I have had it up to here with Vegan Fake News and their nutritional terrorism. Infographics like this are intentionally misleading and cause aspiring fitness buffs to mistakenly think they are hardgainers and resort to unhealthy shortcuts.
Fact check time. The beef in this infographic appears to be top sirloin with all the fat trimmed off, a 100g portion has 177 calories and 30.8g protein which means that a 100 calorie portion would have 17.4g protein. The infographic claims only 6.4g protein so they are understating the protein in beef by 300%.
Now lets fact check the broccoli, 100 grams of cooked broccoli has 35 calories and 2.4g protein. A 100 calorie portion of cooked broccoli weighs 286g and would have 6.86g protein whereas the graphic claims that broccoli has 11.1grams of protein overstating its protein by 40%.
Epic fail on the fact check so far, but it gets worse. The title of the infographic is:
“Do you really need meat to get protein?”
They would have you believe that broccoli is better than beef for building muscle which we have already shown is incorrect but it gets far worse. Yes, there is protein in broccoli so lets do the math. Lets say you are an aspiring bodybuilder and need 200g protein a day because of your weight and your intense strength training style workouts. Lets make the unproven assumption that the protein in broccoli is just as good as from animal sources just for the sake of argument. How much broccoli would you need to get that 200g of protein? Again, lets do the math. 100g of cooked broccoli has 35 calories and 2.4 grams of protein so we need 200/2.4 or 83 one hundred gram portions to get our 200 grams of protein. 83 one hundred gram portions is 8300grams, 8.3kg, or 18 pounds of broccoli. Let that sink in. 18 pounds of broccoli – do you have any concept how much that is or how much it costs? As an aside, the meal plans at CustomMealPlanner.Com rely heavily on non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, spinach, and broccoli to help people to lose fat without ever getting hungry. One of the most common complaints people make about their fat loss meal plans is that there is TOO MUCH FOOD and by that they mean too many vegetables. The amounts they are complaining about are 600 gram portions and we are talking about 20x more vegetables than that! Seriously, I do not think its possible to eat 18 pounds of anything in a day without dying. While we are at it, lets compare cost. If you look at the USDA statistics for broccoli prices, you will see that in 2016 the average price was $1.96 per pound so that means that assuming you didnt die from eating 18 pounds of broccoli, it would cost you $36.
The second thing is that its ridiculous to use beef as the comparision point. No natural bodybuilder uses beef as a protein source because its percent of calories from protein is too low. Grilled chicken breast is 87% protein by calories which is why natural bodybuilders rely on it. Lets do the same calculation for chicken. 870 grams of grilled boneless skinless chicken breast have 957 calories and 200g protein. Again, 200g protein is 800 calories. To calculate the percent of calories from protein, we divide 800 by the total calories which is 957 to find that chicken is 84% protein. 870g of grilled chicken breast will cost you about $15.
Why the vegan hate?
Great question. Its the people who use lies and deception as the infographic above illustrates that I hate, not the nutrition style. I think plant based nutrition is AWESOME and personally, I try to get as many calories as I can from plant based sources. I am a believer in the benefits of plant based nutrition and misinformation like the above infographic discredit the whole plant based nutritional style. THAT is why I am pissed. In my opinion, maximizing the percent of calories you get from plant based sources is good for your health because:
- Animals concentrate dangerous pesticides and heavy metals. It takes 4-10 pounds of grains to make a pound of meat.
- In my opinion, the vitamins and anti-oxidants found in pills in the supplement aisle are inferior to those found naturally in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.
- In my opinion, fiber is critical to health and people eating predominately plant based diets get far more fiber.
- People who eat a minimally processed diet with predominately plants based foods like this vegan health meal plan will find they can keep at a healthy bodyfat without portion control or hunger because the foods used are not energy dense.
I am actually very supportive of plant based nutrition which is why I spent months of work making these easy to use tools for building custom plant based meal plans:
Can vegans be successful natural bodybuilders?
Define successful. If success means to be a medalist in a men’s physique or bodybuilding contest, then no, natural vegans cannot be successful. In all fairness though, natural omnivorous bodybuilders cannot be medalists in these events either as winning either requires steroids or an event so small that everyone gets a medal. Can natural vegans gain muscle? Of course! Can they gain as much as a vegetarian or a carnivore bodybuilder? Maybe. They can certainly get close BUT its a lot harder. Like any nutritional plan, the devil is in the details – Skittles and all kinds of horrible, highly processed foods are vegan. One of the biggest problem that a vegan bodybuilder faces is the fact that protein from plant sources is not concentrated so to get enough protein requires that one use highly processed foods like TVP, gluten, defatted peanut flour, or the protein powders made from soy, pea, or rice. If you are a vegan for health reasons then you probably are not interested in these high protein density processed foods so your nutrition is similar to this vegan health meal plan and your bodybuilding gains will suffer because you will not be able to get sufficient protein while staying within your caloric budget.
