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The Smart Way To Turn Vegetarian

Kamal Joshi
Kamal Joshi
Do a Google search on the term “healthy diet” and you’ll run into websites that extol the virtues of turning vegetarian.

Science also tells us that eating more fruits and vegetables is a healthy practice which is why more and more people are turning vegetarian across the world. However, before embracing a wholly vegetarian diet, you need to understand some of the underlying issues.

A poorly constructed vegetarian diet can lead to micronutrient deficiency. In addition, there are chances that it won’t supply your body with adequate protein. Many research studies also suggest that vegetarian diets are generally lower in vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and zinc as compared to an omnivorous diet.

How does one resolve these issues? If you’re a vegetarian or planning to become one, here are some points you need to keep in mind if you want to avoid any nutritional deficiencies:

1) Protein

Muscle Protein Breakdown is an ongoing process and is crucial for the immune system. However, you need to achieve a balance between Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB) and Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). This is known as Net Protein Balance (NPB). Achieving a positive NPB via elevated MPS promotes exercise recovery and anabolism. For that to happen, you must include adequate amounts of good quality protein in your daily diet.
You need at least 1.6g of protein per kg of Lean Body Weight. So, if you weigh 100 Kg with 20% body fat, you need at least 128g of protein daily. Vegetarians often consume less protein than their omnivorous counterparts. It’s crucial that they pay attention to the quantity and quality of protein consumed. The challenge is that plant protein is usually an incomplete source. Certain essential amino acids such as lysine, methionine, isoleucine, threonine, and tryptophan are found lacking in plant-based foods.
Another issue is the poorer digestibility of plant-based protein sources. That’s why vegetarians also need to consume more protein than meat-eaters to compensate for this factor.

Here are some ways in which you can tackle this problem:

Milk: Unless you’re lactose intolerant, milk is an excellent addition to your vegetarian diet since
it’s rich in BCAA. Consumption of milk as a part of a diet could help you achieve better muscle
hypertrophy.

Whey Protein: Another good source of vegetarian protein is whey. It’s a great supplement to
include in your diet. Whey is a byproduct of Milk and is completely safe to consume.

Soy Protein: If you’re vegan or just don’t want to include milk, consider Soy Protein. The great
thing about soy is that it has a complete amino acid profile. The downside is that it contains anti-
nutrient factors such as phytic acid and trypsin inhibitors which limit the absorption of nutrients.

Food Combinations: Vegetarian foods don’t contain complete amino acid profiles. A great trick to compensate for this is to combine two vegetarian foods that have complementary amino acid profiles. Here are a few examples:
Combining Grains and Legumes:
Beans/Pulses and rice
Pasta and peas
Whole wheat bread and peanut butter
Combining Nuts and seeds plus legumes:
Roasted nuts, seeds, and peanuts
Lentils and almonds

2) Essential Fats

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are of three types viz. ALA, EPA, and DHA. All three are essential for normal growth and development. Vegetarian food sources such as Walnuts and Chia seeds can provide you with ALA. However, most vegetarian diets lack EPA and DHA as these are marine-sourced fats.
The solution: Microalgae oil is rich in DHA and EPA. Microalgae-oil supplements can raise both blood EPA and DHA levels and can help vegetarians obtain the complete spectrum of essential fats.

3) Micronutrients

Micronutrients are those nutrients that your body requires in micro or small amounts. These include vitamins and minerals. Vegetarian diets are often deficient in Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron, and Zinc.
This problem can be resolved by including milk-based products in your daily diet or by supplementing with a Multivitamin. Vegans, in particular, need to rely on multivitamins for Vitamin B12. There’s no need to buy an expensive multivitamin. Just check for one that has between 80-100% of the RDA for each micronutrient.
Adopt these strategies and you’ll find that your vegetarian diet becomes sustainable and also helps you with your fitness goals.

Have any questions? Ask me in the comments section below.