At times, it’s hard to wrap our protein-obsessed heads around the idea that someone can be meat-free and muscled up. After all, the vast majority of low-carb, high-protein foods come from, y’know, animals. But guess what? Loads of plant-based and vegan athletes forgo animal protein sources.
Between movies like What The Health (which argues we’re slowly killing ourselves by loading up on chicken, eggs, and steak), and studies delivering the news that vegetarian athletes may actually perform better than meat-eaters, it may be time to start considering whether we really have to choose between meat and muscles.
Because according to a growing number of vegan athletes, you definitely don’t.
We talked to seven guys whose livelihood literally depends on being fit—including an NFL player, a pro wrestler, an NBA baller, and top personal trainer Joe Holder (that’s him above)—who eat totally meat-free.
Here’s what a day in a plant-based diet looks like for the ultra-jacked.
What Vegan and Plant-Based Athletes Eat to Stay Ultra-Jacked
1. Joe Holder, founder of The Ocho System and Nike master trainer
Diet focus: “My biggest focus is on actually eating enough, since the amount of calories I need is high and I’m fairly active. I take carbohydrates well, so I don’t fear them or limit them in any way, except in terms of processed foods. Also make sure to chew my food, especially with digestion of dark leafy greens, and drink enough water.”
Wake up: A glass of room-temperature water
Breakfast: Smoothie with red oak leaf lettuce, 10g essential amino acids, 30g pea protein, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 banana, 1 Tbsp. ashwaganda root, 1 tsp. chlorella, and 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Snack: Low-sugar fruit or handful of nuts
Lunch: Breakfast bowl from NYC restaurant Jack’s Wife Freda: red quinoa, pita bread, arugula, tomato, radish, and spaghetti squash
Snack: Smoothie with dandelion greens, hemp protein, acai berries, goji berries, blueberries, and unsweetened almond milk
Dinner: Sweet potato, curried chickpeas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
Late snack: Protein shake with pea and brown rice protein, arugula, almond butter, and BCAAs
Macros: 3,000 calories at 50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein
Supplements: BCAAs and EAAs to help with muscle repair
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