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    Older articles from the original Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness website.
    Plant Vs. Animal: Bodybuilding Menus Compared
    by Marcella Torres Tresize
    Can it be done? Can you, a vegan with bodybuilding aspirations, eat the same kind of super high protein diet recommended in magazines like Muscle & Fitness, MuscleMag, and Iron Man? The answer, as I'm about to demonstrate, is yep — you can! Once we've gotten that demonstration out of the way we'll address the more important question: should you eat that kind of diet to gain muscle? The answer is a resounding...nope! You shouldn't, nor do you have to — in fact, one of the benefits of being a vegan athlete is freedom from the layers of fat that typically come with an animal-based bulking diet.
    In a recent article, Derek discussed calorie cycling as a means to gain lean mass and he gave the example of his own diet, as a 185-pound man, that cycles between 4000 and 6500-calorie days. By comparison, a recent Muscle & Fitness article included a calorie cycling meal plan that ranged, for a 200-pound man, between four 1800-calorie "low" days, one 2300-calorie "moderate" day, and one 2600-calorie "high" day. Ouch! The low days are really low for someone that big, but with a bulking diet based on animal foods it's a sad necessity to keep from blowing up like the Michelin Man.
    Using our diet planning tool, I analyzed the M&F diet, came up with the vegan equivalent, and then created an example of a healthy bulking menu!
    Here's a look at one of the "low" calorie menus suggested by M&F:



    That right there is the classic, All-American bodybuilding diet, folks! A massive 55% of total calories from protein, just 13% from carbohydrates, a large dose of sodium, and 403 milligrams of cholesterol — well above the recommended 300 mg/day limit (of course, we know the real limit is more like 0 mg). In a culture that worships protein and shuns "carbs", this diet is a true masterpiece of food manufacturing that can only be achieved with lots and lots of low-fat and processed animal products, right?
    Here's the vegan version:


    As you can see, there's still enough protein, 50%, to silence anyone wondering how a vegan gets any at all. It's certainly far healthier than the previous example, being entirely free of cholesterol, but there is still an excess of sodium and the nutrient balance is unnaturally skewed toward protein — the result of including a lot of processed foods like protein powder and meat substitutes.
    While this shows that it's possible to eat the classic bodybuilding diet, it isn't necessary for a healthy vegan bodybuilder to keep calories or carbohydrate consumption so low. A plant-based diet results in a faster metabolism, so as athletic vegans we need to eat more. Another reason to bump up the calories is that plant foods are less anabolic than animal foods, meaning that they don't promote growth as aggressively. The growth-promoting properties of animal foods are both a blessing and a terrible curse for meat eating bodybuilders, though, because all growth is stimulated: muscle tissue, yes, but also fat, and abnormal cell growth (cancer). So in addition to the inconvenience of a diet severely restricted to keep fat down they have a greater-than-average chance of getting cancer down the road.
    Here's an example of a mainly whole foods vegan bodybuilding menu with plenty of calories and protein:


    A scoop of protein and a protein bar are concessions to convenience, but otherwise this menu is minimally processed and therefore low in sodium and healthier all around! You can find Derek's Whole Food Vegan Gainer recipe here and many more menu examples on this website as well as in Robert's book.
    Marcella Torres Tresize
    Vegan Bodybuilder and Former Corporate Actuary:
    Now Using Math for the Forces of Good
    Marcella Torres Tresize

    Presenting Veganism
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, April 11th, 2005

    This is an article that I specificially wrote for www.organicathlete.org to be included in their monthly newsletter, but I wanted to include it here too.

    I hope that you will find it very helpful and it will enhance your ability to speak to others about your vegan lifestyle. -Robert Cheeke

    Presenting Veganism by Robert Cheeke April 5, 2005

    How many times have you been asked, "Where do you get your protein?" Or what about, "Well, then what Do you eat?" These are commonquestions that non-vegans have for us on a daily basis. They arefairly easy to answer because anyone who knows anything about
    nutrition knows that protein is one of the easiest nutrients to findin human nutrition; and to answer the latter question, all you have todo is tell them what you eat or more simply, tell them the foods youavoid and that you eat everything else.

    But what if you are preparing to give a presentation to a group ofpeople; do you know what kind of approach you would take and how youwould answer questions?

    In my experience, the best way to approach any animal rights orveganism presentation to non-vegans is to be prepared for thequestions you know will be asked and come across as a nice person justsharing your lifestyle with them.

    Nobody wants to hear that they are doing something wrong, so keepeverything positive. Rather than giving statistics about how meat-eaters will die sooner than vegans, say that vegans live long healthylives, taking in all required nutrients to stay active and maintaingreat health. Rather than talk about factory farming conditions, giveexamples of animals that are treated well and that more should betreated that way.

    When you present yourself be sure to smile, laugh, be enthusiastic,make great eye contact, thank people for their questions, and offer tohelp them find an answer if you don't have the answer they are lookingfor. Make the group laugh, that will help them relate to you as ahuman, and as a nice person, rather than the guest speaker who isthere to discount their lifestyle and condemn their eating habits.

    When possible, avoid any kind of direct argument. Debating can be okdepending on the setting but I wouldn't recommend it. Give yourpresentation and allow time for questions rather than a debate.

    To help create a clear picture of who vegans are and what they do,eat, and stand for, share part of your life with them. Talk themthrough a typical day explaining what you eat. Start from morningdescribing your meals up until you go to sleep that night. Bring inexamples of vegan alternatives to common foods like yogurt, milk,meat, energy bars, cheese, treats, etc. Pass the foods around so theycan read the labels and get familiar with what is inside and so theycan see some healthy alternative foods they could be eating. Be sureto read some highlights from the label of an example food. Suchas, "high in protein, no trans fat, no cholesterol, may reduce risk ofheart disease, etc."

    Come to the presentation prepared with some literature, such as WhyVegan pamphlets or Vegan Starter Packs from Vegan Outreach. This willgive the group of people something to read while you field questionsand it could possibly create more questions based on the informationthey read from the brochures or books.

    The best thing that you can do is surprise the group you are speakingto by not being what they expect. Most non-vegans will hear of avegan coming to speak at their class, group, school, function orwhatever the event may be, and immediately imagine a radicalenvironmentalist, angry at the government and meat and dairyindustries who will be preaching their ethical and moral values toanyone who is not like them. This is what they expect in most cases,so it is up to you to surprise them.

    Come across as being just like them. Find some common ground andperhaps even make it clear at the beginning that you are not there topreach at them or that you are not trying to change their eating andlifestyle habits. After hearing that, they will take a sigh of reliefand listen to what you have to say. If you open up with tellingpeople that eating meat is wrong, you might as well turn around andwalk out the door because you will no longer be heard by anyone in theroom and you will probably do more harm than good for the veganmovement. Be their friend, relate to them, understand that yes,animal products probably do taste pretty good, but explain why we maywant to consider other nice tasting foods that could be a bithealthier and cause less environmental destruction.

    If you come into contact with someone in the group who is aggressiveand tries to argue with you, quickly diffuse the situation by thankingthem and move on to the next question. You will be admired for yourcontrol and the aggressive questioner, rather than you, will becomethe "bad guy" in the eyes of the crowd. The group will probably havemore respect for you and they'll be able to empathize with you sinceyou are the minority but handling yourself well through toughsituations.

    My experience tells me that a non-aggressive, non-threatening,friendly, enthusiastic approach works wonders when it comes totalkingwith people on the other end of the environmental spectrum.

    When you finish your presentation, realize that there are plenty ofother questions that the group probably has but didn't have time orthe confidence to ask, so always leave them with some contactinformation such as an e-mail address where they can contact you tolearn more about veganism.

    Upon conclusion of your visit, always thank the group for inviting youto share your lifestyle with them and stay around afterwards toaddress individual questions that someone may not have wanted to askin front of a group.

