When working with people on healthy eating and gaining muscles I usually run into the statement, “I’m a vegetarian so you won’t be able to help me.”  While it does create a bit of effort to ensure enough protein makes it onto your plate, it can be done.  Contrary to assumptions, I in fact dated one of these creatures we call vegetarians.  To say this girl was smart would be an understatement and it made for lots of late night discussions about factory farms, The China Study* and many others.  The point is not to tell you about my lame dating life, but to simply say that with a bit of planning and effort, adopting or continuing a vegetarian diet while strength training can be accomplished.

One of the biggest issues I see with the vegetarian diet is the ease in which vegetarians turn to simple processed foods, rather than looking to get healthy amounts of protein and fat.  Often vegetarian clients come to me with a majority of their foods coming from simple carbs forgetting to take in a good balance of protein, carbs and fat.

I’m not going to dig into the amount of protein your body needs for the basis of this article.  We will simply look into the different methods to get protein in from vegetarian sources.  There are several other foods that contain protein; these are just some of my favorites:

Eggs - The gold standard of protein. The egg contains all of the essential amino acids, not to mention all the vitamins it packs in.  Each egg contains about 6-7 grams of protein.

Beans - One cup of beans contains almost 14 grams of protein.  There are lots of types of beans to suit your taste; also this is a great low cost option to get your protein in.

Nuts - While nuts are primarily a fat, they can pack in 7-8 grams of protein per ounce.  Not only that, but the healthy fat in them can keep you satisfied for a longer period of time allowing you stave off hunger pains.

Quinoa - Contains all the essential amino acids and comes in with 8 grams of protein per cup.  This grain is great to add to salads, soups, or just eat straight-up with some salsa.

Protein Powder - The world of protein powders has come a long way.  You can find protein powders from lots of different sources: pea, beef, whey, rice or hemp, to just name a few.  One of the easiest ways to get in protein is by simply adding this into your daily diet.  Smoothies, added into oatmeal or in a glass of your favorite beverage makes for the fastest way to get the protein your body is so badly looking for to repair and restore.

Veggies - Look to Asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, and other green leafy veggies to get in some protein as well.  Plus, as a healthy vegetarian, this should be the corner stone of your diet.

One of the greatest things in life is relating to those who have a different outlook.  While I personally enjoy animal protein, I appreciate those who have chosen a different path and look forward to accomplishing similar goals in a different way.  

Yours in Health,

Ben



* The China Study, by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell, MD