It is said that you cannot be a vegetarian and a successful bodybuilder because animal proteins are of superior quality to vegetable proteins.Even vegetarians who don’t lift weights find it difficult to meet the recommended protein needs, let alone consume the amount of protein required for building big muscle mass. And although you can never get as muscular as a meat eater a good looking physique can be built using a non-meat diet, but with lots of planning and quality foods selection.
There are a lot of myths out there about the vegetarianism:
– Vegetarians can’t get enough protein.
– There are certain nutrients one can only get from eating meat.
– A vegetarian cannot grow muscle mass the way a meat-eater can.
– Vegetarians lack energy and strength.
– Being vegetarian is not healthy.
– One cannot be a competitive bodybuilder as a vegetarian.
As a meat eater I can say that some of them are part true and part false. Carbohydrates, fat and protein all supply energy. Not eating enough calories will decrease not only your energy, but also your muscle mass. An important point for vegetarians to realize is that they digest their foods more quickly than non vegetarians. This means you need to eat more often to compensate for the higher energy needs of weightlifting.
The body uses protein as the main component for building and maintaining muscles, blood, bones, skin, hair etc. Most protein foods of animal origin such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and milk include all of the essential amino acids and are consequently called complete proteins. Proteins found in vegetables typically lack one or more of the essential amino acids, so they are called incomplete proteins. In order to get all eight essential amino acids, you should combine foods to form complete proteins.
Here is a list of foods to eat and combine in order to get all essential amino acids:
Nuts and Seeds: hazels, almonds,peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds, sesame
Legumes: pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, white beans
Grains and cereals: wheat, barley, rye, oats, millet, maize, rice
Soy : tofu,soy protein powder, veggie burgers, soy milk
Dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt
You can also include different nut butters and whey protein powder in your diet for better results.
In conclusion: you can still be a bodybuilder even if you are a vegetarian,but you have to make some sensible food choices and plan your meals carefully.