Lose weight. Look great in a swimsuit. Be more mindful. Find Zen in your day to day life. Do these New Year’s resolutions sound familiar? 2017 is your year to not only achieve your resolutions, but be the best person you’ve always wanted to be. Adding weight lifting to your daily fitness routine will not only help you reach your goals, but give you confidence and reach your resolutions.
The Myth of Vegan Diets and Protein
There is a common misconception that to lift weights you must eat large amounts of meat and dairy to reach your protein goals. Yes, it does help, but you can also be a vegan and still build muscle mass while lifting weights. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan sources of protein that are actually better for you, while skipping the unhealthy saturated fats that plague most American diets.
Kendrick Farris is a professional bodybuilder and vegan. He was the only male weightlifter for team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympics and even broke a world record. When asked how he lifts on a strictly vegan diet, he answered that people often think of what they can’t eat rather than what they can eat when it comes to a diet.
The Best Vegan Sources of Protein
So which foods are vegan-friendly, but still have a high amount of protein? Black beans are one good source of protein, but also have antioxidants. One of my favorite recipes to make is delicious black bean burritos. In general, all types of beans are an excellent source of protein. I’ve recently been playing around with different white bean burger recipes.
Another high-protein, vegan friendly-food is lentils – they provide a “meat = protein” myth-busting 18 grams of protein per cup, making regular consumption ideal for a weightlifting diet. Try eating a lentil soup or mock meatloaf with quinoa. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and oatmeal is a great food to wake up to. It provides a healthy serving of protein and complex carbs. You can also try implementing protein-rich spinach into your daily recipes. Have a spinach and banana smoothie for breakfast.
Kendrick Farris recommends to create your own trail mix of almonds, pistachios, and blueberries for an excellent “on-the- go” and tasty protein source. You can also try to add tofu to soups, stir-fry’s and baked goods for even more added protein to your diet.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Now that we’ve mentioned some protein-rich vegan foods, the next question would be: how much protein do I actually need when I’m weight lifting? Many experts recommend something in the ballpark of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. You want to get at least this much or more in your daily diet.
The truth is, though, protein deficiency is incredibly rare in the developed world. If you add the foods we’ve mentioned above to your diet, you won’t have to worry a lot. Protein intake is not something you have to micromanage. One of the great things about our bodies is that they let us know if we’re not getting enough of a certain macronutrient.
How to Get Started with Weight Lifting
If you’re new to weight lifting start out with a consistent training twice a week for 12 weeks. You’ll start to see increased muscle size and more strength in your tendons and ligaments. Be careful not to lift too much weight too soon. This causes your form to suffer and you risk injuring yourself. A good rule of thumb is to only increase your weight by 5 percent each time and rest for 30-90 seconds between repetitions.
When you start building your resistance training, use proper precaution to protect yourself. Not only will wrist straps secure your grip, but will also avoid too much strain on your joints, wrists and forearms, which can cause permanent damage.
Your diet should also compliment your new weight lifting regime. Try to bring as many vegan protein sources into your diet as possible. Get creative with new recipes like black bean burritos and mock meatloaf. Make sure to stay hydrated when you implement weight lifting into your daily routine. Dehydration not only makes you weaker, but your workout becomes less effective.
Guest Post by Valerie Brusamarello: Valerie is a practicing yogi and teacher, who has implemented weight lifting into her fitness routine to build strength and confidence. She enjoys exploring new vegan recipes and hiking in Colorado with her dog, Rita.