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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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Yeah, but someone said that the Inuits have only started having these problems in the last 50 years or so, since they started eating a typical SAD diet, which is factory farmed meat.  Back when they ate the traditional meats, seal, whale, etc. they didn't have those problems.

So is factory farmed meat to blame?

There were more changes to their diet than just wild to factory farmed meats. So to determine what factors played a role (and I think it is unlikely that it was just one factor), you'd need to do a full study, as neanderthin was suggesting.

Original Post by cesty8:

ANYWAY, I didn't know that raw meat had vitamin C in it.  I learn something new everyday.  

Original Post by cesty8:

You may want to look stuff up before posting, are are making yourself appear dumb by making inaccurate statements like that.  I don't think you are dumb though, you just are ill-informed.

 

Fair enough cesty8.......The traditional Inuit diet was all meat basically.......saying that, the bigger percentage of calories came from fat......The average macro split between animal/plant was 98/2.....this would depend of course on the geographical latitute of any particular group, but generally speaking natural plant food was pretty well not available most of the year.....You also have to keep an open mind when it comes to the theory of "optimal foraging" which states you'll eat the food that gives you the best caloric bang for the buck, and that is fat......blueberries were I'm sure a nice treat and source of vitamins and Minerals, but they certainly couldn't survive on them. Also Humans as we know them (Homo Sapien) that populated the planet as we know it today was done believe it or not during an ice age and we've adapted 3 systems within our body to produce glucose for survival, and it's the reason why carbs aren't an essential nutrient by todays standards, and why humans have not only survived but thrived. Novel foods introduced during the neolithical period was the start of the decline in health, just saying. So it's not so much that we were diverse in what we ate, it basically boiled down to "how much" of these foods replaced what we traditionally consumed, caloric and macronutriently speaking.

Well said, neanderthin.

Original Post by cesty8:

 Think about  this, you are there, you are hungry, there is a seal out there about 100 yards away, quick, powerful, dangerious, and the likely hood of getting that seal is questionable at best even with the best hunting techniques, but there are some blueberries right there ripe for the picking.  Which one would you eat?

It's not realistic to wonder what you would do when given the choice between eating some blueberries or clubbing a seal, since you've grown up with ad campaigns to save these lil guys, plus knowing there's a grocery store around the corner and a lara bar in your bag makes it harder to put yourself in the mind-set of someone who is hunting and foraging for their survival.

If I were living off the land (and therefore probably pretty hungry), and saw a seal and a blueberry bush, you can bet I'd be clubbing the seal and then going back to the blueberries for dessert.

Original Post by neanderthin:

Also Humans as we know them (Homo Sapien) that populated the planet as we know it today was done believe it or not during an ice age and we've adapted 3 systems within our body to produce glucose for survival, and it's the reason why carbs aren't an essential nutrient by todays standards, and why humans have not only survived but thrived.

 Now I admit, I may not know much about this stuff, but I was under the impression that we could not survive on a diet totally devoid of carbs. I learned in my neurology class that carbs is the primary source of fuel for our brains hence why people on a strict Atkins diet have problems (mood swings for example). 

What are those three systems?

Glucose is synthesised fron non-carbohydrate sources from amino acids, lactate, pyruvate, and fatty acids by the process of gluconeogenesis and of course carb sources. When the body adapts to burning fat and ketones there is always a period of adaption that can cause some fuzzyness........a lot people on atkins that fail, don't eat enough fat, which is the essential part of the diet actually. People are hard pressed to be convinced that fat is healthy, most think the opposite. Mood swings and suicide are linked to low fat diets as well as cancer progression....

http://www.whatislife.com/reader2/Metabolism/ pathway/glycolysis.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluconeogenesis

I have enjoyed this... errrr... discussion, and have learned something here and there...

Looking back across the span of human history I conclude for mysyelf that we are most like bears... Opportunists who will take advantage of the highest caloric-content food reasonably available, but will have established patterns for gathering (and thus concentrating en masse) lower caloric-content foods.

And on each side of the equation (getting the higher caloric content food on the one hand or gathering/concentrating lower caloric content food) we applied our greatest assett (our brain) to solving the problems, which led to hunting then animal husbandry on the one hand, and farming etc on the other.

For myself I am a vegetarian by personal choice and not for any grand moral or ethical reasons.

But rather much more mundanely because I learned how to prepare, live off of, lose weight on, and generally be content with and healthy on a veggie diet during a "hippy" phase in my late teens and early twenties.

And because now, being much older and with shot knees from decades of aggressive, athletic skiing (mt climbing, etc etc) and thus not being able to exercise with abandon, I am forced to adopt a much more holistic approach to managing weight and simultansously getting enough exercise.

My understanding vis-a-vis protein and veggie diets etc is that one can get sufficient proteins in a veggie diet.

BTW, to the best of my knowledge it was the Pacific Northwest First Nationers (Washington State and BC Canada) that made and consumed pemican. If it was made and consumed by the Inuit etc, that's news to me (though I don't know for sure either way...)

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. 

