Eating and Bodybuilding

NOTE: This post has been submitted by James Chan, NSCA-CPT. His profile is at the end.

Ever since I’ve read the book, “The China Study,” I’ve experimented with lowering my animal protein intake and upping my vegetables. If you haven’t read the book, what it essentially says is that the lower your intake of animal proteins, the lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a whole slew of other diseases.

It provided some very compelling evidence, compelling enough for me to reevaluate some of my assumptions as a former bodybuilder of ten years who ate 5 times a day of high protein (all animal) meals.

Every so often, I get the question from vegetarians, “Can I build muscle as a vegetarian?”

My answer: NO, you cannot build a large muscular physique without animal proteins. Animal proteins don’t just include beef, pork, poultry, and fish, but they include anything that comes from an animal: eggs and dairy.

The key word is can you BUILD muscle without animal proteins? Try it on only soy, beans and nuts, and you will not build a yoked out physique at all. You can build an impressive physique that is trim and lean IF you strength train, but your muscles will have a soft and stringy look to them.

But big, buff, and dense muscles? NO.

Now a lot of people point to vegetarian bodybuilders such as Bill Pearl and others, but I’ll tell you this: Bill Pearl built an impressive muscular physique with animal proteins and THEN became vegetarian. afterwards, he still ate eggs and dairy.

Having experimented with a near vegetarian diet, I will tell you this: it is much easier to maintain a muscular physique on a vegetarian diet AFTER you’ve built it on a diet chock full of animal proteins.

And even then you will lose muscle density on a vegetarian diet. plus you will experience poorer recovery from workouts and more aches and pains.

However, your cardiovascular health will be much better. Rather than having an brawny physique, my physique is now trim and lean. but that is only because I am still strength training heavily, not running and yoga.

Plus I still eat animal proteins, but I practice what is known as “protein-pulsing.” Rather than constantly eating a steady flow of animal proteins every few hours every day, I gorge on protein once a day.

This is the way animals eat, and predatory animals such as tigers and leopards can maintain a very large and impressive musculature on that.

Author Profile:

James Chan, NSCA-CPT, is a full-time police officer for the University of California Police Department in San Francisco. He is also a NSCA certified personal trainer, and from time to time, trains a handful of clients ranging from off-duty law enforcement to white collar professionals. His training articles have appeared in Fitness and Physique Magazine and He is also the author of the book “Strength and Physique, Volume One.”

Check out his website for more information.

Editors Note: Vegetarians still have a chance. You may not be able to look freakishly large as a bodybuilding, but as James stated, you can certainly create an athletic, trim physique on a vegetarian diet.

For the best vegetarian meal plans, check out Easy Veggie Meal Plans.

Remove Lower Belly Fat with Vegetarian Cooking

I’ve been a vegetarian since I can remember. There are a lot of myths surround vegetarians. Being a vegetarian does not automatically make you healthier then meat eaters. In reality, my community is plagues by diabetes and high cholesterol.

Nutrition is simple: eat good food and become healthy. It is possible to be big, strong, lean, and muscular when you’re on a vegetarian diet. You just have to make the right nutrition decisions. Luckily. we have Kardena Pauza on our side to provide us with an endless supply of delicious recipes.

Here is a great recipe you can try today:

Click here to learn more about Kardena’s nutrition manual: Easy Veggie Meal Plans.

Vegetarian Program to Lose Middle Age Fat

Vegetarians have a LOT of questions with regards to fat loss. Some of the most popular include:

  • How do I know I’m getting enough protein, and where do I get it from?
  • How can I keep my nutrition exciting enough to stick to it?
  • Does a Vegetarian diet alter your energy levels? Do you get weaker with a Vegetarian diet?

As a lifelong vegetarian, I can say that I get ample amounts of protein in my diet. I’m never bored with my diet – partly because I don’t see eating as an “event.” I have no problem eating the same foods day in and day out.

As for getting weaker….nope. I’m almost as strong as my meat eating friend who weighs more than me. In fact, in some lifts – especially those that require lots of core strength – I’m stronger then him.

So switching to a vegetarian lifestyle will NOT effect your strength. Vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice. I’m not a PETA member trying to shove down vegetarian down your throat. But if you’re willing to make the switch, or if you’re already a vegetarian, then read carefully:

You can be a vegetarian and be healthy. You can also be a non vegetarian and be healthy. On the flip side, you can be a vegetarian and be sick. And you can be a non vegetarian and be sick. It all depends on your food choices and eating habits.