    If you take this enthusiastic, friendly, fun, gracious, non-threatening approach you will be making the most of your potentialimpact on the non-vegan community. You'll be surprised how manypeople may think really hard the next time they visit a fast foodrestaurant. Robert Cheeke

    Raw Food Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness Meal Programs
    by Robert CheekeWhat If Your Focus Is Raw Foods?
    My personal diet ranges from raw foods like fruits and vegetables to cooked foods likequinoa and beans. But I do know a thing or two about nutrition habits for raw vegans.
    In fact, one of my good friends competed as a Raw Vegan Bodybuilder. His name isGiacomo Marchese. He owns and operates www.veganproteins.com and has beena great representative of the raw vegan bodybuilding lifestyle. I spent a lot of timearound him when I recently filmed my latest documentary Vegan Brothers in Iron whichfeatures him.
    In general, we really need to go back to the basics as often as possible when it comes towhat we eat. It if grows in the ground, in a field, on a tree, or in a bush, it is a real, wholefood and that's what we should be eating. These can be eaten in their natural stateindividually, or as a combination of whole foods such as a salad, energy bar, or any otherentrée or meal that brings various whole foods together.
    I'm a fan of cooking lots of these whole foods — like grains and vegetables. But a largeportion of my diet is made up of fresh fruits and some raw vegetables.
    The primary sources of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, andglucose) come in their original natural forms from plant-based whole foods. So it makessense to eat these as often as possible.
    People following a high or all raw food diet tend to do that pretty well. Whole foods,raw or cooked should be the foundation of nutrition and health. If raw foods is yourfocus, the following meal programs may be helpful.
    You can tailor your own raw food nutrition programs based on your own interestsand to the theme of six meals a day, like I suggest for any nutrition program. You mayhave your own favorite foods and your own preferences. My meal programs are basedaround some of my own food preferences coupled with my observations spending time
    with Giacomo as he prepared to compete as a raw vegan bodybuilder.
    Raw Food Meal Programs for Athletes and Active People
    Raw Food Meal Program #1
    Meal #1
    5 pieces of whole fruit
    16 ounce raw fresh squeezed fruit juice
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #2
    16 ounce Spirulina drink
    Small green salad with sprouted buckwheat, hemp seeds, and raw nuts
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #3
    Large kale salad with sprouted mung beans, nuts and seeds
    Raw brown rice protein drink
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #4
    4 pieces of whole fruit
    Blended raw fruit smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #5
    Collard wraps with sprouted grains
    Spinach salad with bean sprouts and broccoli sprouts
    Raw rice protein drink
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #6
    2 Raw food energy bars
    Raw crackers with raw hummus
    16 ounces of water
    Estimated Totals:
    Total Calories = 3,700
    Total grams protein = 170g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 620g
    Total grams of fats = 60g
    Total water consumption = 136 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)
    Raw Food Meal Program #2
    Meal #1
    Raw green smoothie
    1 cucumber
    Small bowl of celery and carrot sticks
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #2
    Large fruit platter
    Raw fruit smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #3
    Green Smoothie
    Large green salad with a variety of greens, seeds and some raw nuts
    8 ounce coconut water
    Meal #4
    Bowl of sprouted mung beans
    Small green salad with a variety of sprouts
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #5
    4 pieces of whole fruit
    Raw fruit smoothie
    8 ounce coconut water
    Meal # 6
    Large green salad with avocado, sprouts and seeds
    16 ounces of water
    Estimated Totals:
    Total Calories = 3,500
    Total grams protein = 120g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 632g
    Total grams of fats = 54g
    Total water consumption = 128 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)
    Robert Cheeke
    [email protected]
    @RobertCheeke on Twitter
    Robert Cheeke

    1. You're a professional arm wrestler and an outspoken vegan. How did these paths cross? Which one came first and what initially inspired you to begin this journey?
    I've been arm wrestling professionally since I was 18 years old and vegetarian since I was 24. I converted to vegan a few years later. Ironically, I was initially inspired at an arm wrestling tournament at the Pennsylvania State Fair. I caught a group of piglets wrestling around and fighting for milk from their mom. They were absolutely adorable and innocent and reminded me of puppies. This was the very first time I ever connected innocent beings with food. Like most people I have been completely desensitized to the process. When you see perfectly packaged hot dogs and hamburgers with clever advertisement, its quite easy to forget that those were inhumanely butchered animals that never had a chance.


    Photo by Candy Bigwood

    2. How does one become a "professional" arm wrestler? Are there amateur competitions, or does one join or club or a team as in many other sports that lead to professional status once you reach a certain level?
    Generally winning 3 novice tournaments qualifies you as a professional. Most tournaments host amateur divisions and even they can jump into the professional classes. The World Armwrestling League (http://www.walunderground.com/) is hosting a huge tournament in Las Vegas, June 7th. Most of the guys from Game of Arms will be there competing!

    3. How do opponents and fans react when they learn that you are vegan?
    Doesn't bother or even phase any of my opponents. All of the negative comments I get are from ignorant fans of the show.


    Photo by Candy Bigwood

    4. Do you have a day job in addition to arm wrestling, or is it a full-time career?
    Yep. I'm an Interactive Art Directer, meaning I design for mobile apps and websites. My latest project was the Comedy Central App (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/comedy-central/id799551807?mt=8) and it's pretty bad ass!

    5. How popular is arm wrestling in America in comparison to the popularity it has in other nations?
    Arm wrestling is an underground sport here in the United States but It's extremely popular in some of the European countries. Game of Arms is changing everything though, we are already seeing a lot of new faces coming out to test themselves.


    Photo by David Moir

    6. Do you have any sponsors or brands you represent?
    I wore a PETA shirt to an arm wrestling competition before but nothing officially.

    7. You're on a current TV show on AMC called Game of Arms. Tell us about it. How did you get involved in it?
    I was initially really hesitant. I thought a reality show about professional arm wrestling would be stupid. A producer from Undertow Films asked to come to my apartment and tape my wife and I cooking a vegan dinner. I spilled an entire thing of pepper all over the counter and the rest is history. The only reason I decided to do the show was to prove that vegans can be strong.

    8. What is the typical daily or weekly training routine like for a professional arm wrestler? How much of your success relies on your strength vs. other aspects such as leverage, reaction time, mental focus, nutrition, and so on?
    I work out almost everyday unless I'm injured. The very best thing for arm wrestling is to actually arm wrestle with a group of guys. Technique and speed are both extremely important but when two pullers are equal strength plays a huge part.


    Photo by Marc Janks

    9. What is your most memorable experience in your arm wrestling career?
    Being part of New York City Arms Control (https://www.facebook.com/NYCArmsControl) and Game of Arms (http://gameofarms.com/). This show has been mentally and physically extremely exhausting but worth every second and effort. I wouldn't change a thing.

    10. Outside of arm wrestling and veganism, what are some of your other interests?
    I originally went to The University of The Arts thinking I'd major in illustration. I love metal detecting, bet you didn't see that one coming!? I also love visiting old graveyards and the paranormal fascinates me.

    11. Who were some of your role models growing up? Who are some of your role models today?
    Nobody in particular. I have a hard time trusting many people and never put anyone on a pedestal.


    Photo by Wendy George

    12. What is something totally unique about you that not many people know?
    I played poker for a year in Atlantic City, New Jersey with out working. Poker was my only income.

    13. How can readers learn more about Rob Bigwood? How can we support your role in Game of Arms?
    I have a blog (http://blog.rbigwood.com/) that I've been seriously slacking on and a Facebook group called Vegan Strong (https://www.facebook.com/groups/130359160343571/). Hopefully Game of Arms gets picked up for a second season!
    Rob Bigwood

    Rob's “mostly” Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, September 1st, 2005

    7AM
    2 kiwis
    2 sliced peaches or nectarines
    Fruit smoothie with Vega Meal Replacement powder
    Multivitamin
    16oz citrus juice

    10AM
    Slices of cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon
    Bowl of mixed nuts
    Celery sticks with peanut butter
    16oz water

    1PM
    Large plate of mashed potatoes with mushrooms, carrots, peas, green beans, and broccoli.
    Green salad with lettuce, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, olives, and sprinkled seeds or nuts.
    16oz fruit juice
    16oz water

    4PM
    Fruit salad (slice up apples, pineapple, banana, peaches, and pears
    Green salad with sprinkled nuts and seeds
    16oz fruit juice or soymilk

    7PM
    Corn on the cob (or off the cob)
    Steamed eggplant or squash.
    Brown rice and beans with mixed veggies
    16oz protein smoothie

    10PM
    Vegetable soup
    Soy crisps or seaweed chips
    16oz almond milk Robert Cheeke

    Rob's Raw Food Bodybuilding Nutrition Program
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, August 25th, 2005

    7AM
    Bowl of mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
    1/2 grapefruit
    2 bananas with natural peanut butter
    Multivitamin/
    16oz orange juice

    10AM
    Bowl of mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts)
    2 servings of dates
    16oz fruit smoothie with Vega meal replacement powder

    1PM
    Bean/Broccoli salad (Kidney beans, garbanzo bean, broccoli, spinach, snow peas, green beans, carrots, green peppers).
    Potato wedges with vegan dressing
    16oz fruit smoothie with Vega meal replacement powder
    16oz water

    4PM
    Spinach, kale, and cabbage leaves with broccoli, olives, pine nuts, and sliced tomatoes.
    Snow peas and green beans
    1 large peach or nectarine
    16oz water

