The vegetarian diet plan for body-building

Bodybuilding has long been considered a meat-eaters only domain. But vegans need not lose heart. With a few tweaks and tricks in your diet, you too can go the extra mile with ease and earn those impressive muscles without compromising on your principles. Eager to know how? Read on.

Vegetarian diet bodybuilder

Meat and generally all non-veg stuff contains very high levels of proteins, the biggest factor contributing to muscle mass. Red meat, especially, contains large quantities of vitamins belonging to the B complex, which are vital to the growth and repair of almost everything in your body. Eggs are loaded with calcium and iron, which increase bone strength and blood’s oxygen carrying capacity respectively. Several fish and other sea food are rich in enzymes that boost normal body metabolism.

Feeling depressed for missing out on all this? Don’t worry. Here comes your booster dose!


For Proteins

soya Chunks

By far, pulses are the best source of protein in daily veg diet. The king of this clan is Soyabean. Wait, isn’t it an oilseed? Yes, but it is also rich in body building proteins that are otherwise found only in non-veg diet (See the chart below). According to a study by the National Institute of Nutrition Hyderabad, it can literally have TWICE the protein concentration of ordinary meat and nearly THRICE that of eggs. Now who says that only non-veg can get you those chiseled muscles? What’s more, It’s dirt cheap! So much so, that the World Health Organisation has been using soya chunks as a cheap but nutritious protein supplement in famished countries for years now. No doubt it is called the veggie’s egg.

Nutritive values of pulses

Apart from soya, our personal favorites for bodybuilding are Black gram (Udad) and chickpea (Chana). Black gram has been described and used as the vegetarian alternative to meat in all diet regimens of traditional Indian medicine, its action being attributed to fractional micronutrients other than the major dietary principles. Though not much scientific evidence is available to back this claim, it is a time tested application that shows good results. One stark proof of this is the average health of people in the Punjab province, where Udad dal is an integral part of daily diet.

Black gram

Chickpea, on the other hand, is clearly the winner in the economy segment, as it is available at almost half the costs of other pulses. Most professional wrestling clubs in Asian countries use it as a supplement for the members. Afghan varieties of chickpea have better nutritional qualities than their South Asian cousins.

White and green chickpea

For Vitamin B Complex

Remember ‘Popeye the Sailor’ that you loved watching as a kid? Remember what he ate to get instant energy? Yeah, spinach is the go-to veggie food for vitamins. In fact, all green leafy vegetables are a treasure trove of vitamins. Be careful, however, if you have kidney stone problems, as all of them contain lots of oxalates. Also, being low on calories, they contribute significantly to waste bulk in the diet.


So what’s the other option? The gold of the desert, Date is your food of choice. Not just vitamins, it is also a great source of Iron and Calcium. Mohmedans across the world have been eating it as the prime food while fasting in Ramzaan since milleniums, getting optimal nutrition in lowest possible volume. It packs in a standard dose of calories as well.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamine), which plays a very important role in blood formation, is a specific troublemaker for vegans; as it isn’t found in almost any vegan food. But no need to lose heart yet. Add a couple of cheese slices to the weekly diet, and you are good to go.

For all these nutrients AND everything else (well, almost everything)


Did we forget it? How can we forget it? No we haven’t forgotten it. Milk is the best of all good foods. It is a great source of fats, proteins, sugars, calcium, iron and what not. Unfortunately though, some people may not be able to tolerate higher quantities of milk. For them, our previous article about milk indigestion can get the way out. But every vegetarian aspiring to build a strong body should have milk and milk products as a major component of their daily diet.

Diet supplement for those want to go the extra mile

Procure good quality powders of the following from any herbal medicine shop –
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Yashtimadhu (Glycerrhiza glabra)
Shatavari (Asperagus racemosus)
Shwet Musli (Asperagus adscendens)
Trikatu (mixture of Zingiber officinale, Piper longum and Piper nigrum)

Mix all of these except Trikatu, in equal proportions; and add 1/10th Trikatu to the mixture. Add equal quantity of powdered sugar to the completed mixture and mix to make homogeneous. Now add honey in quantity just enough to get a jelly like consistency. Store in a tight lid glass container. Consume one large teaspoonful every morning with milk. All the ingredients in this formulation are herbal enzymatic/hormonal stimulants and/or simulants, which are tested safe for use in low quantities (as in this recipe). This formulation has an expiry of minimum two years if stored properly.

For the more curious ones of you (or ‘Where are the numbers in this, Doc?’)

If you feel like getting more number crunch and detailed diet-planning after reading this article, get it one of these two ways –

(a) Refer Handbook of human nutritional requirements, WHO Geneva; and Nutritive values of Indian foods, National Institute of Nutrition Hyderabad; and the dozens of sources from where this info was compiled.

OR you can

(b) drop a mail at for a free initial consultation and for getting a personalized diet guidance plan made and monitored according to your specific health requirements.

About the Author – Dr. Harshad Rajandekar holds an Ayurvedacharya degree in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery from the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, and runs a private consultancy in integrative medicine and holistic wellness therapies.

Images courtesy: Wikimedia Commons


5 thoughts on “The vegetarian diet plan for body-building

Add yours

    1. Thanks for showing interest, Harsh. Both your questions relate to hotly debated urban legends in the fitness community. Low-carb diet, in the medical terminology, refers to reducing carbohydrate contribution below 20% of the total calorie intake. As a practitioner of integrative medicine, I will say that you shouldn’t go for it unless you have a specific health ailment such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension or hyperobesity, as it carries significant risks of hypoglycemia on heavy exercise. Any good medico can tell you that, the key to good health lies in balancing the nutrients, not reducing any one of them to dangerously low levels. Even if you are into losing weight aggressively (for which low-carb diet can be a good option), you should know that all common low-carb diet plans cause you to lose some muscles as well. All low-carb diets rely on the assumption that the body preferentially burns stored fats instead of proteins, to make up for the lack of carbs in the diet. This may not be the way it goes in all cases, as in explosive workouts, resulting in protein loss as an emergency measure. So, low-carb is good for diabetics and athletes at the most; not for bodybuilders and wannabe strongmen, on whom this article was focused.
      As for the estrogen question, soya does contain rich phytoestrogens (specifically glyceitin), which mimic estrogen’s hormonal actions, although very weakly. Normal to moderately high level of soya consumption has been stated as safe by the American Cancer Society, as far as the harmful hormonal action is concerned. The rest (about men developing ‘breasts’ etc.) are opinions based on insufficiently reviewed and arbitrarily correlated clinical data, mostly from isolated sources. If you are an Asian male, you are genetically even lesser predisposed to the risk than your European counterparts. Only those already suffering from endocrine disorders need to consult an expert before eating soya in very large quantities, which is anyways not expected here. Then again, remember that TOO much of ANYthing, let alone soya, is always bad for health.
      Hoping that was some useful info for you. Follow this blog to get useful articles related to your suggested topics in the future.

      Dr. Harshad R.


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