Maximize your strength training routine by cutting out these time wasters.Read article
Make the move and become a vegetarian monster in the gym without sacrificing muscle or missing meat.
There was a time not so long ago when any man dedicated to moving big iron and sculpting dense muscle would have been called a grasschewing wimp or even (gasp!) a hippie, for turning down a fat, juicy rib-eye steak and instead tucking into a plate of beans and rice with a side salad. But starting in the ’50s, as modern bodybuilding began to take shape, a few dedicated muscleheads brushed off the insults and committed themselves to building an impressive physique all through a diet based on plants.
Bill Pearl, now 85, is probably the most famous vegetarian bodybuilder, though he is technically a lacto-ovo vegetarian, or someone who eats mostly plants and some dairy and eggs. He won numerous contests throughout the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s while on a plant-based diet, including the Mr. Universe pro four times. His protégé, Jim Morris, took the plant diet even further and became a vegan—he went on to compete for more than 30 years and won contests like Mr. USA and Mr. Olympia Masters until retiring in 1985.
And the Oak himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, proclaimed that he would start adhering to a meatless Monday schedule for better health and to do his part to cut down on the greenhouse gases emitted in the production, slaughter, and distribution of livestock. In a 2006 report, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated that the way we get meat on our plates is one of the biggest strains on the global ecosystem, with the whole process being one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases, a leading cause of loss of habitat biodiversity and a major reason our waterways are polluted.
Besides the saving-the-planet angle and concern for the welfare of animals, study after study has shown that vegetarian or vegan diets lower cholesterol, reduce the risk for heart disease, regulate blood pressure levels, and help prevent prostate cancer and colon cancer. People who follow a plant-based diet may also have lower body-mass index, better skin, more energy, and live longer. That said, we challenge you to try out the veggie life by taking the following steps to live a healthier life, and maybe even help save the planet—and still pack on muscle.
VANILLA BERRY BLAST RECOVERY SMOOTHIE
CALORIES: 398 | CARBS: 46g | PROTEIN: 49g | FAT: 2g
Recipe courtesy of Mike Mahler
PRE-WORKOUT INSURANCE SMOOTHIE
CALORIES: 464 | CARBS: 35g | PROTEIN: 49g | FAT: 13g
Recipe courtesy of Mike Mahler
MAKE THE MOVE
Mike Mahler, a renowned vegan strength athlete and kettlebell master, started on his path to veganism when he was 15. “Then I decided to cut out all meat except fish but kept eggs and dairy in as well,” he says. “When I was 18 I took it a step further and cut out fish.” Mahler then became a vegan in 1994 when he realized that most factory animals bred for slaughter live and die in horrific conditions.
Newbies interested in cutting meat today should phase out meat and animal products gradually. “Just learning how to put things together was hard at first,” Mahler says. “Once I loaded up on legumes, nuts, and seeds everything started falling into place as these combos provide an abundance of complete protein, low-glycemic carbs, and healthy fats for sex hormone optimization.” Mahler, who recently hit a deadlift personal record of 555 pounds and squat best of 425 pounds, plus banged out 20 one-arm snatches with a 97-pound kettlebell, says the best part about making the choice to become a vegetarian athlete is that you don’t have to change up your training.
BREAKFAST: VEGAN CORNMEAL-CHIA WAFFLES (Serves 1)
CALORIES: 430 | CARBS: 25g | PROTEIN: 26g | FAT: 29g
Recipe courtesy of No Meat Athlete
“For all athletes, the majority of your food intake should come from vitamin-, mineral-, and fiber-rich foods, the most nutrient-dense foods they can find,” says Marie Spano, R.D., sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks, and co-editorfor the NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Vegetarian diets are typically lower in total protein, and many of the available plant proteins are not high in leucine, the key amino acid that turns on muscle protein synthesis.
“The best substitutes for meat and its high-protein content and essential amino acids profile are soy protein and hemp seeds because both contain all eight essential amino acids,” says Spano. “Several beans including soybeans, mung, white, kidney, and navy beans, as well as split peas and lentils, contain a good amount of leucine, making all excellent additions to round out meals.” Spano suggests opting for a higher amount of protein (at least 2 grams per kilogram body weight) based on the amino acid composition of vegetable-based proteins. Try to hit macros of approximately 35–40% protein, 25% fat, and the remainder carbs.
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LUNCH: BLACK BEAN & QUINOA VEGGIE BURGER (Serves 4)
CALORIES: 480 | CARBS: 67g | PROTEIN: 22g | FAT: 18g
*Recipe courtesy of vegetarianbodybuilding.com
“Vegetarian and vegan diets could potentially be lower in calcium, iron, vitamin D, zinc, and particularly for vegans, B12,” she says. To get your fill of zinc, hit up wheat germ, wild rice, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, black beans, pink or red lentils, cashews, and mixed nuts. “For calcium and vitamin D,” Spano says, “look for fortified orange juice or milk alternatives such as soy, almond, or rice beverages.” If you’re flirting with keeping fish in your diet, you can get extra calcium and vitamin D from fatty fishlike salmon, tuna, and mackerel, plus build up your zinc and vitamin D levels with oysters. If you’re stacking your plate with lots of beans and leafy greens, you’ll get plenty of iron and you can supplement with some fortified foods like breakfast cereal. Vegans can also turn to nutritional yeast for vitamin B12, but make sure to check for B12 on the packaging. Mahler covers his vitamin and mineral needs by taking a multivitamin from Life Extension and supplements with extra vitamins D3, B100, zinc, and magnesium.
Protein-enhanced products and powders are also obviously a go-to for plant-based lifters; look for soy, hemp, rice, or pea protein. Some of the newest protein supplements are great tasting, too. “MusclePharm’s Thrive, Orgain protein almond milk with brown rice as well as leucine-rich pea protein, and PureFit bars with soy protein are all delicious and provide plenty of plant-base protein.” Peanut powder can be used to thicken soups and stews, mixed in yogurt and hot cereals, and used as the base of a protein shake, says Spano.
DINNER: VEGAN TEMPEH STIR-FRY WITH BLACK BEAN SAUCE (Serves 4)
CALORIES: 286 | CARBS: 41g | PROTEIN: 8g | FAT: 11g
Recipe courtesy of No Meat Athlete
Whether you go for meatless Mondays or work up to becoming a vegan, there are tons of options to make the transition easy. Your energy may shoot up, nagging injuries may disappear, and your bros may even call you a hippie. Whatever happens, there’s no shame in getting in more fruits and veggies, even for bodybuilders.
WHAT KIND OF PLANT EATER ARE YOU?
There are lots of variations on the plant-based diet. Some people go superstrict and become raw vegans, while others take a more flexible approach and allow some meat. Here’s a list of the most common:
THE FOODS YOU'LL NEED TO SUCCEED
You still want to eat whole foods if switching to a plant-based diet—just cut out the meat. Load up on all of the essential fruits and vegetables, plus bump up your intake of beans and nuts, and supplement with meat substitutes like tempeh (made from soy) and seitan (made from wheat) for texture.
FRUITS (All types, but in particular): Apples ■ Bananas ■ Berries ■ Figs ■ Grapes ■ Melons ■ Oranges ■ Pears ■ Plums
LEGUMES: Black beans ■ Chickpeas ■ Kidney beans ■ Lentils ■ Mung beans ■ Pinto beans ■ Soybeans ■ White beans
GRAINS: Oatmeal and cereals ■ Brown rice ■ Bulgur ■ Buckwheat ■ Farro ■ Millet ■ Quinoa ■ Whole-wheat breads and pasta
OILS: Olive ■ Canola ■ Coconut ■ Flaxseed ■ Hemp