    7PM
    Large vegetable platter with hummus
    Sliced Yams with vegan seasoning
    Lentil and black bean soup
    16oz fruit smoothie with protein powder and G-glutamine supplement

    10PM
    2 servings of mixed seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds)
    2 servings of Seaweed chips
    16oz soymilk Robert Cheeke

    Chest workout
    Total body Warm-up with little to no rest between the 3 exercises, circuit style. (Push-ups, followed by
    Jumping Jacks, followed by Squats. Complete the cycle 3 times).
    Push-ups x 3 sets
    Jumping jacks x 3 sets
    Bodyweight squats x 3 sets
    Working sets
    Incline barbell bench press x 4 sets
    Flat barbell bench press x 4 sets
    Decline barbell bench press x 4 sets
    Incline dumbbell flys x 4 sets
    Dips x 4 sets
    Back Workout
    Total body Warm-up with little to no rest between the 3 exercises, circuit style. (Push-ups, followed by
    Jumping Jacks, followed by Squats. Complete the cycle 3 times).
    Push-ups x 3 sets
    Jumping jacks x 3 sets
    Bodyweight squats x 3 sets
    Working sets
    Wide grip pull-ups x 3 sets
    Narrow grip pull-ups x 3 sets
    T-bar rows x 4 sets
    Barbell deadlifts x 4 sets
    Bent-over barbell rows x 4 sets
    Leg workout
    Total body Warm-up with little to no rest between the 3 exercises, circuit style. (Push-ups, followed by
    Jumping Jacks, followed by Squats. Complete the cycle 3 times).
    Push-ups x 3 sets
    Jumping jacks x 3 sets
    Bodyweight squats x 3 sets
    Working sets
    Barbell squats x 6-8 sets
    Barbell or dumbbell lunges x 6 sets
    Weighted Calf raises x 6 sets
    Arm workout
    Total body Warm-up with little to no rest between the 3 exercises, circuit style. (Push-ups, followed by
    Jumping Jacks, followed by Squats. Complete the cycle 3 times).
    Push-ups x 3 sets
    Jumping jacks x 3 sets
    Bodyweight squats x 3 sets
    Working sets
    EZ Curl bar biceps curls x 4 sets
    Alternating dumbbell biceps curls x 4 sets
    Alternating dumbbell hammer curls x 4 sets
    Narrow grip bench press x 4 sets
    EZ curl bar skull crushers x 4 sets
    Overhead triceps dumbbell extensions x 4 sets
    Shoulder workout
    Total body Warm-up with little to no rest between the 3 exercises, circuit style. (Push-ups, followed by
    Jumping Jacks, followed by Squats. Complete the cycle 3 times).
    Push-ups x 3 sets
    Jumping jacks x 3 sets
    Bodyweight squats x 3 sets
    Working sets
    Dumbbell lateral raises x 4 sets
    Dumbbell front raises x 4 sets
    Dumbbell rear delt raises x 4 sets
    Dumbbell overhead press x 4 sets
    Dumbbell shrugs x 4 sets
    Barbell Military Press x 4 sets
    Abdominal Workout
    Total body Warm-up with little to no rest between the 3 exercises, circuit style. (Push-ups, followed by
    Jumping Jacks, followed by Squats. Complete the cycle 3 times).
    Push-ups x 3 sets
    Jumping jacks x 3 sets
    Bodyweight squats x 3 sets
    Working sets
    Hanging leg raises x 5 sets
    Hanging leg windshield wipers x 5 sets
    Hanging knee raises to left side x 5 sets
    Hanging knee raises to right side x 5 sets
    Decline sit-ups x 5 sets
    Decline weighted sit-ups x 5 sets
    Decline medicine ball partner assisted sit-ups x 5 sets
    Bridge static hold x 5 sets
    Robert Cheeke

    Robert's tips for Building and Maintaining Muscle on a Plant Based Diet
    by Robert Cheeke1) Make whole foods the foundation of your nutrition program.
    Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, and seeds should be the foods you eat
    most often. They are the healthiest, provide the most nutrition and are the most
    environmentally friendly foods available.
    2) Plan ahead.
    Prepare food ahead of time. Keep food in your car, at work, on your bike, or however
    you commute to and from work. Keep whole food based energy and protein bars filled
    with nuts, grains and seeds in your gym bag, office desk, coat pockets, etc.
    Since you want to consume calories regularly, you'll want to keep non-perishable
    foods with you wherever you go. Plan larger meals ahead of time too. Use re-sealable
    containers to transport food with you that will need refrigeration. Make food the day
    before, or make large quantities of a particular food like rice or potatoes, which may last
    for a few days. Bottom line, always be prepared by planning ahead.
    3) Take your nutrition and training programs seriously.
    Are you serious about your health? If so, act like it. Fitness and wellness don't just
    happen by themselves. They rely on your hard work and dedication. Be consistent in
    your efforts in motivation, nutrition and training.
    Then you'll achieve what you set out to do. You'll be rewarded with better health,
    greater fulfillment, and new opportunities in other areas of your life.
    Robert's Favorite Muscle Building and Muscle Maintaining Foods
    Tofu
    Tempeh
    Seitan
    Nuts
    Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)
    Avocado
    Beans
    Brown rice
    Quinoa
    Spinach
    Broccoli
    Pastas
    Sandwiches
    Burritos
    Wraps
    Soups
    Veggie sushi rolls
    Artisan breads
    Protein bars
    Protein drinks
    Heavy foods by weight such as potatoes, and yams, dense vegetables
    Ethnic food platters such as Middle Eastern, Thai, Indian and Ethiopian foods
    The more diversity in your diet, the better. And the more whole foods you consume,
    the better for your overall health, athletic performance, recovery from exercise and
    general wellness. Regardless of your sports interest, general rules apply for pre and
    post-exercise nutrition. Eat well to feel well. Eat big to get big. Be smart, be healthy and
    have fun!
    -Robert Cheeke
    [email protected]
    http://robertcheeke.wordpress.com/
    @RobertCheeke on Twitter
    Robert Cheeke

    Sample Muscle Building Nutrition Programs from the Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness book
    by Robert CheekeThese nutrition programs are for an average 180-pound male looking to maintain and build muscle, but the themes throughout are consistent for any gender, any size; just tailor your own programs to your individual caloric needs. These are simply examples and have not been approved by the FDA or other governing body. They are purely based on my experiences and observations as a competitive and champion vegan athlete over the past 15 years. Listed after these meal programs from my book are custom made meal programs for women based on general fitness, not bodybuilding per se.
    Men's Meal Program #1
    Meal #1
    Bowl of oatmeal
    Green protein smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #2
    3 pieces of whole fruit
    1 cucumber
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #3
    Large green salad with mixed greens and Vega Omega 3-6-9 EFA Oil
    2 artichokes and bowl of mixed beans and sprouts
    Protein drink (Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer)
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #4
    Celery sticks with almond butter
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #5
    Ethiopian food dinner (bread and beans, greens, lentils, hummus, and a variety of other dips)
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #6
    Tofu "chicken" sandwich with vegan mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato
    Bowl of rice with peanut sauce
    16 ounces of water
    Estimated Totals:
    Total Calories = 4300
    Total grams protein = 175g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 675g
    Total grams of fats = 100g
    Total water consumption = 120 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)
    Men's Meal Program #2
    Meal #1
    2 pieces of whole fruit
    Yerba mate drink
    Fruit Smoothie
    Meal #2
    Whole food based Energy bar
    Assorted fresh vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, peppers)
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #3
    Burrito with rice or quinoa, greens, beans, and avocado
    Small green salad with Vega omega 3-6-9 EFA Oil
    12 ounces of hemp milk
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #4
    3 pieces of whole fruit
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #5
    Large green salad with steamed green vegetables and tempeh
    Bowl of carrot/ginger soup
    12 ounces of almond milk
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #6
    2 whole food based Protein or Energy bars
    Protein drink (Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer)
    16 ounces of water
    Estimated Totals:
    Total Calories = 4,000
    Total grams protein = 180g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 660g
    Total grams of fats = 70g
    Total water consumption = 104 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)
    Men's Meal Program #3
    Meal #1
    2 pancakes with maple syrup
    Small bowl of potatoes and broccoli
    Green Smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #2
    Almond butter sandwich
    Whole food based protein drink (Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer)
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #3
    Collard green wraps with hummus or vegetable pate, beans, sprouts, and vegetables
    Bowl of lentil, bean, or vegetable soup
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #4
    3 pieces of whole fruit
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #5
    Bell peppers stuffed with rice and seasonings
    Green salad with Vega omega 3-6-9 EFA Oil
    Bean sprouts and fresh or steamed vegetables
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #6
    Whole food based Protein drink (Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer)
    2-3 servings of assorted nuts
    Estimated Totals:
    Total Calories = 4,500
    Total grams protein = 160g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 760g
    Total grams of fats = 90g
    Total water consumption = 104 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)
    Sample Muscle Building/Muscle Maintaining Nutrition Programs for active women
    These programs have been created for the female audience and the quantities of food are based on approximately 125-150- pound active women. They are just samples and exact foods and quantities can be altered based on interest, size, age, and activity level. Keep in mind these are designed for active women who are burning more calories throughout the day due to exercise/sports than a sedentary person, and require extra nutrition (calories) to recover from exercise.

