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Building muscle on a "plant based" diet


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While I'm not a vegetarian, those of you who are may be interested in the following little experiment and set of articles by Dr. John Berardi

He's an omnivore who had a vegetarian ask for advice on building muscle.  He decided to see if he could put on muscle on a vegetarian type diet. The details are shown in the following sets of articles.  Overall, he was able to put on 7 lbs total (5lbs lean, 2 lbs fat) and came away with some good lessons on eating.  I read the original article on t-nation, but his blog is on the precision nutrition web site, so there are some plugs for their system.

The first article describing how he was challenged to experiment: JB Goes Vegetarian

The article outlining his results: Wrap-up and summary of Johns experiment - photos, stats, conclusions

Two good articles he wrote during his time as a "vegetarian" with some lessons he learned:

Lessons meat-eaters and vegans can learn from each other

Meat, is it really bad for you?

Overall, I think it's a good set of articles with some valuable lessons for those looking for a healthier style of eating, vegetarian or otherwise.

Edited: Original title was: "Can vegetarians build muscle?".  I thought that might be taken the wrong way and that people would avoid the thread thinking it was an anti-vegetarian post.  I didn't mean it that way.

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Hey DS...all the good doc had to do is realize that a number of althletes, some quite famous, are vegetarian...there is a great website you can point folks to

http://www.treehugger.com/galleries/2009/05/1 0-superstar-athletes-who-do-not-eat-meat.php

 

 

I'm vegan and SO SICK of the myth that veg*ns can't build muscle. DUH. Thanks for the articles.

I don't really understand why that is so surprising.  Why do you need to eat meat to gain muscle mass?  Some of the largest and most powerful animals on earth are herbavores (aka: vegans):

Elephants, hippos, rhynos, horses, moose, etc.  Meat eating animals are weak and puny compared to these powerful giants in the animal kingdom.

The Budwiser clydesdales?  Powerful, beautiful, rippling muscles, symbols of strength and beauty...are vegan...

I get so sick of the myth, you have to eat meat to get muscular. 

Not how I am raising my son, I tell him all the time, "if you want to grow up to be a big strong man you have to eat lots of fruits and veggies".  I am raising him vegetarian...mostly vegan, except for cheese once or twice a week.  He is doing VERY well on this diet thank you very much!

Original Post by cesty8:

Elephants, hippos, rhynos, horses, moose, etc.  Meat eating animals are weak and puny compared to these powerful giants in the animal kingdom.

The Budwiser clydesdales?  Powerful, beautiful, rippling muscles, symbols of strength and beauty...are vegan...

You really need to understand biology before making statements like this..... just saying. And whales are meat eaters lol

Original Post by neanderthin:

Original Post by cesty8:

Elephants, hippos, rhynos, horses, moose, etc.  Meat eating animals are weak and puny compared to these powerful giants in the animal kingdom.

The Budwiser clydesdales?  Powerful, beautiful, rippling muscles, symbols of strength and beauty...are vegan...

You really need to understand biology before making statements like this..... just saying. And whales are meat eaters lol

That explains the blubber...and the average American's uncanny resemblance to said whales...

I love this forum.

Herbavores are generally much larger due to the fact that they have to have large complex digestive systems in order to digest their food.

Whales are big with lots of blubber since they evolved to live in very cold waters. Not all whales are meat eaters. Sperm whales & orcas, yes. Baleen whales like the humpback, not really altho they do swallow zooplankton along with phytoplankton. BTW, do you know they decended from a common ancestor with the hippos?

Hallmarks of herbavores:

Sweat instead of pant; long, complex digestive systems; grinding molars

Hallmarks of carnivores:

pant instead of sweat; short digestive system with high acids; long, canine teeth and molars shaped like knives and used like scissors

Human: sweat not pant; long, complex digetive system; grinding molars and short stubby canine teeth.

Biology falls in favor of humans eating primarily a plant based diet with infrequent meals of some animal protien.  That's why I am what I call "primarily" vegetarian ovo-lacto. I will eat chicken about twice or 3 times a year and that is it. I try to go with what biology and evolution has made me.

Thank you dburns2!!!

I was just about to say something to that effect.  Humans more resemble herbavores then carnivores!

In fact, science  now beieves that humans evolved as HERBAVORES, specifically fruit eating apes...

Fruit eating is why we have:

  • opposable thumbs (to pick fruit)
  • front-ways eyes (this may come for our tree dwelling ancestors, you need to to have depth perception to jump from tree limb to tree limb!)
  • color vision (to see it, think of picking berries)
  • long intestins (to digest plant matter)
  • sharp front teeth but flat back teeth (think about eating an apple)
  • jaws that move from side to side as well as up and down (carnivores jaws only move up and down, not side to side, have a cat or dog? look at them)
  • we make all the taurine and cholesterol we need (sources only from  meat, carnivors need these things in their diet but we do not)
  • we NEED vitamin C in our diet (carnivors make their own vitamin C)
  • large brains for rembering where fruit is, when it is ripe, and how to eat it

 

Our physiology and biology is perfect for picking and eating berries and other fruits, think about it, why would we need opposable thumbs if we were meat eaters?

