Working out as a Vegetarian or Vegan

Last fall I wanted to start weight training but admitted to myself that I had absolutely no idea what I’m doing in that section of the gym.

“Do I pull this to my chest or waist?”

“Am I supposed to feel pain there?”

“Why are my legs sore when I was working my core?”

“What are traps though…”

My basic knowledge was from mandatory high school P.E. class, which considering the instructor confidently taught the basic salsa footwork in reverse during the dance segment, it probably isn’t all that accurate to begin with.

I had to face the truth – I need to get some professional training or else I would likely be wasting my time and would be at serious risk of injuring myself.

I did my research, found a personal trainer, and made the investment.

Diet Fundamentals That Everyone Should Know

Even though I found likely one of the more affordable trainers in the area (Coach Jesse he’s amazing check him out!) it was still a big investment for me. But let me tell you this – It was worth. every. cent.

There are many reasons why, but today’s post is focused on what to do differently when working out as a vegetarian or vegan, and there’s one very important thing.

The Importance of Recovery

I didn’t realize that what you eat and do post-workout is as detrimental to your progress as it really is.

Right away my trainer explained to me as simply as he could how we build muscle, and recovery plays a very big role in the process. It’s kind of complicated and I may butcher it if I try to explain, but what I do remember quite well is what to do about it.

Do your best to eat something with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio 20-60 mins post-workout. After that 20-60 min window your body won’t be on the mend again until you’re asleep, so make it count. I prefer something rather liquid so that it absorbs sooner. Such as a smoothie or the Vega Recovery Accelerator drink my trainer highly recommends.

In the afternoon, make sure to eat something high in protein. Vegetarians and vegans, listen up.

As non-meat eaters many of us don’t get that automatic overdose of protein on the daily, so sometimes we need to make a conscious decision to get a high-protein meal in.

My trainer explained that on days you are not trying to recover, a diet reaching just the minimum protein requirement is totally ok. However, on days you workout you need to get an extra dose of protein in.

If you find that your body is sore for one, two, or even three (yikes!) days after a workout, you’re not recovering fast enough and need to get consume more protein in order to repair those muscles.

My go-to is having a meal that is largely made of Yves Veggie Ground Round, downing a protein shake, having a bit of fish as I’m still technically a pescetarian, or having a supplementary smoothie with a big scoop of vegan protein as an after-dinner snack.

Why Is Taking a Long Time to Recover Bad?

As long as your muscles are sore, you can’t work them. I mean physically yes, you can use them, but if you try to workout the muscle while it is still repairing itself you are just ruining any progress you would have had from the previous workout and the current one. And then what’s the point of working out if you’re not getting anywhere?

So to get the most out of your workouts and progress as quickly as possible, remember these steps:

  • Have a snack with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio directly after a workout
  • Have at least one high-protein meal that day to help your muscles repair overnight
  • If you’re sore, leave that area alone until it’s totally healed in order to see results.

Above everything, the first step for ANYONE to know is to exercise in good form.