Vegetarian diet for fitness

Who else, on their mission for ‘gains’, has survived solely on a diet of chicken, steak, eggs and, oh wait, more chicken? We’ve all been there. Cramming in the meat in the hope the protein will go straight to our guns when, instead, it goes straight to your gut (eww). But, believe it or not, you can still build muscle and hit that PB without meat in your diet! Don’t believe us? Well, we caught up with Irish DJ and fitness enthusiast Marty Guilfoyle, to find out how his vegetarian diet sustains his busy career and training sessions.

When did you first get into fitness?

I first got into fitness about two or three years ago. I found that, when I started working out more, I actually had more energy for my gigs. So, I usually get up around 11/12 o’clock (after a night on the decks!) and then spend a few hours in the gym and the energy I get from that routine is insane! It gets me through my radio show on SpinXtra and sees me through to my late-night gigs after the show.

Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?

I first became a vegetarian about two and a half years ago. I watched a video online about the production of meat and it just flicked a switch in my head. It was actually on Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) when I made the decision and I ran downstairs like “Mum, Dad, I’m a vegetarian, I don’t want seconds!” and they just looked at me like ‘Woah, what’s going on here?!’.

"Everyone seems to worry about your protein intake when you're a vegetarian, but I found getting my protein in a lot easier than I thought it would be!" 

How to train for vegetarians

Did you find vegetarianism tough at first?

A week after that, as I was heading into the usual post-Christmas healthy eating, I really thought I was going to struggle. Everyone seems to worry about your protein intake when you’re a vegetarian, but I found it really easy to get my protein in – a lot easier than I thought it would be! Take Grenade®’s shakes. One of their Carb Killa® Shakes has roughly the same protein content as a chicken fillet so I tie these into my meals - I find I’m still getting the same amount of protein as I would if I were to eat meat.

How does being a vegetarian affect your training?

People think when you go vegetarian or vegan, you’re going to suffer from these crazy protein deficiencies but, in a nutshell, becoming a vegetarian hasn’t affected my training at all. A lot of people ask me ‘do you think you’d look different, do you think your training would be better if you still ate meat?’ and I’m just like ‘well, I don’t eat meat, so!’

"I keep going on about them but Grenade®’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry Carb Killa® bars will get you through snacking as a vegetarian – they’re amazing!"

How to get fit as a vegetarian

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try vegetarianism?

I actually ate meat for 25 years before becoming vegetarian. The first advice I’d give is don’t do what I did and go cold turkey! I’d suggest starting with a ‘meat-free Monday’, for example. Just cutting meat out for one day a week and then gradually building on this. It’s honestly not as hard as you think! If a friend was to turn to me and say ‘Marty, I want to be vegetarian’, the first thing I’d say is do it slowly. One day a week meat-free will make you realise how much tasty vegetarian food there is out there and gradually, you’ll fit more and more meat-free days into your week.

I do think that, eventually, ‘meat-free Mondays’ will turn into ‘meat Mondays’ – we’ll end up eating meat just one day a week and adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet the rest of the time.

For those hoping to become vegetarian, I’d say don’t be afraid! You’re not going to get a deficiency, there’s loads of food options and supplements out there. We’re brought up in a culture where our meals are made up of potatoes, meat and vegetables and that’s it. There are many meat or high protein substitutes out there that are just as tasty!

"I do think that, eventually, ‘meat-free Mondays’ will turn into ‘meat Mondays’ – we’ll end up eating meat just one day a week and adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet the rest of the time."

What vegetarian snacks do you recommend?

I keep going on about them but Grenade®’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry Carb Killa® bars will get you through snacking as a vegetarian – they’re amazing!

How to train when you are a vegetarian

Do you think meat is necessary in your diet in order to see improvements in your training and physique?

Personally, I can’t picture myself eating meat again. I don’t need to eat meat to reach my protein goals. Peanut butter on toast for breakfast, rice and veggies for lunch, throw in a protein bar or a shake – these are just a few easy ways I achieve my protein targets without meat.

So, hands up who’s getting involved in meat-free Mondays?! If you’re keen on giving the whole veggie thing a go, why not try whipping up these delicious Chickpea and Raspberry blondies, the perfect high protein vegetarian recipe for an on-the-go refuel.

For more vegetarian diet tips, fitness advice and a tune or two, follow Marty on Instagram!