 

Am I missing any thing?

Yes, a lesson in anthropology. Humans aren't carnivors by the way.

Ummm...I thought that was what cesty8 said...that we evolved as herbivores...

I am beginning to think that neanderthin might be a trouble starter! 

I think I may understand what he was trying to say, that humans are omnivores, not carnivors, which today is true.

But neanderthin CLEARLY has less knowledge of this subject then I do, or most of the rest of us too.  I don't think it is me who needs the lesson in biology or anthropology!  I got my information from bibliographys and school as well as independent research in books because I have been fascinated with human evolution for years. 

Original Post by dburns2:

Ummm...I thought that was what cesty8 said...that we evolved as herbivores...

We're omnivores that are perfectly capable of achieving optimal health and fitness on a plant based diet.

I can see why some in this forum may think that, but quite the contrary in fact. There's nothing wrong with a vegetarian diet or vegan for that matter, but please do some due dillegence when it comes to who we are and how we got here, it makes for more informed and accurate conversation going forward and the choices that define us as individuals. We're not herbivores either.Smile

Original Post by cesty8:

I am beginning to think that neanderthin might be a trouble starter! 

But neanderthin CLEARLY has less knowledge of this subject then I do

 You know nothing about me.

Original Post by neanderthin:

I can see why some in this forum may think that, but quite the contrary in fact. There's nothing wrong with a vegetarian diet or vegan for that matter, but please do some due dillegence when it comes to who we are and how we got here, it makes for more informed and accurate conversation going forward and the choices that define us as individuals. We're not herbivores either.

You appear to make a couple assumptions about veg*ns that aren't necessarily true:

1. we all have the same motives for our lifestyle choices

2. we don't have senses of humor about our lifestyle choices (and other things)

If you could let go of those assumptions you might be surprised by how much we have in common.

Original Post by ambereva:

Original Post by neanderthin:

I can see why some in this forum may think that, but quite the contrary in fact. There's nothing wrong with a vegetarian diet or vegan for that matter, but please do some due dillegence when it comes to who we are and how we got here, it makes for more informed and accurate conversation going forward and the choices that define us as individuals. We're not herbivores either.

You appear to make a couple assumptions about veg*ns that aren't necessarily true:

1. we all have the same motives for our lifestyle choices

2. we don't have senses of humor about our lifestyle choices (and other things)

If you could let go of those assumptions you might be surprised by how much we have in common.

I can say the same thing about people here making assumptions....I wasn't defending any position. Of course we have a lot in common....more than you think.

I agree we are neither true herbivores nor are we true carnivores. We *are* a combination with the greater percentage of our physiological features on the herbivore side. We need a better word than "omnivore" simply because in many people's minds that makes the meat eating equal to the plant eating...and our physiology says that just isn't so. 

What might a word to truely describe how we evolved to eat look or sound? Perhaps it might be "heromnivore" to emphasize the plant portion more. Or

But it is true that even if one chooses to eschue all animal protein from all sources, our bodies are perfectly happy and we stay healthy. Which means our ancestors evolved the ability to eat from additional food sources for the times when plants were scarce. Probably, they were more scavengers at first than actual hunters, feeding off of other true carnivores leavings. It was a meal of last resort to stave off starvation...not a meal that would have been chosen if other sources were available.

I also know from my own experience with my body that if for some reason I do eat a meal that is primarily a meat source (thinking back to the bad old days), my body feels *off*...heavy and bloated...not the clean, light feeling I get from eating a meal that is primarily from the plant world (I still eat cheese and eggs). And lets not talk about the next day when what I've attempted to digest attemps to leave my body...nasty.

 So anyway...maybe we need to come up with better discriptions than herbivore, carnivore and omnivore. (She says as she eats her baked potato with cheese and broccali and asparagus)

 

dburns2 

You and eye see almost exclusevly eye to eye, you just have better wording, as language isn't  my greatest talent in life. 

Original Post by ambereva:

We're omnivores that are perfectly capable of achieving optimal health and fitness on a plant based diet.

And are perfectly capable of achieving the same levels of health and fitness on a diet devoid of plants. 

Original Post by floggingsully:

Original Post by ambereva:

We're omnivores that are perfectly capable of achieving optimal health and fitness on a plant based diet.

And are perfectly capable of achieving the same levels of health and fitness on a diet devoid of plants. 

Yes, probably, and I never claimed otherwise.

 

ETA: would you care to wager, Sully? I'll eat nothing but plants for a year, and you eat nothing but animal products for a year, and at the end of the year we'll compare our health and fitness levels?

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