It’s no secret that eating enough protein is critical for muscle mass. But if the diet lacks the main food sources of protein, priority should be given to the search and selection of alternative sources of protein. Vegetarians, and especially people who exercise regularly and at the same time adhere to a vegetarian diet, understand the importance of this aspect better than others. For example, very low amounts of creatine and beta-alanine are essential ingredients for most bodybuilders in the vegetarian diet.
To compensate for the lack of macronutrients and other nutrients in the diet, vegetarian athletes can successfully use sports supplements that do not conflict with their specific nutritional plan. Below are must-have supplements to help you optimally fill the vegetarian diet gaps!
Vegetarian protein powder
If you’re on a vegetarian diet and don’t have the right nutritional strategy to maximize performance, eating enough protein throughout the day can be difficult. Well, since most plant proteins, with the exception of soy and quinoa, do not contain all nine essential amino acids, there are not many options left.
Of course, you can always combine incomplete protein sources, such as rice and beans, to form a complex protein, but even this method can be daunting at times, especially if you need a quick and convenient source of protein.
Optimal foods for vegetarians are either soy protein or vegetarian protein powder, both of which are convenient sources of complete vegetarian protein to help maximize muscle building. Of course, if dairy is not an option in your diet, whey protein powder is also a great option for meeting your daily protein requirement.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are composed of three essential amino acids. Remarkably, they bypass the liver and, when consumed, go directly to the muscles.
Amino acid supplements have many benefits. First, BCAAs are the primary amino acids that are consumed during exercise, and therefore replenishing them helps maintain and strengthen muscle mass. Second, amino acids, in particular leucine, have been shown to directly stimulate muscle building. Because many plant-based sources of BCAA are not enough, supplements provide invaluable support during intense exercise. What’s more, supplementation with BCAAs during exercise has been found to help reduce fatigue and release energy in the form of a reserve form of glucose (glycogen) in the muscles, which can effectively increase performance.
Creatine is found in meat, and this is exactly the product that is absent in all forms in the diet of vegetarians. Despite the fact that the human body is able to produce some amount of creatine on its own, there is strong evidence that the reserves of creatine in the body of vegetarians are significantly lower than in people on a classic diet.
Numerous studies have shown that creatine supplementation has a positive effect on strength, muscle building, and body composition. It is recommended to consume 5 grams of creatine per day for optimal performance enhancement.
Beta-alanine is also found in animal meats, which are not found in the diet of vegetarians. As a standalone supplement, beta-alanine has been found to enhance performance during anaerobic exercise, however, it also provides a number of additional benefits when taken with creatine. Inadequate intake of these two supplements can impair training performance and prevent you from maximizing your progress.
For optimal action of beta-alanine, it is recommended to consume 3-6 g per day, divided into 2-4 equal doses. Because it takes some time to build up a sufficient supply of beta-alanine in the body, expect to see the positive effects of beta-alanine supplementation over time rather than immediately. Please note that after consuming beta-alanine, you may experience a peculiar tingling sensation on your skin. However, do not worry: this effect is a sign of a normal reaction and does not harm the body.