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Is is possible to take on enough protein to build muscle whilst eating a vegetarian diet?

Many sources of proteins such as meat, poultry and fish are obviously ruled out.

Do you have experience of building muscle without meat? I'd be interested to know which foods you do consume.

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closed as off topic by Ivo Flipse Feb 22 '12 at 18:06

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

I suggest you read this article from the Australian Institute of Sports.

About halfway down the page it has a section titled: Protein – are vegetarian diets adequate?

There is too much info to quote there so I'll put it in point form, but I suggest you read the whole article:

  • Although most vegetarian athletes meet or exceed recommendations for total protein intake, diets of vegetarians often provide less protein than those of non-vegetarians
  • Vegetable or plant proteins may be limiting in one or more essential amino acids
  • There is no requirement to include complementary proteins at each meal as long as a variety of protein sources are included
  • As plant proteins are less well digested than animal proteins, vegetarian athletes are advised to consume approximately 10% more protein than current athlete protein recommendations

The AIS is the organisation that trains Australian olympians.

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+1 AIS is one of the best if not the best sports science academy in the world (us Aussies love our sport). – Anonymous Type Mar 11 '11 at 10:34
+1 for mentioning 'essential amino acids'. – Evan Plaice Mar 30 '11 at 22:51
Good info in this answer. I'd like to add some personal experience as a raw vegan athlete (note: I do cook some food). Seitan(wheat gluten), Tempeh, tofu and soy products are great for protein. I also eat Einkorn pasta (higher protein than normal). Eating raw vegan or vegetarian is harder than eating meat. Because you can eat less (due to higher-quality foods) it is very very important to make sure you get the necessary vitamins/minerals/carbs/proteins/etc – Chris Biscardi Nov 21 '11 at 18:49
link doesn't seem to work. – claws Aug 2 '14 at 19:21

Is is possible to take on enough protein to build muscle whilst eating a vegetarian diet?


I'd be interested to know which foods you do consume.

When I had a vegetarian partner, I had to maintain a vegetarian diet, and she was a fan of (the now discredited) protein combining theory. The premise was that since most vegetarian proteins are deficient in one amino acid, that one should take a combination of 2 proteins so that one supplies the amino acid that the other one is missing. Typically, this means beans plus grains. While you normally can get by with getting all the proteins spread out over a day, if you are going to be working out vigorously, I'd recommend following the idea of protein combining. It was originally documented in the book Diet For a Small Planet. Working out with a vegetarian diet was harder than when I was on a meat based diet. I found that consuming protein shakes helped with getting enough protein.

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