    Women's Meal Program #1
    Meal #1
    3 pieces of whole fruit
    Fruit smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #2
    2-3 servings of assorted nuts
    Flax crackers with hummus
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #3
    Burrito filled with quinoa, veggies, avocado, and greens
    Small green salad
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #4
    Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer Protein drink
    1 baked yam with broccoli and small spinach salad
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #5
    Bowl of brown rice, kale, beans and coconut curry sauce
    Green salad with a variety of greens, seeds and nuts
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #6
    3 pieces of whole fruits
    Fruit smoothie
    Estimated Totals:
    Total Calories = 3,000
    Total grams protein = 120g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 518g
    Total grams of fats = 50g
    Total water consumption = 116 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)
    Women's Meal Program #2
    Meal #1
    Bowl of oats
    Green Smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #2
    3 pieces of whole fruit
    Fruit juice or fruit smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #3
    Bowl of lentil or vegetable soup
    Large green salad with greens, sprouts, seeds, nuts, avocado with Vega EFA Oil
    8 ounces of coconut water
    Meal #4
    2 whole-food based energy bars
    Green Smoothie
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #5
    Brown rice with steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and other veggies
    Green salad with dark greens including kale, spinach, and collard greens
    16 ounces of water
    Meal #6
    Vegetable sushi with seaweed, rice, avocado, and cucumber
    Small bowl of ginger soup
    Estimated Totals:
    Total Calories = 2,900
    Total grams protein = 135g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 482g
    Total grams of fats = 48g
    Total water consumption = 108 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)
    Robert Cheeke

    Shoulder Workout
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004
    As usual when I get to the gym I do some sort of cardio warm-up for about 5-7 minutes. Then I do some warm-up exercises that specifically target the muscles that I'll be working that day. I perform approximately 20 reps for machine shoulder presses and lateral dumbbell raises to get blood flowing to the shoulders and prepare myself for my shoulder shocker.

    Shoulder Workout

    Hammer Strength Shoulder Press
    100 pounds 15 reps
    120 pounds 12 reps
    150 pounds 10 reps
    170 pounds 8 reps
    190 pounds 6 reps

    Dumbbell Front Raises
    30 pounds each arm 12 reps
    35 pounds each arm 10 reps
    40 pounds each arm 8 reps

    Dumbbell Lateral Raises
    30 pounds each arm 12 reps
    35 pounds each arm 10 reps
    40 pounds each arm 8 reps

    Dumbbell Rear Delt Raises
    25 pounds each arm 12 reps
    30 pounds each arm 10 reps
    35 pounds each arm 8 reps

    One-Arm Cable Shoulder Lateral Raises
    20 pounds each arm 12 reps
    25 pounds each arm 10 reps
    30 pounds each arm 8 reps

    Dumbbell Shrugs
    200 pounds 12 reps
    210 pounds 10 reps
    220 pounds 8 reps

    End of Workout Robert Cheeke

    Believe it or not, I wasn't born with a six-pack. In fact, it wasn't until I was 29 years old that I finally earned this coveted body part. This was something that I always wanted though, at least since I started this whole weightlifting thing fourteen years prior. So what did I do differently that gave me the results I was striving for? It's really quite simple: eat more vegetables.


    With bodybuilding and getting shredded, the objective is to keep as much lean body mass as possible while shredding every bit of fat that you can. This process allows the muscles to show through, because when body fat is low, your skin gets thinner and thinner (so to speak), until the anatomy of the underlying muscles can be seen.
    So in order to do that, you need to keep muscle by frequently lifting heavy, you need to burn calories (fat) by doing increased cardiovascular activity, and you need to burn more calories than you consume. So with food, we have to figure out a way to reduce calories while still being satisfied with the volume of food we eat. Enter the vegetable, or more specifically, the cruciferous and green leafy vegetables. Simple vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus are loaded with nutrients and fiber and are low in calories.
    Though a few plant-based high-protein foods such as tempeh, tofu, almonds, nut butters, seitan, and seeds are staples for many vegan athletes, too many of these foods will pack on the pounds, and not the good kind. But when you have some of the above mentioned foods with a huge serving of broccoli or mixed green salad or sautéed kale, you end up feeling satiated without taking in too many calories. By having veggies around to snack on such as celery sticks, sliced radishes, sliced cucumber, or sliced peppers, you can snack often and eat a large amount of these foods and still drop body fat.
    At 29, when I finally realized I had to up my vegetable intake, it made it manageable to cut back on bad stuff like refined grains, salty fried foods, and all various forms of processed sugar. Then slowly yet steadily, body fat basically melted off. In 2009, I dropped about 1.5 pounds of fat per week over the course of 12 weeks, thereby dropping my body fat down to around 4%. This experience was essentially what got me to where I am today. It showed the world that I had what it takes to shape a lean muscular vegan physique, when the numbers seemed limited. Now with the incredible growth of veganism, we have many vegan athletes who walk around with phenomenal physiques. I guess more and more people are seeing the benefits of the simple, nutritionally dense, good ol' vegetable. Have you eaten your veggies today?
    Here is a sample daily meal plan during my first successful Get Shredded Phase:
    Breakfast — Veggie “steak” strips, 1/4 C walnuts, big handful of spinach

    Snack — Smoothie with rice and pea Protein, handful of kale, frozen blueberries

    Lunch — Yellow curry with tofu and mixed vegetables over shredded cabbage (instead of rice)

    Snack — Apple, sliced cucumber with eggplant hummus

    Post-Workout Shake — Rice and pea protein, bananas, and frozen strawberries

    Snack — Lentils, brown rice, and steamed broccoli

    Dinner — Field Roast sausage, with zucchini noodles and tomato sauce

    Pre-Bed Snack — Protein pudding made from rice and pea protein, unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter, ground flax seed, and ice
    Ed Bauer

    I started out as a skinny skateboarder. I was 13 years old and had no interest in weights. My dad, however, was competing in weightlifting events at that time. He and his buddy Gary would enter bench press competitions while in their late-30s and early-40s, and my dad brought home more than a few trophies. He was known to be one of the strongest and toughest guys in our city. My older brother Chris, at 6'2", was always built like a football player. When I watched television or movies, I looked up to Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Hulk (Lou Ferigno), and the toys I had as a kid were G.I. Joe, and He-Man. Growing up, I always felt like a small guy in a big guy's world. These guys seemed larger than life, like superheroes.


    My dad and me, at age 13A few years later, I was ready to hit the weights. My dad put me on a program and, at the age of 15, I started lifting 4-5 days a week. I started to build some muscle and was happy with this new regimen. At the time, I still ate meat. My dad's advice then on how to put on weight was to eat everything I would normally eat, but add in four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on top of that. And so it began. Through skateboarding, I had some friends who were vegan. Back then, the idea to not drink milk seemed absurd. I knew that meat was an animal that was killed, so that was an obvious reason to not eat meat, but not drink dairy?! A friend recommended I read John Robbins' Diet for a New America. I read it in 1996 and have been vegan ever since.
    So now here I was: a 16 year old committed ethical vegan who lifts weights and wants to get big. My dad doesn't have any good advice on this. VeganBodybuilding.com was nowhere to be found. The internet was hardly even out yet. I had to do some research with what limited resources I had. On my path to becoming vegan, I became aware of the tremendous amount of suffering that animals have to endure in the meat and dairy industry — the conditions that these industry leaders never want you to see. Since that point and to this day, I see people's eating animals as one of the largest atrocities in human history. In our modern industrialized society, this is one of the most easily avoidable global problems of our time. This daily catastrophe can be avoided by simply changing what we put on our plate.
    So now not only did I want to get big and muscular for personal reasons, I wanted to get big to crush stereotypes of the weak and scrawny vegan. I spent a good 10 years trying to figure out how to become affective in promoting this cruelty-free lifestyle. In 2006, I got a job at the front desk at a gym, and I knew this was my path. People looked to me for advice on technique and what to eat. I started becoming comfortable in promoting a plant-based diet for better health and performance. I then got my first National Personal Trainer Certification. I moved to Portland, Oregon and got another Certification, and got a job at 24 Hour Fitness. Robert Cheeke happened to work out at this gym when he lived in the area. We became friends, and he encouraged me to do a bodybuilding competition. I eventually did and won my first competition!


