If you have taken the life choice to stop eating meat, you might feel getting that lean toned physique is not going to be possible. Trust me, you can still see some impressive muscle gains when following a vegetarian bodybuilding diet. Protein is incredibly important when looking to develop muscle, without sufficient protein gains will be slow and hard to see. Meat is well-known for containing a lot of protein, but there are other sources where you can get your protein fix without having to consume meat.
If you are a vegetarian because of the thought of eating meat, you will be able to see even better results if you are still happy to eat eggs and milk. You are still able to see great results even if you don’t, but you will have more meal choices with these included.
Protein, Carbs and Fats…
Whether you eat meat or not, you NEED these three nutrients in order to see muscle growth. The success of ant bodybuilding effort is a combination of workouts and the actual diet. If the diet does not contain enough of the key nutrients, you just won’t see the results you are looking for.
Protein is the building block of muscle growth, without a continued amount of protein throughout the day your gains will just not be there. As I mentioned before, you don’t need to eat meat in order to get your daily dosage of protein. The reason we add protein to our diet is it helps to “feed” the muscles, thus helping them to develop and grow.
When working out, you are going to be using up a lot of energy. Carbs are very important as they help to provide the body with the energy that it needs. I would advise staying away from simple carbs ie white rice, bread and potatoes. Replace these with complex carbs such as sweet potato, brown rice and whole grain bread.
You have probably been told over and over again that you should avoid fats as they are bad for you. This is simply untrue! There are 3 types of fats, unsaturated, saturated and trans. Out of the three Unsaturated are generally good for you. Saturated can be fine within moderation, you should avoid trans fats completely. The good fats should be in your diet, they are essential for giving your body important fatty acid. These help to increase energy, protect organs and help with hormone functions.
What Can You Eat On A Vegetarian Bodybuilding Diet
Just because you have chosen to follow a meat free diet, doesn’t mean you cannot get the above 3 into your diet. The protein is naturally one of the harder things to get into your body, below are 8 suggested foods that can help you achieve your goals.
Fruits are good for you but you need to limit them due to their natural sugar levels. Too much sugar and that can cause fat gain. I would recommend bananas, apples and pineapple. Adding some of these into your diet and you can see impressive muscle growth due to the carbs and fiber they provide.
Nuts make the perfect mid day snack for anyone looking to increase muscle mass. They are high in protein along with healthy fats and fiber. Typically 1 cup of nuts such as Almond will provide a good 30-40g of protein. You do need to make sure you get unsalted nuts and avoid the bags with raisins.
You have probably heard of Quinoa, it has recently been a bit of a fad and become very popular. I would recommend Quinoa for anyone looking to increase muscle, whether vegetarian or not. It is a complex carb and contains a decent amount of protein. As well as protein it also contains iron, calcium and magnesium. Interestingly it also helps with providing the body with growth hormone.
Tofu contains high quality protein and is therefore an excellent alternative and I would recommend adding it to your diet. It also contains essential nutrients to help with bodybuilding. Studies have shown that Tofu can help to speed up recovery and therefore able to recover from your workouts sooner. The quicker you do recover, the quicker you will see muscle growth.
Chickpeas like tofu are jam packed full of protein and makes it a great addition. Typically by adding a cup of them you will be able to get an extra 40g of protein into your body. Making them an ideal addition to a vegetarian bodybuilders diet.
Cottage cheese is popular with all people looking to increase muscle, it is actually one of the best bodybuilding foods. It is high in the protein casein, which is a slow digesting protein so you can see the benefits for longer.
Kidney beans like chickpeas are also full of protein and fiber. Often you will find meals that combine the two as you can see some incredible muscle growth with the additional protein your body will get.
As well as protein it is important for us to have a healthy body, to do that we need other nutrients such as calcium and folic acids. We also need a range of vitamins to also help improve muscle development and to help with the recovery of the muscles. Leafy Greens such as Kale and spinach are packed full of these. One great way of getting these into your system is through a breakfast smoothie.
