Vegetarianism and bodybuilding don’t mix, right? This may have been the consensus in the past, but today, an increasing number of people are choosing to become vegetarian, including bodybuilders, and athletes.
One of the first questions that people ask in regards to a body builder being vegetarian is:
“How do you get enough protein and calories in your diet to maintain your muscle mass?”
It’s no secret that eating a large amount of protein (more than 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day) is vital to a bodybuilder’s success. We also know that to eat such a high amount of protein, bodybuilders need to eat a diet that is high in meat.
So, how do vegetarian bodybuilders do it? How do they maintain their physiques? How do they keep up their energy levels?
Here are 12 tips that will help vegetarian bodybuilders in the gym and in the kitchen:
1) Make sure you are eating enough calories: Keep track of the amount of calories you are consuming. Since fruits and vegetables tend to have fewer calories than meat, you will need to increase how much you eat.
2) Eat quality calories: Limit your consumption of refined and processed foods.
3) Eat more chickpeas and legumes: This is one of the key sources of protein for vegetarians.
4) Consume lots of egg whites: Egg whites are a great source of protein. They are diverse, can be cooked on their own, used in shakes, baking, and many other ways to boost your protein consumption.
5) Eat quinoa instead of rice: Quinoa is similar to rice with the added benefit of having more protein.
6) Eat more nuts: This is a perfect snack to boost your energy and consume healthy fats.
7) Watch your activity level: With it being more difficult for you to meet your protein consumption goals, limit your workouts to ensure you are not burning muscle mass.
8) Invest in BCAAs: This will help you maintain your muscle mass and prevent loss.
9) Increase consumption of essential fatty acids: Increase supplementation with Omega-3s, flaxseed oil and other EFAs to keep up your energy levels.
10) Supplement with iron: Meat is a main source of iron, and many vegetarians lack iron in their diet. Consider adding an iron supplement to your diet.
11) Research protein-rich foods: Meat is not the only source of protein. There are many other good sources of protein you can add to your diet, including tofu, soy, oatmeal, seeds, edamame, spinach, broccoli, peanut butter, and more.
12) Supplement, supplement, and supplement: Find a good protein supplement and use it regularly to ensure you are meeting your protein needs.
Being a successful vegetarian bodybuilder is possible. You will just need to work harder to increase your protein levels and get your nutrition in order.