In much of the bodybuilding world, the go-to source of food is meat. Protein is needed in great abundance when building muscle is the goal, and meat seems to be the most readily available option. It varies in sources, and adding eggs and dairy to that completes the major sources. Where then, do you turn to when you are vegetarian?
For a meat-eater, it is hard to imagine a more difficult pursuit than that of building muscle while avoiding all animal products. It almost looks self-defeating. But if you are vegetarian, this little hurdle in the road should not discourage you from pursuing your goals. If humans have proven anything it’s that challenges don’t break us, they only make us more resourceful.
As a vegan, your efforts should be focused on making sure your nutrition suffers no deficiencies. Assuming that you are doing the work in the gym, here is how to go about your diet.
There are many plants that offer rich sources of protein. While it’s hard to find those that offer you the complete amino acid profile, your choices are not spread as thin.
Soy is among the most prominent sources. Not only are they rich in protein, but they are highly digestible, have a large flavor profile, and are low in fat.
Peas are also protein rich, and they are highly digestible. Other sources include hemp, which is rich in Omega-3s as well as iron.
Beans and generally legumes should feature on your plate regularly. These together with nuts and seeds and tofu will ensure that most of your protein needs are addressed. Brown rice, quinoa and lentils are other food sources that you must eat frequently.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as well. They will provide essential minerals and fiber to keep your digestive and immune systems in their best state. These are hard to fill up on, especially with the increased metabolism that comes with regular exercising, so they should only complement other dense foods.
The key to building muscle is to ensure there are always enough amino acids when you need them. Whey provides one of the readiest sources of protein. Its versatility means it can be taken as a pre or post-workout shake. If you take milk, look into other supplements, such as casein.
Depending on the kind of vegetarians you are, you should have plenty of eggs. Great for snacking, eggs will keep your amino acid levels high when taken in some reasonable abundance. There is an upper limit to how many you can safely eat in a day, but 3 or 4 is a good bet.
It’s important to make sure that you do not suffer any deficiencies, especially if you take no animal products at all. Leafy greens, broccoli, nuts and oatmeal will offset any possible deficiencies of iron, calcium, zinc and vitamins.
If you have any worries that you are falling short of your nutritional goals, consult a nutritionist and create a diet plan together.
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