I will go on the record in saying that nutrition is the most important part of the muscle building equation. What you put into your mouth will determine the gains that you make from intense workouts in the gym and how you recover and build muscle away from the gym.
Nutrition is important for every bodybuilder and especially for vegan athletes and trainees. Building an impressive physique is possible while adhering to a Vegan diet and lifestyle, but careful planning is necessary to maximize testosterone and insulin production and to maximize recovery.
If you are currently following the workout program that I created in Part I, then you are doing all you need to in the gym to stimulate new muscle growth. With your workouts well underway, it is important to maximize your time away from the gym and your training table (meals for the week).
I will admit that there certain benefits as far as testosterone release and absorption that occur with meat and whey protein consumption. As a vegan, I do not eat any of these products or any product that comes from an animal source.
My reasons are based on my own morals and ethics which is not to say that I look down upon those who do not follow my lifestyle, it is just that I personally feel that abusing and killing animals for personal gain is not something that I want to be affiliated with.
Even if you do not believe in my lifestyle choice, I still believe that the principles and base for my nutrition program can be taken and used for your benefit. Again, my goal is to promote a vegan lifestyle and to show that it is possible to achieve great gains while holding to a vegan lifestyle.
I am not making judgments, just creating an awareness and providing a resource for those who are vegan, are interested in becoming vegan or those who would like to learn how I build my physique while living a vegan lifestyle.
Eating Vegan has become simpler in recent years with the increase in awareness and a more mainstreaming of Vegan lifestyles. Most commercial-chain supermarkets have Organic sections and there is an increase in the amount of natural and organic markets throughout the United States. Everyone Vegan or non-Vegan can reap the benefits of eating natural and organic foods.
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 bodybuilding.
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 muscles.
Is it possible to bodybuild without meat? Without fish/chicken/meat is it possible to gain or maintain muscle? Very good questions and not a lot of research to help us out with the answers since most studies on vegetarianism revolve around sedentary adults. I’ve been doing some reading on the link between diet and cancer and heart disease and have decided that it is definitely healthier to eat a plant based diet, if you are interested read the book “The China Study“. The question is, am I going to have to lower my bodybuilding standards to be a vegetarian?
I have been on basically a vegetarian diet since 3/2006 and have found no reduction in muscle mass from eliminating meat/chicken/fish in my diet. When I eat at restaurants which is about twice a week, I allow myself to have meat so some small amount of my protein comes from meat but not any significant amount. I have convinced myself that eliminating meat/chicken/fish from the diet will not limit a bodybuilders progress. Granted, this in no way constitutes a scientific study and I hope that real studies will be done in the future to prove this. Please note my diet is not vegan, I still eat about 180g of protein from whey and other non-meat sources daily.
The real question is, can a bodybuilder build muscle on a vegan diet like the raw food diet or the McDougall diet? Being a vegan bodybuilder is much, much more difficult than being a vegetarian bodybuilder. Check out some photos of vegan bodybuilders and compare that to natural bodybuilders (meat eating) or vegetarian bodybuilders. From what I have seen, its much more difficult for vegan bodybuilders to add muscle.
Whether designed to build muscle mass or to preferentially cut bodyfat, the optimal diet can be summed up as being the correct caloric intake with correct proportions of macronutrients, with those macronutrients being derived from a wide variety of foods which provide sufficient micronutrients to service the body’s requirements. This is not the exclusive domain of the meat-based diet and in fact the evidence suggests that a vegetarian diet can be formulated to achieve the same results, perhaps with better long term health consequences.
Steve Holt – The Vegetarian Bodybuilder ™
You read all the time “Is vegan diet safe for vegan athletes?”, “The dangers of vegan diets!” etc. Usually touted by someone with an agenda, so I think I might just have a little rant about it if you don’t mind, as today I read yet another, stupid, ill-thought out claim from yet another site. So, let’s cover a few facts. I won’t reference this as I want to rant, not dig about on the net, if you really want references ask below. First off, is a vegan diet safe – you have all these gurus, often with a paelo agenda, or into keto-style eating moaning about the ‘dangers’ of a vegan diet. So, let’s look for a moment at science & how it works. First off, a study shows us very little really, one study says virtually nothing, a few imply something, a lot show what we call consensus. Research is an attempt to achieve consensus by looking at loads of research & seeing if any common threads occur. Therefore I can find a study that says blueberries are bad, this does not mean blueberries are bad, because the consensus is that taking everything into account blueberries are actually pretty good! So, to avoid the ‘annoyance’ of consensus many authors, especially those selling a product like a book or product do what is called ‘cherry picking’ studie