Think you have to eat meat in order to achieve the results you dream of? Think again! Here are some great tips on how to build muscle on a vegetarian diet. We’ve included a DELICIOUS RECIPE at the end!
GetTING Sufficient Calories
While training hard to build muscle on a vegetarian diet, you need to make sure you get enough calories. Otherwise your body might use the protein you consume for fuel instead of muscle building. Training on a vegetarian diet often requires you to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. Make sure you vary your food choices and avoid relying on processed foods!
Getting Enough Protein While Training
When it comes to building lean muscle mass, you already know that protein is your friend. But it doesn’t have to come from animals.
Whether you are a lacto-vegetarian (dairy allowed), pescatarian (fish allowed), lacto-ovo vegetarian (dairy and eggs allowed), or vegan (nothing that comes from an animal allowed), there are great sources of protein available for you.
• Whey and casein powders (for vegetarians who eat dairy; these are milk byproducts)
• Soy protein
• Pea protein
• Egg protein
• Hemp protein
Other great sources of protein:
• Egg whites
• Legumes- beans, lentils
• Nuts and seeds
• Soy products- tofu, tempeh
• Seitan (this is made of mostly gluten, so not for you if you have a gluten allergy!)
Watching Out For Deficiencies
Vegetarians need to make sure they are getting enough iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12, as these can be deficiencies within a vegetarian diet.
Dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach, dried fruit, dried peas, beans, lentils, and artichokes are all good sources of heme-iron, the type of iron vegetarians sometimes lack.
If you are vegan and don’t eat dairy, remember that spinach, collards, kale, broccoli, and almonds are great sources of calcium.
Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and fortified cereals will give you zinc.
Be aware that the body more easily absorbs vitamin B12 found in animal-based foods. If you’re vegan, it’s best to find foods fortified with adequate amounts of plant-based vitamin B12, or find a B12 supplement that is vegan.
Many times, vegetarian body builders are heckled about their diets, but the reality is that it is very possible to achieve the results you’re looking for while maintaining a vegetarian diet. Many vegatarians report increased stamina, as a meatless diet requires less energy to digest. Stay positive and keep working towards your goals, and the results will show.
RECIPE: This southwestern quinoa salad with creamy avocado dressing is meatless and packed with protein!
• 1 cup uncooked quinoa
• 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 small punnet (200g) grape tomatoes
• 1 orange bell pepper, diced
• 1 large avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
• ½ cup diced cucumber (seeds removed)
• ½ cup sweet corn (canned or frozen/defrosted)
• ¼ cup diced red onion
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 lime, for juicing over the salad
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
Creamy Avocado Dressing
• 1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
• ¼ cup silken tofu
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp water
• 2 tbsp chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
• 1 tablespoon tahini
• 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
• ⅛ tsp chili powder
• Salt and ground black pepper, to taste[/one_half]
1. Place the quinoa along with 2 cups salted water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to the lowest heat setting. Simmer until water is completely absorbed and quinoa is fluffy, about 20 minutes.
2. While the quinoa is cooking, make the Creamy Avocado Dressing. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, avocado, cucumber, corn, red onion. Pour dressing over quinoa salad and stir until salad is well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Tip: squeeze fresh lime juice over the salad if you are not eating right away, so the avocado doesn’t brown.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve at room temperature or chilled.