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Diets for Vegetarian Bodybuilders

Diets for Vegetarian Bodybuilders


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Following a bodybuilding diet can be a challenge for anyone, but when you bring in a dietary restriction like vegetarianism, it makes it even tougher. Bodybuilding diets require close attention to calorie intake and the three macronutrients -- proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Building muscle and losing fat on a vegetarian diet is possible, but may take a little more planning to manage it successfully.

Calories

Your calorie intake should be the same regardless of whether you're vegetarian or not. You need to consume enough calories to make sure your body doesn't start using muscle mass as fuel, advises trainer Shannon Clark on Bodybuilding.com. Active men need 2,400 to 3,000 calories per day and women need 2,000 to 2,400. On an intense bodybuilding routine you may need more than this to gain mass in a bulking phase or less when cutting body fat for a competition. Increase your calorie intake until you're gaining at a rate of around one-half pound a week in the off-season and reduce it so you lose 1 to 2 pounds per week on a pre-contest diet.

Protein

Typical protein-based foods in Western diets include poultry, red meat and fish, all of which are off the menu as a vegetarian. Good lean protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians include whole eggs and egg whites, along with low-fat dairy products such as skim milk, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and fat-free cheese. One egg provides 6 grams of protein while a cup of cottage cheese has 27 grams. Vegans can look to plant-based proteins like soy and soy products, lentils and kidney beans. One cup of raw lentils contains just under 50 grams of protein, and soy beans are 40 percent protein.

Carbs and Fats

Getting adequate carbohydrate on a vegetarian diet is rarely an issue, as many vegetarian protein sources also contain higher amounts of carbs than animal protein. The key is to choose nutrient-rich, whole-grain carbohydrates, according to nutritionist Dr. John Berardi. Pick brown rice, whole-grain bread and whole-wheat pasta over the white varieties. Fats are important for bodybuilders as they aid with hormone production and recovery, so include a small serving of olive oil or nut oil, avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds or a nut butter at each meal.

Success and Potential Struggles

One of the most well-known vegetarian bodybuilders is Bill Pearl, who won the Mr. Universe title in 1971 as a vegetarian. Robert Cheeke, Andreas Cahling and Steve Holt have all also proved it's possible to succeed in bodybuilding on a vegetarian diet. One of the main troubles you may encounter is bloating, due to your high intake of beans, legumes and grains, however, according to Dr. Berardi. You may also struggle a little more with losing body fat as a vegetarian, as bodybuilders typically cut carbs and increase protein leading up to a contest, which can be difficult when you rely on higher-carb protein sources.



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