To maintain and build muscle, you should eat at least 1g of protein per pound of body-weight per day. That’s 200g daily protein if you weigh 200lbs. The easiest way to get this is to eat a whole source of protein with each meal.
The Protein 101 post has an example diet that gets you that amount. However it’s aimed at omnivores. Since some of you don’t eat animal products, here’s how to get your daily protein if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.
What Do Vegetarians & Vegans Eat? Mostly vegetables, legumes & fruits. They never eat meat, poultry or fish but might eat eggs & dairy depending on the type of vegetarianism.
- Lacto-ovo Vegetarians. Eat eggs & dairy, but no animal flesh.
- Lacto Vegetarians. Eat dairy, but no eggs and no animal flesh.
- Ovo Vegetarians. Eat eggs, but no dairy and no animal flesh.
- Vegans. Eat no eggs, no dairy, no animal flesh and no honey.
The Cons of Vegetarianism & Veganism. Some think these diets are healthier because they’re high in fruits and veggies. While most people should definitely eat more of these, vegetarianism & veganism have drawbacks too.
- Lower Test Levels. Saturated fat and cholesterol increase testosterone levels which benefits muscle mass, strength, energy levels, libido, body fat, … These are mainly found in animal products.
- Health Issues. Soy is high in phytoestrogens, a female hormone. Eating soy in small quantities like they do in Asia is OK. But excess intakes can cause infertility, cancer, heart diseases, … Read The Whole Soy Story.
- Fat Gains. If your daily caloric need is on the higher end, things get hard unless you eat lots of carbs. But this usually causes fat gains.
- Allergies. Consuming huge amounts of dairy, eggs & soy to get your protein can cause lactose intolerance, digestive problems, acne, …
Protein Sources for Vegetarians & Vegans. If you’re lacto, ovo or lacto-ovo vegetarian, go heavy on eggs, milk, whey and cottage cheese. Other protein sources to meet your daily intake:
- Beans. Black, garbanzo, hummus, kidney, fava, winged, mungo, lima, …
- Legumes. Lentils, peas, peanuts, peanut butter, …
- Nuts. Walnuts, almonds, pistachio, cashew, …
- Seeds. Sesame, pumpkin, hemp, flax, …
- Milk. Soy milk, almond milk, …
- Soy. Soy beans, tofu, deli-style soy meats, soy cheese, …
- Whole Grains. Brown rice, quinoa, granola, oats, breads, …
- Veggies. Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale, collard greens, …
- Protein Powder. Soy protein, hemp protein, rice protein, …
Example Vegetarian Diet. Here’s an example diet that fits within the 8 nutrition rules. Works to keep your body fat within healthy ranges.
- Breakfast. Whole eggs, spinach, orange.
- Snack. Mixed nuts, apple.
- Lunch. Tofu, legumes.
- Snack. Smoothie: whey, broccoli, berries.
- Post Workout. 1 liter milk, banana.
- Dinner. Soy burger, mixed beans.
- Pre bed. Cottage cheese, berries, ground flax seeds.
My 2 Cents on Vegetarianism. Vegetarians & vegans often struggle with their body fat. Reason: these diets are higher in carbs and most people get fat eating excess carbs. You’ll need to be very active to get away with it.
Yes there are plenty of vegans & vegetarians out there who have built muscle, got stronger & lost fat. I’m sure it can be done if you know what you’re doing and use protein supplements. But again: read The Whole Soy Story.
If you want to get stronger, build muscle & lose fat, I believe an omnivore diet that follows these 8 nutrition rules is superior for the above reasons. Then it’s only an ethical or moral issue.