Although rare, vegetarian bodybuilders do exist. Obviously this presents a huge mountain of problems for them as the key nutrient for any bodybuilder is protein. As we well know the best sources of protein include lean red meat, white meet and many varieties of fish. Granted, some vegetarians eat fish but in this instance we will pretend they don’t. Therefore as a veggie bodybuilder you need to know what sources of food can you fill the huge void left by the absence of meet in your nutrition plan?!
Well in a scenario where meets are not an option, soya beans are perhaps the king of protein sources for vegetarian bodybuilders. Soya beans are acknowledged as one of the best protein sources available, even in comparison to meat, as they contain huge amounts of essential amino acids. Essential Amino acids are protein ‘building blocks’, and it is vital you ingest sufficient amounts as your body is unable to synthesize them itself, hence the name ‘essential.’ This makes soya beans a very complete protein and also makes it brilliant at promoting and supporting muscle recovery as well as growth. But how many soya beans do you need to ingest in order to achieve the same amount of protein as say a chicken breast? Well, 100g of soya beans on average contains a staggering 37g of protein, out performing chicken significantly! To add to this, soya beans are great for bone health, cardiac health as well as aiding fat loss due to their quality fat content. Soya beans are then the king protein source for vegetarians.
Another great source of protein for vegetarians of course is eggs. Egg protein is again of the best quality, with a very similar bioavailability to whey protein! Each large egg contains approximately 9g of protein. Unfortunately the yolk of an egg contains bad cholesterol and around 2.7g of saturated fat. As a result bodybuilders tend to ingest just two/three whole eggs per day and then between 8-12 egg whites. Egg whites alone contain 3g of protein each, with no bad fats. Therefore by following this plan you can create a very tasty pancake containing around 50g of protein! What a great way to start the day. To add to this, the small amount of saturated fat using this combination will help maintain and elevate your natural testosterone levels making you more anabolic as well as making you more anti-catabolic.
As a direct replacement to chicken, Quorn is a widely used source of protein by many vegetarians. Per 100g of Quorn you get approximately 15g of protein, which isn’t too shabby! This is a great tasting product and it goes with almost anything, a bit like chicken!
Finally, nuts such as almonds are particularly good sources of protein. In fact 100g of almonds delivers you 21g of top quality protein. Almonds are regarded as a very good choice because they are also very rich in essential amino acids which are required in order to promote lean muscle mass gains.
There you have a few key protein sources for any vegetarian bodybuilder. However, meat eating bodybuilders would be wise to utilize the content of these foods mentioned and add them to their diet as well.