    20 years later age 33 I am now a champion vegan bodybuilder, a CrossFit coach, a certified fitness nutrition coach, a physique competitor, and gym owner. I will admit that I enjoy some of the attention I get as a vegan athlete, but what really drives me is that I have something to prove: I am here to prove that animals do not have to be killed for food. We can survive and thrive on beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and grains. I want to inspire others to learn about the animal agriculture industry. I want people to learn that there is no such thing as humane meat. I want people to learn that eating animals is nothing but a choice, based on convenience and tradition. Now with the help of doctors such as T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, John McDougall, Michael Greger, and many other physicians and nutrition experts, people can also see that this compassionate lifestyle also just so happens to be the healthiest diet on the planet!
    Vegan Bodybuilding is more than my personal interest; it symbolizes who I am to the core of my existence. I strive to create a more compassionate world that sees all humans and all living creatures as worthy of care, dignity, and respect. As a vegan in a non-vegan world, I hope you are inspired to be an ambassador for this lifestyle and show that you too have something to prove.
    Ed Bauer

    Soy-Free Vegan Bodybuilding Nutrition Programs
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, September 13th, 2007

    Keep in mind these programs have not been approved by the FDA or any other authority on nutrition. They are designed for active vegans of all types from the serious athlete to the fitness enthusiast. The 6 meals a day plan helps keep your body in an anabolic state with a positive nitrogen balance and will keep you nourished throughout the day. Eating frequent meals will also speed up metabolism, your body's ability to burn fat.

    The programs listed may incorporate more foods than you are used to eating in one day, but remember they were created by a bodybuilder

    Healthy Food Defines You - Train Hard Eat Plenty

    Enjoy, and happy eating!


    Mostly Raw Food Bodybuilding Nutrition Program

    7AM
    Bowl of mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
    ½ grapefruit
    2 bananas with raw coconut oil
    Multivitamin
    16oz fresh squeezed juice

    10AM
    Bowl of mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts)
    2-4 servings of dates
    16oz fruit smoothie with Vega meal replacement powder

    1PM
    Bean/Broccoli salad (Kidney beans, garbanzo beans, broccoli, spinach, snow peas, green beans, carrots, green peppers, romaine lettuce, beets).
    16oz fruit smoothie with Vega meal replacement powder
    16oz water

    4PM
    Spinach, kale, and cabbage leaves with broccoli, avocado, pine nuts, and sliced tomatoes.
    Snow peas and green beans
    2 large peaches or nectarines
    16oz water

    7PM
    Large vegetable platter with hummus and raw flax crackers
    Green salad with sprouts, greens, nuts and seeds
    Live pizza or raw soup
    16oz fruit smoothie with protein powder

    10PM
    2 servings of mixed seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds)
    2 servings of seaweed chips or dulse
    16oz water


    Moderate Protein/Calorie Intake Bodybuilding Nutrition Program

    7AM
    Fruit smoothie with orange juice, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and Vega Meal Replacement Powder
    Bowl of vegan cereal with hempmilk
    2 bagels with hummus or almond butter
    Multivitamin
    16oz water

    10AM
    Raw Food bar
    1 bowl of citrus fruit
    2 servings of protein mix (peanuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, almonds)
    16oz water

    1PM
    Veggie sandwich or chili
    2 yams
    Large green salad
    16oz natural fruit juice

    4PM
    Vega Meal Replacement Powder mixed with 12oz juice or water
    2 bananas with almond butter
    16oz water

    7PM
    4 slices of homemade vegan pizza
    Plate of brown rice, green beans, kidney beans, and peas.
    16oz hempmilk, juice or water

    10PM
    Whole veggies or fruits (carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, apple, pear, orange)
    2 servings of pineapple
    16oz water


    Mostly fruit and Veggie Nutrition Plan

    7AM
    2 kiwis
    2 sliced peaches or nectarines
    Fruit smoothie with Vega Meal Replacement powder
    16oz citrus juice

    10AM
    Slices of cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon
    Bowl of mixed nuts
    Celery sticks with coconut oil
    16oz water

    1PM
    Large plate of mashed potatoes with mushrooms, carrots, peas, green beans, and broccoli.
    Green salad with kale, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, olives, and sprinkled seeds or nuts
    16oz fruit juice
    16oz water

    4PM
    Fruit salad (slice up apples, pineapple, banana, peaches, and pears, mango)
    Green salad with sprinkled nuts and seeds
    16oz fruit juice or soymilk

    7PM
    Corn on the cob (or off the cob)
    Steamed eggplant or squash.
    Brown rice and beans with mixed veggies
    16oz protein smoothie

    10PM
    Vegetable soup
    Flax crackers or seaweed chips
    16oz almond milk
    16oz water


    High Protein/High Calorie Bodybuilding Nutrition Program

    7AM
    2 cups oatmeal
    2 vegan pancakes
    Hemp protein drink (Vega, or other)
    16oz hempmilk or almond milk
    Multivitamin supplement

    10AM
    2 energy/protein bars (Organic Food Bar, Vega Bar, Smart Monkey Bar)
    Hemp/rice protein smoothie (orange juice, protein powder, strawberries, banana, ice cubes)
    2 Mangos
    16oz orange juice
    16oz water with L-Glutamine Amino Acid

    1PM
    4 slices of vegan pizza
    Pea protein smoothie (hempmilk, yellow pea protein powder, strawberries, banana, ice cubes)
    Tortillas and hummus
    Mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts)
    16oz water

    4PM
    Veggies with coconut oil or almond butter
    3 bananas
    16oz hempmik
    16oz water

    7PM
    Large Veggie burrito (brown rice, black beans, pinto beans, avocado, tomato, onion, tortilla)
    Summer squash
    Green salad
    Avocado spread on flax crackers or celery sticks
    8oz pineapple juice
    16oz water with L-Glutamine Amino Acid

    10PM
    Hemp/pea protein smoothie (hempmilk, hemp/pea protein powder, strawberries, banana, ice cubes)
    Yams or sweet potatoes
    Vitamin and mineral supplements


    General Bodybuilding Nutrition Program

    7AM
    Large bowl of oats
    Vega Smoothie Infusion (protein, fiber, greens, essential fats)
    2 Bananas
    Vitamin and mineral supplements
    24oz water

    10AM
    Protein or Meal Replacement shake
    2 whole pieces of fruit
    20oz water

    1PM
    Veggie burrito or sandwich
    Bowl of potatoes, broccoli, carrots, peas and baby corn
    24oz water

    4PM
    Mixed raw nuts, unsalted (cashews, walnuts, almonds)
    2 energy/protein bars (Organic Food Bar, Vega Bar or Pro Bar)
    20oz water

    7PM
    Vegetable stir-fry with quinoa and mango chutney
    Spinach, lettuce, cabbage salad w/kidney beans/chickpeas
    12oz chocolate hempmilk
    24oz water

    10PM
    Protein or Meal Replacement shake
    Apples or dates with coconut oil
    16oz water
    For more information about meal programs, training programs or anything to do with Vegan Health or Fitness visit www.veganbodybuilding.com or e-mail [email protected]
    Robert Cheeke

