In terms of bodybuilding, it’s pretty safe to assume that the work you do in the gym is only a small part of the work required to build a lean, muscular, defined, and powerful looking physique. Bodybuilding and building muscle in general, is considered by many to be a combination of just 30% training in the gym, and a whopping 70% diet and nutrition. Put simply, if you want to build muscle, you can lift all the weights you like, but if your diet and supplement intake sucks, you simply aren’t going to get anywhere. One key macronutrient which is essential for building muscle, and indeed for functioning healthily on a daily basis, is protein. The problem however, is that not all foods contain protein, and unfortunately if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, getting enough protein can be tricky as the most common whole food examples include meats, fish, and seafood. On top of protein however, the other two macronutrients; fat and carbohydrates, are also just as important and are often overlooked. A healthy and balanced diet is essential for building a physique to be proud of, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a full-on carnivore. In this article however, we’ll be taking a look at vegetarian bodybuilding by providing you with six examples of the best vegetarian bodybuilding foods you could ever wish for.
Vegans often don’t consume eggs, whereas vegetarians often do. If you are a vegetarian bodybuilder looking to boost your protein intake, eggs are your best friend for a number of reasons. To begin with, eggs are a fantastic source of protein, with one egg containing around 5 – 6 grams of protein on average. On top of that, they’re also the only food to boast a complete amino acid profile, proving all essential, and non-essential amino acids required by the body. That’s just the tip of the iceberg however, as eggs are also packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the main nutrients found in eggs include B vitamins, folate, zinc, and iron. People often shy away from the yolks as that is where the fat is held but in reality, the fats contained in the yolk are very healthy. If you are trying to watch your weight, simply separate and remove the yolk and you’re left with the high-protein egg white which is extremely low in calories. Eggs are also very versatile as they can be prepared in so many different ways. As a vegetarian bodybuilder, if you do consume eggs, make sure you get enough. Try to limit yourself to three yolks per day however, as too much can be detrimental.
Quinoa is a super-food that the health and fitness community are going crazy over, and rightfully so. Quinoa is a grain, similar to brown rice and couscous and it is ideal for vegetarian bodybuilders for a variety of reasons. To begin with, Quinoa contains close to 10 grams of protein in one serving, but perhaps even more beneficial is the fact that it is packed full of other nutrients including: iron, zinc, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, manganese and much more besides. It can be used as a side dish, substituted for rice or couscous, or even for baking with.
Don’t get too excited, the nuts we’re talking about here are all-natural, preferably organic, with no added salts or flavourings. Nuts taste delicious, they’re crunchy and so add texture to foods and dishes, and above all else, they’re very nutritionally dense. Nuts are not only a great source of protein, they’re also a great source of healthy fats and calories, making them perfect for vegetarian bodybuilders. Just to give a rough idea of what sort of macros you’re dealing with, one cup serving of almonds contains close to 30 grams of protein and 71 grams of healthy fats. Whilst the fat content is high, just remember that the fats are in fact healthy fats, making nuts ideal for people on low carb, high protein, high fat diets such as Keto or Atkins. Another benefit of nuts is that they’re often prepared ready to eat, so you can eat them whilst on the go, meaning you can easily give yourself some extra energy and protein, even if there’s no kitchen in sight.
So far the foods on our list may be pretty healthy, and perfectly edible, but they’re hardly the type of foods you get excited about eating, for most people anyways. This is where nut butters prove so beneficial. Nut butters, peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew nut butter for example, contain all of the nutrients found in whole nuts, with the added bonus of tasting rich, creamy, and incredibly delicious. For a quick and healthy snack, why not grab yourself a toasted wholemeal bagel, and spread liberally with your favourite nut butter. Again, make sure the butters are all-natural, with nothing added or taken away. Some manufacturers add extra oils, salts, sugars, and fats to try and enhance the taste, and this is not what you want, so go natural, preferably organic.
Cottage cheese is another firm favourite of many vegetarian bodybuilders, as it tastes great, it provides moisture to meals, it’s low in calories, fats, and carbs, and it is loaded full of protein and amino acids, as well as healthy minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Cottage cheese is very similar to casein protein as it is derived from dairy milk. It is in fact, rich in casein protein, which means that it supplies the body with a slow and steady stream of proteins for several hours after consumption. On top of that, it also contains large quantities of healthy bacteria and live cultures which help improve digestion, as well as digestive health in the process.
Tofu is arguably the most popular soy protein product currently available, and is, for many vegetarians, the go-to primary meat substitute when dining out. Tofu is packed full of vegetarian-friendly protein, it contains essential and non-essential amino acids, and it contains a healthy amount of isoflavones in the process.