarians in the United States, and over 9 million in the United Kingdom. Vegans are persons who abstain from eating all animal products. Vegetarians eat animal by-products but not animal flesh. Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume milk and eggs but no meat and pesco-vegetarians consume fish as well as dairy.

All About Protein

Your body uses protein as the main substance for constructing and mending muscles, blood, bones, teeth, skin, hair, nails, and your internal organs. Protein molecules also make up certain enzymes and hormones and serve as vital monitors in your body. It is the most intricate collection of substances known to science. Most protein foods of animal origin such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and milk include all of the essential amino acids and are consequently called complete proteins. Proteins found in vegetables typically lack one or more of the essential amino acids, so they are called incomplete proteins.

A lot of people worry that they might be at risk for some dietary deficiency when they stop eating meat and fish. On the contrary, you can obtain protein from:

  • Nuts: hazels, brazils, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine kernels, etc.
  • Seeds: sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, linseeds
  • Pulses: peas, beans, lentils, peanuts
  • Grains/cereals: wheat, barley, rye, oats, millet, maize, rice
  • Soya products: tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, veggie burgers, soya milk
  • Dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Free range eggs

For athletes, 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle is most favorable for increasing strength and size. Ensure that you eat a variety of food to get a full range of muscle building amino acids.

Sample Diet

Breakfast: 3 tablespoons of rice protein powder with 8 oz of almond milk and 8 oz of soymilk. You can add half cup of frozen fruit and one tablespoon of coconut oil to the mix.

Mid-afternoon snack: ½ cup of almonds and ½ cup of raisins.
Late afternoon snack: two veggie burgers with olive oil. Sprouted bread.

Post workout shake: 3 scoops of rice protein powder with 8 oz of oats or rice milk. You can throw in one tablespoon of flaxseed oil and ½ cup of frozen fruit.

Dinner: mixed green salad with one tablespoon of olive oil or one avocado. Add a cup of lentils steamed with squash, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, and some tofu. You can also add one cup of quinoa, a pear or apple, some dark chocolate for dessert, and a glass of red wine.

Scientific statistics suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for quite a few chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some kinds of cancer. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that suitably designed vegetarian diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate, and offer health benefits in the avoidance and management of certain diseases.

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