As part of my experience as a personal trainer in Singapore. I need to consider the multi-racial and multi-cultural nature of Singapore. Some clients are vegetarian because of their religion or personal choices. They may still want to get fitness, weight loss or even bodybuilding results even though they are vegetarian.
As with all the personal training programmes at Genesis gym, the top priority is our client’s long term health. So if they are vegetarian we need to help them understand the pros and cons of the vegetarian diet.
Firstly, plant-based foods in a vegan or vegetarian diet are great as long as you can digest them well. Humans don’t digest plants that well. And this is especially true if a person is not that healthy and their digestive system isn’t as strong as it should be.
To overcome this our first choice of food for people on a plant based diet is not actually vegetables.
It is fruit.
Fruit tends to be better digested for most of our clients. And the reason for this is that fruit is designed to be eaten.
Most fruits need animals to eat them so that they can spread their seeds. So they are sweeter and easier to digest. However, vegetables tend to NOT want to be eaten. As eating them essentially kills the plant. They are usually bitter and not especially yummy.
So the first thing to do is to actually eat fewer veggies and add in more fruit. In addition, most people handle cooked vegetables much better than raw vegetables.
Our preferred method of cooking is steaming as it does not require unhealthy oils and it also preserves the most nutrient value in the vegetable. This is unlike boiling where much of the nutrients can end up in the water.
The next thing to consider is what minerals are commonly lacking in a vegetarian diet. Then we can use supplements to make sure that these deficiencies do not affect the personal training client’s weight loss or fitness results.
Here are some common supplements that we recommend to vegan or vegetarian
Creatine. This is really important for muscle function, growth and development. If you lack creatine, you will have more difficulty building and maintaining lean muscle mass. Less lean muscle affects your metabolism and reduces your immune system. Recent research also shows that a lack of creatine also affects the performance of the brain. Vegetables simply don’t have significant amounts of creatine.
Taurine. This is a relaxing brain neurochemical so if you feel anxious it is possible, you’re lacking taurine. This helps you to balance your brains chemicals and help you stay calm. Taurine also increases dopamine in the brain for extra training motivation and focus. And it also displaces excess fluoride from the body which results in better metabolism. Taurine is only found in animal based foods.
Zinc. This is very important for sex hormone production and for the proper functioning of the immune system. It is a fact that some plants contain zinc but this kind of zinc is not absorbed usually by the body compare to the ones in diary and animal products. There’s a large deposit of zinc in oysters for vegetarian that can eat sea foods. But in reality, most people don’t eat enough oysters to get healthy levels of zinc. So especially for vegans and vegetarian bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, supplementation of zinc is a good idea.
Carnosine. This buffers the lactic acids produced in high-intensity exercises as well as in high-stress conditions. If you lack carnosine, your stress hormones go up, which will make losing weight difficult. You are also less able to perform high-intensity exercise like HIIT since you are not able to buffer lactic acid.
Vitamin b12. This found in diary, animal and seafoods. If you are not consuming these, then there is high chance you are lacking b12 and b vitamins in general. So, a vegetarian should get the brewer’s yeast which can be found in powder and capsules. One or two capsules daily is enough.
There is also the issue of protein sources. The good news is that if you are vegan but still take in diary protein like yogurt, milk and protein powder, you can meet the protein requirements for good vegetarian bodybuilding or fitness results. The diary protein is important because plant-based proteins do not contain a complete set of amino acids required for building lean muscle.
Finally, just know that you can get strong, lean and fit as a vegan or vegetarian but it does take more planning and knowledge. If you are struggling with this, the Genesis Gym team of personal trainers in Singapore are ready to help you and I welcome you to drop by for a no obligations consultation with the Genesis Gym fitness coaching team.