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    Older articles from the original Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness website.
    Vegan Fitness Model Denise Nicole from Ocean City, Maryland, United States of America competed on Saturday, March 1st, on the Muscular Development Stage at the Expo Center at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio. The competition was by invitation only, and only 10 fitness models from all over the world were chosen to compete in the Muscular Development Fitness Model event. The Arnold Classic is considered the largest Sports Competition and Expo the World over. Denise Nicole competes in Bodybuilding Competitions throughout the year in the Fitness Model and Figure divisions. You can find more on Denise Nicole and her upcoming schedule at DeniseNicole.com
    VeganBodybuilding.com Interview:
    What was it like competing at the largest fitness festival in the world?
    Simply Incredible! I could feel the energy from the massive crowd when I took the stage, creating a phenomenal adrenaline rush. Receiving the invitation to compete was simply amazing given the amount of fitness models, bodybuilders and figure competitors who wanted the spot. I absolutely love the stage and having the opportunity to compete was mind-blowing.

    How did the event go?
    The event was fantastic. The Muscular Development Team and the MC's Jose Canseco and Triple H, did a wonderful job. After the competition, several from the crowd were pulling on my arm for photographs, so I was asked by the promoters to stay to accommodate the wonderful people attending the event.

    Any favorite moments from the fitness weekend?
    Working with the Muscular Development Team, & Members of Vegan Bodybuilding (my roomies) as well as meeting some of the most accomplished names in the industry was such a joy and a pleasure.

    Anyone you'd like to thank?
    Absolutely! Members from the Muscular Development Team, Dave Palumbo and John Romano. ARL Industries Aurther L Rae, for helping to sponsor the competition. Triple H and Jose Canseco for MCing the event. My room mates from VeganBodybuilding.com, who put up with me the entire weekend and helped me to prepare for the event, Robert Cheeke, Ravi, and Josh. My trainer who has been with me every step of the way Robbie Hazeley. And finally, all my friends and fans I have made along the way. The PM's, and e-mails I receive give me strength and encouragement to continue what I do. Knowing I am influencing others for the better is exactly why I do what I do.

    What's next for you? Any upcoming events?
    I have several modeling venues coming up as well as several competitions this year, which will be regularly updated on my site DeniseNicole.com I invite anyone in the area to come out and watch! I look forward to meeting you.
    Current Competition Dates are:
    April 5, 2008 - Philadelphia, PA
    OCB Natural Bodybuilding Association Classic
    April 26, 2008 - Baltimore, MD
    OCB Eastern Regional
    June 28, 2008 - Wilmington, DE
    OCB Central Eastern Seaboard States
    August 9, 2008 - Washington, DC
    OCB Presidential Cup (IFPA Bodybuilding & Figure Pro Qualifier)
    August 16, 2008 - Norfolk, VA
    OCB Tidewater Physique Classic with the Norfolk Military Championships
    August 23, 2008 - Trenton, NJ
    OCB Mid-Atlantic Classic (IFPA Bodybuilding & Figure Pro Qualifier)
    October 18, 2008 - Baltimore, MD
    OCB Charm City Classic (IFPA Bodybuilding & Figure Pro Qualifier)
    November 15, 2008 - Washington, DC
    OCB Nationals (IFPA Bodybuilding & Figure Super Pro Qualifier)

    Anything you would like too add?

    Yes, I will continue on my journey to break down pre-conceived notions regarding vegans and bodybuilding. Every competition, every modeling venue I do I break those notions down and shatter them into pieces. Proving every day that I can thrive in the fitness world! I am also now working as a personal trainer, and provide nutrition and training programs for a gambit of people for both men and women, from body building competitors, to triathletes, to the everyday person who wants to live a healthy life style. Making a difference is an extremely satisfying feeling. I will continue to do public speaking venues on fitness as well as veganism and the health benefits of a healthy vegan diet & regular fitness program. Healthy eating and fitness is a lifestyle not a temporary fix.
    Robert Cheeke


    Vegan Pizza

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    Vegan Pizza
    by Robert Cheeke, February 28th, 2004
    Yields one large pizza

    Cheesy Topping
    1/3 C. Oil
    1 lb. Tofu
    4 T. Nutritional Yeast
    4 T. Water
    1/3 C. VeganRella
    2 T. Bragg's or Tamari

    1 Active Dry Yeast Packet
    2 C. Warm Water
    2 T. Sweetener
    2 t. Olive Oil
    2 ½ C. Whole Wheat Flour
    2 t. Sea Salt

    Tomato Sauce
    2 T. Fresh or Dried Basil and Oregano
    Vegetables of Choice
    Grated VeganRella Mozzarella

    1. In a food processor, blend all the Cheesy Topping Ingredients. Set aside.

    2. Dissolve yeast in ½ cup of warm water with 1 T. of sweetener. Set in a draft-free place for approx. 15 minutes, until the yeast is activated and almost doubled in size.

    3. While yeast rises, thoroughly mix together the flour and salt. Mix the remaining 1 ½ C. water and oil, separately. Mix together the dry and the wet ingredients, adding the activated yeast last.

    4. Turn out dough on a flat, floured surface and begin to knead. (If the dough is too wet and sticks to your fingers, add more flour). Knead about 10 minutes until dough is smooth. Cover and let sit in a warm (not hot), draft-free place for 20-30 minutes.
    5. Punch down and let rise again for 45 minutes until doubled in size. Roll into two small or one large circle, or rectangle depending on your pan. After rolling out the dough, let sit for another 25 minutes.

    6. Spread the tomato sauce on the risen dough and then the cheesy topping. Sprinkle with herbs and grated VeganRella for an extra 'cheesy' treat. Top with veggies. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the bottom of the crust is golden brown.
    Robert Cheeke

    Vegan Power Training by Ryan Wilson
    February 28th, 2004
    Let's face it - not everyone is built the same. Looking through bodybuilding magazines, we see endless routines that promise massive amounts of size by doing 50 sets of exercises for a single body part. Sure, if you're a body is designed for high-reps, if you're a genetic freak or using a little "something extra" you might be able to make gains on these kind of routines, but for us mere mortals such things often just won't work. After a few years of burning myself out doing endless sets of bench presses, pulldowns, leg presses and such I found myself worn out and sluggish and, sure enough, I didn't gain much more than a lack of motivation to get back into the gym due to my poor progress. Finally, I had to question what I was doing and what I had been told for so long. "You need to do 8-12 reps to gain mass", "You can't get huge without eating non-stop", "You need supplements to get big", "If you don't eat meat, you can't possibly develop good strength in your lifts"... the list goes on and on of everyone saying what can't be done, making us believe that we're all needing the same diet, exercises, reps and sets if we want to make progress. Well, it may have taken a few years of trial and error, but I've seen the light, and now I well know that what works for "the pros" or the huge guy down at the gym in all likelihood will not work for the rest of us. I'm going to outline a bit about how to make a radical change to your program if you've been on the same course I once was with bad progress, and who knows, if you try it you might just be surprised at the results!

    Let me start with saying one thing - just because every magazine seems to reiterate the same statements on training and diet, don't take it as gospel. The plan I'm about to outline will be rather different from what you're used to seeing and reading, and although it is very contradictory to much of the common "knowledge" I've seen firsthand that for some (such as myself) it is the way to go. As they say, don't knock it 'til you try it! Though, if you are on a program that's been treating you well as far as payout for the effort you're putting in, by all means don't drop it until it starts to lose effectiveness. Nothing lasts forever, so if it is doing you well then keep at it. Now, on to the program!

    Okay, this will seem very strange to some of you, but here's the basis for the program - you're going to do only 5 sets per body part, no more than 2 body parts per workout for a maximum of 10 sets while you're in the gym, the exception being the grip work day. I know, some of you do twice that many sets for your bicep work alone, but this program is about building solid core strength and moving heavier weights to build yourself up, and spending 2 hours in the gym isn't part of the deal. All in all, you should be able to do this workout in 30-45 minutes at most, possibly an hour at the very longest if you take longer rest breaks between sets. It isn't how much time you're putting in at the gym that's important - the key is to make that time effective and work hard while you're there. And, as the added bonus, in spending less time lifting you can do more of the other things you enjoy, so for those on tight schedules this is another nice thing.

    For your sets and reps, here's what you'll want to do:

    You're going to be doing 2 progressive warm-up sets followed by 3 work sets. All sets will be 5 reps each, no more, no less. As with any program where you will be using a different rep scheme you might need to play around a bit to find your 5-rep max, but once you get it you'll want to make note for where your starting point is.

    For your first warm-up set, you'll want to use around 50% of your 1 rep max. For example, if you can do a max barbell bench press with 300 lbs., you'll want to do your first warm-up with around 150 lbs. If anything, go slightly lower to something like 135 lbs., but definitely not higher. Your second set should be around 75% of your 1 rep max. Again, if you can bench 300, your second warm-up set will be 5 reps at around 225 lbs. Though, as I said earlier, not everyone is the same, and you may have to do some figuring out what works best for you to get this right. With this in mind, you're going to want to do your next 3 sets with between 82 and 88% of your 1 rep max, depending on what you can handle. I know people who can bench 10 reps with 85% of their 1RM, and others who can barely get out 4 reps - this is where you've got to experiment and find out where you can make 5 reps per set.

    Need to figure out the effort that will go into these sets so you'll know more about the weight to use? Here's the key - your first set of 5 will be tough, but you'll feel like you might have been able to get out one more last rep if you really fought for it. Your second set should be pretty much where you know that you couldn't get another rep without failure. Your third set...well...if you're not giving it 100% and coming extremely close to failure (or failing!) then you need to go up in weight. We want the last set to be incredibly difficult - and if you need a spotter to help you out after the 4th rep or if you need to get in a few breaths before the final one, so be it. But, you need to work with everything you've got to get that last rep out and done with so you can wrap everything up! And, the last question to be answered is, how do you know when to add more weight? The answer to this one is easy - when you can get that 5th rep out on the last set and not need any assistance to get it there, nor do you need to take a breather before getting it out - that's how you know you're ready. If you can blow through it with little difficulty then you're ready to move on. But, make sure to move slowly and steadily - just add 5 lbs. each time to keep progressing with minimal chance of injury or mental setbacks due to not having a good day of progress. However, if you feel that your progress is moving extremely quickly, toss on another few pounds and have at it; at the worst, you'll just have to drop down to the intended weight again.

