Tip of the Day
For years, some athletes believed that consuming meat was the only way to build muscle. But today, we know a balanced vegetarian diet that includes non-meat protein can assist muscular development.
Well-planned vegetarian diets that meet energy needs and contain a variety of plant-based protein foods, such as soy products, other legumes (beans), grains, nuts and seeds can provide adequate protein for athletes without the use of special foods or supplements.
Vegetarian males looking to build muscle should eat good quality protein at every meal and aim for a daily intake of 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per approximately 2.2 pounds of body weight. For example, for a 180-pound male, this works out to between 114 and 147 grams of dietary protein daily.
Other tips for building muscle without consuming meat:
- Eat five or six small meals per day that not only include protein, but also fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, healthy vegetable oils (such as olive oil) and plenty of water.
- At least half your calories each day should come from carbohydrates, which fuel your muscles. For example, someone on a 2,000-calories-per-day diet would have about 250 grams of carbohydrates.
- Fats are necessary for building muscle and supplying energy to muscles during workouts. Good sources of fat include olive oil, almonds, walnuts, avocados, and canola oil. Aim for a daily intake of 20 percent to 35 percent fat.
To learn more about building muscle without eating meat, consult a registered dietitian in your area and visit our Vegetarian Lifestyle and Sports Nutrition pages.
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Reviewed January 2013