Top 10 Diet Myths: Myth 8, Vegetarians Can't Build Muscle
It is a common misconception that vegetarians cannot build any type of muscle due to being undernourished. The concept of a vegetarian is of a weak, even unhealthy person who doesn't get enough nutrition in their diet. Most believe vegetarians often become so weak and un-energetic they must return to a meat based diet eventually. However, NONE of this is true. Vegetarians still get enough protein and nutrients. Meat doesn't contain nutrients you can't find anywhere else either.
How Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?
Protein is actually very easy for a vegetarian to include in their diet. Primary sources of protein include: eggs, dairy, beans (soy is included), grains, and legumes. Including a supplement like whey in a shake is also an excellent source. When grains (like rice) are eaten with legumes (veggies) they can combine to become a complete protein. Vegetarians can easily eat up to and exceed 200 grams of protein daily.
Do Meats Contain Nutrients You Can't Get Anywhere Else?
NO! Zinc, iron and B12 are the vitamins most are concerned about when it comes to meats. Most other vitamins can be found in abundance in other foods, but these three aren't as prevalent. Some plants produce iron but it is much different than that in meat; and harder to absorb as well. To increase absorption, foods high in vitamin c should be eaten. Vitamin C will increase absorption (stay away from coffees and teas, they decrease it). Iron rich foods include beans, cereals, eggs and tofu. When it comes to zinc, you can find it in a TON of plants. You want to get about 25mg of zinc a day, and you can do that by eating nuts, seeds, or tofu. Vitamin B12 is made from bacteria and microorganisms, dubbing it a "dirty" vitamin. Dairy products and eggs contain high levels of B12. Be sure to include dairy in your diet and you have all the bases covered when it comes to getting your nutrition.
So, Vegetarians Can Build Muscle Like Anyone Else?
YES! Protein is the key to increasing muscle mass. Vegetarians can do this just like any meat eater could. You simply have to make sure you are including enough protein in your diet. You can drink protein shakes if you don't have time to eat enough food items that will give you enough daily protein. If you want to eat foods instead of drinking a shake, choose nuts, grains and cheeses. Vegetarians actually really benefit from their diets, and it is a very healthy choice.
No matter what, you want to make sure you are getting all the daily vitamins, minerals, and nutrition your body needs. It doesn't matter if you choose to eat meat or opt for vegetables and fruits instead. Just make sure you are eating the RIGHT foods for optimal weight loss!