Vegetarian Bodybuilding Meal Plan
Its all well and good knowing what you can eat to get protein, but how can you use these to actually make some decent meals?
Below you can find some suggestions of high protein yet vegetarian meals. Perfect to get you from breakfast all the way through to dinner.
Rolled oats is a brilliant breakfast as it is full of protein and fiber, helping you stay full for longer. Give your oatmeal even more protein by putting a good couple of tablespoons of seeds such as flax or chia.
Apple, Pineapple and Cottage Cheese
You already know how good Cottage Cheese is in terms of protein. Get yourself a sliced apple and pineapple, sprinkle with some fresh mint and top with cottage cheese…perfect!
Green Protein Smoothie
Smoothies make a great breakfast as they are quick and easy to make. In a blender combine 30g of whey protein, coconut water, handful of spinach, avocado and handful of blueberries. Blend together and enjoy!
Veggie Omelette with Peanut butter wholemeal toast
Add 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white to a bowl. Add chopped pepper, onion, tomato and a handful of chopped spinach. Mix everything together and bang in a frying pan to make your omelette. Toast your wholemeal bread and spread some peanut butter over the toast, top with omelette and enjoy the extra protein!
Greek Yogurt and Seeded Oatmeal
In a bowl place 25g of oats and sprinkle a teaspoon of chia seeds. Add some sliced banana and blue berries. Top this with some greek yogurt as this is jam packed full of protein. Repeat the process so you have two layers of each. Pop in the fridge and allow to chill overnight.
Baked Tofu and Quinoa
As mentioned above Tofu and Quinoa are perfect for any vegetarian diet. This dish makes a perfect lunch and can be saved overnight if needed to prepare the day before. With the tofu add some salad such as chopped red pepper, tomatoes and some wilted spinach. Place in a bowl and top with baked tofu.
Black Bean & Chickpea Salad
Salad makes a great lunch as it is healthy and even better when combined with tomatoes, peppers, red onion and cucumber. The problem is, there is very little protein. I would add some black beans and chickpea to give it that extra boost, making it an ideal lunch.
Grilled Tofu and Avocado Salad
Avocado salad is great as it has the leafy greens as well as the healthy fats from the Avocado. In a saucepan cook cubes of tofu and continue to stir to brown all sides. Place on the salad and enjoy. What more could you want, protein, healthy fats and full of nutrients.
Chili Chickpea Salad
In a bowl add your leafy greens, tomato, red onion, chipped red chilli and grated lime and zest of 1 lime. Give everything a good stir and place on the cooked chickpeas…perfect lunch. You have the protein from the chickpea and the chilli gives it that extra little heat, helping with the burning of calories.
Tempeh Meatless Meatballs
Tempeh is made soy and originates from Indonesia. It is very high in protein, so perfect for a vegetarian bodybuilding diet. In a food processor ad the tempeh and cooked onion. Add some breadcrumbs and flour and give it a good blitz. Form the balls with your hands and fry in a saucepan until browned all over. Add with tomato sauce to make a yummy meatless meatball lunch.
Mexican Black Bean Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
In a saucepan/wok add a tin of chopped tomatoes. Add Black bean, chickpeas, sliced red peppers and 1 diced onion and cook until fully cooked through. Add red chili powder, ground cumin, ground garlic and salt and pepper. Serve with oven cooked sweet potato and add some cottage cheese…Jam packed full of protein!
BBQ Tempeh, Leafy Greens and Quinoa
This dish is nice as the BBQ marinade helps to give the Tempeh that little extra flavour. In a tray place BBQ sauce, Soy sauce, a little honey, lime juice, zest and some chilli flakes. Give it all a good stir and put in the sliced tempeh. Cover with marinade and allow it to soak it up for at least 1 hour. Cook the tempeh and plate with some wilted leafy greens such as spinach and some quinoa.
I love a good stir fry and just by adding some Tofu, you can boost the protein content. In a wok cook your chosen vegetables with soy sauce. Add in the cubed tofu and continue to cook and stir until all vegetables are cooked and soft. Replace the white rice with quinoa and top with the stir fry.
Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew
Stew for me is perfect winter food, using Chickpea and sweet potato I know it’s going to be healthy. Cook some chopped onions and garlic in a saucepan and add some chilli powder, cayenne pepper and paprika. Cook until translucent and add a tin of chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and cubed sweet potato. Give everything a good stir and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Add some chopped spinach and allow to cook. Serve with quinoa, couscous or some brown rice.
Tofu and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Cubed the tofu and grill in a frying pan till browned on all sides. Cook spinach till it has wilted down and add to a bowl of cooked Quinoa. Add some chopped tomatoes, peppers, sweetcorn and cooked onion. Mix in the cooked Tofu. Add some lemon zest and juice. Empty a couple of red peppers and boil them until soft. Spoon in the quinoa mix and pop in the oven until cooked. Perfect when served with salad or some roast vegetables.
6 Tips To Help You On Your Vegetarian Bodybuilding Diet Plan
Here are 6 tips to help you get through your diet and your workout routine.
Calories are key!
Remember you need to make sure you are getting plenty of calories into your system. If you are working out, your body will turn those calories (fat) into energy. By working out and not increasing calories your body could potentially start turning to muscle for energy, resulting in muscle loss.
Who needs rice?
Rice is in a lot of meals, if you come across one in your diet plan replace it with Quinoa. As mentioned above, Quinoa is jam packed full of protein. Doing this swap will not only continue to make your meals healthy and tasty but also give you that protein you need. I personally prefer the taste of Quinoa over rice.
Try different meals
Like with any diet it is really important to have variation. If you stick to the same meals all of the time, they soon become dull and boring. There are so many options of meals that you can enjoy on a vegetarian diet, experiment with the above suggestions.
Have a Bag of Nuts Handy
I would recommend having a bag of unsalted nuts to hand, they make the perfect mid morning snack. Full of protein, healthy fats and a decent amount of calories to help boost size gains. With nuts they help to give energy that lasts longer, making them ideal for a pre gym snack.
Consider Adding Multi-vitamins to your routine
Whether someone eats meat or not, I would always recommend a daily dose of Multivitamins. We simply don’t get enough of the essential minerals and vitamins from our diets. As you do not eat meat one that you might be lower in is iron. If you were to get any additional supplements down you, I would recommend a Iron supplement.
With low iron, you will find the production of red blood cells decreases, which is essential for transporting fat/energy. Suffering from iron deficiency results in increased fatigue and tiredness.
Add An Extra Meal To Your Day
You want to make sure your body is getting essential Amino Acids throughout the entire day. As you would be consuming less protein than on a meat based diet, you may want to add an extra meal in. By doing so you can make sure your body is always getting the nutrients it needs.
Are There Any Vegetarian Bodybuilding Supplements?
As I mentioned before, it is more than possible to increase your protein content even when being a vegetarian. If you are wanting to give it that extra boost, you might want to look at some form of supplements.
The supplements you might be interested in, does depend on your goals. Below are some recommended supplements to aid in your workouts;
Typically a pre workout will have everything you need to give your workouts that little extra. Many of the decent ones will contain that extra protein, helping with improving muscle growth and recovery.
There are some great pre workout supplements, not all of them are decent though. It’s important to do your research to make sure you are getting a good product. Using a rubbish pre-workout will just result in you not seeing the best results.
If your goal is to increase in size and bulk up the mass, you might want to consider using a bulking supplement. These have been formulated to help boost strength, muscle growth and also help to give you that energy boost. Make sure you use one that has been made from vegetarian capsules.
Got the muscle but want to shed the fat? A decent diet for vegetarian bodybuilding tends to have low calories, you therefore may not need to shed much. From my experience and the people I have met, most vegetarians tend to have some amazing lean muscle.
If you are looking to cut, then you might want to try some form of cutting supplement.
Not really a increase in protein but in order to develop muscle, we need testosterone. As you have probably read, it’s the building block for increasing muscle growth. To help increase your muscle and get the goals you want, you might want to combine your diet with a decent testosterone booster.