The primary difference is that with a vegetarian lifestyle, you’re relying on a lot more fruits and vegetables to maintain your energy levels – as it should be. It may help some people, as instead of reaching for a hamburger, they reach for a piece of fruit.

Now, with regards to fat loss on a vegetarian diet, the most important thing (especially those of Indian decent) is to cut down your sugar intake. Americans in general eat a lot of sugar. But Indians eat a TON of sugar.

The only reason you don’t see high cases of diabetes in India, compared to that in the U.S., is because most Indians don’t get regular doctor check ups the way they do here. But trust me, it’s there.

They’re obesity levels are not as high either because of the high level of poverty. America’s obesity level is 30.6% according to However, when I go to India and stay with my family, who belong in the lower middle class socio-economic class – I have to constantly yell at them to put less sugar, oil, and ghee (clarified butter) in their foods.

It’s ridiculous.

But that is the first step in cleaning up your diet – take a look at how much sugar and fried foods you’re eating. Eliminate the fried foods and cut down your sugar intake.

As for protein intake, I would turn to supplements. There are a lot of great protein powders for Vegans, such as Sun Warrior. However, if you don’t mind, you can also just use regular Whey Protein.

I use GNC brand Whey Protein and mix it with Glutamine after an intense workout. Mix it with milk for some extra casein (slow digesting) protein. I also eat about 2-3 handfuls of almonds throughout the day. This provides me with more protein, some healthy fats, while ingesting foods low in carbs.

In addition, if you still consume eggs, milk, and cheese, you’ll have no problem getting the protein that you need. If you’re 100% Vegan (no animal products), then you want to check out Sun Warrior Protein, rice protein, pea protein, soy protein, and hemp.

But go easy on the soy protein, as it has been linked to increasing estrogen levels.

You must also realize that oatmeal, pasta, and bread has lots of protein in it in the form of gluten. However, if you have problems consuming gluten, then you want to stay away from these foods. You’re going to have to rely on the sources I mentioned earlier.

Beans are also a great source of protein. A friend of mine used to eat 1-2 cans of beans every day. I’m sure he cycled through they type of beans he was eating, as eating Kidney beans every day would get quite boring.

Overall, protein powder supplementation is absolutely crucial. The more muscle you need to pack on, the more protein shakes you’ll have to consume throughout the day. I don’t see this is a huge problem.

I only need one. But if you need to pack on lots of muscle mass, taking 3 protein shakes with 30-50 grams of protein in each should help you tremendously.

When it comes to variety, the key is recipes. There are lots of great Vegan cookbooks at the bookstore and online. However, not all of them are focused around people who need to pack on muscle or lose fat.

Once you find a few recipes that can help you get the amount of protein and calories required to achieve your goals, you want to hit the supermarket. Most supermarkets are not built for Vegetarians.

Best option is Whole Foods. Although, they can get a bit expensive.

Making the switch is hard. Even if you’re already a Vegetarian, you need to go through the extra steps of breaking bad habits such as eating too many carbs, eating fried foods, and cutting down on your sugar intake.

But the world is changing. You know have vegetarian restuarants, cookbooks, and specialty stores. So it is now much easier to be a vegetarian then it used to be. The more explore, the more you realize that there are many alternatives out there for you.

One of the best vegetarian guides out there is called Easy Veggie Meal Plans.Click here to learn more about this incredible book.

A Vegetarian Travel Nutrition Tip

The following is a guest post by Kardena Pauza, author of Easy Veggie Meal Plans:

For many of us traveling, it means skipping workouts, eating processed foods, and generally feeling guilty and frustrated because our commitment to a healthy lifestyle has temporarily gone by the wayside.

But with a little effort and following some quick and easy tips I’ll share with you, you’ll never have to resort to the over-priced, high-calorie food options that are prevalent in airports.

But first, did you know that when you’re at the airport you can actually take your own food through the security check?  Most people don’t know this, but as long as it isn’t liquid, gels, or gooey stuff over 3 oz. then you’re in the clear.

Okay, so you know that preparation is the key for anyone looking to lose weight and stay fit.  Well, this is especially the case when a last minute road trip unexpectedly arises.

So, with that in mind, here are some healthy food options suitable as snacks, breakfast, or dinner, that you can easily put together.

1.   Grab all the veggies you have in the refrigerator and combine them to make one big tasty salad.

2.   Pack 2-4 healthy nut bars.  My favourite is the RAW bar.

3.   Cut up fresh celery, carrots, and cucumbers – it’s quick and it’s easy.

4.   Add a few pieces of fruit to your “lunch pack”.

5.   Nuts are another excellent snack option.

6.   Seaweed snacks.  These delicious treats are sure to draw some wandering eyes as people try to figure out just what the heck it is you’re eating.