    Okay - now you know your sets and reps, but what about exercises? Well, being as you're doing limited reps and sets you don't want to be doing anything less than heavy compound movements while you're in the gym. You're not going to see great results from this if you're doing cable crossovers and dumbbell lateral raises, so we'll be ditching these types of exercises completely and going with the big ones. Rather than force you to do the same exercises I did, I'll throw out some options for you to pick from. Here's the list of exercises you can use:

    Chest - Barbell flat bench, barbell incline bench, dumbbell flat bench, dumbbell incline bench

    Upper back - Barbell rows, dumbbell rows, weighted pull-ups (if you can do at least 5 reps for 3 sets)

    Lower Back - Deadlifts (there aren't a whole lot of choices on this one)

    Legs - Back squats, front squats, leg press ONLY if you don't have access to a squat rack

    Shoulders - Barbell military presses, barbell clean and press (if you want to get some added kick to your lifting), barbell push presses, dumbbell shoulder presses, one-arm dumbbell push presses

    Trapezius work - Power cleans, hang cleans, dumbbell or barbell shrugs

    Grip work - Farmer's walks, barbell or dumbbell static holds, plate pinch gripping

    We're going to leave arm work at your discretion - but here's the deal - you can only work arms once per week at most, no more than 3 sets total for either biceps or triceps (1 warm-up, 2 work sets each.) For arm work, choices are barbell curls, reverse barbell curls, dumbbell hammer curls and alternating dumbbell curls. I did arm work only once almost every 2 weeks and saw my strength rise dramatically, so don't worry if you don't get to do it much because you shouldn't lose any strength along the way.

    Now that I've outlined the exercises for this program, I suppose that the last thing you'll need to know is the schedule for your lifting. Here's the plan -

    Since you're going to be going all-out on this one you'll need plenty of recovery time. Therefore, you'll be lifting every other day so as to get a full day's rest in between. To some this will seem very different, especially if you're in the gym 5 days per week, but once you give your body more time to rest you'll be likely to see greater gains. Now, here's the schedule starting on a Sunday:

    Sunday - Chest and Upper Back

    Monday - Off

    Tuesday - Legs and Shoulders (arms if you feel the need)

    Wednesday - Off

    Thursday - Lower back, Trapezius and Grip work

    Friday - Off

    Saturday - return to Chest and Upper Back, start cycle again

    Easy enough, isn't it? Nothing excessively technical, nothing too drastic, but rather a return to roots lifting where the main goal is to develop increased strength and size in the most efficient manner. What I also recommend is that if you're up to see the overall gains, spend a week or two after you finish this program to test your 1 or 2 rep max in all your choice lifts. If all goes well, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

    Diet is another key point - as common sense dictates, if you don't eat more calories than you expend you won't see much in the way of gains, so if you need to tweak you diet a bit then definitely get it set before beginning the program. I'm unusual compared to many - I weigh in at around 245-250 lbs. and I can make gains on as little as 3200 calories per day. I also knew a guy who couldn't put on 3 lbs. in a year eating twice as much, and he only weighed in at 195. Again, everyone is different, so you'll need to learn how much you can eat to maintain your weight and try to tack on 300-1000 more calories per day, depending on how your body handles it. Go low if you put on weight easily, go high if you can't seem to put on weight without difficulty. If you put on too much weight too quickly and feel excessively bloated on the high end of the spectrum then drop the calories a bit - it always takes some experimenting to get just the right amount. Follow the usual rules of small to medium sized meals throughout the day, a decent amount of protein (though I only consume around 150-220g/day and not the usual recommendation of 1g per lb. of bodyweight.), get in a good mix of unsaturated fats and quality carbohydrates and you should see things work in your favor. I didn't do anything in the way of supplementation other than getting the occasional strong coffee shortly before lifting, but if you're interested in adding something like creatine or glutamine then by all means do so. Protein drinks are always helpful, so if you have a hard time eating conveniently then stock up on soy protein (or any other animal-free form) and have at it!

    How well did this program work for me? Here's a quick layout of what I'd gained in doing this program for 8 weeks:

    Squats - I hadn't squatted in almost a year due to a bad knee, but coming back out again I was able to get back up to 300 x 5 from having a difficult time with 225 x 5 on my first week. Not spectacular, but I can now squat deep and not feel any joint pain!

    Deadlifts - I'd been stuck at 465 for my max for a while, and managed to budge the number up to 485 after the program (not every week was a success as far as increased weight, but looking at the total in the end a 20 lb. increase is quite nice!)

    Bench - I've always been a horrible bencher and hadn't done barbell bench pressing in nearly 2 years, but from a previous best at 250 from the start I was able to increase up to 285 for a max single.

    Push press - Shoulders were always a weak spot for me, and I started out with 165 x 5 on my first week. By the end of 8 weeks of putting extra effort into my shoulder workout, I managed to push press 230 x 3 for a huge gain. It just goes to show, when you spend the time on the weak points you'll see the gains come quickly!

    Barbell and Dumbbell rows - My back was another weak spot for me - decent in size but strength was weak. I had a hard time doing 225 x 5 in the first week, but at the end I'd managed to get up to 260 x 5 and did a max of 295 x 2 for barbell rows.

    For one last improvement, I had always been lax in biceps work as I'd train the heck out of them for a few weeks and take a month or two off so I never had much strength for curling. I did dumbbell hammer curls once every 10-12 days on the program and managed to set a PR of 85 lb. dumbbells for 3 reps each arm, which is around 15 lbs. more than I was capable of doing before. It goes to show, sometimes you don't need to do frequent work for a body part, but consistency and intelligent hard work are will make all the difference.

    So, in conclusion, if your training is in need of a serious overhaul, this might just be what you need to kick-start yourself back to getting the results you need. If you're like me and had bad results with tons of high-rep/high set programs, what have you got to lose? While you're at it you might just discover that lower reps and sets are the key to your progress. Good luck in your training, and if you decide to try this program be sure to send your results in when you're through - I'd love to hear back on how well it worked for you!

    Ryan Wilson

    Finally, I'd like to credit Brooks Kubik, author of Dinosaur Training as being a great influence on changing my lifting habits. Sometimes you've got to ditch everything you've been told and get a fresh perspective to get back on the road to progress - even if that perspective is from way before your time. If you haven't had the chance to read this book, by all means go out and get it when you can! Ryan Wilson

    Vegan Protein Sources
    by Thomas Stearns Lee, NMD, October 11th , 2004

    Plant foods contain the same eight amino acids as animal foods do, only in differing amounts. As long as you are getting enough calories from a healthy diet, plant foods give you all the amino acids you need, by themselves or in combination with one another.

    Foods listed below are considered complete proteins, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids:


    Soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy milk

    Sprouted seeds -- each type of sprout has differing proportions of nutrients, so it's best to eat a variety of them

    Grains, especially amaranth and quinoa, are highest in protein and are high-quality proteins

    Beans and legumes, especially when eaten raw

    Spirulina and chorella (blue-green algae), which are over 60 percent protein

    Common Sources of Essential Amino Acids
    Histidine: Apple, pomogranates, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion, endive, garlic, radish, spinach, turnip greens.

    Arginine: Alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green vegetables, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, nutritional yeast.

    Valine: Apples, almonds, pomegranates, beets, carrots, celery, dandelion greens, lettuce, okra, parsley, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, turnips, nutritional yeast.

    Tryptophan: Alfalfa, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, chives, dandelion greens, endive, fennel, snap beans, spinach, turnips, nutritional yeast.

    Threnoine: Papayas, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, green leafy vegetables such as celery, collards, kale, and lettuce (especially iceberg), lima beans, laver (Nori -- a sea vegetable).

    Phenylalanine: Apples, pineapples, beets, carrots, parsley, spinach, tomatoes, nutritional yeast.

    Methionine: Apples, pineapples, Brazil nuts, filberts, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, dock (sorrel), garlic, horseradish, kale, watercress.

    Lysine: Apples, apricots, grapes, papayas, pears, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion greens, parsley, spinach, turnip greens.

    Leucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.

    Isoleucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.

    Information Courtesy of www.naturodoc.com Thomas Stearns Lee

    Veganism and the Environment
    Submitted by Vincenzo Desroches
    A healthy environment starts with individual choices

    Howard Lyman the American organic farmer and animal welfare activist from Great Falls, Montana said: To consider yourself an environmentalist and still eat meat is like saying you're a philanthropist who doesn't give to charity. Eating is a natural and basic act of nourishment, as well as survival. What we eat is based on what we believe about health, nutrition and wellness. Sitting down to eat a meal filled with animal agriculture is learned behavior, which seems healthy, accepted, and nutritional by some standards, but those standards may be fragments of truth, that help serve the economic well being of an industry, or a nation. It doesn't take much to realize that animal agriculture plays a devastating role in environmental issues; the inefficiency of producing food from animals is obvious. The natural products used to feed farm animals requires water, fertilizer, land and other resources, which could be used directly to produce human food.

    Dr. E. M. Ensminger, the first president of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants, and a man who devoted his life to promoting environmental awareness, explains what a vegan diet can do for our environment, as well as for world hunger: About 2,000 pounds of grains must be supplied to livestock in order to produce enough meat and other livestock products to support a person for a year, whereas 400 pounds of grain eaten directly will support a person for a year. Thus, a given quantity of grain eaten directly will feed 5 times as many people as it will if it is eaten indirectly by humans in the form of livestock products. In order to produce enough grain, animal agriculture is dependent on high yields. There is more topsoil erosion on farming land, which means crop cultivation productivity suffers. In order to keep up with the demand, more wildernesses must be converted to animal agriculture farmland. Trees and plant life, which help control Co2 emissions are cut down, and may not even be reused in an environmentally useful way.
    Pollution is a major by-product from animal agriculture

    It is a proven fact that animal waste from factory farms and large feedlots creates an enormous amount of pollution in our rivers and groundwater. A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report points out that animal agriculture contributes to other environmental problems like drinking water contamination from manure, fertilizers and pesticides. The same report also mentions that animal agriculture increases acid rain from ammonia emissions, plus there's an increase in greenhouse gas production, along with a reduction of aquifers for irrigation.
    Our soil and aquatic ecosystems are suffering and are in danger of not providing us with the essential vitamins, proteins, amino acids, and other minerals that help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. That's due to our inability to recognize that our environment is an outward expression of our thoughts and actions. A United Nations report claims that a pure vegetarian diet could fed over 6.3 billion people a year; 4.2 billion people could be fed every year if 85% of the population ate vegan, and if only 75% were vegetarian instead of animal eaters, 3.2 billion people would eat regularly. A vegan diet is not as radical as some might believe. Some vegetarians allow themselves the luxury of animal crackers now and then, and they enjoy them in a very environment friendly way.
    We thank partners like VeganCoach.com for their appreciation towards these concerns and the effort they have put forth in supporting our beloved environment. InkPal.com home for your printers ink, is dedicated to providing support to our environment mentally, as well as physically and appreciates all those who share their vision.
    Vincenzo Desroches

    It may sound contradictory, but I want to share why I like the science behind a high protein, high fat diet, commonly known as a “Meat and Nut Breakfast.” This approach to breakfast is from the world renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin. As Poliquin has very little interest in vegan nutrition, and promotes a meat-heavy Paleo Diet, I take everything he says with a grain of salt. Commonly, those belittling a plant-based diet are rarely speaking from a point of experience, but rather outdated nutritional rhetoric. As with any responsible person in the field of health and nutrition, it is my obligation to test out nutrition approaches on myself after researching peer-reviewed studies to come up with my own take on the subject. As an ethical vegan, I am committed to finding a rock solid plant-based approach to sports performance nutrition. This veganized “meat” and nut breakfast is something I have been doing (mostly) for about 4 years, which is the same amount of time I have been known in the vegan fitness community. Is that coincidence, or is there something to this approach to the first meal of the day?

    Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage over
    Trader Joe's Power Greens and Raw WalnutsWell, let's start off with analyzing what a “meat and nut breakfast” really is. This is simply a way of saying to eat a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate breakfast. This is quite different than most of the world's view that breakfast should be toast, pancakes, waffles, cereal, oatmeal, crepes, scones, muffins, and the like. This may also be why lean, strong, fit physiques aren't the norm. Some of the primary benefits of eating a high-protein, high-fat, low-glycemic meal are improved mental clarity, increased energy, better appetite control, less sugar cravings, and optimal performance in the gym. This breakfast approach will stabilize energy levels and provide clarity of mind longer, without the low blood sugar crash that always follows a low-protein breakfast. Also, both protein and fat produce higher rates of satiety, and make you feel full longer than carbohydrates. To veganize this meal, all we have to do is get rid of the dead animal flesh, and add in some vegan protein alternative, such as scrambled tofu or a Field Roast sausage or 1 cup of lentils. We want roughly 20-30 grams of protein with this first meal. The lower number is for smaller individuals and the higher number is for larger individuals. The nuts in the equation can stay nuts of course, but other healthy fats work as substitutes, such as seeds, coconut, or avocado. So, with this actually humane alternative, the protein allows for a slow and steady rise in blood sugar. The nuts provide a great source of healthy smart fats that allow the blood sugar to remain stable for an extended period of time. Nuts and seeds also provide additional protein.
    This first and most important meal sets up your entire neurotransmitter production for the rest of the day. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that dictate both your cognitive and physical function. For example, if you eat the traditional high-carb, low-protein breakfast of cereal, orange juice, and a banana, you'll trigger a large insulin spike and a quick increase in blood sugar levels. This in turn will elevate serotonin, which is relaxing, but because high-carb foods are high glycemic, these carbs either have to be burned as energy immediately, or they will be stored as body fat. This is not the desired result for most of us. This high-carb breakfast in turn leads to a swift drop in energy levels and a foggy sense of focus which is hard to recover from. This drop in blood sugar is also what causes cravings for high-sugar foods and stimulants shortly after. Protein, on the other hand, boosts dopamine and acetylcholine. These are the two neurotransmitters that give you drive and focus so you can take on the day ahead.

    Three easy foods combine to make a powerful nutritional impact!For example, a study in the journal Physiology and Behavior compared the effect of a breakfast with either a balanced (1 to 1) ratio of carbohydrates to protein, a high-protein (1 to 4) ratio, or a high-carb (4 to 1) ratio on cognitive performance and blood sugar maintenance for 3 hours after eating. Results showed that the high-protein meal produced much better cognitive performance compared to the other two meals, and the low-glycemic nature of the meal allowed for a longer, better sustained attention span in participants.
    Here is a sample 7-day rotation of the veganized “meat” and nut breakfast. If your goal is fat loss, it goes without saying that you DO NOT ADD ANYTHING TO IT in terms of food or beverage.

    Tea, coffee or herbal infusions are permissible. Non-dairy milk and juice or other liquids are not allowed.

    Day 1
    • 1-2 Gardein Chick'n Scallopini patties
    • 1 handful of macadamia nuts

    Day 2
    • 1 cup Trader Joe's french lentils (precooked)
    • 1 handful of cashew nuts

    Day 3
    • 1 Field Roast or Tofurky sausage
    • 1 handful of almonds

    Day 4
    • 1-2 servings of tempeh bacon
    • 1 handful of brazil nuts

    Day 5
    • 2 servings refried beans
    • ½ avocado
    (wrapped in a romaine leaf)
    Day 6
    • 1.5 servings Trader Joe's Beef-Less Strips
    • 1 handful of walnuts
    Day 7
    • Chocolate Chip Pecan Protein Cake (High Protein, High Fat, Low Carb)
    One of the advantages of this rotating system is that it reduces the development of food sensitivities which are known to increase cortisol in people. If you eat soy- and wheat-based foods, make sure to switch them out occasionally for beans or a protein powder such as PlantFusion. If your goal is increased weight, you can add one serving of quality whole complex carbohydrate such as oatmeal, quinoa, sprouted bread, or fruit. Anyone can add leafy or cruciferous green vegetables as they please. You may have noticed that I didn't list any protein shakes as an option for breakfast. This is simply because shakes do not stay with you as long as solid food does. The gastric emptying rate of shakes is considerably faster than whole food, which means you will find yourself hungry in less time. Stick to solid food for your first meal to truly get the beneficial effects of this approach. Try this veganized “meat” and nut breakfast for 7 days and see how your focus and energy levels are affected. I truly believe this will be your new lifelong approach to the first meal of the day!

    French Lentils with Raw Almonds and Pistachio Nuts References:
    Fischer, K., Colombani, P.C., Langhans, W., Wenk, C. (2002 December). Carbohydrate to protein ratio in food and cognitive performance in the morning. Physiology & Behavior. 75 (2002), 411-423
    Poliquin, C. (2011, June 24). The Meat and Nuts Breakfast of Champions. poliquingroup.com. Retrieved on 31 October 2013 from http://www.poliquingroup.com
    Poliquin, C. (2012, Feb. 23). Wondering What Neurotransmitters Are? poliquingroup.com. Retrieved on 31 October 2013 from http://www.poliquingroup.com
    Ed Bauer

    We are Bodybuilders
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, September 15th 2004

    When bodybuilders travel we are often on the receiving end of many odd and strange looks from the public. Not just because we have larger than average physiques, chiseled with rock hard muscle, but because we have behaviors that are foreign to most people. Observers stare and watch as we pull out protein bars from our fanny packs on the airplane and consume not one, but perhaps two or three at a time. We carry around a suspicious powder with us, only to add water, shake it up, and use it as another protein supplement to stimulate more muscle growth and enhance our physiques.

    We care not what others think because we find solace in the fact that there are thousands out there who understand our determination and struggle to maintain what we've worked so hard to achieve. It is through grueling hours of sweat, and punishing weight-training sessions, that the foundation of our muscular body is based upon. We take what we've been given and fuel ourselves with the highest quality foods produced by Mother Nature to enhance every aspect of our being. We are never satisfied with how our body looks, and we're always searching for improvements and paying close attention to detail. We are not content with our work ethic, continuously thinking of ways to demand more from ourselves.

    Moderation is not a word in our vocabulary, and we strive for as close to perfection as is possible to attain. We are not abnormal, but we stand out in a society of mediocrity and contentment with low levels of individual success. We are driven to succeed and overcome many barriers that keep the average person down and deterred from attempts to accomplish significant feats.

    We are true, passionate athletes worried not by how our competition compares to us, but how we compare to our prior selves. We are forward thinking individuals paving the road for followers who have an innate instinct to better themselves and the intrinsic motivation to pursue the bodybuilding dream. We don't just push heavy weights around; we push ourselves to our physical and mental limits. We raise the standard of excellence everywhere we go. We live to inspire others, creating dreams within them. We are warriors in the gym, chefs in the kitchen, and the masters of our own destiny, forming our own legacy.
    Robert Cheeke

    Weight Loss and Money
    April 30th, 2006
    Hello. My name is Dominique and I'm 16. I want to be a vegetarian becausenow my weight is 183 pounds. Yes its hard but i would like to know what toeat. I have five sisters and my family really likes soul food alot. It'shard for me everyday. I just would like to know what can i eat. Starting onthe basic foods for now. My mommy money is low so she can only supply alittle at a time. Sometimes I get mad and cry because it's hard to do thingslike this but I try. I'm on the volleyball team for Helen Cox High School inNew Orleans and I mad the most athlete in this sport. Thats another thingI'm working on to loose weight. But I'm asking you ca can you please help

    Hello Dominique,

    Thank you for your question. I hope you have a great volleyball season!

    There are some things you can do to reduce bodyweight through your nutrition program. Some of the important issues are processed foods vs. raw foods, total caloric intake, meal frequency, and food variety. There are also things you can through exercise and general lifestyle to reduce bodyweight. When it comes to the cost of food, there are also options to make good food very cost effective.

    Another thing that is very helpful in any transition program is to find some sort of support group. This could be an environmental club at school, or an online forum for other vegetarians or vegans, or some other group with people who share the same lifestyle and have achieved goals you are working toward, or those who are in the process of attaining the same goals. At the end of my response I will list some basic foods for you to incorporate into your nutrition program, and give you a list of online vegan communities that may be helpful to you.

    Reducing bodyweight should be done with a combination of Nutrition, Exercise and Lifestyle. I tend to think nutrition is most important, followed by exercise, followed by lifestyle, which includes stress, amount of sleep, and general activity.


    A great way to drop bodyweight is to reduce your total caloric intake. To know how many calories you are consuming, check the labels of the foods you are eating as a guide. You can also look at food charts online or in books that will give an approximate amount of calories for foods like fruits and vegetables that don't have labels. You should add up your calorie intake each day for at least a week to get an average, since each day changes based on schedule, activities, and other factors. If the total is around 2,500 calories a day for example, try cutting down to 2000-2200 calories a day. Make some sort of decrease in your food intake but don't sacrifice the high quality foods. Eliminate some of the processed or "junk" foods and keep the fruits, veggies and healthy foods in your diet.

    Another way to help drop some body weight and fat is to increase your meal frequency. Rather than eating large amounts in one sitting, consume smaller meals throughout the day. Focus on raw foods from nature such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and try to cut down on processed foods, such as chips, fries, breads, pastas, and things that have long lists of ingredients and artificial colors, flavorings, and additives. Eating smaller meals of healthy food will help increase your metabolism, your body's ability to burn fat. Eating smaller meals frequently will also keep your body feeling nourished rather than feeling extremely full or very hungry, as it could eating large meals spread out with long periods of time between them.

