Which Vegetarian Foods are High in Protein?

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question-icon-newI’m 21 years old, my height is 5’11” and I weigh about 165 pounds. I follow the instructions and workout routines on ShapeFit.com and I’m very happy with all of the great resources your site provides! My current workout schedule is:

  • Monday: Chest
  • Tuesday: Back
  • Wednesday: Shoulders and Traps
  • Thursday: Biceps and Triceps
  • Friday: Legs (quads, hamstrings, calves)
  • Saturday: Abs
  • Sunday: Rest

I follow a muscle building workout style using heavy weight, lower reps and longer rest periods in between sets. Do you think my workout schedule is fine or should there be any changes I should make to it? Another question I have is in regards to my diet. Can you please suggest some of the best vegetarian foods that are high in protein? My main goal is to tone up my body and build quality lean muscle without getting too big and bulky.

answer-icon-newYour current workout plan looks really good. I follow a very similar routine and have experienced great results from it. The one small thing you might want to change is moving your leg workout up in the week when you have the most energy and also giving yourself a day of active rest after this intense workout. I recommend moving your leg workout to Tuesday and moving your abs workout to Wednesday. This way you will be able to have a ton of energy early in the week to go super hard with your leg training and then you will have a light day on Wednesday doing abs to fully recover before hitting back on Thursday. Move shoulders to Friday and train your arms on Saturday.

You also want to make sure that you keep switching up the exercises you use with every workout. Never do the exact same workout with the same exercises or your muscles will get used to the stimulus and stop growing. The key is to always keep shocking your muscles with different exercises, angles, sets, reps and rest periods. This is the key to improving and successfully building mass and strength over time. Remember, variety is the spice of life and your muscles are no different. You need to provide them with new and different stimuli to get them confused so they can adapt and be forced to grow from new training. You might also try doing bodyweight only training for one week and then switching it up again by doing kettlebell work for the next week. Use your imagination and think up unique ways of training to keep your body guessing all the time!

In regards to your vegetarian diet, the key is to get in at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight which is crucial for adding lean muscle tissue to your physique. You should be eating a protein packed meal every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day with a goal of about 5-6 total meals every day in order to provide the quality nutrient dense calories your body needs to grow optimally. Here are some great high protein vegetarian foods to include in your diet:

  • Legumes: Garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, soybeans, split peas.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, filberts, hemp seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts (black).
  • Grains: Quinoa is an excellent source of protein and contains about 18 grams of protein per cup.
  • Soy Products: Tofu, edamame, tempeh, soy milk, soy cheese.
  • Veggie Burgers: Boca Burgers, Gardenburgers, Morningstar Farms, Bistro Burgers, black bean burgers.
  • Protein Supplements: Soy protein powder, hemp protein powder, soy protein bars. Some great vegetarian protein powders to try include Garden of Life Raw Protein, Sun Warrior Blend, Plant Fusion, Growing Naturals, Olympian Labs.

vegetarian-foods-hemp-protein

In terms of whey protein, Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey is the best product I recommend but remember that whey is not exactly vegan since its dairy based. I have used it personally for over 5 years and believe it’s a quality product. Mix 1 scoop (20-25 grams of protein) with ½ cup of oatmeal for your pre-workout supplement to get some quality nutrients before your training. After your workout, have some more protein and mix 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder with some fruit (banana, berries) along with some honey to provide a fast acting source of carbs to spike your insulin and rush those nutrients to your hungry muscles!

Since you are focused on achieving more of a lean and toned physique versus a big and bulky one, you really want to watch your intake of starchy carbohydrates later in the day. Being a vegetarian, it’s super easy to go overboard on your carbs and eating too many of them later in the day will wreak havoc on your insulin levels and reduce your overall ability to burn body fat. Instead of the normal vegetarian carbs like brown rice, yams, bread and pasta, you will want to focus your attention more on fibrous veggies carbs like broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, red onions, Brussels sprouts and romaine lettuce. Cook up a big stir fry with a bunch of vegetables and some healthy fats like olive oil or macadamia nut oil. You can also blend up a low carb protein shake to chug down on the side to get all your muscle building amino acids in later at night. Instead of the stir fry, you can also just choose a basic protein smoothie with a little almond milk and a few scoops of protein powder for a tasty treat at night to satisfy your sweet tooth and your protein needs!

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