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  1. #1
    Registered User mrswalters's Avatar
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    Exclamation Trying to get lean and build muscle on a vegetarian diet...not sure what to eat!

    Hi all!

    I am new here and am used to posting on toscareno.com...it's a site for clean eaters. I also have my own blog: eatsfruitsandleaves.com, so I am no stranger to watching what I eat, how much, etc.

    However, I recently (within the last few months) became a vegetarian. Mostly because it's way cheaper, conveinent (don't have to worry about grilling chicken every week), and I never really ate that much meat to begin. My problem is I've seen less results with fat loss and muscle gain and I'm not sure what exactly I should be eating to reach my goal. I am also worried about soy consumption. I LOVE soy and eat several times a week, but I've heard that soy actually causes woment to gain weight due to estrogen.

    Back in October (2009) when I first started eating clean, I ate a lot of oatmeal, egg whites, veggies, sweet potatoes, brown rice, apple, and turkey. I would really strict to two weeks, then add back things like yogurt, other fruits, beans, ect for a week or two then go back to being strict. I got super really lean....went from a size 9/10 to a size 4/6! Then I got really depressed and stressed out, starting binging on junk food and now I'm right back where I started before except now I'm trying to be a vegetarian.

    I am 5'3, weight about 140-145 lbs and carry my weight mostly in the my lower body.

    What should I be doing to get super lean on a veg diet? Or is it even possible? Every vegetarian I have ever met was super thin, but apparently I'm just ment to be chubby or something. I am SO beyoud frustrated. I need advice...please help!

    (My blog has a run down, with pics, of exactly what I eat everyday)

    -Kayla
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  2. #2
    Registered User nicolemc's Avatar
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    My partner and i am both vegan and while i just started my working out/healthy eating lifestyle he has been working out for a while and has no problem gaining muscle and looking good I don't expect to run into any either.

    The key part is to make sure when you make your meal plans that your macros are good. How are your cals? protein? fats? are your salts in balance (sodium, potassium, etc?) Once you have your goals you can get onto the fun part, the cooking! there are some AMAZING recipe websites out there that can be a huge help (i try making one new recipe a week so i can find the real keepers) just google "vegetarian (or vegan) recipes" and there are literally millions of them. Beans, legumes, nuts, etc. are all packed with protein.

    Getting 'lean' is the same on a veg diet as on a non-veg diet, its just cooking different food. You still work with the same macro amounts.

    On top of that, what is your workout routine? How often are you working out and what kind of things are you doing? Lifting heavy and eating right is the solid track to reaching your goals.

    As far as soy causing problems, i think that is fairly up in the air (IMO). for every study that says soy is bad there's another that says so is good. there are also a multitude of studies that say that dairy is bad because of all of the hormones they keep the cows juiced up with. Soy is a great alternative and it's pretty hard to OD on it. Some people are soy sensitive and that might be a problem for them but others are dairy sensitive to thats a problem for them.
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  3. #3
    Doesn't have bulky legs halcyonnwar's Avatar
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    Hey,

    When I was a vegan it seemed like I could never get my weight below 170. I was counting calories and I'd lose fat, but I was constantly starving. I think it was just the general high carb aspect of the diet. When my carbs are lower I just feel so much more satiated. I also hated all the soy I was eating, even if it doesn't cause huge estrogen intakes, it is SO processed and in my opinion massive amounts of soy (even tofu and other vegan staples) makes me feel awful.

    I became a vegetarian and started to drop some more fat by eating a high protein diet, and low carb diet. But this was not that easy. It wasn't until I added in fish, chicken, and beef that I really started to lean out.

    If you are committed to vegetarianism for ethical reasons, that's great, and you can definitely work within it to lose fat. After all, fat loss is truly just calories in vs. calories out. As long as you eat fewer calories than your maintenance than you will be losing fat. I personally cannot comply with decreased calories on a vegetarian or vegan diet. I get too hungry, feel horrible all the time, and either have to eat a lot of soy to reach my desired protein intake or a lot of eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt. I eat those foods (not the soy) anyway but I am much more compliant with my diet now because of the increased variety provided by animal products.

    See this article: http://avidityfitness.net/2009/01/27...-fest-of-2009/

    and this about soy's effects on thyroid function (no problems for people with no thyoid problems but maybe for those with pre-existing thyroid issues, he recommends a maximum of 25g of soy per day for anyone): http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/res...-patients.html

    I am a little bit too lazy to look further, but there are tons of articles about vegetarianism and fat loss
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  4. #4
    Registered User mrswalters's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses, girls!

    I've been tracking my calories on livestrong.com and I usually get anywhere between 1300-1500 calories a day. According to the site, I should be getting close to 1700 in order to lose. That's really hard on a vegetarian diet...I feel like I have to eat so much to get there! And my carb intake is always between 50-60% while fat and protein are about the same...usually 30-40%. I think I am eating way too many carbs to lean out for sure and I am having a really hard time with protein. Depending on what I eat that day, I average from 70-100 grams. I think I should be getting at least 125 grams (125 lbs is my goal weight). To lean out, I'm not sure how many carbs and fat would be appropriate while also trying to gain muscle. I'm just so confused at this point.