    Consuming a variety of foods is a key factor too. I remember when I used to just eat bagels, bread rolls, apples and a few other fruits all day long when I first became vegan 10 years ago. I didn't have any variety so it wasn't very enjoyable and my stomach was often upset from eating the heavily processed breads and refined foods. Eating foods such as green vegetables, fruits, sea vegetables, nuts, grains, and seeds will provide your body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, and all the essential nutrients you need to be healthy, without all the denatured ingredients found in processed foods.

    You can easily get your recommended daily protein intake when you are eating a variety of foods and taking in adequate calories each day. Some protein-rich foods include; tofu, soy foods, tempeh, seitian, beans, nuts, seeds, green vegetables, legumes, and protein bars or powders from hemp, pea, soy, or rice. Protein is found in small or large amounts in nearly all foods. Fruits contain very little but most other vegetarian/vegan foods have descent amounts of protein in them.


    When following a sound nutrition program, a good exercise program should go along with it. One or the other will help, but both will be more effective. The same goes for someone who is heavily involved in exercise and sports. If they don't follow a good nutrition program, they will not experience the results they could if they maximized their potential consuming healthy foods for fuel and energy.

    In general, exercising 3-5 days a week with moderate intensity for 30-90 minutes will help burn off fat and make your heart, lungs, and body healthier. It can be tough to start an exercise program if it is not something you are used to, but since you play volleyball, you probably have practices and games up to 5 days a week. That should really help burn calories and increase your overall level of fitness.

    Some of the forms of exercise I find most enjoyable are running/walking with a dog, or with a friend, or on my own, cycling or mountain biking, hiking, and playing sports such as basketball or soccer. We all have different sports interests. Whatever they are for you, try to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Sports we play are typically enjoyable for us. We play them because they are fun, often times called games. We don't think of them as exercise or training, or trying to increase our physical fitness. We just enjoy the game, the unity of being part of a team, the hard work and dedication, and the aspect of "winning" is a feeling that often keeps us doing what we like to do.

    A tip for general exercise is to do some sort of a warm-up before training. This will bring blood into the muscles and cells that are going to be used during exercise and prepare your body for an elevated level of exertion it is about to experience. Another tip is to take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator whenever possible, and to add variety to your training, just like you do with your nutrition program. Stretch to increase flexibility and cool-down by jogging, walking or cycling after exercise to bring your heart rate back down slowly.


    Lifestyle encompasses everything including what you eat, how you exercise, your stress levels, the amount of sleep you get, your relationships with others, your emotions, and your daily activities that make your life unique. Lifestyle can include habits, good and bad, such as what we do in our spare time, how we interact with others, and how we respond to certain situations.

    You probably hear all the time that sleep is important. I know that first hand. Sometimes I overwork myself and I'm unable to perform as well athletically and I'm lacking in energy. When I treat my body to adequate sleep I am much more alert, energetic, productive, and perform better in academics and sports. Sleep is important for all of us, so try to keep it as one of your priorities for overall health. Eight hours of sound sleep each night is recommended.

    Stress is something that affects all of us. How we handle it can make a big difference. There are many methods involved in dealing with stress and I can't say one is better than another. A few options for typical stress relief methods include: Yoga, Nia, Tai Chi, massage therapy, sitting, writing, thinking, reflecting, discussing, sharing, acting, playing, competing, resting, napping, sleeping, interacting with pets or animals, being in nature, fresh air, walking, and being a place you feel most alive and comfortable.

    A quote that comes to mind is one from an anonymous source that says, "Let yourself be silently drawn by the strong pull of what you love." I use this to reflect upon my own lifestyle and I try to make the most of the things I enjoy in life.

    Life can be expensive, and one of my good friends, Professional Vegan Dancer Tonya Kay, said a quote describing her thoughts on nutrition and health in a movie we both recently starred in, that stated, "This is not a discount body. What better thing do I have to spend money on than my own personal well-being. There is not an article of clothing, an ounce of gasoline or anything else that is more important. I would rather scrimp on other things." Food can be expensive but some of the healthiest foods in the world can also be the cheapest. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are typically all fairly inexpensive and they can be purchased in bulk quantities in most places. Some vegan/vegetarian foods may be more expensive than others, especially if they are made from organic ingredients, but in general, the healthiest foods for you are going to be fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans, legumes, etc. and nearly all of those types of foods are very affordable.

    Dominique, I wish the very best and hope that you achieve the goals you have for yourself. If you need any support, have any questions, or wish for further information about anything I listed please feel free to contact me. Go Helen Cox High School Volleyball!!!

    As promised, here are some foods you may want to include in your vegetarian/vegan diet, and a list of online resources for you.

    Online resources for information and group forums:


    Foods to eat on a vegetarian/vegan diet:

    Acorn Squash Adzuki Beans Alfalfa Sprouts Almonds Almond Milk Apples Apricots Artichokes Asparagus Avacados Bagels Bamboo Shoots Bananas Banana Squash Barley Beans Beets Bell Peppers Black Beans Blackberries Black-eyed Peas Blueberries Bok Choy Bran Brazil Nuts Bread Broccoli Brown Rice Brussels Sprouts Buckwheat Cabbage Canola Oil Cantaloupe Carrots Cashews Cauliflour Celery Cereal Cherries Chestnuts Chick-Peas Chiles Chives Chocolate Coconuts Corn Corn Oil Corn Tortilla Cranberries Cucumbers Currants Dates Dried Beans Dried Fruit Eggplant Fava Beans Figs Filberts Fruit Juice Garlic Grains Granola Grapefruit Grapes Green Beans Green Lettuce Grits Guava Hazelnuts Honeydew Hot Peppers Hummus Iceberg Lettuce Jalepeno Peppers Juan Canary Melons Kale Kidney Beans Kiwi Fruit Kumquat Leeks Legumes Lemons Lentils Lima Beans Limes Macadamias Mangoes Melons Miso Mushrooms Navel Oranges Navy Beans Nectarines Nuts and Seeds Oat Bran Oat Flour Oats Olive Oil Onions Oranges Papayas Parsley Passion Fruit Pasta Peaches Peanut Butter Peanuts Pears Peas Pecans Peppers Persian Melons Pineapple Pine Nuts Pinto Beans Pistachios Pita Bread Plums Popcorn Portabello Mushrooms Potatoes Potato Flour Prunes Pumpkin Pumpkin Seeds Radishes Raisins Raspberries Red Beans Red Bell Peppers Red Cabbage Red Pepper Rhubarb Rice Rice Bran Rice Noodles Rice Milk Romaine Lettuce Roots Rutabegas Rye Rye Bread Rye Flour Safflower Oil Salad Greens Salsa Salt Savoy Cabbage Scallions Seaweed Seeds Serrano Peppers Sesame Seed Oil Sesame Seeds Shiitake Mushrooms Snow Peas Soybean Oil Soybeans Soy Milk Spaghetti Spanish Onions Spinach Split Peas Sprouts Squash Strawberries Sugar (Raw) Sun-Dried Tomatoes Sweet Peppers Sweet Potatoes Swiss Chard Tangerines Tempeh Tofu Tomatoes Tomato Sauce Tortillas Turnip Greens Turnips Vegetable Oils Vegetables Walnuts Water Water Chestnuts Watermelon Wheat Wheat Flour Wheat Noodles Whole Wheat Wild Mushrooms Wild Rice Yams Zucchini

    Nutrition Guide to common foods

    High-Protein Foods

    Chick peas
    Kidney beans
    Adzuki beans
    Other beans

    Other nuts and seeds
    Kamut and spelt
    Other whole grains

    High-Calcium Foods

    Black beans
    Chick peas
    Pinto beans
    Sesame seeds
    Dark leafy green vegetables
    Brazil nuts
    Hazelnuts (filberts)
    Sunflower seeds
    Globe artichokes

    High-Magnesium Foods

    Pumpkin and squash seeds
    Sesame seeds
    Other nuts and seeds
    Whole grains
    Dried figs
    Black-eyed peas

    High-Iron Foods

    Dried fruit
    Chick peas
    Black-eyed peas
    Pinto beans
    Whole grains
    Sesame seeds
    Other seeds
    Prune juice
    Dark leafy green vegetables
    Jerusalem artichokes

    High-Zinc Foods

    Brazil nuts
    Lima beans
    Black-eyed peas
    Other dried peas
    Chick peas
    Whole wheat flour
    Corn and cornmeal

    High-Iodine Foods

    Sea Kelp
    Iodized sea salt
    Dark leafy green vegetables

    High-Mineral and Enzyme Foods

    Vegetable juices
    Barley green
    Wheat grass
    Citrus fruit
    Tomato juice

    High B-12 Foods

    Wheat grass
    Barley green
    Blue-green algae
    B-12 fortified foods like texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
    Vitamin supplements

    Vitamin D

    Blue-green algae
    Sunflower seeds

    Essential Oils

    Flax seed/flax seed oil
    Olive oil
    Other natural oils
    Nuts and seeds
    Whole grains


    Herb seasonings
    Herb teas

    Online resources for information and group forums:

    http://www.peta2.com Dominique

    What are these Wacky Vegan Foods?
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004

    Tofu - Tofu, or bean curd, is sort of like a cheese: Milk made from soybeans is hardened into blocks with a mineral salt. (Note: Tofu that's hardened with calcium sulfate or calcium chloride will supply the most calcium to your diet.) Plain tofu doesn't taste like much to most people (although some love it right out of the package!), but tofu picks up the flavor of whatever you mix it with. You can use it to make so many great things. Different types of tofu work best in certain types of recipes: Extra-firm and firm styles of tofu are great cubed in stir-fries, stews, and potpies, or sliced, marinated, and baked for sandwiches. You can even grill it at your next barbeque. (You can make firm tofu even firmer by wrapping it in a towel and pressing all the water out of it. You can make it chewier and "meatier" by freezing it and then thawing it. It's good this way crumbled into chile.) Soft and silken styles of tofu are perfect ingredients in dressings, desserts, and fruit smoothies. You can also substitute tofu for eggs in some baked goods.

    Tofu is rich in protein, iron, and calcium. It also contains a fair amount of fat, but this wont' be a problem if you balance your diet with veggies and grains. You can also buy reduced-fat tofu.

    Tempeh - Tempeh, a staple food in Indonesia, is even stranger-looking than tofu. It looks like a little cake of soybeans that have been glued together. Actually, tempeh is made by fermenting soybeans with a friendly bacteria that basically weaves the beans together. Like tofu, tempeh soaks up the flavor of whatever you season it with. You can make a quick tempeh sandwich: Slice tempeh into patties and saute in oil or water, soy sauce, garlic, and seasoning (try curry powder). Also good for shish kebabs, in stews or stir-fries.

