Exercise and Fitness: Questions & Answers
Vital Health Zone is proud to announce Gina Jackson, who is our resident exercise and fitness expert and who is available to answer all your questions about exercising and fitness. Gina has a private practice and is available for consultation.
Gina answers all your exercise and fitness questions below:
Q: I have recently moved to Australia from India, but I am unable to maintain my health properly, as I am a vegetarian. Could you please suggest to me what changes I can make in my diet plan in order to have proper nutrition.
I am 30 years old and want to build more muscle tone, as I am very lean. I weight 55kg and my height is 5'9".
Should I eat meat and other meat products to help with building more muscle tone?
A: Yes, muscle needs high quality complete protein for development, maintenance and strength training. High quality complete protein is protein which contains all the 9 essential amino acids in the right quantities and this exists in all meats and meat products. The only plant-based food which is a high quality complete protein is soy, which is the reason why they use it in protein powders.
If you want to develop muscle, you could use poultry, eggs (try to ensure it is organic) and fish several times a week, supplemented with complex carbohydrates (wholegrains, vegetables, legumes) and continue your workouts.
If your desire is to exclusively follow a strict vegan diet (without any meat products at all) and build muscle, you will need to rely on protein powders, protein drinks, legumes and soy as a quality source of protein that is a complete protein. Ensure you use soy that has not been genetically modified (there will be a stamp on the package if the soy comes from non-genetically modified stock).
If you are following a vegan diet, be mindful that if you consume more simple carbohydrates (ie white rice, potatoes, white bread, white sugar), that while they will satisfy your hunger and provide a quick energy boost, they will not support lean muscle development. Try to eat more complex carbohydrates (ie wholegrains, legumes, vegetables of every colour) every day, combined with the protein sources of your choice to help you develop more lean muscle.
Vegetarians of all types tend to have a leaner look due to the protein choices made in their dietary habit, so your body may not easily bulk up your muscles due to your dietary choices anyway.
Engage in more fitness for your health!