Although veganism has become more and more popular in recent years, few in the bodybuilding and fitness world can imagine life without meat, eggs and dairy products.
The majority of people associate with vegans, especially ecos or hippies and anything but strength athletes. But more and more amateur and professional athletes in weight training as well as a large number of YouTube and fitness athletes are now feeding themselves exclusively plant-based foods – and are very successful with it!
A purely herbal diet is certainly not for everyone, but for those who suffer from acne, allergies or lactose intolerance (or just want to try something new nutritionally), it can be just the right thing.
The change to “vegan”
A few years ago, this was even more difficult than it is today. But in the meantime, more people than ever are vegan, which of course has not escaped the food industry: In just about every supermarket today you find products especially for vegans – the switch to a plant-based or vegan diet has never been easier!
Preparation is everything
As with any change in diet, it takes a little planning and preparation at the beginning. Every athlete knows that having a balanced and healthy diet is the foundation of success, so vegan nutrition is all about finding suitable alternatives to continue to ensure the necessary calorie and nutrition intake to continue to thrive.
The importance of whole foods
If you eat mostly whole foods (oatmeal, rice, potatoes, and vegetables), you do not need to worry about your foods possibly containing non-vegan ingredients.
The situation is different with processed products from the supermarket. Although many companies now declare their products “vegan”, there are still some products that are not. It is important to take a close look at the list of ingredients to make sure that no animal products are included.
Unfortunately, this is not always so easy to find out. Products that contain the following ingredients should definitely be avoided: whey protein, gelatin, collagen and keratin.
Vegan bodybuilding – 3 myths invalidated
Myth # 1: Vegans eat too little protein
That a vegan diet inevitably leads to inadequate protein supply is a common misconception. Although you can’t expect to build mountains of muscle while you eat vegetables only, but you don’t have to! There are a variety of herbal alternatives that contain as much protein as animal products.
In particular, lentils, beans, soy and tofu are ideal for supplying the body with protein. By combining different sources of vegetable protein, even an amino acid profile can be achieved that is in no way inferior to animal products!
But protein is also found in green vegetables, rice, quinoa and oatmeal. As you can see, with the right foods and food combinations, it’s not a problem to be able to meet your protein needs as a vegan.
Of course, since dairy protein is not suitable for vegans, you can also use commercial plant-based protein alternatives such as rice protein, soy protein isolate and other vegan blend combinations that you can find in supermarkets and online shops if you feel the need for it – all great for boosting recovery and muscle growth after an intense workout!
Myth # 2: Vegans eat too many carbohydrates
Another myth is that vegans have a high levels of carbohydrate intake (such as beans and other legumes) that inhibit fat loss, is sometimes also very persistent myth. However, this should not be a problem for training or for the diet with just a little fine adjustment.
Carbohydrates are essential for building muscle and therefore should not be feared by strength athletes at all. On a diet, however, the carbohydrate sources are often reduced – but that doesn’t mean that they must be completely eliminated from the nutritional plan: With a little adjustment, a vegan meal can also be conjured up during the diet from a normal meal. For example, a typical meal in the diet phase consisting of sweet potatoes, chicken, broccoli and a few almonds can easily be converted into a vegan alternative by simply replacing the sweet potatoes and chicken with a bean salad, broccoli and almonds.
As with any change in diet, it also requires planning at the beginning. But with a little routine it can all be covered by a plant-based lifestyle, to meet all the specific nutritional needs of a strength athlete without problems.
Myth # 3: Vegan diet lacks essential nutrients
The third and final myth is that a vegan diet can’t meet all the needs for essential nutrients from meat and dairy products is arguably the most prevalent and feared one of all. Although a vegetable diet is no less bioavailable than an animal diet, supplementation with vegan dietary supplements may still make sense, especially if the projects are enriched with vitamin B12 and L-glutamine.
This vitamin, which is mainly contained in red meat, has numerous important functions for our body and is instrumental in building muscle and absorbing energy: an extremely important vitamin for every strength athlete! So that vitamin B12 is also supplied in a sufficient amount in a vegan diet, the intake of vitamin supplements or the use of different yeast extracts, for example, for baking and seasoning is recommended.
Glutamine is one of the semi-essential amino acids and is involved in particular in the synthesis of muscle protein and glycogen. However, as glutamine is found mainly in fish and meat, athletes should look for vegan alternative supplements with L-glutamine, in order to leave nothing to chance in terms of muscle growth!
As you can see, the preconceptions are completely unfounded, and it only takes small adjustments to make the vegan nutrition intake fit the needs of fitness and bodybuilding junkies. And even if some strength athletes still smile at vegan bodybuilding, the trend is quite clear: More and more strength athletes are convinced of the benefits of a plant-based diet, so it is probably only a matter of time, that all the persistent prejudices are cleared out of the way once and for all.
What are your thoughts on the subject of a plant-based diet and athletes – please share your experiences here below in the comment box. I look forward to hear from you and I hope we can start a constructive discussion so we can convince as many athletes as possible to go on a cruelty-free plant-based diet and long-term for better results.