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How You Can Have The Best of Both Worlds: Vegetarian Bodybuilders


When it comes to bodybuilding, the need to eat protein meals cannot be stressed enough. This wouldn’t be an issue for many people as they can source their protein from different food sources, both plant and animal sources. 

 

Many people already love meat and fish, so their body system is already settled in terms of protein macronutrients. But how about the vegetarians who also want to build their bodies? How do they get the best of both worlds?

 

If you are a vegetarian, you need not fret. This article is for you. Here you will learn how to attain a well-sculpted body even if you are on a strict vegetarian diet. Towards the end of the article, you will also find a section that provides a sample diet plan for vegetarian bodybuilders.

Tips for vegetarian bodybuilders

Animals are good sources of protein. However, you can also get all the energy and nutrition you need from plant sources. Plant sources are a better, cleaner source of energy and nutrition. 

 

Studies suggest that people who primarily consume plant-based diets have lower rates of obesity, lower body mass index (BMI), and reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes compared to those who eat meat. 

 

You will notice that most saturated fats (bad fats) are from animal sources like lamb, pork, and beef. In contrast, most unsaturated fats (good fats) are from plant sources, e.g., olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil and seeds, walnuts, canola oil, etc. 

 

Also, plant-based diets are rich in whole carbs, fiber and contain enough water, e.g., fruits and vegetables. This shows that being on a vegetarian diet wouldn’t hinder your bodybuilding plans. Just use our tips and guidelines and get going!

  • Understand vegetarian diet in terms of bodybuilding

This is important. You need to understand your diet plan and how it affects muscle building. This will make it easier for you to make your vegetarian muscle-building regimen work. 

 

Protein, the biggest influencer of the muscle-building program, is one of the most misunderstood vegetarian and vegan macro diets. However, with an understanding of your plant-based diet, you can take your muscles to a whole new level. 

  • Get enough calories

Bodybuilders, particularly vegetarians, need enough calories. Remember, when you exercise, your body burns calories, and if you don’t balance the output with intake, your body might turn to proteins as a source of energy, and this may cause a deficit of the proteins you need to build your muscles.

 

You don’t have to eat a large quantity of food at a time to get it all. You can spread out your meal intake throughout the day. In all, just ensure you have a healthy stream of nutrients, particularly amino acids pumping through you.

  • Don’t rely heavily on processed foods

While you must consume enough calories, it doesn’t mean you should consume everything and anything you lay your hands on. Still, remember the rules of healthy eating. Cut off or at least limit the intake of junk, refined, or processed foods. 

 

It is okay to snack, but snack on healthy foods. Note that being a vegetarian bodybuilder doesn’t give you the free range to eat lots of high-carb foods as you wish. Make conscious efforts to stick with a fresh diet containing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts.

  • Short but intense workout sessions might be the best for you

If you are working out for long, your body will most likely need more protein to keep up, which might be difficult for you to sustain while on a vegetarian diet. 

 

Opting for short but intense workouts might help prevent the occurrence of muscle mass loss, and your body might not need to rely much on protein to get through the workouts. 

  • Don’t overlook seeds and nuts

Many people tend to overlook seeds and nuts when considering foods to eat. Surprisingly, seeds and nuts are great sources of protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

 

You can never go wrong with bottles of nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, etc. 

 

Instead of snacking on unhealthy processed foods, you can snack on nuts instead. Another good part is that most of these nuts are convenient, readily available, tasty, and can be enjoyed on any diet- including a vegetarian diet. 

Food sources of plant-based protein. Healthy diet with legumes, dried fruit, seeds, nuts and vegetables. Foods high in protein, antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. 

  • Supplement for iron

When you don’t eat meat, one of the nutrients you are likely to fall short of is iron. Iron is needed for red blood cell formation. Red blood cells are the cells of the blood that convey oxygen to different parts of your body. A short supply of red blood cells might cause you to get tired faster during your workouts.

 

There are plant sources of iron such as dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, whole grain meals, cashews, beans, lentils, sesame, flaxseeds, soybeans, etc. However, just in case your body cannot get enough from the foods you eat, it would help to augment with iron supplements. 

  • Watch for possible deficiencies and supplement appropriately

Asides from iron deficiencies, there is the possibility of other deficiencies. For instance, your body might not be getting enough amino acids. The reason might be because you are not eating enough protein, or you are just not eating the right proteins. 

 

Shocked? Yes, not all proteins are best for bodybuilding, or rather, not all proteins are equal. You might want to increase your intake of protein plants that are richer such as lentils, legumes, tofu, hemp, pea, and quinoa. This applies to even bodybuilders who are not vegetarians.

