When you picture packing on the protein, do you envision meals full of burgers and bacon? Vegetarians can’t bulk up without meat … can they? Can you go meatless and still gain mass? Are their benefits? Risks? Let’s take a look.
YOU DON’T NEED “MORE” PROTEIN TO GAIN MASS
It’s a misconception that more protein equals more gain. You pretty much need the same amount of protein regardless of how much you gain. So while protein is still important, you don’t necessarily have to worry about not being able to get enough if you cut out meat. There are plenty of other plant protein sources out there that can provide you with the nutrition you need.
There’s really only one way to become protein “deficient” if you don’t eat meat but still eat plenty of plant protein. If you consume enough quality calories depending on your activity level, you’ll be fine. Calories from protein are often used in muscle repair, which is what causes muscle growth. If you don’t eat enough calories overall though, your body is much more likely to use your protein sources as fuel instead of for growth.
WORKOUTS SHOULD BE SHORT, INTENSE
The longer your workouts, the more your body relies on protein to fuel that endurance. If you’re interested in building mass, you want to make sure your workouts are shorter, but more intense. This way your body will burn off carbs for energy but won’t dip as heavily into your protein stores, which helps prevent muscle loss. Also don’t forget to fuel up on protein post-workout to encourage more muscle growth.
Can you give up meat and still bulk up? Absolutely. Just train smart and be aware of what you’re eating. Plant proteins – chickpeas; beans; nuts; seeds – are your best friends. You can incorporate some protein shakes in there too, if you want. But don’t assume you need more protein just because you aren’t eating meat. Choose your foods and workouts wisely, and you’ll be fine.