Getting your daily protein requirements on a vegetarian diet can be challenging. Here are some tips for vegetarian bodybuilding. This will help you gain muscle faster.
Top 10 Vegetarian Bodybuilding Tips
Muscle building has become more than just a fad or a trend. For today’s youth, building muscles is the way to lead a healthy and fit life. While before, only bodybuilders were obsessed with building up muscles but now, everyone – skinny or not, vegetarian or not – wants good muscles. It has become a symbol of beauty and fitness as well.
Yet, many are misinformed on how to go about attaining muscles. It is especially hard to put on muscles if a person is vegetarian. People have a misconception that building muscles is all dependent upon packing in a lot of meat in their diet. No, a person can easily achieve a six-pack, even on a vegetarian diet.
Firstly, let’s classify vegetarianism because there are a few different types:
- Vegans follow a vegetarian diet that only looks to plant-based proteins to satisfy their protein needs. They do not use any animal-based products, such as meat, fish, eggs, milk or other dairy products.
- Lactovegetarians are those who exclude animal-based products like meat and poultry but do use milk and other dairy products in their diet.
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarians include eggs as well as milk and other dairy products but reject other animal-based products.
Hence, your diet depends upon the type of vegetarianism you follow. It would be preferable if you are vegetarian open to eating eggs and milk because those do contain good amounts of protein.
Here are a few tips on how to build up muscles as a vegetarian:
Include protein in every meal
Reed Mangels, a famous dietician believes that proteins are an important part of the diet, but we do not need exorbitant amounts of it. A person can easily reach their daily protein requirement even on a vegetarian diet by remembering to include proteins in every meal. An average adult has a recommended daily protein intake of 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. This may slightly vary depending upon the body weight. So, calculate how much protein is needed and consume that much, or more. Protein has the added advantage of making you feel full so you will have a trim body.
Some of the good sources of plant-based protein are Oats, Broccoli, Lentils, Whole grain or Ezekiel bread, Brussels sprout and avocado.
Now, you cannot assume to get as much protein from plants as you would get from animal-based products. There are certain protein components that mostly, only animal-based products can satisfy. Therefore, the best thing to do is to supplement your diet with the right protein supplements. Nowadays, there are a lot of vegan protein powders available in the market.
Here are a few of them:
- Pea protein powder: Like other plant-based proteins, peas are low in an essential amino acid called methionine. But the good news is that pea protein is something else called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Studies prove that regular consumption of pea protein powder can increase muscle mass.
- Hemp protein powder: Specially created hemp protein can contain a large amount of fibre, zinc, magnesium, iron etc. It is especially rich in the plant version of omega 3 fats, which is difficult for vegans to get without fish in their diet.
- Brown rice protein powder: Brown rice protein powder is a very common and inexpensive source of protein. This too, like pea protein, contains BCAAs, which can help in building stronger muscles. A normal-sized cup of brown rice protein powder can contain up to 22 grams of protein.
- Chia protein powder: A serving of chia protein powder in a cup may contain up to 10 grams of protein. It is rich in fibres, vitamins and minerals. These include biotin and chromium.
- Go for variety
It might become monotonous to consume the same sources of protein at every meal. So switch it up because all the plant-based protein sources can be made into very tasty meals.
So if you’re having say, oatmeal for breakfast, have some beans for lunch along with broccoli or Brussel sprouts in a healthy salad. Similarly, have a healthy dinner menu too. All these contain a good quantity of protein too. It is easy to reach the daily protein requirement and still stay healthy this way. Besides, you will not feel like you’re strictly following a diet because of these different food items.
- Intake more carbs
Many feel like while building muscles, it is better to avoid carbs completely, but it is not so. Especially on a vegetarian diet, carbs play a major role in providing enough energy to do different activities. Since you are dedicated to building muscles, this will means strenuous bouts of training, for which you need the carbohydrates. Thus, up to 60% of your diet should account for carbs.
Go for healthy carbs, like oats, quinoa, lentils and whole-grain bread. Most of these contain protein as well, so the diet is sorted both in case of protein and carb requirement.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are good for you
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated or healthy fats. These are important because they help to build muscles and prevent injuries as well. Most people get their omega 3 fatty acids from fish like salmon, but for vegetarians, coconut or olive oil, different types of nuts can provide it. Omega 3 fatty acids help to burn excess fat and ensure that unwanted calories are not consumed.
- Iron is important as well
Most people look to add proteins, carbs and healthy fats in the diet but forget about essential nutrients and minerals. Their deficiency can also be a deterrent in achieving good-looking muscles. Iron, in particular, is a very important of a healthy diet for a vegetarian. This is because plant-based iron sources are not as easily absorbed as animal-based products. Iron carries oxygen to cells in the body and creates red blood cells. Deficiency of iron may cause anaemia and associated health risks. Add a good quantity of lentils and leafy greens to prevent iron deficiency.
- Go for protein-rich snacks
It doesn’t help if you’re training and following a strict diet only to reach for unhealthy snacks every other day. Avoid junk food, artificial sweeteners etc., and go for healthy nuts and fruits for snacks. They are appetising and tasty to boot.
Eating a handful of nuts like cashew, almonds etc. can contribute to a healthy body.
Similarly, drink natural beverages or protein shakes regularly.
- Portion control and more meals
Eating a huge meal 3 times a day will not make good muscles. Instead, go for small portions, but have multiple meals scattered throughout the day. This will ensure a constant supply of energy that can be used for training. It will also keep hunger pangs at bay so you are not tempted to cheat on your diet.
- Weight lifting is great
Any one keen on building muscles must lift weights. Along with following a proper diet, a specific training program can do bounds in helping to achieve the muscle structure you dream of. An important part of such training is weight lifting. Exercises using free weights, compounds like squats and deadlifts must be part of your training routine. This will help to gain more strength and help in muscle gains to gain weight. The best way to measure the success of a workout is by lifting enough weights. Keep on adding weights to your rep until the last one you do is difficult but not impossible. Do remember not to overtax yourself.
- Keep a food journal to note down calorie consumption
This is a great idea to keep track of your calorie consumption. Often, what happens is that we assume that we are having proper amounts of food, but they may not be meeting the caloric requirement. This will affect muscle building, and degrade progress. Other times, we may be exceeding the caloric requirement leading to excess fat accumulation. It is a good idea to keep a food journal where you can note down everything that you eat in a day. If you are consulting a dietician or working with a training coach, it might help to give them useful insight so that they can tailor diet/training per your needs.
Hope these tips will stand you in good stead when building muscles. Always keep in mind that being a vegetarian is never a hindrance to muscle building. It all depends upon the diet and training and above all, hard work! Stay fit!