7.   And lastly, pack a bag of flax crackers.

If you can put just 10 minutes into preparing some snacks for your trip, you’ll feel so much better later on when everyone else is stuffing their face with high fattening foods and you’re sticking to you healthy diet.

Even if it’s just some healthy snacks to tie you over while waiting at the airport, this plan with help you eat healthier and avoid the junk you know is bad for you.

For More Information on Healthy Vegetarian Nutrition, Check out Kardena’s website,

The Truth About Vegetarian Protein

The following is a guest post by Kardena Pauza, author of Easy Veggie Meal Plans:

The most common question people ask me about my vegetarian diet is, “How do you get enough protein?” You have a toned body and how do you build muscle without eating meat?”

Well, while I agree it is important to have protein in your diet, there are two things to know.

1.   We really DON’T NEED as much protein as most people think.

2.   It’s actually quite easy to get all the protein you need from a plant-based diet.

It’s amazing how many people are concerned about a lack of protein, but in our Western culture, almost NO ONE needs to worry about suffering from a lack of protein.

We’ve been brainwashed by supplement companies and magazine ads into thinking we need one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, but science has NEVER shown that level of protein intake to be needed.

In fact, what we really see is people eating excessive amounts of protein and sometimes so much that they get fat and very ill!

Like I said, getting enough protein has not been a concern in our country, we see very few cases of protein deficiencies and the few cases typically are in poverty stricken areas.

Typically in this situation there is an overall deficiency of calories and most nutrients not just a lack of protein.

But as long as you follow a whole food meal plan giving you at least 1600 calories, you will easily get enough protein.

According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O) you need to consume a minimum of 10% of your daily caloric intake from protein to be healthy and build lean muscle. The

World Health Organization is the leading authority on human health and is dedicated to improving the quality of people’s lives around the world.

The only places the W.H.O discovered minor protein deficiencies were in underdeveloped countries that did not have access to a variety of foods and protein and consequently these people had a lack of over all nutrients not just protein. The W.H.O is attempting to deliver more legumes to these areas to balance their diet and insure they get enough protein.

Countries that eat a sufficient amount of calories and variety don’t see protein deficiencies. A variety of foods everyday is what will give you a well balanced diet.

Let’s take a look at an example as we review protein needs. As I mentioned in the above paragraphs, the recommended amount of protein for a vegetarian is a minimum of 10% of your daily calories.


If you are eating a 1,600 calorie diet, 10% of that would be 160 calories. Each gram of protein has 4 calories, so that calculates out to 40 grams of protein per day. This is easy to do!

All you need to do is eat a ½ cup of lentils you are getting about 10 grams of protein and a hard boiled egg has 7 grams of protein. You are 1/3 of the way there!

Of course, it’s still easy to do if you are vegan. Oatmeal has about 7 grams of protein per serving, hemp bliss has 5 grams of protein per cup, and quinoa and spelt pasta have 10-15 grams of protein per serving.

Here’s ANOTHER WAY to determine how much protein you’ll need.

The recommended amount of protein is 0.49 grams per pound of bodyweight (NOT 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight like steroid-using bodybuilders suggest).

You can also determine your minimum amount by taking your bodyweight and multiplying it by .49. Example- If you weigh 130 pounds x .49 = 63.7 grams of protein.

However, if you are overweight and use this formula, you will dramatically OVER-estimate your protein needs. Therefore, you can use your target weight when doing this calculation. So if you are 160 pounds but want to be 130 pounds, just use the 130 pound target weight in the calculation.

These 2 methods give you slightly different amounts of protein so you can see there is no exact measure but at least gets us in the minimum acceptable range.

For our purpose of weight loss I have found that up to 20% of your daily calories from protein will help you increase your metabolism, curb your appetite, and help you build lean muscle. But you don’t need more than that.

For More Information on Healthy Vegetarian Nutrition, Check out Kardena’s website,

The Best Sources of Vegetarian Protein

The following is a guest post by Kardena Pauza, author of Easy Veggie Meal Plans:

Most foods have some combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat – even vegetables contain all three macronutrients! So here’s a list of some whole foods and their protein, carbohydrate, and fat content.

The reason I am showing you the three macronutrients is because people tend to eat too much of the wrong foods and they are gaining weight or stuck at a plateau and not losing weight. Typically a person is more likely to over eat on starchy carbohydrates or fat.