    You know the feeling. You realize it's time to put away the coat, scarf and gloves and all other clothing remnant of the winter that just came to an end. The bright, shining sun has returned and animals of all kinds seem to be happy about it. The earth itself celebrates and bestows upon us the beauty of flowers and the signs of life, growth and transition that transcend the mundane and uplift spirits. You know the feeling when spring has sprung and that it's time to dust off the running shoes that may have been idle all winter, clear the leaves out of the yard for some space to move around, and rekindle that desire to exercise outside. You don't know this feeling if you live in year-round sunny places, but you can play along and imagine this dawning of Spring.
    Now that inspiration and the smell of tree blossoms fill the air, it's time to get your lungs filled with air from some good old fashioned outdoor exercise. Whether you've stuck with your New Year's resolutions, or you'd rather not talk about it, spring is a great time of change to start anew and resolve to be a healthy and fit role model for those around you. You like walks in the park? Good. So does your dog, or your friend. You like fresh air and a hint of sunshine? Good, we're two for two. How's that garden coming along? You know strength can be built through some earth-loving tenderness of getting down and dirty in the soil, planting what will be your fuel for future workouts. C'mon, live a little. Staying indoors was sooo last month. Get outside and enjoy yourself. Did you know that due to lack of sunshine, most people in North America are likely to be Vitamin D deficient, especially this time of year? Here are some tips to wipe away the winter blues by pursuing your own personal interests outdoors.
    See if there is still air in those bike tires, and maybe apply a little oil to the chain. Hop on and see if what they say is true; "you never forget how to ride a bike." Plan more outdoor family activities in parks, educational field trips, and adventures and explorations. Encourage lots of walking, jogging and bring sports equipment to the park such as a Frisbee, or soccer ball. Invite your dog in on the action, especially with the Frisbee — both of you will appreciate it. Remember all those P90X DVDs you watched during the winter while you worked out in the living room, scaring your house pets along the way? Take your yoga mat out to the yard and get some Vitamin D filled sunshine while you stretch, lunge and crunch your way toward achieving your fitness goals. Don't sit down. I don't mean never sit down, that would be exhausting. I mean when you get home from work. Have you noticed that once you sit down after work it's awfully hard to get back up and get motivated to exercise? Make an effort to exercise before you get home or as soon as you arrive before you sit down. Set some specific goals that can only be achieved through consistent exercise outdoors. Make some arrangements to meet friends to go hiking on the weekend, schedule a time to meet others at a community garden to volunteer or cultivate your own plants. Exercise first thing in the morning, immediately after work, or even during a break in the middle of the workday. Spring is a great time to join an outdoor soccer team, a running club, or other community-driven sports experiences where others, such as teammates, can help keep you consistent and accountable. You don't want to miss practice and let your team down on game day. If serious muscle-building exercise is your thing, check out the fall issue with lists of exercises to do nearly anywhere, anytime, or join or re-commit to going to your local gym. You can still enjoy all the benefits of spring by pursuing serious weight training inside a gym and following all the steps above. Life's a garden, dig it. Plant the seeds of change now for tomorrow's future. Don't forget to oil that bike chain. You have a long time until next winter. Enjoy your days in the sun.
    Here is a list of some of my favorite springtime exercises:
    Hiking 2-5 miles on steep terrain. Running 3 times a week on trails, lush with nature in full bloom. Weight training a few days a week, including outdoor training such as pull-ups, dips, squats and lunges in a park. Playing basketball, soccer and throwing a football with friends. Walking, getting to know my neighborhood and surroundings better, and exploring nature when I travel. Tired of the same old exercises you do every year? Looking to try something new? Here are some unique ideas to help you spring into shape this year:
    Try a CrossFit class. Join a group fitness class. Take lessons in a sport you've never played before. Offer to walk someone's dog. Believe in yourself, knowing you can have fun while attaining your fitness goals. -Robert Cheeke — Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University - author of the best-selling book Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness — The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet
    Robert Cheeke

    As I contemplated topics to write about for this article and subsequently procrastinated for a while, I realized my procrastination and contemplation were likely resulting from my current state of mind. “Starting Over” is such an oxymoron expression coming from me, based on my persona, my past articles for this magazine, and my passion for not waiting for New Year's Resolutions to set new goals, but rather setting new goals today, continuing where you left off. If I can help it, I rarely ever put myself in a position to start over. I prefer to continue, to refine, to improve, to advance, and to grind it out, not start over from ground zero. Starting over doesn't necessary speak to me, but recently I've had to start listening to that voice that I did my best to ignore for so long. After four glorious years being injury-free and even boasting about my consecutive years without anything slowing me down, I experienced a rude awakening that I didn't see coming. Therefore, for this article, I'll share a story that perhaps many of you can relate to. We've all had to start over at one time or another in our lives, and this is my current starting over story.

    In late April I had a really powerful chest workout with my training partner, fellow VHF Mag columnist, Vanessa Espinoza. It was one of my best chest workouts in recent memory. The following day I flew from Denver to Los Angeles and had my strongest-ever shoulder workout at the Bodybuilding Mecca that is Venice Gold's Gym, training with one of my best friends, Will Tucker, who is a 4-time champion vegan bodybuilder featured in my latest book, Shred It!. Following those back-to-back heavy workouts was the Los Angeles Vegetarian Festival (L.A. VegFest). That morning I felt a bit off and a few hours into the show I suffered severe symptoms of food poisoning. I never ate anything at the festival, so whatever bug got me was before I even arrived. I had to leave the festival and I spent the rest of the day violently ill, nearly going to Urgent Care, and my streak of doing more than 100 push-ups and crunches per day (which I have referenced in previous articles numerous times as a source of pride of accomplishment) came to a sudden halt at 988 consecutive days, falling short of a goal I had for 1,000+ straight days. I was barely able to walk and struggled just to lie down and rest, and exercising simply wasn't an option. I was sad that my streak was over, especially because I hadn't missed a day of my consistent effort in nearly three full years, and I was inspired to get right back to work and keep going even after one missed day.
    Two days later I was back in Colorado, feeling better, and I returned to the gym. That night, just 48 hours after heaving all day, no doubt causing some stress on my spine, I tore a disc in my lower back and was immediately sidelined. My injury likely came on the heels of months of heavy lifting and some extra strain on my spine when I was ill. After more than ten doctor visits and five full weeks away from the gym, I started to feel a bit better and made a slow return to do basic machine and cable pressing movements in the gym, along with the rehabilitation exercises prescribed to me by the doctor. Rehab and recovery was going well, but then my back relapsed and I was forced to take another week off from the gym. This would continue to happen for the next two months. I would feel better and then my back would go out again. Though my exercise is very basic, limited to training chest, shoulders, and triceps with seated machine and cable presses, my overall muscle mass has more or less stayed the same. I have found ways to work around my back injury without causing any additional pain, and my weight is at an all-time high with both muscle, and admittedly, some increased body fat due to lack of regular training and cardiovascular activity. I actually think that my upper body is bigger than it has ever been because I have not trained my lower body in months, yet I am heavier than ever with an emphasis on training upper body regularly, noticing sleeves becoming tighter on my arms.


    As a former champion bodybuilder, and as a weight lifter who was just months ago setting new personal lifting records every couple of weeks, I truly am starting over. I struggle to bend over and cautiously sit down at a seated machine and move from machine to cable exercise for only three muscle groups throughout each training session. At the time of this writing, I have gone a full four months without training legs, back, or abs once, and I have only trained biceps about five times, being cautious not to lean too far forward to pick up machine or cable handles. I have avoided free weights including dumbbells and barbells for the past third of the year. As I sit in pain while I write this article, I reflect on those wonderful years when I could run, jump, bend, twist and when I had good general mobility. I am guilty of taking those abilities and experiences for granted, and now I am starting over, at times trying to figure out the best way to sit in a chair or climb into a car to avoid aggravating pinched nerves throughout my back, hip, and leg.
    Though I am in a rare position of starting over, I remain positive amid all the ups and downs and uncertainty about what any given week will bring. I even feel like some of my recent flexing photos are some of my all-time best, weighing in at over 200 pounds with the biggest upper body I have ever owned. I guess the moral of my story is that even if we don't want to start over, life sometimes has other plans, and we have to be flexible and accommodate new situations and make the best of them. I'm still training, working on a new book, and staying focused on a bright future, even if I've had to slow down a bit and reflect on how I got here and what I need to do to get where I want to go. If you are currently starting over in any area of health and fitness, setting New Year's Resolutions starting from scratch, realize that you're not alone and that many of us have been there or are currently going down the same path. Stay positive, stay motivated, stay hungry, and follow your passion and make it happen. See you at the finish line.
    - Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Shred It! and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness — www.veganbodybuilding.com.

    Robert Cheeke

    As a vegan coach and nutritionist for aspiring athletes, fitnesscompetitors, and CrossFit contenders, I often hear from those who have adesire to get in the best shape of their life. The caveat is some would liketo do this on a completely plant-based whole foods diet, with nosupplements. Now, I do believe in the power of plants as much as the nextadamant vegan, but I think harping on the idea that vegans do not need tosupplement ever is doing more harm than good for our movement. Now, before Igo any further:

    Disclaimer:

    The material provided in this article is designed for informational andeducational purposes only. The information in this article is providedwith the understanding that Ed Bauer and veganbodybuilding.com are notengaged in rendering medical advice or recommendation. You should not relyon any information in this article to replace consultations with qualifiedhealthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.Information accessible in this article, including Ed Bauer’s fitnessconcepts and nutrition information, is not individualized and is notintended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Thisinformation is general in nature and may be helpful to some persons butnot others, depending upon individual needs. Individuals should neverdisregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because ofsomething you have read in this article.