    Soymilk - Soymilk is a fun beverage to try. It comes in lots of flavors, like vanilla, chocolate, and carob. Even the plain flavor is sweeter than dairy milk, so if you're looking for a soymilk that tastes the most like dairy milk, pick the plain flavor in one of the "light" varieties. Flavors vary from brand to brand, so experiment. Also, read the labels and choose a soymilk that's low-fat and fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

    You can also use soymilk any way you would cow's milk: over cereal, in baked goods (it helps them rise a little bit), or just by the glass. Note: While you're sampling the soymilks, don't overlook other dairy-milk alternatives. You'll find rice milk, almond milk, and others at your natural food store too.

    Soy Cheese - Use soy cheese however you would regular cheese. Soy cheese comes in many varieties, such as cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and jalepeno jack. Also look for reduced-fat varieties (some soy cheeses contain quite a bit of fat). Some soy cheeses are vegan and others contain casein, an animal product so check for the "vegan" label on the package.

    Miso - (pronounced MEE-soh): A salty, fermented paste made from soybeans and grains, miso comes in many varieties. It has been referred to as the beef bouillon of vegetarian cooking because it adds such rich flavoring to soup stocks, sauces, gravies, and spreads. Dark-colored miso is much stronger-tasting than the lighter-colored varieties, which are actually quite mild and sweet.

    Tamari - (pronounced ta-MAR-ee): A naturally brewed soy sauce, with a special salty/sweet/savory flavor. Try a splash over vegetables and rice.

    Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) - Not a very friendly name, but a really cool food. TVP is made from soy flour that has had the oil removed. It comes fry in tiny granules, flakes, and chunks, and when you add boiling water, it turns very meat-like. You could substitute TVP for meat in things like chili and tacos and fool your friends. You can find TVP in natural food stores and some mainstream food stores.

    Seitan (pronounced SAY-tan) - Another weird name for another wild food. Seitan is also called "wheat meat" and that's exactly what it is: a meat-like food made from wheat flour kneaded with water, rolled into a roast shape, and boiled. Depending on how it's sliced and seasoned, it can take the place of chicken, beef, even barbequed ribs. In fact, some vegetarians think it's too meat-like, but if you taste it, you'll see that it really has its own subtle flavor. You can buy chunks of seitan bottled in seasoned broth, frozen seitan formed and seasoned, or as a dry mix to cook up yourself. You can also make it from acratch, but it takes several hours.

    Sea Vegetables - Sea vegetables are loaded with nutrients, including calcium, iron, and potassium. Choose from: arame, dulse, hijiki, kombu and wakame, and also nori, which is what's wrapped around rice and vegetables to make vegetarian sushi. Yes, it's seaweed. But seaweed really isn't all that strange. It's found in many ice cream products, including fast-food milkshakes. And, as humor columnist Cecil Adams put it, "Every McDonald's hamburger contains pieces of - brace yourself - dead cow. So let's not get hung up on a little seaweed."

    Nutritional Yeast - Not the same kind of yeast you would use to make bread rise. Nutritional yeast comes in flake form and has a golden color and sort of cheesy taste. It's really good sprinkled over popcorn, pasta, and other dishes, and it can be made into gravy and sauces. Note: One brand of fortified nutritional yeast, Red Star T6635, contains vitamin B-12 but other nutritional yeasts and brewer's yeasts do not).

    Egg Replacer - If you want to give up eggs but not baking, you can use powdered egg replacer for the eggs in your cakes, cookies, and muffins. Buy something called ENER-G Egg Replacer in natural food stores. It's made from potato starch, tapioca flour, and other ingredients.

    Information courtesy of "A Teen's Guide to Going Vegetarian" by Judy Krizmanic
    Robert Cheeke

    What can I do to get in shape and gain muscle if I don't have a Gym Membership?
    June 5th, 2003

    What can I do if I want to get in shape and gain muscle but I don't have a gym membership?

    Sarah N.
    Boston, Mass.

    This is a common situation for a lot of people. Gym memberships can
    expensive and you usually need some means of transportation to get there. So if you are in a situation where at the present time you can't afford agym membership, you don't have a way of getting there, you live too far away from a gym, or don't “make” the time to get to the gym, here are some suggestions for you.

    Keep these questions in mind. Do you need a treadmill to run? Do you need a stair-stepper to climb stairs? Do you need a stationary bike with a TV in front of you to cycle? Do you need a stretching room to stretch your muscles? Do you need a special machine to do pull-ups or sit-ups? Do you need dumbbells to curl weight? Do you need barbells or machines to move weight?

    I grew up on a farm, where I had access to countless muscle-producing tools, although I didn't realize until I became a bodybuilder. Now when I go back to the farm, I take the opportunity to shrug buckets full of dirt or water, jog outside in the fresh air, and do pull-ups from a tree limbs.

    Here are some exercises you can do for different muscle groups outside of a gym. They can be done at home, at a park, or anywhere that you have access to some of these “tools.”

    Cardio is something you can ALWAYS do for free and do anywhere. Running, jumping, walking, are things you can do in nearly every situation. Biking, swimming, and climbing stairs, are great cardio exercises that are also pretty easy to come by.

    First of all if you want to warm-up, just go for a jog, climb some stairs,or even a bike ride. Stretch out your muscles and decide what you want to do in your workout.

    Back — Pull-ups are a great exercise for the back. All you need is something to grab onto to pull yourself up, a sturdy pipe, a tree limb, or even a structure at the park. Variations can be included as well, close-grip, wide-grip, partial reps, etc. You can perform bent-over rows with buckets full of sand, dirt, gravel, or water. Use them like dumbbells. You can do deadlifts the same way. Find heavy objects that are not too awkward to pick up and perform your exercise. One-arm dumbbell rows can be done kneeling on a park bench using a heavy bucket, or other device with a handle on it.

    Chest — Push-up variations are something that can be done easily, close, wide, one-arm, super-sets and drop-sets included as well. Dips aren't too hard to come by outside of the gym either. Find a structure at home, at the park, on the farm, downtown, that you can grip and lower yourself, and push yourself back up. You can do flys with gallon jugs filled with water. Lie on a bench and perform the fly movement you would if you had dumbbells. Other objects can be substituted for the gallon jugs, whatever you can find that is heavy enough to get the job done.

    Shoulders — Shrugs are one of the easiest things to do. Find heavy objects, my favorites are large buckets filled with something dense, and use them for shoulder shrugs. Lateral and front raises can be done with the gallon jug filled with water, or even buckets, just vary the weight. Shoulder presses can be done with a heavy piece of wood, heavy box, an old car tire, or anything of the sort, be creative.

    Arms — Bicep curls with heavy buckets, wood, gallon jugs, pipes, or even random items like a vacuum, bicycle, wooden chair work just fine. You could even find a rope and tie a heavy object at the end and use it for biceps and many other muscle groups. Find objects to curl with one arm and two arms. Select a grip to perform concentration curls, hammer curls, and supinated bicep curls. Triceps kickbacks can be performed with the filled gallon jug, or even a heavy tool or wood or metal object. Overhead extensions can be done with the same items. Dips for triceps can be done as well. Just change your grip and position to take the stress off the chest and direct it to the back of the arms.

    Abs — Hanging leg raises are probably the best exercise you can do for abs. Hang from a tree, steel bar, pipe, or wooden ledge and perform this exercise. Sit-ups on the floor, in the grass, or any other soft surface can easily be done anywhere. I have even done them on the side of the freeway on long road trips. There are countless variations of sit-ups so this is a muscle group that can really be targeted anywhere.

    Legs — Free squats without weights can be done as well as with weight. Lift up an object and place it over your shoulders. Perform squats just like you would in the gym. In this case you won't be able to go as heavy as you could in the gym, unless you build a devise to rack the weight on to allow you to walk under it to get started. Lunges can be done with the heavy object over your shoulders as well, or with weight in your hands. Buckets would probably be too tall and hit the ground when you lunge, but filled gallon or 2-gallon jugs would be fine. Supersets, and rest-pauses can be implemented to get a burn since the weight won't be as heavy. Calf raises can be done on stairs, one or two legs at a time. You can add weight to this exercise by using your weighted bucket, gallon jug, or other object you find at home that has significant weight to it.

    Keep in mind that these are just a few exercises that I came up with. You can also take these exercises and apply them with different strategies using drop-sets, supersets, rest-pauses, partial-reps, isolated movements, High Intensity Training, and other training principles. Use your creativity to find objects around the house, at your workplace, or in the park to build your physique and achieve your fitness goals. Remember that nutrition is more than half the battle, so refer to some of our nutrition pages for guidance for the most important part of the equation.

    Good luck, invent some new exercises, and build your body, no matter where you live or what your situation is.

    Big Rob
    Robert Cheeke

    What do Vegans Eat?
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004

    People often ask me, "what can you eat if you're a vegan, just fruits and vegetables right? The vegan diet is not just limited to fruits and vegetables, it is filled with a diversity of healthy and exotic foods, as well as everyday foods that most of us eat on a consistent basis. To help educate people on what vegans eat, I have composed a list of foods that I consume in any given day. This is not a complete list of every vegan food item in the world, but it should give you an idea of what a typical food day could be like for me and other vegans.
    When I write a food such item as bagels for example, I am referring to a vegan form of that food. Many foods can be non-vegan or vegan just by substituting a few ingredients.

