Vegetarian bodybuilding sounds like something impossible, but in fact you can be a vegetarian and still build lots of muscle mass. The path is more complicated, however.
Bodybuilding is at an all-time high these days with social media getting images out there and to the public. People want to be as healthy and fit as their bodybuilding idols, and have taken the path to doing their own physical training and dieting.
Unfortunately some cause harm to their body – especially those that are into vegetarian bodybuilding.
Let’s take a look at what needs to happen for your diet and training to get this task accomplished efficiently and safely.
Protein Consumption is Still a Necessity
One big concern with vegetarian bodybuilding is eating enough protein to fuel your body and allow muscle repair and growth.
Protein is often only associated with foods such as meats, fish, poultry, dairy, and the like. Even protein powders such as whey and casein derive from animal products, so what are you really left with to keep your muscles going strong?
There are actually several choices to choose from, such as:
Tofu and tempeh are very high in protein content that derives from plants, so you will definitely want to find plenty of recipes that revolve around these two sources.
Then you have quinoa as well, which is a good replacement for both white and brown rice. White rice is processed, offers little protein content, and is high in simple carbs that will make you gain fat and even possibly cause diabetes while on a vegetarian diet.
Brown rice is unprocessed, contains plenty of nutrients, but is still not regarded as a significant source for protein. Quinoa has a similar texture to replace rice, contains lots of nutrients including fibre for better digestion, and also is regarded for its significant source of protein. Quinoa is essentially a complete source of protein.
Protein powders do come in vegetarian form mainly from soy origins. Men may want to look into other kinds of vegetarian protein since soy encourages oestrogen production when consumed too often.
Supplements are definitely a good idea for vegetarian bodybuilders, which will be discussed soon.
Carbohydrates and Fats in a Vegetarian Bodybuilding Diet
Lack of dietary fats in the diet is pretty bad for your body.
Fats are used as a secondary source for energy after carbs, which is very much needed to prevent protein from being used that reduces muscle mass.
The fats also keep your organs surrounded in protection. This is not the bad fats we think of like vegetable oil.
You can consume walnuts and flaxseeds for omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your health. Essential also means your body does not create them, and you must consume omega-3 fatty acids from whole food sources or supplements.
Consume foods such as flaxseed oil and olive oil when it comes to receiving enough dietary fats. You can easily use them to cook with and drizzle on salad.
Carbs are another big issue because that is what a lot of the vegetarian options for foods are. Fruits and vegetables are not too big of an issue since they contain a lot of vitamins and minerals along with antioxidants to keep your immune system strong.
Simple carbs from rice and processed foods are another story because they cause blood sugar spikes that can change you into being overweight in fat instead of muscle.
Iron is also something to be cautious with. No meats mean you will be lacking in iron consumption. Talk with your doctor and see if iron supplementation is necessary for your diet and training.
Training as a Vegetarian Bodybuilder
Training is a bit different when you are on a vegetarian diet. Your protein sources generally do not last in your body long enough for extended training programs.
You can consume plenty of vegetarian based proteins, but they do not have the “time released” effects that proteins such as casein contain. For this reason you need to preserve your muscles from being extracted of protein for training energy.
Your workouts would need to be short, yet intense enough for muscle building. You may even want to consider training twice a day by building up the muscle adaption to do-so. This will allow you to achieve muscle gains without worrying about losing any due to long training sessions.
Consider performing CrossFit or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) programs since they are highly intense but lasts only 15-30 minutes.
Following training it is vital for you to consume adequate amounts of vegetarian protein and BCAA’s to ensure proper muscle recovery and repair take place.
These two factors lead to muscle growth, which is the primary reason you are seeking to be a bodybuilder. Train smart and frequently have your blood work taken to monitor your nutrient deficiencies – especially for calcium and iron.