We all know that lean meats such as chicken and turkey as well as fish and steak are excellent sources of protein and therefore great ways to build muscle, but what about those who choose a non-meat diet? Are vegetarians destined for a physique lacking muscle bulk?
“Of course not” said Jack Baker, Co-Founder and Director of Nutrition at transformational fitness programme, Back2Fitness. “While meat is a great source of protein, it isn’t the only source and there are plenty of ways in which vegetarians can combine the protein and calories they need along with targeted workouts to build muscle.”
Protein plays an important role in any diet and can help manage weight gain as it has the benefit of helping us feel fuller for longer, helping to curb those snacking habits.
“A pitfall for many vegetarians” confirmed Jack, “which can impact their muscle building is to not eat enough protein and fill up on carbs. The result is adding fat, instead of muscle.
As a vegetarian, adding protein to your diet needn’t be complicated, check out these top tips:
- Shake it, baby! Protein shakes are a convenient way to add protein, fibre and macronutrients into a diet. What’s more, they can easily be adapted to suit your needs and tastes. When it comes to upping the protein power, pea protein is a good choice for vegetarians as it is derived from peas, high in protein and cholesterol free.
- Go nuts! Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein as well as healthy fats. Extremely versatile, they can be eaten raw as a snack, blitzed into a power shake or thrown into dishes to add texture.
- An egg-cellent source of protein Meat isn’t the only way to up your protein intake, in fact eggs are packed with muscle-building protein; around 7g per egg! Other great sources include quinoa and beans which offer the added benefit of help you to feel fuller for longer.
- Fuel boost If the aim is to build muscle and lose fat, then working out is a must. With increased workouts, it will be necessary to up the amount of fuel you put into your body. Eat a balanced diet which includes protein, fruit and veg as well as essential fats every couple of hours to keep your body topped up. Keep carbs for post workout meals only.
- Peak performance Whatever your diet, whether it includes meat or not, ensuring you get all the vitamins and minerals you need can be tricky.
“Macronutrients are extremely important” confirmed Jack, “not only do they give us the energy we need, but they help to ensure our bodies can perform as they should.
Iron is one mineral which can often be lacking in diets and while a rich source of iron is red meat, leafy greens, lentils and artichokes are also a good source. However, an iron supplement may be required. It may also be worth adding a vitamin B12 supplement to your diet too as the body doesn’t absorb the vitamin B12 found in fruit and veg as well as that found in animal products.
If training hard calcium is also important to ensure optimum performance, upping the dairy will help as will almonds, kale, broccoli and spinach.
Find out more about Back2Fitness at www.back2fitness.co
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