You can’t supplement your way out of a bad diet. Being a vegetarian or vegan certainly isn’t a bad thing but if you are a bodybuilder then it does present certain challenges.
Vegetarian and vegan diet plans are typically rich in carbs and good types of fat but they often severely lack in the levels of proteins. Protein is a core element for building muscle and helping muscle tissue recover quickly, two essential processes for bodybuilders and athletes.
Vegan and Vegetarian Bodybuilding Diet Tips
If you are a vegan or vegetarian do not get frustrated or think that you can’t achieve gains in muscle. With the proper planning including certain essential types of food in your diet, you too can build lean muscle mass and achieve massive gains.
Proteins For Vegetarians And Vegans
Vegans cannot consume eggs or milk, which are two sources of high-protein for most bodybuilders. These high protein foods contain essential amino acids that are directly responsible for building muscle.
While vegetarians can eat eggs and milk they cannot eat animal sources of protein such as chicken or steak. This means they must find other sources of protein and essential amino acids that can deliver the nutrients needed to build muscle but still without extra calories and unhealthy fats.
There are sources of high protein available that will fit into a vegetarian or vegan diet plan. Below are just a few of them:
Beans and legumes
Eating fruits and veggies all day is not enough to provide your muscles with all the nutrients needed for building lean muscle mass. Your muscles need protein and it is important for vegans and vegetarians to have a balanced diet that is healthy but also one that includes high protein foods.
A good general rule to live by is for every pound of body weight you need to consume one gram of protein per day. This is much more than an average individual needs but if you are a bodybuilder that is trying to make gains and add lean muscle mass it is about right.
So basically if you are two hundred pounds and you eat five meals each day, then you need forty grams of protein at each meal.
Fats For Bodybuilding
You also need to make sure you get enough fats in your diet but some foods are better than others for this. It is preferable to stick with avocados, seeds and nuts for your fats as opposed to margarine or Veganism.
Fat is vital for many processes within the body to function properly such as producing healthy levels of hormones. It is typically best to keep fat at less than half a gram for every pound of body weight as a maximum.
Carbohydrates For Bodybuilders
Carbs provide your body with the fuel it needs to build muscle, repair muscle tissue and recover from hard training. Vegetarians and vegans should make sure they get as many carbohydrates as possible throughout the day by eating sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal or other foods that are high in complex carbs.
Avoid Processed Foods
Avoid eating processed foods of any type and stick with fresh high-quality foods instead. Not eating animal sources can have its advantages but it is important to also ensure all of the food you eat is of high-quality. Stick with whole grains, fruits, veggies and nuts such as almonds.
Spinach and Broccoli
Make sure you include plenty of spinach and broccoli in your diet as they are loaded with plenty of essential nutrients. Additionally, they will give you extra calcium which is something you may lack as vegetarian or vegan.
Eat More Often Than Usual
As a vegetarian or vegan, it is difficult to get the same level of protein and other vital nutrients at each meal. However, eating more frequently can help ensure there is a constant delivery of protein and other nutrients to your muscles throughout the day. Try to split your meals up into 5 or 6 different meals each day for consistent nutrient delivery.
Don’t Forget to Supplement
Supplements can’t take the place of a balanced diet but they do have a very important part in ensuring your body gets everything it needs to build muscle and make significant gains.
Choose a high-quality multi-vitamin supplement and a bodybuilding supplement to help you maintain high levels of protein such as a good protein powder. These will help you make sure you have all the vital nutrients necessary for your muscles to perform at their peak ability and recover quickly.
Being a vegetarian or vegan bodybuilder can be a bit tricky but don’t get discouraged. There are plenty of world-class athletes who are vegetarians and vegans that make big gains in muscle and athletic performance all the time. By closely monitoring your diet, supplements and how your body reacts you can find what works best for you.