I’ve been getting a lot of interest and new clients for Vegetarian Bodybuilding, and general fitness for vegetarians too. Obviously I’m always happy to get new clients and have an opportunity to be a part of someone taking their life to the next level through better health and more fun, but vegetarian body building is one of the areas I’m particularly passionate about so to have so much new interest in this particular area is a real bonus.
One of the reasons I’m having some success in this area is because… well… there’s just not that many people doing it! As I’ve talked about in the past, when I first got started with weight training in my late teens (and then again in my mid 20s) I found it very difficult to get any advice from gym instructors, nutritionists or dieticians other than “you have to eat meat”. Haven’t these people heard of chickpeas? Or tofu? Sheesh!
Well that was all quite a long time ago now, and since then the amount of vegetarians around has increased significantly. Whether for religious, moral or ethical reasons, or just because they’re a former problem child / extremely picky eater like me who eventually managed to get their act together but still found the idea of eating meat kind of revolting… well suffice to say there’s plenty of us vegetarians & vegans around these days! But there’s still a real shortage of people in the health and fitness industries who have personal experience and expertise in this area.
Well… that’s about to change because as you may know I am starting a new Personal Training Studio in Oakleigh with my friends from The Combat Academy, and as well as myself we’ll be having a vegetarian martial arts instructor (currently studying nutrition at university), and I also plan on taking on a second vegetarian personal trainer as well.
Back to nutrition for vegetarian bodybuilders… in some ways vegetarianism is an advantage, as you’re more likely to be consuming lots of healthy, high fibre, low calorie salads and other vegetables. Lower calories usually equates to less body fat, so vegetarians are often ahead of the game in maintaining a healthy bodyweight. For bodybuilding though, it makes things a little more of a challenge.
To build muscle we require protein, and lots of it. While there are plenty of options to get protein on a vegetarian diet (especially if you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian who will eat eggs and dairy products), generally they are from foods that also contain a similar amount of fats or carbohydrates. Now I’ve already talked a lot in other blog entries about why fats and carbohydrates are nothing to be afraid of, but as a vegetarian it is more difficult to increase calories from protein without also increasing calories from the other macronutrients. It’s not like we can just grab a tin of tuna and get an all-protein meal like the “normal” people can.
It can still be done, it just requires very careful meal planning.
So… vegetarians out there, whatever your fitness goal is… don’t let ANYONE try to tell you it can’t be done on a vegetarian diet. There are a handful of very successful bodybuilders and strongmen who are vegetarians or vegans. You quite probably have a more modest goal of just building a strong, athletic and attractive physique, which is certainly attainable with the right plan… and the right trainer!
If you’re in Brunswick or Oakleigh, you know who to call (or email) about Vegetarian Personal Training. All you non-vegetarians out there can still call me too, by the way.