    Now that I have that out of the way, here is a list of my three favoritesupplements and why:

    1. DHA/EPA

    2. D3

    3. ZMA

    DHA/EPA (Algae-Based)
    DHA/EPA are types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which are deemed essential becausethe body cannot produce them. The body can convert a very small percentageof the ALA omega-3s found in flax, chia, savi seeds, and walnuts intoDHA/EPA, but this does not provide as much as we can benefit from. DHAaccounts for up to 40% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and 60% ofthe omega-3 fatty acids in the retina. Taking DHA-rich algal oil willpreserve brain function for the future by building the foundations ofhealthy cognition.
    DHA/EPA has an anti-oxidant and exercise related anti-inflammatory nature toit. These fatty acids exert an anti-inflammatory response by competing witharachidonic acid, which forms pro-inflammatory compounds. Since highintensity exercise and weight lifting causes increases in inflammation andoxidation, reducing this response may be beneficial in improving exerciserecovery. However, the research has yet to fully examine this angle ofDHA/EPA supplementation. Supplementing with DHA/EPA has been shown tosupport muscle protein synthesis and limit protein degradation. This meansit has a positive effect on building lean mass.
    DHA/EPA are also suggested to support insulin function and increase glucoseand fatty acid uptake into muscle cells. This may help partition nutrientstoward muscle and away from fat, improving overall body composition andproviding more fuel to the muscle during workouts. DHA/EPA have beensuggested to increase cardiac output and stroke volume, which may helpsupport healthy blood flow and exercise performance. Being that our bodiescannot create enough of these essential fatty acids, I find that there isplenty of evidence to justify adding this valuable supplement to my regimen.
    Vitamin D3 (Lichen-Based)
    Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a host of medical conditions such ascardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, autoimmunedisease and cancer. Of course, we can get Vitamin D from sun exposure, butmany of us don’t get enough of it because of winter months, cloudy weather,or simply too much time indoors.
    There are two forms of vitamin D available in supplemental form: vitamin D2(ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). D3 is the form that isproduced in our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. Traditionally, D3supplements have been non-vegan, usually produced from lanolin (a product ofsheep’s wool). It was recently discovered that the microorganism lichenproduces D3, so vegan D3 is now also available. D2 (ergocalciferol) is thesynthetic form of vitamin D in many supplements. There has been somecontroversy over whether D2 and D3 are equivalent at raising blood vitamin Dlevels and bringing about the health benefits associated with vitamin Dadequacy.
    Many studies have been published showing that D3 is more efficient atraising the body's vitamin D levels. Studies show that D2 gets partiallydeactivated by the kidneys, while D3 remains active. This simply means thatif you supplement with D3, you are actually getting what you expect from thevitamin. Vitamin D directly influences over 200 genes in our body. Beingthat it is partially responsible for the prevention of many autoimmuneconditions such as MS, Crohn's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus (or'lupus') and rheumatoid arthritis, I find it a worthy addition.
    ZMA
    ZMA is a combination ofzinc,magnesiumandvitamin B6. It is most often used as a recovery aid. Studies show that ZMA helps thebody achieve deeper levels ofREM sleepand indirectly raises testosterone and growth hormone. Although B6 is easyto obtain through diet, many are low in zinc and more than 50% of Americansdo not get enough magnesium. Zinc is important because low levels lead to anincrease in estrogen receptors and a decrease in androgen receptors. Zinc isnecessary for androstenedione to be converted to T(Testosterone). Low zincmay increase aromatization of T to estrogen, just like vitamin D. The maleprostate tissue requires 10 times more zinc than other cells in the body forhealth.
    Magnesium is important for many reasons as well. It assists with forcefulmuscle contractions during exercise. It relaxes the central nervous systemand plays a primary role in cardiovascular health. It promotes blood sugarregulation to assist in energy production and prevent diabetes. It alsostimulates better quality sleep. B6 helps with the absorption of zinc andmagnesium.
    For all of these reasons, I have supplemented with some version of thiscombo for years. Whether you’re vegan or not, these specific nutrients willassist in optimizing health, which leads to better workouts, betterrecovery, and a leaner, stronger physique.
    _____________________
    References:
    Poliquin Group™ Editorial Staff. "Benefits of a DHA Rich Diet."Poliquingroup.com. 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 05 June 2014. .
    Weider, Ben. Weider, Joe. The Edge New York: Avery, a member ofPenguin Putnam, Inc., 2002. Print.
    Fuhrman, Joel, M.D. "Should I Take Vitamin D2 or Vitamin D3?"DrFuhrman.com. DrFuhrman.com, Inc., n.d. Web. 05 June 2014.
    Welcome Trust. "Vitamin D Found to Influence over 200 Genes, HighlightingLinks to Disease." ScienceDaily.com. 24 Aug. 2010. Web. 05 June 2014.
    Poliquin™ Editorial Staff. "Five Simple Ways to Raise Testosterone Levelsfor Better Body Composition & Optimal Health." Poliquingroup.com. 4Oct. 2012. Web. 05 June 2014.
    Ed Bauer

    Summer is the favorite time of year for most people around the world. It represents warmth, outdoor activities, vacations, time off from school, longer and sunnier days, and often includes more family gatherings, road trips and camping. Spending time on a lake, hiking a mountain often covered in snow other times of the year, and outdoor cooking; summer represents freedom. Nothing brings us back to our youth in an instant like recalling the summers of years past. We had the opportunity to do and be who we wanted. We had time on our hands and what we did with our time revealed what our true interests were. We exercised for the fun of it, not because it was on our schedule or part of our health and wellness program or because it was a chore we felt obligated to complete three to five times a week. We exercised outside because we loved it.
    Some of the greatest times of my life were summers spent playing baseball with my younger brother, riding bikes with friends, climbing fruit trees on the farm I grew up on and soccer tournaments with my teammates. When I first really got into fitness beyond just the fun games with siblings and friends, summer was when I was at my best. I had all day to ride my bike, run, and do push-ups and sit-ups. Often, I'd do all four exercises totaling around 10 miles run, 20 miles biked, 1000 sit-ups and a couple hundred push-ups completed in a single day. Ahhh, those were the days. Summer brings back memories, doesn't it?

    In some parts of the world summer passes quickly and slips by us with a fading memory of what lasted far too briefly. Others of us are more fortunate to have long summers and summer-like weather year-round. Whether gone in a flash or there for the long haul, we embrace this season of outdoor fun.
    Summer is indeed back and I'm excited! Not just for the bounty of local fruit I know I'll be picking directly from the trees, bushes and vines in the pacific northwest, but because I'll be doing a significant amount of my exercise outdoors. Summer is back and I'm training mine at the park. Pull-ups a plenty, I'll be building my back up this summer using the resources around me from tree limbs to playgrounds to local gyms from Oregon to Canada.
    Nomadic by nature, I'm constantly living life on the road. Relocating every six months or so, I move with the weather. Summers are spent up north and winters are spent down south and spring and fall tend to find me in summer-like places more often than the opposite. I believe the world is too big with too much to explore for me to stay in one place for very long. I might miss something standing still so I live in constant motion. That means I'm always finding new environments to train in. New gyms, new communities, new running trails, new parks and playgrounds, and a new life every few months, that's how I roll.


    With the change in season and the upgrade in attitude among many, this is an inspiring time of year. Summer is back. How is yours? Not your summer, but your back? Who's watching your back this summer? Probably a lot of people, if you're out and about, especially making trips to the beach or the pool. What's your game plan to get your back on track? Take this magazine with you on a trip to your local park and I'll help you get back into the swing of things.
    The following are some of my favorite back exercises to perform at the park:
    Find a pull-up bar, a soccer goal cross bar, or some other bar to hang from to perform the following: Wide-grip pull-ups - 3-5 sets of as many reps as you can do Narrow grip pull-ups - 3-5 sets of as many reps as you can do Chin-ups (reverse grip pull-ups) - 3-5 sets of as many reps as you can do If the park has monkey bars, by all means, get back to your ancestor's roots and start swinging. Any opportunity to hold your own bodyweight up and move your body from one area to another just using your limbs will train your back along with your arms, core and other muscles. If you can find something to climb up, even a short rock wall, that too will train your back and your reflexes if you're not yet an experienced climber.


