For vegans and vegetarians, improving your body shape can often be a challenging task. This is due to the reduced options when it comes to your nutrition, which leads to many problems that stagnate your progress with fat loss and an improved body shape.
However, there are ways around it, and it is absolutely possible to get in shape on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Like most things, you just need to be smart with how you structure your nutrition and then make sure you are performing well in key areas on a consistent basis over a long period of time.
So, what are these key areas? And how can you solve any potential nutritional issues that come with a vegan or vegetarian diet?
Invest In Supplements
When you remove meat, fish and dairy from your diet, you are also taking away a large range of crucial vitamins and minerals that your body needs, such as Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B-12, and Omega-3. This means that your body could then become insufficient in those nutrients, so the importance of supplements increases. In most good supplement stores, you can find these vitamins and minerals in tablet or powder form, which you can take any time during the day. BCAA’s (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) are also a good option to maximise protein synthesis in your body in the absence of meat and fish. Make sure the supplements are of high quality and close to the level that you get in food form.
Prioritise Protein Intake
Protein is an important macronutrient that plays a crucial role in the process of muscle recovery and repair when you are looking to build more muscle or tone your body. It has ‘building blocks’ called amino acids that the body uses to build and repair muscles and bones, in addition to making hormones and enzymes. Protein is also essential for retaining the muscle you have already gained and can be used as an energy source. So, look to have 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound (lbs) of body weight and make this a consistent feature of your meals.
Reduce Intolerant and Processed Food Groups
One of the best things you can do when you start your fitness journey or even just to improve your overall health is remove food groups from your diet that you are intolerant to. These foods cause higher levels of inflammation in the body, which leads to higher water retention and therefore makes you feel more bloated. By cleaning up your diet, you will improve these areas and see noticeable early progress. It will also reduce cortisol and improve energy levels, which can lead to better performance. Make sure you are adding high protein options, more green vegetables, and more slow-releasing carbohydrates into your meals. This is a great starting point to get you off on the right track.
As mentioned before, reducing meat, fish, and dairy from your diet will reduce the options you can have on a daily basis, which also affects variety with your nutrition. However, this does not mean that you can’t be creative with your meals. You will most likely find that you enjoy sticking to the same foods once you understand their nutritional value, but adding in different vitamins and nutrients from other foods will prevent your body from being insufficient in certain areas and allow it to function properly.
As a result of the reduced options when it comes to protein, it can be very common to be on a carbohydrate-heavy diet, which can increase water retention and reduce muscle growth and development. Whilst carbohydrates are very important for energy and performance levels, as well as replenishing glycogen stores during your recovery from resistance training, too much of them and too little of protein and other nutrients can have an adverse effect on improving your body shape. So, make sure you have a balance of protein, carbohydrates, green vegetables, and healthy fats.
So, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, there are certain things you have to consider to maximise fat loss and improve your body shape. These include investing in supplements, prioritising protein intake, reducing intolerant food groups, having variety, and having a balanced spread of macronutrients. Although there are fewer options at your disposal, you can still make progress, and being smart in these areas will allow you to do so.
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