    When I first started eating clean and weight lifting, I ate a lot grilled chicken. Muscle gain was easy and I was losing weight consistently. I would do 2 weeks of low-carb (only carbs were from one serving of oatmeal, one apple, one sweet potato, and veggies) and then two-three weeks of a diverse diet including Ezekiel bread, brown rice, fruits, dairy, nuts, etc. I don't really think I was eating enough back then though...

    I am pretty tempted to go back to eating chicken, at least until I reach my goals and then maybe a vegetarian diet will work for maintenance. My main reason for going veg was because it's cheaper, I thought it would be healthier, and I'm not really happy with the fact that the meat industry pumps animals with hormones and stuff...that can't be good for our bodies I'm sure.

    Here's a breakdown of what I eat on a daily basis:
    M1: 1/2 c oats (dry), 1 T peanut butter, 1/4 c egg whites

    M2: HUGE salad (lots of leafy greens, cucumber, bell peppers, avocado, tomato, etc) with either tilapia or 1/2 c chickpeas and 1/2 c black beans and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I also have a baked sweet potato with my salad.... usually comes out to about 300-450 calories.

    M3: 1 gardenburger patty, roasted veggies w/ 2 T hummus

    M4: 1/2 c non fat plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 c raisins, 6 walnut halves

    M5: post-workout protein shake (powder mixed with water) and an apple


    So that's roughly what I eat everyday...sometimes I eats more carbs, like brown rice or Ezekiel bread. Just depends. I'm satisfied but it's not enough protein and it's just not helping me gain muscle or lean out.

    My workouts are usually 1 hour-1 1/2 hours long. I lift for about 30-40 min 3-5 times a week and do 30-40 min cardio 5-6 times a week. I think I lift pretty heavy, but I think my muscles are getting used to it because I haven't been getting sore from it in a while. Cardio is different everyday. Sometimes I run, do sprints, or do resistance intervals on the eliptical.
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  5. #5
    Doesn't have bulky legs halcyonnwar's Avatar
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    I could tell you easily where to bump up calories and protein!

    I don't know if you mix your oats and egg whites, but I usually have a cup of egg whites in the morning.

    That 1/2 cup of greek yogurt? What restraint Girl! I eat like 1.5 cups of nonfat greek yogurt in a sitting no problemo.

    I see you still have fish in there, bump up the fish with the salad! Maybe add some hardboiled eggs/egg whites.

    I know I sort of dissed soy above, but you're not having much at all, so why not add some grilled/baked tofu (I buy these pre made because I am lazy), or maybe some tempeh? Both are good sources of protein.

    I think if you're eating that low (1300??!) I forget your stats as I write this, then that is the reason you are stalling out. Someone else can help you figure out your maintenance/fat loss cals (the sticky is a good place to start). Being consistent at these calories will help you see the progress you want.

    you can definitely, definitely, do this as a pescatarian (or vegan or vegetarian). I mean, all of our diets require planning and foresight!
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  6. #6
    Registered User mrswalters's Avatar
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    I guess I'm kind of afraid of eating too much and gaining weight :/

    You don't think I need to back off the carbs from the grains, beans, dairy, etc?

    And I do combine my oats and egg whites together. I used to also have hard boiled egg whites on the side too...guess I could start doing that again.

    I saw the sticky but I found it way confusing. I'm 5'3" and weight about 145 lbs...I'm pear shaped too...idk if that makes a difference or not.
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  7. #7
    Doesn't have bulky legs halcyonnwar's Avatar
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    There are a tons of threads about how eating more can actually repair your metabolism and make you start to lose again!

    DONT WORRY!
    "We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey"
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  8. #8
    Registered User yawaii29's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mrswalters View Post
    I guess I'm kind of afraid of eating too much and gaining weight :/

    You don't think I need to back off the carbs from the grains, beans, dairy, etc?

    And I do combine my oats and egg whites together. I used to also have hard boiled egg whites on the side too...guess I could start doing that again.

    I saw the sticky but I found it way confusing. I'm 5'3" and weight about 145 lbs...I'm pear shaped too...idk if that makes a difference or not.
    I totally understand the fear of upping the calories and being afraid of gaining weight. I have been there, but I did up my calories and have dropped 2 pounds this week and have more energy and have been much happier. Hope that this helps :O) Good luck!
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  9. #9
    Registered User mrswalters's Avatar
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    I will try to up my calories this week I think I will try to keep it between 1500-1600 calories a day, since the livestrong site said I needed about 1670 to lose 2 lbs per week. I already feel like I eat a ton though, so it might be a little hard at first!