    To train your back, you need to be able to pull, row or lift something. Though pull-ups are one of the best exercises you can do period, that is about the extent of your options at a park or playground when training back. Even if that is all you did to train your back, with enough sets, you'd have an amazingly strong and muscular back over time. When I have limited resources, I find a pull-up bar and spend an hour doing as many sets with as many varying grips and hand positions as possible and I get really strong and defined which is perfect for summer time. Which way to the beach you ask? Allow me to show you.
    When you get into a gym, the following are some exercises I recommend to train your back:
    Deadlifts - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
    Bent-over rows - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
    Cable or machine rows - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
    Dumbbell or barbell shrugs - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
    One arm dumbbell rows - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
    I usually choose about five exercises to perform three to five sets of eight to twelve reps per set. I aim to select exercises which will target all different areas of my back. Looking at the list above you'll see there are a lot of exercises targeting the lower back, middle back, lats and even the upper back and shoulders. Since pull-ups were already completed at the park, I omitted out pull-ups or lat pull-downs from this list. These are just five of many exercises you could perform for back. Choose your own favorites, assemble half a dozen or so to complete in a given workout and have at it.
    Other favorite back exercises include:
    T-bar rows
    Lower back extensions
    Wide-grip cable rows
    One arm Hammer Strength rows
    High rows
    Low rows
    Lat pull-downs
    Even though the days are longer, the summer is still too short to remain indoors. Stay in constant motion this summer. You never know what you might miss while standing still. Summer is back. Get yours ready.
    Robert Cheeke

    Super Vegan Burgers
    by Robert Cheeke, February 28th, 2004 Yields 12 large burgers

    1 C. Tofu, mashed
    1 C. Tomato Paste
    1/4 C. Oil
    1 T. Hickory Smoke (optional)
    1 ½ T. Mustard
    1 T. Garlic Powder
    1 T. Onion Powder
    1 T. Salt-Free Spike


    1 ½ C. Oats
    ½ C. Sunflower Seeds, ground
    2 T. Bragg's or Tamari
    2 ½ C. Seitan, ground
    1/4 C. Nutritional Yeast
    1 T. Spike Seasoning
    2 ½ C. Cooked Millet

    1. In a food processor, using the "S" shaped blade, whiz together all of the ingredients in the first column. Set aside in a bowl.

    2. In the same food processor, grind the oats and sunflower seeds to a fine meal. Add to the bowl.

    3. Grind the seitan, using the "S" shaped blade, and then add to the mixture.

    4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Form into large-sized burger patties and place on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until cooked, about 35-45 minutes.
    Robert Cheeke

    Many of us groan as we enter into February, one of the heaviest (and daunting) "Hallmark" months of the year. Whether you're single or in a relationship, this "holiday" brings stress--the strain of not having a special someone to share the day with, or finding the right gift, card, and dinner spot. What good does this day do anyone trying to get fit and be healthier? Not a lot. I mean, I love a good vegan dessert, but these highly commercialized (processed) "chocolates" in heart-shaped boxes, stuffed animals, and bizzare light up cups and pens made in sweat shops are really not crucial to a love-life, am I right? Personally, I think it's all kind of a big joke, no offense to anyone, because I just see it as a way to make businesses money, and cause people to feel worse about themselves. So, I've decided to skip the negative, unnecessary Valentine's day chaos, and focus, instead, on the incredible opportunities lying before me.


    Since November, I have been able to go harder than ever in the gym. I am driven and determined. My compassion is at an all time high, which has my passions soaring. 2013 was a rough year in a lot of ways for me, and especially the mid to latter months where I was unable eat consistently and didn't have a gym membership. I lost a lot of weight, and started to really hate what I was seeing in the mirror. My body naturally wants to be thin, and I tend to struggle to gain and maintain muscle.
    So, after feeling like I'd lost everything I'd fought so hard for in the past few years, I finally was in a financial position to get a gym membership and I began eating 2x's a day. Then as time progressed, I was able to afford 3 meals a day, and now I'm eating like I should be to gain muscle. It is still disappointing to step on the scale and be 3 lbs less than I was at my last competition, but I'm gaining and I intend to keep up this momentum. I also just remind myself I'm up about 10 of the 15 lbs lost, and that is nothing to be ashamed of!
    How am I doing this competition prep for 2014?
    FOOD:
    I have a specific meal plan that I'm not at liberty to share, but this is a basic overview of a standard competitor's food bank. I tend to start my day with either oatmeal or rice cakes, protein, unsweetened (non-GMO) soy milk, and some fruit, and then I head to the gym. I get my BCAA's in while I'm lifting, and chug another scoop as soon as I'm done, then proceed to the protein shake--with unsweetened (non-GMO & no carageenan) soy milk if possible. Then, I'm eating tofu, tempeh, seitan, veggies, and sweet potatoes, rice, or lentils, beans, and fruit to replenish. And, before bed, another protein shake. At first this was really hard for me. I didn't want to eat, and there are days when I just don't think I can eat anymore, but I do. I've got to if I want to see the gains I am set on making.
    *If you need a meal plan, I highly recommend Dani Taylor of www.veganproteins.com and Vegan Powerhouse Physiques.


    REST:
    I take a day off, ocassionally two if I've got an injury. Also, I'm sleeping as much as my schedule allows. Again, at this stage, with as much work as I'm putting into my body project, I would be a fool to not sleep enough. Rest is imperative, and our bodies respond beautifully to it!
    GYM:
    I am proud to annouce that for the first time since 2009 I have a training plan made by someone else, thanks to Tiffany Burich ([email protected]), a fellow teammate on Team Plant Built who also works with Vegan Powerhouse Physiques! Why? Because, one cannot continue on in the same fashion with the expectation of gaining different results, and I am a headstrong individual, so I needed to make changes While I am not at liberty to share my specific routines, I will say this: they are very different than what I was doing. My muscles are constantly being shocked, and this will inevitably bring about progress in my gains and muscular definition--which is WHY I'm working out in the first place!
    ATTITUDE & EDUCATION:
    In order for us to continue to grow, we need not only focus on the external, we must turn our attention to our internal person as well. Daily I am reading up on fitness, exercises, the chemistry of the body, as well as animal liberation and human rights. For me this is a journey, I may never attain what I see as perfection, but I will fight for liberation and equality until the day I die. Getting on stage for competitions is one of many steps along the way, but every step is crucial, and so I dedicate not only my body to the cause, but also my mind and my heart. Furthermore, I train my attitude and perspective. I struggle, just like anyone, and am not exempt from having a sour mood. But, I have diligently surrounded myself with others whose minds, bodies, and souls are in line with mine, whose attitudes are, more often than not, upbeat and positive. I can check in to social media and within minutes be re-inspired and have my spirits lifted.


    I share all of these things because I have found when all these aspects are working harmoniously as one I am better equipped to face whatever comes my way. As an athlete, spokesmodel, entreprenuer, writer, dancer, singer, song-writer, etc, oh, yeah, a HUMAN BEING there is nothing more empowering than being prepared to fight for hte cause when I need to fight, to remain calm when silence is appropriate, and to never, ever lose sight of the passion for compassion--to realize that if I am lacking in an area, I am, therefore, not giving my all to what I have chosen as my life work.
    Everyday holds the possiblity of love, compassion and growth. So, as Valentine's Day approaches, perhaps keep in mind that this one random day does not define you, and that for those us living cruelty-free, we celebrate love everyday, in every way, and not just once a year, or on special occasions. Work to bring balance into all aspects of your life, and just watch what you can do. Summary of advice: Get those greens, lift that metal, sleep, do the vegan hustle and live the love--You've got this!
    Mindy Collette

    Teriyaki Vegetable Rice
    by Robert Cheeke, February 28th, 2004
    Serves 6-8

    Teriyaki Sauce
    2 T. Fresh Ginger, grated or 1 T. Ginger Powder
    6 Garlic Cloves, minced
    2 T. Sesame Oil

    3 C. Pineapple-Papaya Juice
    ½ C. Tamari
    2 t. Mustard (dry)
    ½ t. Cayenne Pepper

    1. Combine all the above ingredients in a blender. Blend well and set aside.

    2 Bunches Young Asparagus (fresh)
    4 T. Arrowroot Powder
    4 C. Teriyaki Sauce (see above)
    2 T. Sesame Oil
    2 C. Broccoli Flowerets
    2 C. Carrots, chopped

    2 C. Cauliflower, chopped
    1 Red Onion, peeled, cored & halved & cut into 1/4 `` strips
    4-5 C. Basmati Rice (cooked)
    4 T. Sesame Seeds, toasted in a dry skillet until lightly browned

    2. Gently bend each asparagus stalk to break off the tough, woody ends. Cut the stems diagonally into 1 ½-2-inch sections, leaving 2 inches of tips. Separate thicker lower stems from the thinner upper stems and tips.

    3. Dissolve the arrowroot in 2 cups of the teriyaki sauce. Set aside. Heat half of the sesame oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add thicker asparagus stalks and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add 1 C. teriyaki sauce (without arrowroot). Cover and cook 2 minutes, or until vegetables are almost tender. Then remove from pan, cover and set aside.

    4. Add remaining sesame oil to skillet and heat. Add remaining asparagus and red onion. Stir-fry 2-4 minutes. Add the last cup of teriyaki sauce (without arrowroot). Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

    5. Now add teriyaki sauce containing arrowroot to skillet and simmer 1-2 minutes, stirring.

    6. Add vegetables that have been set aside, stirring continuously until sauce thickens.

    7. Serve immediately over basmati race with toasted sesame seeds.

    Robert Cheeke

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