It is time you bid farewell to that reeky meat slab dangling ominously from a rusty hook outside your favourite butcher shop. Rest assured, the right combination of veggies, nuts, soy or milk, can zap you with a bod that Greek Gods will envy.
Breaking the Myth
Body-building as a sport always revolves around a disciplined diet which includes plenty of meat, protein, supplements and in many cases, anabolic steroids.
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of any balanced diet, but nutritional experts also recommend consuming a certain servings of meat each day, a myth that intimidates fitness aficionados from turning vegetarian.
In other words, popular notion has come to equate vegetarianism with an inadequate supply of nutrition into the body, hence the paranoia about going for a more Spartan fare.
But, with all the hype about consuming meat to build bulk, there is still an educate niche of fitness pros who seem to have gotten their cards right: they chase a cent percent vegetarian diet, and ably fulfil all the nutritional demands despite excruciating workouts.
The First Step
Pranil Jadhav, a corporate sales manager with a construction company in Pune and a Kabaddi player with nine Nationals under his belt, representing the Bank Sports Board, gives credit for his umpteen feats to a pure vegetarian diet, coupled with yoga.
The 39-year old manager with Union Bank of India is on a five-year sabbatical wherein he only focuses on his passion for health and fitness. “I turned vegetarian in 1996, and have always been actively involved into sports like Kabaddi and Weight Lifting.
I see no difference in my intensity and physique after having stopped eating non-vegetarian food. My diet includes a lot of paneer, sprouts, pulses, cow ghee and two litres of milk, which I divide into three servings,” Jadhav says.
With a lot of vegetarians maintaining a good physique and hardcore physical activity, the truth clearly is that vegetarians too can eat a balanced diet. The key to eating a balanced diet as a vegetarian is to know what food gives you the vitamins and nutrients that most people get from animal sources.
Anushree Shetty, Sports and clinical nutritionist, Gold’s Gym explains, “All it takes is careful planning, which is not as difficult as one might imagine. The key to eating a balanced diet is to know the nutrients that a vegetarian diet lacks in and include it in your diet.
Plant proteins can also be healthier, because they do not come with the dollops of fat and cholesterol that animal proteins come soaked in. Beans are a great source of protein for vegetarians. Grains, nuts, and seeds are also protein-rich. Even many vegetables, such as corn, provide a large amount of protein.”
With those who have digestion issues with a large amount of milk consumption, there are options in milk with reduced percentage of fats and milk sugar. “Those of you who cannot digest milk in any form or who are lactose intolerant can try
Soya based products can be sparingly consumed by men as they are more beneficial to women. So men can consume soya products twice a week, but women can indulge in them on a daily basis as soy contains phyto-estrogen, which helps in balancing the female hormones,” Shetty informs.
Additional benefits in a vegetarian diet is that its nutritional value can be improved with just a little bit of cooking or heating. Nuts can be mildly roasted, sprouts can be steamed or boiled to enrich its nutrients. “These protein sources included in right amounts can fulfil the protein requirement of those who are exercising vegetarians.
The best part in a vegetarian diet is that it is loaded with vitamins, fibres and minerals — which are very important for a fit body and give an anti ageing feel and look. Green leafy vegetables are rich in minerals like iron and calcium while fruits and other vegetables are rich in vitamins,” Shetty adds.
For all those who cannot indulge in egg or meat for religious or other reasons, be sure, that vegetarian sources of proteins will help you achieve your fitness goals —well, at least if you do not aim to compete in a bodybuilding competition.
► Photograph: Rajesh Nirgude, Location: Endurance City Pride, Kothrud