    I went ahead a got some chicken today while I was out grocery shopping. I'm going to eat it once a day to replace the beans (too many carbs I think). I know from experience that my body sees great results with a low-carb, high protein diet, so I think I will try that again. I will eat lots of veggies, chicken, apple, oats, brown rice, yogurt, etc this week and see how that goes.
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  10. #10
    Registered User NatureGrrrl's Avatar
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    I eat very limited meat (3-4 times a week) and always chicken or turkey. Besides that it's cottage cheese, eggs, rice and beans, tofu (Asians eat a ton of this, and are most of them obese?) as well as Protein Powder and I have not had a problem with weight gain. I agree with the others in upping your cals. I eat about 2,000 to 2,400 a day and have not gained any weight. When I try and lose weight I do so with 1,800 cals. Anything below that and my body fights it tooth and nail. Good luck with your goals.
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  11. #11
    Doesn't have bulky legs halcyonnwar's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by NatureGrrrl View Post
    I eat very limited meat (3-4 times a week) and always chicken or turkey. Besides that it's cottage cheese, eggs, rice and beans, tofu (Asians eat a ton of this, and are most of them obese?) as well as Protein Powder and I have not had a problem with weight gain. I agree with the others in upping your cals. I eat about 2,000 to 2,400 a day and have not gained any weight. When I try and lose weight I do so with 1,800 cals. Anything below that and my body fights it tooth and nail. Good luck with your goals.
    The asian-high tofu thing is kind of a misconception. one of those links I posted, like Lyle McDonald I think, says that Asian-soy intake in the studies that people cite is actually much much LOWER than even a typical non-vegetarian American diet. (soy is in a LOT of what we eat).
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  12. #12
    Gettin' back up again Rowyn's Avatar
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    Where's meal 6/post workout meal? I assume you are lifting at night and drink the shake and go to bed? Not sure. But that shake is not enough if you are working hard. You aren't going to reap the rewards of lifting if you don't give your body what it needs to grow. You won't gain fat if you eat more than your current diet while lifting. And you also will not grow muscle if you are too restrictive and that's just a waste of time in the gym and frustrating as hell for you.

    If you eat fish, its not a vegetarian diet, but its a great protein source! I eat alot of salmon myself, I get really tired of chicken breasts. I don't eat much red meat due to the carcinogenic burden and also cattle just plain cause so many issues for our environment. When we eat red meat, we eat buffalo since it has the same protein levels with much less fat.

    Agreed on the tofu/soy. We (in the US) eat WAY more soy than Asians do because we put soybean oil (usually partially hydrogenated) in everything and drink soy "milk" (highly processed and fortified, certainly not "clean") and generally do what Americans usually do...if a little is good, then ALOT is way better! Hey, let's dump it in everything.

    We are constantly exposed to various hormone disruptors from plastics, PVCs, ingredients in lotions and cosmetics, and also in food products that contain soy. Estrogen-like compounds can create a whole host of issues, from increased cancer risks to (horror of horrors, lol) retaining belly fat. Some soy (unprocessed) is great, alot is not.

    Just as an aside, I know ALOT of overweight and/or unfit vegetarians, lol. They overeat bad/refined carbs and cheese and crap like that.
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  13. #13
    Registered User mrswalters's Avatar
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    I wasn't eating a meal 6 because I was on another thread (toscareno.com) where all the girls were saying that if you skip meal 6 you lose more weight. I definitely want to lose body fat and I did it once before with eating clean and only 5 meals day. I say muscle definition but it ended up stalling after a while. Now I'm pretty right back where I started

    I could definitely start eating a meal 6 though...it would probably help me get in enough calories too.
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  14. #14
    Doesn't have bulky legs halcyonnwar's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mrswalters View Post
    I wasn't eating a meal 6 because I was on another thread (toscareno.com) where all the girls were saying that if you skip meal 6 you lose more weight. I definitely want to lose body fat and I did it once before with eating clean and only 5 meals day. I say muscle definition but it ended up stalling after a while. Now I'm pretty right back where I started

    I could definitely start eating a meal 6 though...it would probably help me get in enough calories too.
    quit skipping your post-workout meal, girl. You'll feel a lot better.

    Also, seriously, dig through the posts about upping calories to lose weight. There are a ton of women on here that have done it.
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    Registered User mrswalters's Avatar
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    My hubby just calculated my calorie needs using the recommended equation on the sticky. It came out to about 2250 calories to maintain, so my hubby said to take it down to 1900 calories to create a deficient. That seems like so much! I'm really scared to lose weight, but I guess I'll try it. I'm going to try to increase my calories gradually. This week I'll aim for 1500, and then next week 1600 and so on until I reach 1900-1950 calories.
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  16. #16
    Registered User mrswalters's Avatar
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    Oh, another reason why I was skipping meal 6 is because I heard that if you eat after 7 pm your body doesn't metabolize the same and you actually gain weight. I prefer to do my workouts in the evening between 5-6 pm (I'm a stay at home mom and full time student online so it's just more conveinant to go later in the day once everything else is taken care of) so by the time I get home it's usually about 7:30 pm. I just have a shake and an apple and then go to bed a few hours later. Should I really stay up and eat another meal after that or just squeeze in meal 6 earlier in the day?
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