Some foods may contain more fat than protein, adding an excessive amount of calories in such a tiny portion. You want to be aware of these foods so you make sure and eat the right portion so you can easily lose weight.

Food Type : Protein / Carbohydrates / Fats (in grams)

·      Tofu 4 oz.: 8 / 4 / 4

·      Black Beans ½ cup: 7.5 / 20 / 5

·      Peanut Butter 1 Tb: 4 / 3.5 / 8

·      Almond Butter 1 Tb: 2 / 3 / 9

·      Cashew Nuts ¼ cup: 5 / 9 / 12

·      Seitan 3 oz.: 20 / 8 / 2

·      Tempeh 4 oz.: 16 / 14 / 6

·      Sunflower seeds raw ¼ cup: 6 / 6 / 14

·      Soybeans ½ cup: 16 / 14 / 8

One food I love is almond butter and I could eat almond butter everyday, twice a day.

The problem is it’s loaded with fat which means it’s very calorie dense. Every gram of fat equals 9 calories of energy where as protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram. You have to expend more energy to burn off 1 gram of fat than 1 gram of protein or carbs.

Fat is not particularly bad, it’s the quantity that’s the issue.

Our body’s need fat for many functions so please do not cut them out completely. On average for a female, you want to take in between 7-12 gr. of protein per sitting depending on your calories for the day and if you are eating it for a snack or as part of your main meal.

An extra scoop of nut butter here and there can add up to hundreds of excess calories that can sabotage your weight loss progress. It is easy to over eat on nut butters so measure out a serving and put the rest away so double dipping doesn’t happen.

What’s the Deal with Complementary Protein?

Protein is made up of amino acids, often described as its “building blocks”. We actually have a biological requirement for amino acids, not for protein.

Humans cannot make eight of the twenty common amino acids, so these amino acids are considered to be essential. In other words, we must get these amino acids from our food. We need all eight of these amino acids for our body to make certain proteins in the body.

Only eggs, milk, meat, and fish contain all of the essential amino acids.

Plant proteins on the other hand are usually low in one or two of the essential amino acids. For example, grains are lower in lysine (an essential amino acid) and higher in other amino acids. Legumes are lower in methionine (another essential amino acid) and high in other amino acids.

As a result, many diet experts insist that vegetarians consume “complementary foods” at

a meal – meaning that you eat two foods that combine to give you all the essential amino acids – such as beans and rice.

But that’s “old school” thinking.

Recent studies have shown that this is not the case at all. Our bodies have what’s called an amino acid pool where it cycles amino acids in the blood stream and stores them until it can use the amino acids for other purposes in the body or it’s used for energy.

Your cells are constantly breaking down and synthesizing new proteins. Each day more amino acids are recycled in your body than are supplied in our diet. If you eat a grain source of protein in one meal and a protein source from beans the next meal, then that will be just as good as eating them together at the same meal.

As long as you have a variety of proteins throughout the day, the body will hold on to the amino acids that have not been used and place them in the amino acid pool to be used later.

Our bodies are AMAZING and RESOURCEFUL.

As long as you eat a variety of grains, vegetables, and nuts everyday the body will have the resources it needs to build healthy protein.

What about Protein Powders?

Protein powders have found their way into every grocery store and health food store.

These powders can be helpful in supplementing protein when you are busy or if you are looking for an alternative to beans or nut meal.

There are a variety of protein powder options on the market now. Traditionally you would find only egg protein, whey, and soy. With newer technology and knowledge about other healthy sources of protein a new generation of protein powders has arrived.

Now you can find pea protein, hemp, rice, and artichoke protein. These next generation protein powders are great for vegans since whey and eggs are dairy-derived the selection was limiting.

Remember that protein powder is a supplement and NOT a meal replacement. These powders supply protein but you will need to eat other foods with your meal to ensure you are power packed with nutrients.

Whole natural foods are your premium source of nutrients and digestible protein so lean on this source mainly and secondly use protein powders.

A healthy and safe portion per day is 1-2 servings. A protein smoothie with berries for breakfast and possibly a snack size portion later in the day will boost your protein intake and still give you plenty of opportunities to incorporate whole foods. A serving size of protein powder for a female is approximately 15 grams and approximately 20 grams for men and half this amount for snacks.

So, there are just a few tips to ensure you get enough protein into your daily diet.

For More Information on Healthy Vegetarian Nutrition, Check out Kardena’s website,