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Carbohydrate Intake for Vegetarian Bodybuilders

Updated on June 24, 2016

Simple Science

TL;DR:

  • 35% of your intake pre and post workout - ideally complex carb sources. However, if time is of the essence, fruit can be used to provide an adequate workout meal.
  • Experiment with taking in 20% of your intake from a shake during your workout - making sure to sip it over the entire session.

Nutrition before, during and after a workout can make or break a specific training session. Without proper carbohydrate intake, you could be losing valuable training volume that will impact your long-term gains. This article will be written towards those that are more serious about their long term strength and size gain and will primarily focus on nutrition. Completely fasted training is detrimental. As FromSeed2Tree focuses on cutting through dense wording, we will simply provide the best method of fueling your muscles with enough glycogen to crush some volume.

Thankfully enough, the concepts for timing your nutrition for anabolic or anaerobic training are extremely similar. These concepts are applicable to omnivores as well, but will focus primarily on vegetarian-friendly food options.

Preworkout:

A good guideline to follow is to take in approximately 35-40% of your carb intake before your session. This allows you to have proper fuel that will help you maintain a consistent volume throughout your workout. Ideally, this will come from a complex source if time isn't an issue.

For example, say your daily carb intake is around 260g a day. An ideal breakfast may look like this:

Item(c/f/p)

Oats - 1.5cups (120g) - 81c 10f 14p

Almond Milk - 1.5cup - 2c 4f 2p

Some Protein Powder of your Choice - 1 Scoop (25g) - 1f 3c 20p

A meal like this is both filling and light, and should be absorbed rather quickly. It will let you a total of 84g of carbohydrates while providing a decent amount of healthy fats and protein. Whey is the ideal choice here as it is rapidly absorbing, but vegetarian protein sources may be utilized efficiently as well. For instance, pumpkin protein is a fantastic choice.

If time is a concern, a blender will be your best friend. Fruit are a powerful choice here if used with care (some sources have reported 50g of fructose a day is the safe limit). Try to avoid blending oats, as they will take an extremely long time to digest. A good route may be to simply throw two bananas in the blender and other things to taste from there. Bananas, cocoa, and peanut butter are a good example.

Intra-workout:

While a hotly debated topic, some literature has shown that taking in some fast acting carbohydrates during a workout may help with intra-session recovery. The trick to getting this right is to find a source of carbohydrates that won't bother your stomach during a workout. You are free to go a little bit crazy here with sugar intake, as it is all going towards a good cause. I tend to go for Gatorade here, as powder is extremely cheap and tasty and doesn't seem to bother my stomach during leg day.

The only way to really form an opinion on intra-workout nutrition is to try it for yourself and see if it helps make a difference in your recovery rates between sets.

About 20% of your daily carb intake is a good starting point for intra-workout experimentation. A shake like this may be more beneficial for fat loss or recomp protocols, as it helps prevent the body from converting muscle tissue to fuel. It may also help release insulin, which blocks cortisol release. More importantly, the addition of glycogen will help with performance.

Gatorade Powder - 1tbsp - 21c 0f 0p

Feel free to add a scoop of whey to this shake as well, which will provide some BCAAs.

Postworkout:

There has been countless writings on the so called "anabolic window". While its importance has been shut down in recent years, taking in carbohydrates after a workout certainly will aid in speeding up recovery for the next day's session. Postworkout is another spot where high-absorbing carbohydrates may shine. For a vegetarian, our old friend the banana is a beautiful choice. As I find that most bodybuilders lack in the fiber department, it will certainly help with that as well.

Medium Banana (115g) - 22c 0f 1p.

However, shortly after your session, try and intake about 35% of your carb intake for the day. The body will be an ideal state to put those carbs to good use. Don't be afraid of complex sources, you could even repeat the breakfast option. I tend to have a bit of fun with my post-workout meal. Typically, it'll look something like this:

Long Sub Roll - 39c 6f 7p

BBQ Seitan (60g) - 16c 1f 53p

Russet Potato (300g) - 37c 0f 6p

As I consume dairy, I oftentimes add natural mozzarella to the sandwich (only adding 5f and 5p and a ton of flavor). Don't avoid carbs, as they are excellent tools for catapulting your progress in the gym to a new level.


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