The other day I was looking at my nutrition plan and trying to increase my percentage of protein intake compared to fats and carbohydrates. If you’ve read my nutrition tips newsletter (if you haven’t, why on earth not? It’s free and full of useful information!) you’ll know that I do not subscribe to these “no carbs” fad diets, HOWEVER if I’m trying to pack on some extra lean muscle without also gaining body fat, I want my increase in calorie intake to be more from extra protein and less from carbs or fats.
Makes sense right?
This is pretty easy to do if you eat meat, but for vegetarians such as myself you’re really limited to either egg whites, or protein powder (whey, rice, pea, soy, whatever type of protein powder) in water. I’m eating enough eggs and protein shakes already so I started doing my homework on other protein sources and realised something I should really have known already.
Here it comes.
I’ve been using TOFU with my evening meal as a protein source and it’s pretty damn good. However when you break it down, the main source of calories is fats. There’s actually more calories from fats than from carbs and proteins combined, although this may vary from brand to brand. Granted these are the essential fats that we do need, but still it’s a lot of calories.
So I looked into some alternatives to tofu and discovered that TEMPEH is even better as a protein source, with the brand I bought reporting a massive (by vegetarian standards) 43% of calories coming from protein, compared to 28% with tofu. These are both soy based products, if you did not know. Personally I prefer the taste of tofu, but I’ll go with tempeh from here on as the macronutrient levels suit my goals better. I shall try marinading the tempeh in some hot sauce and i think I’ll like it more next time.
Another great option is SEITAN which is a wheat based protein source. I’m having trouble tracking some of this down in my local supermarket but according to the information I’ve found, contains a whopping great 64% protein. I NEED to get onto this stuff immediately!
Of course, even though these are vegetarian products we must remember they are essentially a processed food. So it’s important to use them in balance with simple whole foods. Cereals, fruits, fresh vegetables, legumes and so forth.
This autumn and winter I’ll be taking my vegetarian body building to the next level and looking to add a lot of strength and mass. Keep watching the blog for more on this subject!