 

To augment protein, find a protein supplement that will work for you. There are many different protein supplements out there; however, whey supplement is a good choice for vegetarians. 

Myths of vegetarian bodybuilding

There have been different misconceptions about the vegetarian diet. Society has made it seem like we can’t survive or build muscles without meat, but that is hardly the truth. 

 

Let’s go ahead and debunk some of those common myths of vegetarian bodybuilding, which have been discouraging some bodybuilders from adopting the plant-based diet.

  • You can’t get enough protein without meat

The notion that you can’t get all the protein you need from plant sources or without meat is wrong. Note that your body needs 21 types of amino acids to stay alive and kicking. Your body already produces 1 of these amino acids on its own; you only need to source the remaining nine (the essential amino acids) from food.

 

Get your protein sources right, e.g., quinoa, beans, lentils, tofu, egg hemp, etc., and supplement with casein or whey and plant-based protein shakes. With this, you get enough proteins.

  • You can’t build enough strength or sizable muscle with a vegetarian diet

There is no scientific evidence to back up the claim that vegetarian bodybuilders can’t attain the same proportion or level of muscularity as their meat-eating counterparts. Patrik Baboumian is a vegan athlete, yet he is one of Germany’s strongest and the world’s strongest vegan.

  •  Vegetarian bodybuilders will lack in essential nutrients

This misconception comes from people who think a vegetarian diet lacks the nutrients needed by bodybuilders to sustain energy. So long as you eat vitamin-rich foods and opt for natural supplements, you will easily overcome the challenge of nutrient deficiency. 

  • Vegetarian meals are boring

When some people hear that a vegetarian diet excludes eating meat, they tend to think it’s a bland diet. But that’s not entirely true. Your meal plan doesn’t have to be boring if you vary your meals. 

 

When you experiment with vegetarian dishes from different regions, you will find yourself eating a wider range of food than even the average meat-eater. 

  • All vegetarians are healthy

It is possible to make poor food choices even as a vegetarian. So don’t go thinking that going vegetarian makes you 100% healthy.

 

There is no denying the fact that those who follow vegetarian diets tend to have a lower risk of health conditions like obesity and chronic heart problems. However, foods like French fries, ice cream, and chips (which are vegetarian foods) are not healthy for you. 

Sample diet plan for vegetarian bodybuilders

Healthy vegetarian dinner. Woman in grey jeans and sweater eating fresh salad, avocado half, grains, beans, roasted vegetables from Buddha bowl. Superfood, clean eating, dieting food concept

Here is a sample of a 7-day diet plan for vegetarian bodybuilders

DAYS BREAKFAST SNACKS LUNCH DINNER
DAY 1 Tofu scramble with broccoli noodles Energy-boosting protein shake Lentil loaf made with lentils, vegetables, kidney beans, and nutritional yeast Quinoa and teriyaki tempeh with broccoli
DAY 2 Protein oatmeal that consists of soy milk, oats, banana, vegan protein powder, and nut butter Mock tuna salad sandwich Shitake tempeh and kale stir fry Sweet potato fries and black-bean veggie burger
DAY 3 Breakfast burritos made with tofu scramble and vegetables on vegan tortillas Sweet cherry almond smoothie Tofu stir-fry with beans, pasta, celery, red lentils, spinach, and onion Tomato chive and chickpea pancakes
DAY 4 Avocado crème and root vegetable hash with whole-grain protein bowl Strawberry-banana protein shake Spiced tempeh with vegetables and quinoa Stir-fry made with tofu, vegetables, and rice noodles
DAY 5 Hummus toast made with hummus, sprouted grain bread, sunflower seeds, and hemp seeds Peanut butter and oatmeal snack bars Black bean and quinoa meatballs over whole-grain vegan pasta Vegetarian cobb salad and chocolate raisin oat cookies
DAY 6 Protein pancakes made with whole grain flour and vegan protein powder with toppings Superfood granola bars Coconut-tofu-curry stir-fry made with tofu, edamame, and soba noodles Roasted chickpeas with red pepper flakes
DAY 7 Mexican spiced tofu scramble, vegetables, and mini Nutella donuts Cashew nuts and a chocolate-peanut-butter protein shake Vegan burrito bowl made with rice, beans, and homemade mock taco meat Vegan chili with tofu mince, tomatoes, kidney beans, and red lentils

 

Conclusion

Choosing to compete in bodybuilding while on a vegetarian diet will not inhibit you from meeting and surpassing your competitors. When it comes to a vegetarian bodybuilding diet it is all about planning and making sure you find creative ways to consume enough protein. Learning how to create a meal plan with nutritious protein-rich meals will help set you up for success. If you are new to the vegetarian diet, you should make the right adjustments, and then combine it with the right workout routine.

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