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Can You Get Ripped on a Vegan Diet?

Categories Lifestyle

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Rich Roll — a plant-powered ultra-athlete and ultra-popular podcaster and writer — is proof that you can, and here are his tips on how to fuel your body without animal products.

The protein myth

The one question vegan athletes have thrown at them more than any other is, ‘But where do you get your protein?’ It’s easy, according to Rich. “It’s really a red herring, it’s really a non-issue,” he explains. “Eating plant-based foods throughout the day, you’re going to automatically eat your protein requirements. We actually don’t need that much protein in our diet — about 10% of calories — which isn’t very much. I’ve been doing it 10 years and I’ve never had any problems building muscle. I’ve just turned 50 and I’ve increased my training loads for the first time in five years and I’m seeing the results that I want, and I don’t need protein powders or anything like that. It’s a surprise to people that plant foods are full of protein but that’s the truth.”

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Raw power

Rich says cutting out processed foods is crucial, even if they’re technically vegan products. “The thing that people need to be focused on is eating plant food close to their natural state,” he says. “Because as the vegan diet becomes more popular and available, there’s a lot of meat analogues and processed foods that aren’t so healthy. So you can eat Oreos and potato chips and coconut ice cream all day long and say ‘I’m on a vegan diet’ but that’s not going to work out so good. It’s about eating whole foods.”

Drop dairy, drop kilos

When Rich embraced veganism a decade ago, he didn’t struggle to cut out meat — dairy was the hardest thing to wave goodbye to, but the most beneficial to his health. “Dairy’s in everything and I loved cheese so that was brutal. There were a couple of weeks of discomfort and cravings and all that kind of stuff, but that made the biggest difference out of everything — cutting out the dairy really improved my energy levels and had an immediate and significant impact on my weight.”

The price is right

Right after ‘How do you get your protein?’ on the list of questions omnivores ask vegan athletes is ‘Isn’t it expensive to eat vegan?’ Well, not if you’re not seduced by this week’s latest superfood du jour. “Chia seeds, spirulina, chlorophyll — all that stuff is great, but it’s super expensive,” Rich says. “But you can buy a gigantic bag of rice and a gigantic bag of black beans for almost nothing, and that can provide the foundation for a ton of recipes, so it’s just about being smart and investing in the fundamentals, the foundational foods, and with that you can cook a lot cheaper and easier than I think people realise.”

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Rich and his chef wife Julie Piatt have even produced their own cook book — The Plantpower Way — filled with vegan recipes to help you get ripped on a plant-powered diet. “That was really the idea behind our cook book — we wanted to show people that this doesn’t have to be that expensive. These are foods that stick to your lips, it’s not just a salad, you’re going to feel full, you’re going to feel satiated, and it’s going to satisfy even the most ardent meat eater in your family.”

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Learn more at www.richroll.com