How To Be A Vegetarian
Author: Gray Rollins
Surprisingly, being a vegetarian bodybuilder isn't really as
difficult as many people automatically assume it is. In some
ways it may be easier because adhering to a real vegetarian
diet takes a lot of focus and discipline, two things that will
greatly help you in the gym.
First, we should define our terms because there are three
basic groups of people who consider themselves "vegetarians." I
refer to these three groups as pseudo-vegetarians, meat
vegetarians and vegetarians. The pseudo vegetarian avoids beef,
chicken and poultry but will sometimes eat fish and has no
problem with other animal products. A meat vegetarian avoids
all meat. A vegetarian avoids any foods (or products in
general) that contain any amount of animal product.
This article is aimed directly at the true vegetarians, who
avoid all animal products. The meat-vegetarians and
pseudo-vegetarians will gain useful information as well, but
true vegetarians have very specialized needs during
Since there is no difference in biological manner in which a
vegetarian and a carnivore actually build muscles, we don't
need to go into any specific exercise differences. Instead,
we'll be focusing on dietary issues.
The first challenge goes back to the way muscles build in
our bodies. We exercise our muscles, which does microscopic
damage to the tissue and then our bodies repair the damage with
bigger and stronger tissue while we recuperate. To effectively
do this, our bodies need to use protein in massive amounts,
which is why bodybuilders increase their protein intake.
Vegetarians face a challenge here because the most common
source of protein is meat. Okay, so it's not actually that much
of a challenge. According to the Protein Digestibility
Corrected Amino Acid Score, soy is equal to whey and superior
to beef in protein content. Soy provides all 8 essential amino
acids required by your body for growing and repairing
Vegetarians would be well-advised to consider soy as a
primary protein source.
The really good news is that soy is also a fantastic source
of glutamine which many bodybuilders already take in
supplemental form. Soy is available in many different forms
such as tofu, miso, soy powder and soy milk. Soy milk is
definitely something to have on hand as it can be used to
replace cow's milk in recipes, which will help expand your
basic food options.
Almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and pistachio nuts are
all excellent sources of both protein and fat; the vegetarian
needs to work on getting enough good fats as well, so with the
above examples you can go nuts...was that a pun?
You can also add a tablespoon or so of flaxseed oil, as flax
seed is one of the very best sources for the essential fatty
acid alpha linolenic acid.
Finally, vegetarians need to ensure that they get enough
vitamins and minerals. This can be done in multivitamin form
although most of the meal-replacement shakes which are so
popular among bodybuilders already contain vitamins and
minerals galore. The only additional vitamin to look for is
B12, which is generally an animal product based vitamin.
Like I said in the beginning, it isn't nearly as hard to be
a vegetarian bodybuilder as many people would think. You've got
the discipline part down and, by following the guidelines
listed above, you will be set up nutritionally to build massive
amounts of muscle!
About the author: Gray Rollins
writes for MuscleProgram.com. Learn more about
vegetarian bodybuilding, and healthy
ways to gain muscle mass, by visiting us.