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5 Ways to Bulk Up on a Vegetarian Diet

By Pacificprime @ThePacificPrime

5 Ways to Bulk Up on a Vegetarian Diet


Only the most carnivorous of creatures still believes that meat is a must. Around the world, millions of people adhere to an animal-free diet – and even those of us who think bacon is brilliant would agree that, nowadays, being a vegetarian demands the sacrifice of neither nutrition nor taste. However, when it comes to running races and lifting weights, is it possible to build the muscle without the meat? Absolutely! Read on for five tips on how to get strong while staying on a vegetarian diet.


Get Animal Protein, Sans the Animal

When your ultimate goal is exercising seriously and putting on muscle, protein is key. Because it helps create muscle mass and prevent muscle atrophy, protein along with physical activity will keep the body strong and toned. The recommended protein intake for an adult is 56 grams per day; however, depending on weight and exercise regime, you might increase your daily protein intake to 80 grams, or more.

Although meat is a great source of protein, vegetarians can find an equally fortifying supply of animal protein in eggs. A single egg has six grams of protein, and if you’re concerned about cholesterol, consider eating just the whites. Egg whites are 84 percent protein and very low in fat; making them a great choice for anyone looking to put on muscle while taking off weight.

Dairy is another animal protein that’s popular amongst uber-active vegetarians. Milk has two types of protein – whey and casein. Whey breaks down quickly, whereas casein is absorbed more slowly, the result of which is that milk’s protein combination can keep you feeling alert and strong on a day-to-day basis, while helping the body maintain muscle over time.


Consider Carbs Carefully

Too many carbohydrates, or the wrong kind of carbohydrates, can be a real detriment to staying strong and fit. Some carbs, such as those found in refined grains and junk food, can quickly turn to sugar and load the body with fat rather than muscle.

At the same time, carbohydrates are important to an active diet, and vegetarian exercisers may be especially keen to get the most from their grains and starches. Complex carbohydrates aid healthy weight gain, and give the body a slow release of sugars that increases energy and endurance; these good carbs are also less likely to lead to sinful snacking later in the day.

Wholemeal pasta, oatmeal, whole grain bread and sweet potatoes are all example of complex carbohydrates from which vegetarians can make a muscle-happy meal. Some complex carbs, such as brown rice and quinoa, have even been shown to boost levels of growth hormones; indicating that these grains can give an extra boost to anyone looking to bulk up.


It’s All About Amino Acids

Amino acids: they are the building blocks of not just protein, but muscle tissue as well. Anyone regularly performing strenuous exercise, including heavy weightlifting or long distance running, is no doubt aware of the importance of sufficient amino acids to help the body synthesize protein, and to aid strength training and muscle growth.

Complete amino acids can be found in beef and fish, and vegetarians are equally able to get their aminos through eggs and dairy products. Soy-based foods, as well as some vegetables, nuts and grains, also contain amino acids. Of course, investing in a good muscle-building supplement is another way to advance your aminos, as many such pills and powders for hardcore athletes will include essential amino acids.


Learn the Way of the Whey

Whey proteins and powders are popular supplements for athletes looking to bulk up easily and safely. The reason that whey is so useful is because we don’t always have the time or the appetite to consume appropriate levels of protein – but by supplementing our diet with hydrolyzed whey protein or whey protein isolate, it’s much easier to achieve the recommended daily dose of protein and improve muscle growth.

Whey is a dairy protein; the by-product that remains after making cheese. Luckily for vegetarians, whey products are meat free, and absolutely packed with protein. Some researchers have even found a connection between immune system function and consumption of whey, which is great news for athletes and body-builders who don’t want to interrupt their daily workout routine due to a bout of the common cold. Protein powder made with whey can be added to fruit and yogurt smoothies for a protein-rich breakfast or post-workout treat.


Go Nuts for Nuts (and other legumes)

Nuts, beans and legumes give the body protein, and we’ve already learned how important that is for putting on muscle and improving athletic performance. However, nuts and legumes are additionally useful to the body because of their high fiber content. Fiber regulates bowel movements and insulin response; improving our ability to absorb nutrients and maintain muscle growth.

Kidney beans are a great example of a vegetarian mainstay that offers both protein and fiber: one cup of kidney beans has 14 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber, and less than two grams of fat. These sorts of nuts, beans and legumes are especially beneficial when consumed with cereals, so that the body gets to digest a complete protein – hence the popularity of vegetarian dishes such as beans and rice, beans on toast, and peanut butter sandwiches.

Vegans with an interest in athletic pursuits will be especially happy to hear that most nuts and seeds offer not just protein, but healthy fats as well. Omega-3 fatty acid, an unsaturated fat found in walnuts, brazil nuts and other nuts, assists in the prevention of muscle atrophy and helps the body to produce hormones such as testosterone.

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