Bodybuilding for Veggies
Looking at most bodybuilder blogs and articles you could easily assume that only meat eaters need apply. However this is certainly not the case and there are a huge number of vegetarian bodybuilders today.
Tip # 1: Protein is important but it isn’t the whole story. With sufficient calorie intake your body can avoid turning immediately to protein as a source of energy. Getting enough calories is crucial for vegetarians engaged in high energy activities.
Tip #2: Alternative vegetarian protein sources do exist. They come primarily in the form of various grains and legumes such as brown rice, soya products and chick-peas. Although brown rice is often a staple for many vegetarian diets quinoa, an ancient South American grain with a different texture and taste, is higher in protein and is also a complete protein which brown rice is not. Tempe, the Indonesian staple, is also a good alternative to its more common soy bean derived cousin, tofu. Tempe, unlike tofu which is made from filtered soy bean pulp, consists of the whole soy bean which after boiling is naturally fermented and thus richer in essential nutrients and protein. Chick peas, or garbanzo beans, like most legumes, are also good low fat sources of carbohydrates. Just think of humus, which is 80% chick peas, an ideal snack with whole-wheat pita bread and salad. Yum!
Tip #3: Nuts and seeds are another important alternative source of protein and fats for energy and muscle gain. Flax seeds need to be ground first to be effectively digested and peanuts in the form of peanut butter provide plenty of protein. Walnuts and sunflower seeds are also recommended.
Tip#4: A varied diet based on the above examples, plus plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as eggs and milk products such as low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese should provide most of the nutrients, carbs and protein you need to fuel your body building program. Vegans might just take longer.
Tip#5: Two of the most important vegetables for body builders or anyone involved in high energy activities are broccoli and spinach. They both are high in calcium and it has been said that Popeye was right – spinach does actually enhance muscle strength.
Tip#6: Frequent and regular meals keep a steady flow of amino acids and proteins to muscles and compensate for a lower protein intake.
Tip#7: What the vegetarian body builder needs most of all is quality nutrition to make up for any nutrient deficiencies. Therefore, avoid high carb processed foods and follow a varied diet based on natural sources.
Tip#8: Supplements can be useful for the vegetarian body builder, especially branch chain amino acids which should be taken before and after workouts to guard against muscle mass loss. Iron is good for red blood cell growth and avoiding fatigue. Also, use egg white or soy protein powders to boost protein intake and mix with other protein sources to be most effective.
Tip#9: Finally, short, intensive workouts will help prevent muscle mass loss and protein depletion.