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Vegetarian Bodybuilding the Right Way: How to Structure Your Vegetarian Bodybuilding Diet Plan to Build Muscle without Eating Meat

  Nov 4th, 2011

I would like to start this post by saying that I am not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination and I thoroughly enjoy eating meat.

However, I have great respect for those who, for reasons of healthy living or otherwise, follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.


I call it a lifestyle because committing to abstaining from certain foods is not something that happens by coincidence. Whether you are following a strict diet to get ripped, or abstaining from meat for any number of personal reasons, following a healthy eating plan day in and day out takes serious effort, planning and dedication.


As if this wasn’t enough, vegetarians who have the desire to build muscle mass have the additional challenge of providing their bodies with the right combination of proteins that are required to build muscle mass.


Let me explain…


Amino Acids and Constructing Vegetarian Muscle Building Meals

As I explain in great detail in my complete guide for muscle growth, the body requires complete proteins that contain all eight of the essential amino acids in order to build muscle mass. For meat eaters, providing the body with these complete proteins is a simple process since the proteins found in all meat, poultry, fish and dairy foods contain all of the essential amino acids required for muscle growth.


On the other hand, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains do not contain all 8 essential amino acids in their respective protein profiles. So, eating any of these foods by themselves will not provide your body with the nutrition required for muscle gains and is a huge stumbling block for vegetarians and vegans looking to build muscle mass.


The good news is that vegetarian bodybuilders can get past this potential muscle building hurdle by combining various vegetarian foods in such a way that all of the essential amino acids are included in each meal, making these protein combinations completely sufficient for the body to use for the purposes of building new muscle tissue.


For instance, here are some examples of complementary proteins that form a complete amino acid profile when combined with one another:


• Rice and Beans

• Peanut Butter on Whole Wheat Bread

• Peanuts and Sunflower Seeds

• Salad with Chickpeas and Cornbread


If you are a vegetarian (or a vegan) looking to build muscle mass, it is absolutely imperative that your meals contain every essential amino acid in order for you to build any kind of noticeable amounts of muscle mass – there is simply no way around it.


Vegetarian Muscle Building CookbookIf you want to learn more about combining vegan-acceptable foods for building muscle mass, I recommend that you check out Jason Ferruggia’s Plant Based Cookbook.


Jason is a vegetarian bodybuilder who has put together over 130 easy to prepare vegetarian-acceptable muscle building meals that are formulated specifically for vegetarians as a way to give them the complete proteins required for muscle growth during each meal throughout the day.


Learn More About Jason’s Plant Based Cookbook


Vegetarian and Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements

As with any other bodybuilding program, supplements are certainly not required for quickly building muscle mass as a vegetarian bodybuilder. The truth is that your nutrition plan is far more important to your muscle building and fat loss results than any supplement.


However, there is one supplement that can make life a little easier on vegetarian bodybuilders by eliminating some of the effort required when preparing meals and help them to still get great muscle building results, even if they have a meal or two in which they do not combine their proteins in such a way that they are complete.


How BCAA Supplementation Can Help Vegetarian and Vegan Bodybuilders

Following a vegetarian bodybuilding diet can be somewhat cumbersome, even if you are armed with an arsenal of great tasting muscle building recipes for vegetarian bodybuilders. It is inevitable that you will encounter certain circumstances that will prevent you from being able to prepare and eat a meal that contains the full spectrum of essential amino acids.


Therefore, I recommend using a BCAA supplement as a way to make sure that your body still receives a full dose of essential amino acids, even when your food may be essential amino acid deficient.


While it won’t kill you to go a meal or two without providing the full range of amino acids to your muscles, using a daily BCAA supplement can have a significant impact on a vegetarian bodybuilder’s long term muscle building progress by giving them a way to guarantee that their body always has the necessary nutrients on hand to repair and rebuild their muscles throughout all times of the day.


What About Whey Protein Powder?
While true vegan bodybuilders will not allow themselves to use whey protein powder, supplementing with whey protein is perfectly acceptable for most vegetarians.

Since whey protein is a fast absorbing complete protein source, drinking a whey protein shake is a very quick and convenient way to provide your body with a large amount of muscle building protein at times when you don’t feel like preparing a meal or simply don’t have the time to do so.

If it doesn’t violate your conscience to do so, I highly recommend having a tub of quality whey protein at your disposal as a method of conveniently consuming your protein requirement for any given meal as part of your vegetarian muscle building diet.


Vegetarian Bodybuilding Success is Possible

If you landed on this page wondering if it would be possible for you to build significant amounts of muscle mass as a vegetarian, I hope that I have convinced you that the answer is a resounding yes. Like any bodybuilding nutrition plan, it just takes a little additional effort and planning to make sure that you are providing your body with all of the nutrients required for muscle growth.



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