20 Tips For The Vegetarian Bodybuilder!
If you're looking to build more muscle mass but enjoy eating a vegetarian style of diet, you may often feel as though you might be defeated before you get going. You hear so much talk about protein being the most important nutrient needed to build muscle and one that you should be consuming very large amounts of to achieve success.
Don't be so quick to jump to this conclusion however. While it definitely is true that protein is an extremely important nutrient to have in the diet, it's not true that you necessarily need copious amounts of it to make progress. There are plenty of ways for vegetarians to build the muscle they are after despite the fact that they aren't consuming any meat products.
Let's have a look at the 20 top tips that the vegetarian bodybuilder needs to know.
The very first thing you must do as a vegetarian bodybuilder is make sure that you get enough calories. If you don't take in enough calories on a regular basis your body is much more likely to turn to incoming protein for fuel and you very well may see a deficit forming.
Second, be sure that you are taking in plenty of fruits and vegetables. These are going to supply you with a high quality source of nutrients as well as all the antioxidant protection to keep your immune system feeling strong.
For vegetarians looking to build muscle, one of the key sources of protein they need to be looking into are chickpeas and other legumes. These will also be a good low-fat source of carbohydrates as well and make for a great snack before a hard workout.
If you're in the habit of always eating brown rice with your meals, swap that up for some quinoa instead. Quinoa tastes much like brown rice (a combination of brown rice and oatmeal) and is higher in overall protein content than the brown rice. On top of that, quinoa is actually a complete source of protein, whereas brown rice is not. This is important for the process of muscle building to take place.
Fifth, it's a very wise move to make use of egg white protein powders, if you eat animal by-products, or soy protein powders if not. These will dramatically help to boost your protein intake and are quick and convenient for when you need them. As long as you do make sure to mix them up with other sources of protein, they are definitely a 'must-have' for your daily diet.
One big mistake that many vegetarians make is relying a great deal on heavy, overly processed foods. Don't do this. Remember, being vegetarian doesn't mean you get free range to eat as many high-carb snack foods as you want. You still do definitely have to be eating healthy and making an effort to maintain a fresh diet that contains whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
When it comes to your workout, as a vegetarian you should aim for short but intense workouts. This will help prevent muscle mass loss from taking place and your body relying on protein to get through those workouts. If you were doing very long workout sessions that's when your protein needs will be really elevated, which could get more difficult being on a vegetarian diet.
Also be sure that you're taking the time to vary your foods in your diet as well. As a vegetarian you may find that it's easy to gravitate to the same foods over and over and over again. Try to prevent this if you can. By making sure to take in a higher variety you will prevent nutrient deficiencies and have better luck with your diet program.
Another protein source that's highly beneficial for vegetarians is tempeh. This one is one that is often overlooked so start finding creative ways to add it to your diet today. Many people find they prefer this over tofu, which is the other main vegetarian option.
One thing that you may want to consider, and this will highly be based on your personal beliefs, is going lacto-ovo vegetarian. What this means is that you will include both egg and dairy products in your diet. This will dramatically boost your protein options since then you can include egg and egg whites, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, and milk. It will definitely make your life as a vegetarian bodybuilder easier.
Another great food that you'll want to take in are nuts. Nuts provide a healthy source of fat and will provide a long-lasting form of energy as well. One handful will significantly boost your calorie intake and help make muscle gain that much easier.
For your essential fatty acids, since you likely won't be consuming fatty fish or fish oil, turn to flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. These will have to be your primary sources for this must-have nutrient.
Another good way to boost your fat content is to start smearing natural peanut butter on as many foods as you can in your diet. This will also help to boost your overall calorie intake as well, which is obviously important when aiming to build muscle. Smear some peanut butter over your bananas, apples, mix it into oatmeal, or add it to any fruit smoothies you may be preparing.