    Vegan Food Acorn Squash Adzuki Beans Alfalfa Sprouts Almonds Almond Milk Apples Apricots Artichokes Asparagus Avacados Bagels Bamboo Shoots Bananas Banana Squash Barley Beans Beets Bell Peppers Black Beans Blackberries Black-eyed Peas Blueberries Bok Choy Bran Brazil Nuts Bread Broccoli Brown Rice Brussels Sprouts Buckwheat Cabbage Canola Oil Cantaloupe Carrots Cashews Cauliflour Celery Cereal Cherries Chestnuts Chick-Peas Chiles Chives Chocolate Coconuts Corn Corn Oil Corn Tortilla Cranberries Cucumbers Currants Dates Dried Beans Dried Fruit Eggplant Fava Beans Figs Filberts Fruit Juice Garlic Grains Granola Grapefruit Grapes Green Beans Green Lettuce Grits Guava Hazelnuts Honeydew Hot Peppers Hummus Iceberg Lettuce Jalepeno Peppers Juan Canary Melons Kale Kidney Beans Kiwi Fruit Kumquat Leeks Legumes Lemons Lentils Lima Beans Limes Macadamias Mangoes Melons Miso Mushrooms Navel Oranges Navy Beans Nectarines Nuts and Seeds Oat Bran Oat Flour Oats Olive Oil Onions Oranges Papayas Parsley Passion Fruit Pasta Peaches Peanut Butter Peanuts Pears Peas Pecans Peppers Persian Melons Pineapple Pine Nuts Pinto Beans Pistachios Pita Bread Plums Popcorn Portabello Mushrooms Potatoes Potato Flour Prunes Pumpkin Pumpkin Seeds Radishes Raisins Raspberries Red Beans Red Bell Peppers Red Cabbage Red Pepper Rhubarb Rice Rice Bran Rice Noodles Rice Milk Romaine Lettuce Roots Rutabegas Rye Rye Bread Rye Flour Safflower Oil Salad Greens Salsa Salt Savoy Cabbage Scallions Seaweed Seeds Serrano Peppers Sesame Seed Oil Sesame Seeds Shiitake Mushrooms Snow Peas Soybean Oil Soybeans Soy Milk Spaghetti Spanish Onions Spinach Split Peas Sprouts Squash Strawberries Sugar (Raw) Sun-Dried Tomatoes Sweet Peppers Sweet Potatoes Swiss Chard Tangerines Tempeh Tofu Tomatoes Tomato Sauce Tortillas Turnip Greens Turnips Vegetable Oils Vegetables Walnuts Water Water Chestnuts Watermelon Wheat Wheat Flour Wheat Noodles Whole Wheat Wild Mushrooms Wild Rice Yams Zucchini
    More foods will be added to this list, so check back for additional foods, as well as a breakdown of when I usually consume them (breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, post-workout meals, etc.).
    Robert Cheeke

    What kind of Supplements do you take?
    How do you get your b-12?
    January 27th, 2004
    I do take supplements but I don't believe that they are in any way necessary. The only reason I take them is because I'm a bodybuilder and like to have excess amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc. because my workout program is so strenuous and taxing on my body.

    The people who think that just because someone else is vegetarian or vegan they would require supplements are uninformed, uneducated and most likely know little or nothing about nutrition. Any nutritional program requires some sort of awareness but there seems to be a trend of worrying about vegans and vegetarians meeting daily nutritional requirements. It is quite the opposite really; the people consuming animal products are the ones who should really be concerned about their health, as each day they are putting themselves at risk for many debilitating diseases directly resulting from the consumption of animal products. Animal products are toxic to the human body, and don't really do any good, only harm. In most cases eating animal products leads to obesity, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and many other diseases and problems.

    As far as the supplements that I use, when I am actively training as a bodybuilder I take multivitamin, isolated soy protein powder, vitamin C, vitamin E, Flax oil, L-glutamine (amino acid), and a few others. Your best bet is to eat a wide variety of whole foods, with lots of fruits and vegetables and there will be no need for supplementation. I could go on forever about this subject of supplementation because it is very similar to the meat and dairy industries. Those industries use very convincing marketing schemes to scare people into thinking that their products are necessary for health, when in reality, there is not only no need, but they are not even healthy products. What they do is lead to diseases which boos your medical bills up tenfold or more and you will be taking prescribed drugs (and paying for them) to temporarily fix a problem you could have avoided by eliminating animal products form your diet early on in life. One last thing before I move on to the b-12 question. All of the elements of food essential for sustaining life are found in fruits and vegetables. The body's nutritional elements required for life are glucose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids; all found in abundance in fruits and vegetables. If you are interested in bodybuilding or you are very physically active in sports, certain supplements aren't a bad idea. Like I said, I take them as well. I just don't buy into the government lie that specific supplements are absolutely necessary for everyone not consuming animal products daily. For the physically active individual I would suggest a multivitamin, vitamin C, and isolated soy protein taken daily. Check the labels or with an expert for proper dosage.

    Vitamin B-12... This is always an interesting and confusing topic. For the best explanation let me share with you an extraction from Harvey Diamond, author of Fit for Life, America's All-Time #1 health and diet book:

    "Supposedly, if you don't eat meat, you'll develop a vitamin b-12 deficiency. Poppycock! Where do the animals whose meat we eat get theirs? Vitamin B-12 is found in plants in very small amounts. But the way vitamin B-12 is secured is primarily from that produced in the body. The stomach secretes a substance called 'intrinsic factor,' which transports the vitamin B-12 created by the bacterial flora in your intestines. The vitamin B-12 issue is part and parcel of the entire protein myth. Where do the cattle that supply us the meat and milk get their B-12? Supposedly we will perish without meat and dairy products. Without any sources to show this false except our common sense, we could discount it, however there are numerous sources. Our actual need for vitamin B-12 is so minute that it is measurable in micrograms (millionth of a gram) or nanograms (billionth of a gram). One milligram of vitamin B-12 will last you over two years, and healthy individuals usually carry around a five-year supply. But here's the rub: Putrefaction hampers the secretion of 'intrinsic factor' in the stomach and retards the production of vitamin B-12. So flesh-eaters are more apt to develop a vitamin B-12 deficiency than vegetarians! This has been known for some time and was discussed in part in a report entitled 'Vitamins of the B Complex' in the 1959 United States Department of Agriculture Year Book. The propaganda states just the opposite!"

    In the past I have taken Vitamin B-12 supplements because of the hype of media telling me I needed it. Then I did something that is really more important that anything else you could do to help your nutrition program. I research and studied nutrition. The more you research and study , the more you will realize how blatently you are insulted by the meat and dairy industries and other industries trying to "tell you what is right." Study to learn what your body needs, and know what harmful ingredients to watch out for.

    - Big Rob Robert Cheeke

    What makes Bodybuilding so Hard?
    May 29th, 2003
    I always hear people talk about how "hard" bodybuilding is. What do you think is the hardest or most difficult aspect of the sport, and what makes it any harder than other sports?

    Bill B.
    Madison, WI USA

    This is a question that is typically easy to answer...the diet is the hardest part. That is what most bodybuilders will tell you, and perhaps it is the "most" difficult aspect, but there are many to consider when discussing bodybuilding.

    First of all, bodybuilding is a 24-hour sport, meaning that everything you do, your training, eating habits, work, school, family, financial situation, sleep, stress, and free time are all parts of the sport. How you handle each one of these situations will determine whether you are successful or not. You could still be successful by only managing some of these areas, but you may not reach your full potential.

    So let's discuss some of these areas.

    Training — When you train like a bodybuilder you are lifting heavy weights and putting a lot of stress on your muscles, joints, tendons, etc. The fatigue you feel may be equivalent to a game of soccer or basketball, depending on the intensity of your training. Most bodybuilders have a training intensity that matches or exceeds athletes of other sports. Bodybuilders typically train 4-6 days per week (with weights) for approximately 60-90 minutes each session, which is comparable to most other athletes. But training is just one aspect of this demanding sport.

    Eating Habits — Your nutrition program will make or break you. This is what sets bodybuilders apart from nearly all other athletes. In no other sport is the diet such a crucial factor, in this case 70% of the equation for successful bodybuilding. Other athletes focus much more on their skill or game and pay little or not attention to their nutrition program. I know this from competing in 5-10 different sports and having friends who play many different sports, some at the highest level. Of course when you get to the professional level of any sport, these athletes will pay more attention to their diet, but by no means even close to what a bodybuilder does. It is not just as simple as high protein, low carbs, moderate fat either. There are too many factors to discuss now, but they involve meal frequency, total caloric intake, total grams of protein, carbs, fat, supplementation, total water intake, sodium levels, essential amino acid levels, vitamin and mineral intake levels, quality calories vs. empty calories, protein bioavailability and absorption, food combing, and other factors. So you can see that there are so many things to consider that make the "diet" or nutritional program the most difficult aspect by far.

    Work, School, Family (LIFE) — Life happens, and that can affect your bodybuilding progress. Maybe you are out of town for work and find it difficult to eat healthy meals on a long plane ride, or have difficulty finding a gym to workout at while on vacation. Maybe you have a term-paper due or a presentation to prepare for and you just don't have time to get to the gym or to prepare the meals you want to eat. Perhaps you have to do unexpected activities like stay home to take care of a sick child or pet and you miss out on the opportunity to train, rest, or eat. You could be stuck in a board meeting for hours, often glancing at your watch because you know you are running late on your scheduled meal. You could be low on funds and simply not afford to eat as much as you would like. Those are just a few examples of some of the billions of situations that could prevent you from sticking to your bodybuilding lifestyle, where as many other athletes wouldn't be bothered as much by the situations listed above.

    Financial Situation — This is a major factor for a lot of people, includingmyself. Bodybuilding is an expensive sport, bottom line, and most people can't afford to eat as much as bodybuilders feel necessary to do so. In addition to the large amount of money spent on food, bodybuilders will usually spend money on tanning sessions, tanning oils, supplements, training gear, contest entry fees, and other hidden costs. Anyone who has been to a vitamin shop or nutrition store, knows how much supplements can cost and many bodybuilders use ten different ones per day. Bodybuilders may put in extra hours at work, or sacrifice vacation money to use toward their nutrition program to help achieve their goals. Unfortunately your financial situation will affect your progress as a bodybuilder. There are opportunities to get sponsored and other ways to supplement your bodybuilding lifestyle to help overcome this obstacle.

    Sleep/Stress — Just like all athletes, bodybuilders need their rest. Eight hours is a great amount at night plus additional naps during the day to keep your body well recovered. Bodybuilding takes a lot out of you. The intense training, the typical low carbohydrate diet, and the cardiovascular exercise that goes along with the weight training all add up. Bodybuilders also tear down muscle fibers in the gym and need the rest to help the muscles recover. Leading up to a contest could be very stressful so naps during the day will help lower some anxiety and stress levels. Getting a massage will not only help lower stress by allowing you to relax, but it will benefit your muscles by lengthening them, allowing for more blood flow to the cells, for better cell nutrition and ultimately better results.

    Free Time — This is where most other athletes will just relax and forget about their sport or competition for a while. Bodybuilders can't do that. Of course they still enjoy plenty of free time, but they have to prepare meals to take or have with them, vitamins, supplements, etc. All the things necessary for that day or that period of "free time." Many bodybuilders will take this free time to tan, nap, watch TV, walk their dog, spend time with family or friends, etc. Bodybuilders are not guys or gals who typically go out to bars, stay out late, party a lot, or lead an outlandish late night lifestyle. They simply can't afford to do that. As I mentioned above, meal preparation, meal frequency, and the amount of sleep they need, are all things that usually keep these bodybuilders away from the nightlife. There are exceptions of course. I will still go out occasionally with my friends but I carry food with me. I take tofu, nuts, protein bars, and other foods that I can eat while I'm out. I don't ever drink alcohol but if I'm at a bar with friends, I just step outside, go to my car and eat some food for 5 minutes, get some water, and go back in. Then I try to sleep in the next day to be sure that I still get adequate rest and close to eight hours of sleeping time.

