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World Vegetarian Day : PT Interview

01st October 2018


In support of World Vegetarian Day which takes place on October 1st, Lifestyle Fitness PT Joseph Ayre discusses some of the challenges a vegetarian might face when it comes to having the perfect diet to fuel that work out.

A common apprehension surrounding vegetarian and vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein. However, numerous experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet is just as effective nutrition wise as a diet including meat.
High-protein diets can be highly useful towards muscle strength, satiety, and weight loss.


Q: How can vegetarians combat iron deficiency, lack of nutrients or other health-related issues they might face?


A: Vegetarians are no more prone to iron deficiency than non vegetarians. There are two types of iron; heme iron, and non-heme iron.

Heme iron is found in red meat whereas non-heme iron can be found in a number of places.

As long as they have a balanced diet, with a wide variety of leafy greens, grains, and legumes, vegetarians shouldn’t have an issue with iron deficiency.

The biggest threat vegetarians face is from vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is responsible for aiding wound healing, muscle repair and the production of red blood cells amongst other things. Severe deficiency can lead to anaemia and nerve damage.

It’s important that vegetarians consume B12 from other sources such as dairy, marmite or good quality supplements.


Q: Is Quorn just as beneficial as meat?


A: It depends. If we’re talking about the quality of the protein in the food then quite simply, no. The amino acid profile of vegetarian protein alternatives, such as Quorn is generally lower than which can be found in meat. That doesn’t, however, mean that they shouldn’t bother trying to eat a protein-packed diet, it just means that it can be more difficult than that of a meat eater.

Meat contains a complete amino acid profile whereas vegetarian protein sources do not. For that reason, it is a good idea for vegetarians to supplement with essential amino acids at meal times and it may be worth considering using Whey protein shakes as a complete source of protein.


Q: Is it any different training with vegetarian clients compared to meat-eating clients?


A: There should be no reason why you would need to train a vegetarian client any different to a meat-eating client if all things are equal. If however, a vegetarian client has a typically low protein intake, which can be common, recovery time between sessions may need to be considered, as may the speed in which they make progress.

As protein is essential for repair and recovery, it means that a diet lower in protein may limit a person’s speed of progress.

For this reason, a vegetarian should look for quality over quantity when choosing protein sources. Where a meat eater may aim for around 1g of protein per 1lb of their body weight daily, vegetarians may need to aim as low as 0.6-0.8g of protein per 1lb of their body weight, but ensuring that the quality of the protein is good.