How to Build Muscle as a Vegetarian
In 1903, a time when people were still washboarding their laundry, the Wright Brothers tried to convince a pessimistic community that they could make a plane fly. This was a time when people could not even fathom a car that traveled faster than 28 miles per hour, let alone believe they could be transported via sky. Today, we are so accustomed to flying on planes, we shut the window on our cloud-top views as mindlessly as we pay our gym membership fees, and internet-surf our way through what people once thought was unfathomable. Yet, we still have trouble believing that meatheads can be made without the meat.
Any serious gym-goer knows that protein is imperative to their quest for gainz, but despite its popular meat affiliation, protein can be just as on-brand without meat as Jen Aniston without Brad. Building muscle is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely NOT reserved for the eaters of meat. If you are a vegetarian and looking to bulk for an upcoming competition, or simply to achieve that beach body of dreams, there are ways to beat the system. We are going to empower you with how to build muscle as a vegetarian.
Plant Sourced Protein Shakes
It can be hard to figure out how to build muscle as a vegetarian, but if you are willing to go the extra mile, you will find it can be as manageable as saying the alphabet. The average person needs 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight. Throw some weight lifting into the mix, and this number increases exponentially. For lifters who are trying to bulk, 2g of protein per kg of body weight is the magic ratio. It can be challenging to reach these numbers for vegetarian meal-preppers, but one great way to supplement your protein intake is to drink protein shakes!
Be careful when it comes to whey and casein protein powders. Many of these formulas require an enzyme called rennet (made from the stomachs of veal calves) that separates the protein from the liquid in milk. If you are avoiding meat, don't despair. There are some whey and casein protein powders out there that do not use this enzyme, so keep an eye out for labels that are marked â€œno rennet". BodyBuilding.com recommends two 100% natural, GMO-free, vegan-approved plant sourced protein formulas called Rawfusian and Vega, so check out your local supplement store, and learn all there is to know about the world of plant protein!
From Grains to Gainz
Figuring out how to build muscle as a vegetarian can sometimes seem counterintuitive. It would seem as if grains held no place in the world of bodybuilding, but there are actually many forms of grain that are loaded with muscle-building protein. Raw oats have about 26 grams of protein per cup, so whip yourself up a tasty bowl of oatmeal with almond milk, and you've got yourself a protein-laced breakfast of champions.
Cooked quinoa has a whopping 8.1 grams of protein per cup, so replacing your white rice or noodles with one cup of quinoa will make a solid impact on your daily quota. Quinoa is also a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent contributor to your nutritional needs. (Check out our blog about quinoa!)
If you are a human (if you are not human and you can read this blog, please contact us and tell us your story) you have no doubt fallen victim to a little disaster known as a pancake craving. Make it a buckwheat pancake, and you've got yourself a satisfying protein blast. One cup of buckwheat has 23 grams of protein! Not too shabby for a grain if you ask me.
Nuts and seeds should be a staple on every vegetarian's menu du jour. These little guys have a bad reputation because they are high in fats, making them an underdog in the health world. However, these are good fats that our bodies need. Chances are that you have been traumatized by the word fat, because of its unfortunate associations with cake frosting and Cheetos. But not all fat is created equal, and nuts deserve an appeal in the court of fat-law. (Read more about good and bad fats.)
One serving of almonds has 6 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of fat (only 1 of those grams is saturated fat). Cashews come in second place providing per serving 5 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, and 14 grams of fat (2 grams from saturated fat).
Nut butters are an absolutely decadent way to succumb to your body's protein demands, so go ahead and lather your apples in peanut butter. Well- lathering may be a bit much as nut butters can get caloric, but explore the limits within your macros! Artisina offers cashew and walnut butters as well, so mix it up when you are on the prowl for a protein-packed, buttery treat.
If Jack and his mighty beanstalk taught us anything, it's to never underestimate the power of a seed. While trying to figure out how to build muscle as a vegetarian, you may have the urge to overlook seeds as an advocate for your gains, but these little guys are sometimes more protein-packed than nuts!
Just one ounce of dried pumpkin seeds has 8.5 grams of protein and one ounce of sunflower seeds packs about 5 grams. Eat them plain or toss some into your salad. Your muscles will thank you later. One ounce of chia seeds has 4.7 grams of protein and one ounce of flaxseeds (which are also rich in omega 3's) has 2.5 grams. These seeds are so tiny you can blend them into your smoothie and never even taste the difference.
Beans are more than just a fabulous source of fiber. They have your back when it comes to figuring out how to build muscle on a vegetarian diet. If you are feeling confident enough to brave a little garlic-breath, hummus (made from garbanzo beans) is a great way to source some extra muscle-building-protein. As protein packed as it is delicious, hummus has earned its good name in the world of meatless-protein. At 19 grams per cup, this Mediterranean snack is no empty calorie, so buy some carrots and get dippin'!
One cup of boiled soybeans has 29.5 grams of protein. Pinto and black beans have about 15 grams of protein per cup, and they taste great on a vegetarian burrito, so make your cheat day count this week and lather it with beans!
If you have a hot date coming up and can't afford the risk of being gassy (let's face it, beans sometimes have this effect) cook your beans ahead of time and let them rest in the refrigerator overnight before you eat them. This process will break down a lot of the indigestible carbohydrates that cause bloat and gassiness. Kidney and lima beans are also great protein sources, so don't be shy when you walk through the beans section at the supermarket.
As you can see, it is very possible to build muscle on a vegetarian diet so get yourself to the grocery store and fill up your cart with grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and plant-sourced-protein shakes! Let the gains begin!
This post is brought to us by 6 Pack's resident blog badass, Jade. Check out her other posts on whether the paleo diet is healthy, how to spice up oatmeal, and body types and metabolism. Browse meal management systems, gym totes, gym backpacks, and more to find the perfect 6 Pack Bag for you!