The "Fit Vegan" Jumpstart Guide
More and more "Vegan Bodybuilders" are joining the ranks of power athletes; enough to catch the public attention to where you ask yourself, "Is there really something to becoming a Fit Vegan?"
The answer is a resounding, YES!
It's one thing to pursue a Vegan lifestyle if your lifestyle doesn't include much exercise... but what about the fit-passionate "muscle building" gym goers?
One of the most asked questions from this crowd is...
How Do You Get Enough Protein As A Vegan?
This is the most obvious concern... and I want to point out first this obsession with protein is largely due to marketing.
It is important!
... just not as important as it's made out to be.
Getting enough protein and all the essential amino acids as a vegan is simple!
Soy is a very popular protein source and contains all 9 essential amino acids and some iron. It can come in the form of:
Do you have a soy intolerance or allergy?
You can still get enough protein and all 9 amino acids!
You'll just eat a wide variety of plant foods like:
Certain combinations also offer plenty of protein and all the essential amino acids such as:
- Rice and Beans
- Bread and Peanut Butter
- Pasta with Veggies
Also, all fruits and vegetables contain protein.
Although some contain more than others, here's a list of the highest plant based sources of protein:
- Brussels Sprouts
Bonus Tip: Chia Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Quinoa, Buckwheat and Amaranth contain all 9 amino acids as well and are super easy to incorporate into foods you're already eating.
The #1 Thing To Remember In Your Vegan Diet Is B-12
Many people will claim that a vegan diet is "unnatural" due to the need for a supplement, however... this is simply not true.
Vitamin B-12 is neither from plants nor animals, but is actually bacteria.
In the past, humans would get enough of this vitamin by drinking water from streams or from eating vegetables with little amounts of soil with the B-12 bacteria on them (this is also how animals receive their B-12 naturally.)
In today's world our soil is pretty much depleted of B-12 due to industrialized farming. B-12 is also an issue for animals which is why they are now injected with B-12.
Everyone is essentially supplementing with B-12 now and many meat eaters are encouraged to take a B-12 supplement as as vegans and vegetarians.
B-12 deficiency is serious and definitely nothing you should disregard.
B-12 deficiency can lead to:
- Nerve Damage
- Vision Loss
- Memory Loss
- ... and more
You can get some B-12 from nutritional yeast and other fortified foods, but unfortunately this isn't a good source to rely on entirely.
The only thing to fear, is fear itself!
Let's talk about 2 fears that can easily be dismissed with knowledge...
Fear #1: Will I get enough Omega 3's?
Omega 3's (ALA) can be found in:
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Soy Products
- Brussels Sprouts
DHA and EPA is found naturally in seaweed and algae, like spirulina and chlorella.
Vegan sushi is wrapped in seaweed; or, it can be eaten as a snack by itself!
Alternatively, you could blend chlorella or spirulina into a smoothie for an easy and health way to get more DHA/EPA into your diet.
Lastly, if all else fails - there are many vegan Omega 3 supplements on the market today.
Again, it's not super necessary since it can be found in the plant food mentioned...
Fear #2: What About Carbs?
Plain and simple... Carbs are not to be feared.
Yes, you will be taking in more carbs than you're used to if you're coming from an animal protein-rich diet, but the key is "good" (complex) carbs (meaning, they could from whole plant foods).
Remember, carbs are the number one fuel source for the body.
They are what give you energy to get through your workouts.
Many athletes and bodybuilders have a macro ratio of 60% carbs, 20% fat and 20% protein; although some do more or slightly less carbs.
The main thing to remember is when you're trying to lose fat you'll eat in a calorie deficit, and when you're trying to build muscle, eat in a surplus.
In summary, you really can't go wrong as long as you're eating a variety of whole plant foods. Replacements are OK as you can transition and re-learn how to cook, but you don't want them to be a huge part of your diet (if at all).
Just remember to EAT... a lot!
Plant foods are much lower in calories than animal products so you get to eat a lot more than you're probably used to.
It might be helpful to track your calories in the beginning to make sure you're eating enough but whatever you do...
REMEMBER YOUR B-12!