One nutrient that you may fall short in without eating any red meat is iron. Since iron is responsible for good red blood cell development, it's not one you want to risk being low in. If you do, you're going to find you're fatiguing a lot faster in your workouts as well. If you plan on carrying out a vegetarian diet for the long term, consider adding an iron supplement to your day.
Two other vegetables that you'll definitely want to think about adding in higher quantities as well are broccoli and spinach. These both will contain nice doses of calcium, which is another nutrient you may fall short in. In addition to both of these, also think about using a calcium supplement.
Unfortunately one thing that many vegetarian bodybuilders deal with is others telling them they won't see success. Try and block this out as best as possible. If you want to really pack on the muscle, you need to stay in a healthy frame of mind - and their negative influence is definitely not going to help you do so.
It's also important that you're making sure to eat frequently throughout the day. Since you won't be taking in as much protein with every meal you eat as someone who isn't a vegetarian, by getting in regular meals you'll help ensure that you do always have that steady stream of amino acids going into the muscle tissues.
Since one thing many vegetarian bodybuilders are concerned over is muscle mass loss, be sure that you're regularly monitoring your body fat levels. This will give you a better indication if you are losing muscle mass so that action can be taken to help prevent this.
Another important supplement that you'll want to use is branched chain amino acids. These you should specifically take immediately before and after the workout is complete as they too will help to safeguard against muscle mass loss.
Finally, the last tip is to stay positive. It may take slightly longer to build muscle as a vegetarian, but if you stay positive and keep working towards your goals, you definitely can get the results you're looking for.
So be sure that you're keeping all of these tips in mind. More and more people are turning to this style of eating and it definitely does not mean you need to give up on your fitness and muscle building goals.
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Love this article. Been a life long veggie (no eggs, but milk and milk products fine, no fish or seasfood or meat of course) and have been training for 4 years. Really need some help to finally reach my sixpack goal!
i have good diet being a vegetarian . but i am always looking for improvements. i never thought of adding iron supplements though... tofu and temph both contain bioflavanoids which are like natural female hormone boosters. i am not sure how much one should eat being a man. i have troubles with recovery sometimes it takes more than 3 days even with glutamine and caesin...should i go easy on my workout plans.
Great Article! I have been vegan for a bit over 3 months now, and i have never ever felt better in my life!! and it has improved my workouts dramatically, I have heaps more energy and I am glad I adopted this before I go off to recruit training for the Navy because I know this lifestyle is the best and will help me achieve the best results!
I've done a ton of diets and experienced a lot of ups and downs, the whole time I've been doing this I've read about vegetarian diet and the wonders associated with it. I'm going to start slowly easing myself into it, only swapping a little in at a time as I go. I'll still consume eggs and maybe fish but I'm done with chicken and beef
I've been a vegetarian pretty much all my life. I've been trying hard for the last year and half to lose fat and get back in shape. Points #7 and 16 through 20 are very helpful for me. Thank you for the great article!
Thank you for the great information. I went vegan a little over 2 months ago now and have been struggling with cutting. I'm not a fan of the "meat alternatives" (tofu, tempeh, boca burgers, highly processed) so I am trying to educate myself. Thanks again!
Good article except for a few points. I have been vegetarian all my life and mostly vegan also.
I would like to point out that there is no need to reduce workout times or worry about not being able to get enough protein. Just keep in mind that the animals get it from plants and we can do the same. Beans, grains and greens are great sources and super foods like hemp protein powder provide 50% protein without adverse health effects. There is no need to eat eggs or dairy either - beans and some seeds have more protein than eggs.
As a vegetarian I have found that I have more endurance than many at the gym and muscles can fully recover in 41 hours so I am able to work the same muscle group every other day if my schedule requires it.
There are successful professional vegan body builders such as Robert Cheeke - just look around.
I took a break from lifting last fall when my work schedule became too much. Since then, i've adopted a vegan lifestyle but i also want to get back to lifting. Thanks for the tips and encouragement! I was a little nervous about the lack of animal protein in my diet keeping me from reaching my goals.