    In conclusion, I would say that the very hardest aspect of the sport is the nutrition program and the consistency and dedication that you have to have to stick with it. That is also what separates bodybuilding from other sports and like I said it's a 24-hour sport, which arguably makes it more difficult than other sports. Refer back to each topic above and see if you are following those steps. If not, try to concentrate more on one at a time and watch your progress sail.

    Thank you for the question. I hope it helps.

    Big Rob Robert Cheeke

    If I had a nickel for every e-mail message that hits the Vegan Muscle and Fitness inbox beginning with "How do I get a body that looks like yours?" (usually from young men who want to look like my husband, Derek), we could retire from the personal training business! Unfortunately, because we are in the personal training business and it pays the bills, it's just not possible to respond to every request with a custom meal and training plan. We try to share as much as we can of our workout routines and recipes on our blog, Vegan Muscle & Fitness, but I understand the need for a straightforward blueprint that allows one to plunge right in. Here it is: an example of what competitive vegan bodybuilders eat every day, complete with a grocery list!
    Oatmeal, cooked (about 1 cup for me, 2 cups for Derek) Apples, raisins, or other additions (optional) Morning Snack:
    Derek's bean shake (1/2 serving for me, full serving for Derek) Additional fruit (optional) Lunch:
    Green salad with balsamic vinegar Lentil and vegetable soup Sweet potato Post-Workout:
    Vegan protein shake, such as PlantFusion, Vega, or SunWarrior Afternoon Snack:
    Derek's bean shake (1/2 serving for me, full serving for Derek) Additional fruit (optional) Dinner:
    Green salad with balsamic vinegar Beans (about 1 cup) Tofu or tempeh, about 1/4 block (optional) Vegetables (unlimited) Whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa (about 1/4 cup dry) It really is that simple. Unless we're in the final stages of preparing for a competition, I feel free to deviate a little from our meal plan if I have the creative energy and ingredients to do so. As fall weather comes in, I've been indulging the comfort food urge occasionally with some Lentil Shepherd's Pie and Butternut Alfredo Brown Rice Penne, too — always keeping it whole foods! Our meal plan is a wonderful safety net, however, and I'm more than willing to sacrifice a little variety to spare myself agony over the question of what to make for dinner and the uncertainty of how what I just ate is going to affect my physique or performance in the gym. For more on why we advocate a simple whole foods plant-based diet, as well as suggestions for keeping the above meal plan interesting, see my articleHow to Eat the Same Thing Every Day and Never Get Bored!

    Our Weekly Grocery List:
    salad greens salad vegetables, such as cucumbers and red onion salad toppings, such as olives garlic avocados additional vegetables that catch my eye, such as kale, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, etc. LOTS of bananas additional fruits, such as pears, apples, grapes, etc. sweet potatoes LOTS of cannellini beans LOTS of rolled oats LOTS of lentils other beans, such as black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, etc. brown rice quinoa raisins soy and almond milk tofu canned tomatoes, crushed or diced salsa frozen fruit frozen vegetables edamame Some staple items that we keep on hand:
    Balsamic vinegar Nutritional yeast A wide variety of spices, such as curry powder, creole seasoning, jerk seasoning, chili powder, etc. Stevia Hot sauce Maple syrup Vegan vegetable bouillon Marcella Torres

    What to eat before exercise

    Before exercising it's important to fuel your body. Only then can you adequately handlethe physical stress of lifting weights, playing individual or team sports, or running.
    Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source of choice for our bodies to supply us withenergy. Fats are second. Proteins are the least effective fuel source of macronutrients.But they're the most important in muscle recovery and repair AFTER exercise.
    Since carbohydrates are the most efficient forms of fuel, they should be your first choiceto consume before exercising.
    I have two approaches when it comes to pre-workout nutrition:
    1) Immediate pre-workout strategies
    2) Prepared pre-workout strategies.
    I use the immediate approach when exercising within an hour of eating. For example,when fueling up on my way to the gym, or when eating breakfast within an hour of myworkout.
    Immediate fuel before workouts should be fruits. Fruits are amazing sources ofnutrition, energy, carbohydrates, and sugars, all extremely important components tofuel a workout. They are also easy on the stomach, digest easily and should not inhibitexercise performance even if consumed immediately before exercise.
    My favorite foods to consume just before exercise are bananas, oranges, apples, grapes,seasonal berries, mangos, pineapple and other fruits. I also use some natural sportsdrinks like Vega Sport Performance Optimizer. It's designed to supply your body withsustained energy while reducing inflammation. That speeds up the recovery process,enabling more frequent workouts. Check out the ingredients:
    For energy: Green tea, ginseng and yerba mate
    For reducing inflammation: ginger root, Devil's Claw and turmeric
    For mental focus and stamina: kombucha, coconut oil, and a host of other naturalingredients.
    Pre-workout energy drinks are not required. But the plant extracts they contain elicitan “energy boost” response in your body.
    I usually consume my immediate pre-workout nutrition within an hour before exercise,often only 15-30 minutes beforehand. Depending on the nature of my workout, Imight also eat more fruit during my workout and drink more Vega Sport PerformanceOptimizer during my workout. That provides additional calories, sugars, hydration andoverall energy.
    If you're headed to a weight training workout, or sports match or competition, keep abanana, apple, orange or bag of dates with you for continued nutrition throughout yourexercise. It won't feel heavy in your stomach but will actually help continue to fuel yourbody throughout the exercise.
    Prepared Pre-Workout Nutrition
    If I had a long workout later today, or a competition hours from now (or eventomorrow), I would do my prepared pre-workout nutrition now.
    When I know exercise is still many hours away, I fuel up with complex carbohydrateslike rice, pasta, potatoes, oats, etc. These carbohydrates are slow digesting and providesustained energy. That's why they're popular carbohydrates for runners, enduranceathletes and even bodybuilders.
    So suppose it's 12 noon, and you know you have a workout or sports event scheduledfor 6PM. Start fueling up with a variety of dense, heavy carbohydrate foods, proteinsources, and good fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids).
    Eat large quantities of these carbohydrate foods, supplemented with protein andfats for a more complete meal. Then as you get closer, say around 3pm, take in morenutrition, something a little smaller and less heavy (whatever you desire: a protein bar,a salad, etc.).
    Then at about 5 - 5:30PM, pack in the fruit right before exercise. Fruits contain a lot ofwater which assist in exercise hydration, and digest quickly and easily while providingimmediate energy. You'll be all set for your 6PM soccer match, run, or the weighttraining session with your partner or friends.

    What to eat after exercise
    After exercise, the most important aspect of post-workout nutrition is the consumptionof protein. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are responsible for the repairand recovery of muscle tissues. What does that mean?
    When you're exercising, you're actually creating micro tears in your muscles. Your bodyrequires amino acids (protein) to rebuild those muscle fibers so they can grow, getstronger and prevent injury.
    If you don't consume protein and a wide variety of amino acids after exercise, you makeyourself susceptible and potentially prone to injury from damaged muscle fibers waitingto be repaired. This can easily happen if you exercise hard, don't supply your body withadequate nutrition, and then exercise again the same day, the following day, or evenwhile stretching the damaged muscles afterward.
    Replenish your body not only with protein, but with carbohydrates and essential fatsas they all work harmoniously to get the body rested, recovered and ready to workoutagain in the near future. Since carbohydrates are the primary fuel source used up duringexercise, it becomes extremely important to consume carbohydrates after a workout ofany type to replenish fuel stores and other nutrients lost or eliminated during exercise.
    My favorite protein sources are dark greens, beans, legumes heavy foods like tofu,tempeh and seitan. Traditionally, after I complete a workout, my first desire is toconsume a protein drink or meal replacement drink.
    We call this hour immediately after exercise the “nutritional window of opportunity”.
    Why a protein drink? Nutrition in liquid form is much easier for your body to digest andassimilate than food that has to be chewed, broken down, swallowed and eventuallydigested or discarded.
    It's not that eating whole foods is bad. In fact, they're part of my post-workout nutritionprogram for sure. But the first step should be to get some sort of natural protein drink inyour body for immediate nutritional recovery from exercise. These can even be whole-food based, ground up whole foods in powder form. Added with water they make thenutrition assimilated much quicker, then a proper meal can follow 30 minutes later.
    There are many brands out there. I recommend the Vega product line because they usea wide variety of plant-based sources of protein, not just one or two, but five to give abalanced amino acid profile.
    Vega Whole Food Health Optimizer is a meal replacement powder, as well as a proteinpowder. That means it has five sources of protein (hemp, pea, rice, flax, and chlorella).It also has 100% RDA of vitamins and minerals, Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids,digestive enzymes, and antioxidants.
    It even has natural ingredients like the root vegetable maca, which helps nourishthe adrenal glands, combats elevated cortisol levels, and reduces stress. It's a primecandidate for post-workout nutrition. That's because it helps with recovery, reducesinflammation, and lowers stress. It's also vegan, sustainable, alkaline-forming andcommon-allergen free (free of soy, dairy, gluten, corn, and sugar). I use other Vegaproducts such as the Vega Sport Protein as well because it contains Branched ChainAmino Acids (BCAA's) and the amino acid commonly known for its assistance in musclerecovery, L-glutamine. I use other brands as well and enjoy a diversity of quick, nutrientdense protein and meal replacement drinks.
    After my protein drink, I focus on a meal based around whole foods or high protein/calorie foods. My post-workout meal is one of my largest meals of the day.
    Exercising and burning calories increases your appetite. So you need high protein/calorie foods to help your body recover. I tend to focus on burritos, sandwiches, largesalads, wraps, potatoes, yams, beans, lentils, quinoa and other heavy foods for my post-workout nutrition. I'm also a fan of ethnic foods. After exercise I often find myself at aThai, Indian, Mexican or Ethiopian food restaurant. That is just my preference but thegoal is to get nutrient dense foods post workout so choose your own favorite foods forone of your largest meals of the day.
    Remember to eat for nourishment and eat to thrive, be it before, during or after
    exercise. Fuel yourself well.
    All the best in health and fitness!
    Robert Cheeke
    @RobertCheeke on Twitter

    Robert Cheeke

    If I got a dollar every time someone stopped me at the gym, coming off stage, or even just out and about and asked me the infamous “where do you get your protein?” or “how much protein do you eat?” question, I would be rolling in the gluten-free dough! There are times I want to respond with, “Do I look like I don’t get enough protein!?”, as I simultaneously flash a wide-eyed double bicep pose. Although that may sound like a great idea, I also choose to have patience with people who just don’t know the facts about protein-packed, plant-based foods. In the mainstream fitness world, beef= gains. I don’t fault anyone for following the “herd” mentality since, purely from a physique standpoint, meat works for gaining mass. The propaganda surrounding the support of meat as a main source of “nutrition” is not new to us vegans. Although meat consumption has gone down over the past few years, it is still a scary thing to bodybuilders to eliminate meat and still do what they do.