 Perhaps in the short run...however over time the increased levels of cholesterol lead to heart attack and stroke which while not totally eliminated on a plant based diet are diminished almost to nothing...the high fat content eventually leads to gall bladder and digestive problems...the lack of fiber leads to diverticulosis and chronic constipation....

And someone who eats animal products exclusively *will* die of scurvey in a fairly short period of time since we are completely unable to make our own vitamin C which true carnivores can do.

So I don't really think you can make the claim that a person who eats a diet "devoid of plants" can achieve the "same levels" of health.

Unless that person suppliments their vitamin C.

On the other hand, complete vegans are recommended to suppliment with B12. But you have to have years of low B12 to get the detrimental effects of its lack and only a few months to get the effects of a lack of vitamin C...think English sailors at sea...thus the inclusion of lemons and limes in their diet of hard tack, dried meat and grog...giving rise to calling them "limeys"....

BTW, does anyone know of B12 suppliments which *do not* come from an animal source?

Original Post by dburns2:

BTW, does anyone know of B12 suppliments which *do not* come from an animal source?

 http://www.vegsoc.org/info/b12.html

has info on that including the how and whys.

I'm suprised that no one said anything about the Vegan Bodybuilders.

http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/

Now that's proof that muscle doesn't come from meat.  I'm so glad science is catching up [that was said dry of course]

Original Post by amethystgirl:

Well said, neanderthin.

Original Post by cesty8:

 Think about  this, you are there, you are hungry, there is a seal out there about 100 yards away, quick, powerful, dangerious, and the likely hood of getting that seal is questionable at best even with the best hunting techniques, but there are some blueberries right there ripe for the picking.  Which one would you eat?

It's not realistic to wonder what you would do when given the choice between eating some blueberries or clubbing a seal, since you've grown up with ad campaigns to save these lil guys, plus knowing there's a grocery store around the corner and a lara bar in your bag makes it harder to put yourself in the mind-set of someone who is hunting and foraging for their survival.

If I were living off the land (and therefore probably pretty hungry), and saw a seal and a blueberry bush, you can bet I'd be clubbing the seal and then going back to the blueberries for dessert.

 I agree. What the proposed paradox ignores is that the seal (deer, bear, sheep, fish, etc), being an animal, represents a huge concentration of calories etc into one neat package. Kill it, discard the more-or-less inedible bits, dry or jerk etc what you can't eat before it "goes off", and you can eat for a week or more. With lots of time left to go out and pick some berries at your leisure. Grazing is, on the other hand, pretty much a full time job and for the inexperienced and in many ecosystems, it's hard to even consistently get enough calories to break even (that is, to retrieve more calories than you expend collecting them in the first place.)

 

Okay, Biologist here that just has to chime in with my 2 cents worth.

 

Whales, including baleen, are carnivores.

 

Humans have opposable thumbs and eyes facing forward because we evolved from brachiating apes.  Brachiating means tree-swinging.  Thumbs to help us hold onto branches, eyes front to provide depth perception so we can see the next branch and grab it in time.  The jury's still undecided on why we see in color.

 

PS: Herbivores have almost exclusively eyes on the sides of their heads and carnivores have almost exclusively eyes front.  That's because plant eaters don't need to keep their eyes on their food, which isn't running away from them.  But they do need to keep their eyes out for predators.  Eyes on the side gives them a wider field of vision, so they can see behind themselves and catch a predator sneaking up behind them.

 

We need all vitamins in our diet.  We are incapable of making any of them, with the exception of vitamin D (which we can make from sunlight).  Vitamin B12 is only available from animal sources.  No plants make vitamin B12.  Luckily for vegans we need very little of it, and it is re-used in the body.  So could be still using the vitamin b12 that you ate as a child.  It can be gotten from bacteria and yeast, both of which are technically animals.

 

Meat contains all the vitamins that we as humans cannot make.  It only makes sense, since the animal that the meat came from also needed these vitamins.  One of the richest sources of vitamin C is pork.  Unfortunately cooking the meat destroys most of the vitamins.  The same is true of fruits and vegetables.  Cooking them destroys most of the vitamins.  That's why jam has almost no vitamins, but the fruit that it's made from has lots (read the label if you don't believe me).

 

The exception is beta-carotene, which is released into a more digestible format when heated.  Your body converts beat-carotene into vitamin A.

 

Inuit and Eskimo as a rule don't make pemmican.  They generally don't preserve fruits and berries to last through the winter, so during the winter months they were exclusively carnivores.  Since they ate their meat raw they got the vitamins from it.  I guess it's a good thing that they had no trees to get wood from to make fires to cook their meat.

 

If you want to add athletes to your vegan list, don't forget the Roman gladiators.  Recent excavations of a galdatorial graveyard have discovered that these medieval bad-asses were exclusively vegetarian, and likely vegans. 

 

Humans are meant to be omnivores.  We can survive on an all-meat diet (if we don't cook it) and we can survive on an all-vegetable diet, but we are meant to have a mix of both.

 

PS: I know that Roman gladiators weren’t technically medieval, it just sounds cooler that way.

 

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