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Dear M&F: Can I Go Vegetarian on My Bodybuilding Diet?

We explain whether it's possible to maintain a high protein and calorie intake while on a veggie diet.

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Dear M&F,
I want to commit to a vegetarian diet for a while, but I feel like it will be impossible to maintain my high protein and calorie intake. Can I do both?
—Ricky M., Jacksonville, FL

Absolutely! Many professional and Olympic athletes actually follow the lacto-ovo-vegetarian (LOV) diet, which excludes red meat, fowl, fish, and pork but allows dairy and eggs. The LOV meal plan below switches out meats for alternative protein sources, like soy, to keep your protein numbers up and deliver beneficial phytonutrients. Some guys are afraid that soy lowers testosterone levels, but research shows that less than 60 grams per day not only fails to have a negative effect on male hormones, but actually builds just as much muscle as whey protein.

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Moreover, according to research, when the two protein sources are taken together within an hour of working out, they increase your testosterone-to-estrogen ratio—a marker of anabolic hormones—enabling greater muscle growth.

Ricky's Old Diet

Breakfast ¾ cup steel-cut oats (dry measure)
3 whole eggs
½ cup orangejuice
1 banana
Snack 8 oz Greek yogurt
Lunch 8 oz grilled chicken breast
1 cup brown rice
1 small mixed-greens salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and bab carrots
1 tbsp vinaigrette
Post-Workout Shake 50g whey protein
10 oz skim milk
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
Dinner 1 cup miso soup
6 oz grilled sirloin steak
6 asparagus spears
1 small sweet potato

Ricky's New Diet - Eat Like This on Days You Veg Out

Breakfast ½ cup steel-cut oats (dry measure)
4 veggie sausage links
1 hard-boiled egg
1 grapefruit
Snack 1 power bar
Lunch 1 cup brown rice
¾ cup stir-fry veggie crumbles
1 cup steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms
teriyaki sauce to taste
Snack 16oz greek yogurt
Post Workout Shake 25g soy protein isolate
25g whey protein isolate
12 oz skim milk
Dinner 1 large salad
2 tbsp light dressing homemade pizza:
2 tbsp marinara sauce
3 oz grated cheese
10-inch flat bread

Totals:

Protein - 192g
Fat - 40g
Carbs - 325g
Calories - 2,428

 

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