    According to the Journal of Nutrition, the current RDA for protein describes the minimum quantity of protein that should be consumed daily to prevent deficiency is around 0.8g per kg of bodyweight. This statistic is a general daily value for the average American, and we all know that people into fitness and bodybuilding (in general) are not your “average” American. We need more, right? I don’t believe I am alone in wanting to show the world that plant built muscle can grow. So, let’s take a closer look at how much protein is really needed to gain muscle mass on a vegan meal plan. (Notice I did not say “diet”; it should be a lifestyle, because you are not “dead yet” [diet].) In order to gain more muscle or to keep the muscle you have from withering away, I believe the best way to consume protein is in moderate amounts of high quality protein 3-5 times a day to provide a more effective means of stimulating 24-hour muscle protein synthesis, versus the practice of less in the morning and more at night. So, roughly 30g at breakfast and 20g for the last meal of the day.

    What usually separates animal protein from plant protein is the amino acid profile, and yes, there are sources of complete amino acid profiles within the plant world. Rice and beans, when combined, create a great complete protein that’s amazing to the taste buds and great for the colon (fiber). Quinoa, another complete protein, is a grain (well, technically, a seed) that is prepared in very much the same way as rice. Just 100 calories of broccoli has a comparable amount of protein when compared to red meat at the same caloric amount. Now that may be a “boatload” of broccoli, but at least you will be fully satisfied (mentally and physically) vs. having to eat more just to fill up. Some of my favorite and most common ways to get in protein are: beans, almonds, quinoa, tempeh, tofu, seitan, spinach, kale, broccoli, collards, and any other plant I get my hands on. It may be challenging to consume all the whole foods needed to meet the moderate amounts of protein per meal initially, but consistency will pay off when coupled with intense weight training. I would love to hear from you or help you reach your body sculpting goals. I can be reached at Facebook: ThaVeganDread, Instagram: ThaVeganDread or my website www.thavegandread.com. Let’s Get It (that plant protein, of course)!!!!!! Torre Washington

    Where's Ya Wata?
    By Torre Washington
    I would imagine that everyone reading this article understands the importance of water consumption. It is paramount to the existence of all living things and how our bodies operate on a daily basis. It is a well known fact that a person can survive longer without food than without water. Considering that the amount of water in the human body ranges from 50-75% (average adult human body: 50-65%; infants: 70-75%), it is no surprise that we would shrivel up like a prune before we would starve. Just a short list of the health benefits, as it pertains to general wellbeing, include: shuttling nutrients to different areas of the body that need them, hydrating the kidneys to efficiently breakdown and filter waste, then aiding in waste removal which allows for more efficient nutrient absorption, as well as assisting in muscle strength and growth. (www.simplyshredded.com)

    Now, from a competitor's perspective, water means oh, so much more. Water retention under stage lights can make the difference between "winner" and "runner up". Increased physical activity, in addition to supplements, increase the work of the kidneys, which means above average water consumption is a MUST in the daily life of a competitor. Then there is the ever important "leaning out" process, which typically includes water and calorie/carbohydrate depletion with some last minute 2x/day cardio sessions as the weeks to "show time" get closer. For my first few competitions I used the most common and traditional methods of getting "shredded": I depleted my water. I was so dehydrated on the day of the show that I cramped up, to the extent that it looked as if an alien was about to jump out of my stomach (due to abdominal spasms when I flexed). However, I was also so determined to reach my goals that I just sucked on ice chips then spit out the precious life giving liquid. As I have matured and evolved as a competitor, I have found that I don't need to dehydrate myself and compromise my homeostasis in order to be "shredded" on stage. Unfortunately, many times when competitors dehydrate to get that "dry", "shredded" look, it means they don't drink any water for sometimes 12-24 hours before the show! Keeping body fat percentages well under 20% in the "off" season would help eliminate this unhealthy practice.

    Anyone interested in competing for an extended period of time (i.e. several seasons) would more than likely enjoy the process more when there is balance all year. Even in a mass-building phase, a competitor should keep their body fat within 5-10% from their target stage percentages. In this way, water can and should be consumed up to and during the competition without compromising appearing lean on stage. Although some of this information may not be completely new, I hope it motivates some competitors out there to consider the health benefits of maintaining a healthy body fat range based upon their body composition, in order to enjoy a leaner` no matter what season. And remember to "Drink ya WATA!" (in Tha Vegan Dread voice) Torre Washington


    Who is Vegan?

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    Who is Vegan?
    by Robert Cheeke, February 28th, 2004
    Vegan (ve-gan) 1. One who chooses a diet and a life-style free of consuming animal products, and of supporting business that exploits animals. 2. adj. Containing no ingredient derived from the animal kingdom.

    Many people are vegan. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 2.5 million people who follow a vegan diet. We've come up with a list of people in the media who are vegan just to give you an idea.

    Bryan Adams
    Gillian Anderson
    Fiona Apple
    Drew Barrymore
    Linda Blair
    Sara Gilbert
    Woody Harrelson
    Ruth Heidrich
    Michael Klaper
    KD Lang
    Howard Lyman
    Martina Navratilova
    Jauquin Phoenix
    Pat Reeves
    John Robbins
    Alicia Silverstone
    Heather Small
    Lindsay Wagner
    Keenan Ivory Wayans
    Spice Williams
    Weird Al Yankovic
    Robert Cheeke
    Tonya Kay
    Brendan Brazier
    Mike Mahler
    Ryan Wilson
    Alexander Dargatz Robert Cheeke

    Whole-Foods Weight-Gain Shake
    by Derek Tresize
    Gaining weight and muscle mass is something many vegan athletes strive for, especially if they are beginning a bodybuilding program and are not sure where to start. I know when I first converted to a plant-based diet I lost 10lbs and was left scratching my head over what to do about it. I eventually came to realize the recipe for gaining weight is same with any diet: Take in a calorie surplus, consume plenty of whole food protein sources, and perform heavy weight training several times per week. This recipe is pretty straightforward, but it is by no means is it easy. Consistency is critical, and often times someone who is trying to gain weight has a naturally fast metabolism, and will have to consume a daunting amount of food every day in order to see their goals realized. I have had this problem with adding muscle mass in the past, and the easiest way I've found to substantially increase my calorie intake (without resorting to a lot of junk food) is using a whole foods weight gain shake between meals.

    I've dubbed this shake the 'Bean shake', because my secret ingredient for getting the protein and calories up is beans. They may be an unorthodox ingredient in a shake, but beans provide lots of protein, carbs, and calories, so they really make the shake pack a punch in terms of getting your intakes where they need to be. The beans I have found to work the beast are canellini/white kidney beans, or great northern beans. Both varieties are high in protein and have a very mild flavor, so their taste can easily be covered up with other ingredients.

    My second secret ingredient for this shake is pepitas, or hulled raw pumpkin seeds. Pepitas have more protein and less fat per calorie than almost any other seeds I've come across, have an excellent amino acid profile (which means they have all the amino acids your body needs) and they are rich in minerals (Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Phosphorus). A detailed nutritional analysis on Nutritiondata.com even rated their protein score as higher than eggs! (and instead of the whopping amount of cholesterol and nutrient void they have minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals). Pepitas do have a fairly strong flavor though so if you don't like their taste I recommend reducing the amount you use, or possibly adding peanut/almond butter instead.

    The other ingredients I use are pretty straight forward, and the whole list looks like this:
    INGREDIENTS (Calories/Carbs/Protein/Fat/Fiber):
    1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds (153/5/7/13/1)
    1 scoop protein powder (190/9/25/2/2)

    1 cup soymilk (90/7/7/3.5/1)

    Water to desired consistency

    1 banana (121/31/1/0/4)

    1 can canellini beans, rinsed [aka white kidney beans] (420/73/28/0/35)

    [optional] peanut butter, almond butter, other sliced fruit, fruit juice, avocado (anything palatable to add calories)

    I've also been adding spinach to keep my greens intake high and because it doesn't affect the flavor. Spinach is extremely valuable to a bodybuilder's diet. Popeye knew his stuff! Directions: Blend all ingredients to desired consistency
    Total stats: 974 calories, 125g carbs, 68g protein, 18.5g fat, 43g fiber
    Or, for an all whole foods shake omit the protein powder for stats like:
    784 calories, 116g carbs, 43g protein, 16.5g fat, and 41g fiber
    Either way, a great and highly nutritious gainer shake with stats to match. I use this shake in between breakfast and lunch, as an afternoon snack, and before bed when I'm looking to gain weight. For someone starting out trying this, I would use half a shake per day and slowly work your way up to your desired calorie intake. All the beans means this shake has a TON of fiber, and if you aren't used to it you will feel it. So, give this a try and if you come up with any alterations of your own please write on the forum!
    Derek Tresize
    ACE Certified Personal Trainer
    T. Colin Campbell Foundation/ Cornell University Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition

    Derek Tresize

    Why Care about Animal Suffering?
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, April 5th 2006

    This is the week that the circus comes to town. Typically, I write a letter or editorial to inform people about the miserable lives that circus animals lead and about the cruelty inflicted on them. This year, I'm going to take it a step further and discuss why we should even care.

    Those of us who work to help animals are often confronted with questions or comments such as "Why should I care about the suffering of animals when there is so much human suffering?" Here's why.

    Animals are completely at the mercy of human beings. We have the power to do whatever we want to them and they can't protect themselves from us. When the victims of abuse are innocent and helpless, unable to speak up and act on their own behalf, it becomes imperative for compassionate people to speak up and act for them. Animals cannot return the favor of our mercy to us, repay us, or "scratch our backs" in return for our help. Helping animals is simply a matter of kindness and protection of the weak and vulnerable. Furthermore the very sentiment that " people come first" illustrates why animals are in such desperate need of our help.

    We often hear about cruelties and violence perpetrated on humans. However, the large scale systemic suffering that humans inflict on animals is hidden from view. The animals' suffering is unseen and unheard. Most people have no idea as to the degree of cruelty inflicted on these helpless beings.

    Both humans and animals have emotions, central nervous systems, the capacity to suffer and the desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain. But many billions of animals live lives of non-stop agony at the hands of human beings. What is done to them is unspeakable. As Edward Freeman said " The awful wrongs and sufferings forced upon the innocent, helpless animal race, form the blackest chapter in the whole world's history."

    Furthermore, extending compassion to animals in no way hinders efforts to help people.

    There is no contradiction in working to help people and refusing to contribute to animal suffering. As we extend kindness to all animals ( not just our companion animals) we are progressing as a species and moving towards a better more ethical world.

    Nettie Schwager

    Corvallis resident

    ethical vegan

    animal advocate
    Robert Cheeke

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