Where do I get my proteins?
I’ve been vegetarian for the past 3 years; I built a good lean mass and performed in two figure competition without eating any meat. I have more and more clients that wish to make the switch to a plant-based diet without harming their performance. Even if it gets more common, I feel like it’s not well known for most people and still get a lot of questions about it. Here is some comments I get often from people…
- Vegetarians lack of protein!
In fact, people following a plant-based without checking their intake are at risk to lack protein, especially for athletes. Some sources of plant-based protein have a lower amount in limiting amino acid (mostly lysine) et the digestion and absorption might be limited by tannins and enzymes. Therefore, the requirements for plant protein are slightly higher than the requirements for animal protein. With that in mind, it’s pretty simple to adjust the amount of protein needed for an individual.
- Vegetarians are skinny!
It’s more the amount of calories that has an impact on your weight than the source (animal vs plant) of the nutrients. Sure, the skinny vegan eating sprouts and kale and drinking green tea exists, but there is many other examples! Many athletes prove that it’s possible to perform without meat : Torre Washington (bodybuilder), Patrik Baboumian (strongmang), Austin Aries (wrestler), David Carter (The 300 Pound Vegan, football player), etc.
It’s obviously the same logic with the classic “being vegan is a great way to lose weight”. Let’s be honest, the ruffles barbecue potato chips are vegan, but it’s not my favorite food for weight loss!
- Being vegetarian is more expensive!
False, most of the food I eat is cheap! It’s one of the first thing that made me do the switch. Sure, you can find some really expensive and fancy vegan food, but same is with meat! Until now, nobody seems to complaint about the high price of red beans...
- Being vegetarian is healthier!
Cutting all the meat, eggs and dairy does not automatically make you healthier… There is many vegan food that are not healthy, like potato chips. Vegetarianism can bring you many health benefits, on condition that it is well balanced and planned. Here is my recommendations: eat whole foods, avoid processed meat substitutes, refined carbohydrates, and other highly processed products.
- Vegetarians have many nutrient deficiencies!
These days, considering the quality of the food, everybody is at risk of nutrient deficiencies, whatever kind of diet (vegetarian, vegan, paleo, ketogenic, etc.). Plant-based eaters should be careful with the following nutrients: vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, selenium, zinc, iodine and omega-3. Those nutrients have a important impact on the thyroid and hepatic function and on the immune system. Prevention is better than cure, so I religiously take my multivitamins and ThyroPrime from Excellence Nutraceutik.
By Camille Vigneault, physiotherapist
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