The research is kinda all over the board on the subject of essential amino acids and “complete proteins”. Some research says it doesnt matter and that for muscle building, any old protein will do no matter how complete and other research says the exact opposite. If I was a vegan bodybuilder, I would hedge my bets about the “incomplete protein” and “bio-availability” issues and make sure I consumed a lot more protein than my animal eating gym buddies. For these reasons, if you look at the vegan bodybuilder meal plans at CustomMealPlanner, you will see that they have a LOT of protein – nearly twice what is typically recommended for bodybuilders.
Is Scooby a Vegan?
No and I never will NEVER be. I refuse to be confined by someone elses arbitrary nutritional pigeonhole so I created my own nutritional philosophy. I call myself a “pseudo-vegetarian”. I eat almost no meat/fish/pork but will have salmon for omega 3 fatty acids or beef for iron a few times a month. If you look at the percent of calories I get from plant sources, its probably about 90% with 10% coming from animal sources. Most of my protein comes from plant sources like lentils, peas, and beans and probably 40% from egg whites and nonfat greek yogurt. My primary fat source is nuts, olive oil, and avocados. When I create my meal plans at custommealplanner, i mix and match from vegan meals, vegetarian meals, and keto meals.
Why the fuss over a silly Vegan infographic?
People might wonder why I am making such a fuss about a silly info-graphic – because people who lack critical thinking skills fall for it and are hurt by it. They are the “hardgainers” of the world who keep posting about how anyone who looks like me CLEARLY uses steroids. Here is an example of the people who have fallen for the vegan propaganda infographics hook, line and sinker:
The poor person who made that statement is a victim of vegan fake news. he claims:
peanut butter is far better and more natural option and still has high protein.
The “far better and more natural option” part is open to debate. I will concede that arguments can be made in both sides here but it will come down to deciding on which peanut butter and which isolated whey. Are we talking Jif or are we talking about nuts you ground yourself into butter in your Quisinart? Are we talking a high quality natural whey like I recommend which have just two ingredients or are we talking one of those cance-in-a-jug products like BSN Syntha 6 which have literally paragraphs of chemicals in their list of ingredients?
To the main point of which there is no dispute, the commenter is WRONG about the protein and they have been decieved by vegan misinformation. Peanut butter is NOT high in protein. The thing that many people who are nutritionally naive do not understand is that when it comes to protein, its the percent of calories from protein that is important. The reason this is vitally important is that a bodybuilder is brutalizing their body in the gym and needs high protein intake to repair their muscle damage. The reason that the protein percentage is so important is that if a bodybuilder eats too much, they get fat. Both cheese and chicken are great sources of protein. You can gain as much muscle getting 200g of protein a day from cheese as you can from chicken. The different is how quickly you would become alarmingly fat you get your protein from cheese. To get 200g of protein from cheese, you need to consume 800g of cheddar cheese which is 3224 calories. While we are at it, lets calculate the percent of calories from protein in cheddar cheese. 200g protein has 800 calories. 800 of the 3224 calories are protein, that means its only 25% protein. Pretty simple calculation.
Now lets look at grilled chicken. 870 grams of grilled boneless skinless chicken breast have 957 calories and 200g protein. Again, 200g protein is 800 calories. To calculate the percent of calories from protein, we divide 800 by the total calories which is 957 to find that chicken is 84% protein.
Now lets go back to the poor ignorant vegan who made that comment about peanut butter being just a good of source of protein as isolated whey is. If you look at the top 5 best protein powders, you will see that they are about 85% protein by calories. Lets look at peanut butter as a protein source. Given how mis-informed this person is, its clear they never look at the list of ingredients on the products they buy so they probably think Jif is good peanut butter so lets look at that.
Each serving has 7g protein so to get 200g protein, we need 28.6 servings. Since each serving is 190 calories, we need 5,428 calories worth of peanut butter to get our 200 grams protein. THIS is a good protein source? If you were an aspiring vegan bodybuilder and used peanut butter as your protein source, you would gain nearly a pound of fat per day.
Just for fun, for peanut butter lets calculate the percent of calories from protein. Again, 200g protein has 800 calories. 800 divided by the total calories which is 5428 give us 15%. In peanut butter only 15% of the calories are from protein. Cheese is a horrible protein source but peanut butter is even worse than worse.
This is why this vegan fake news pisses me off, it convinces people without critical thinking skills to make stupid nutritional decisions like using peanut butter instead of whey in their protein shakes. These poor people incorrectly label themselves as hardgainers and resort to unhealthy shortcuts or expensive supplements when their only problem is that they are malnourished.
Forget the words, lets look at the data. Here is a chart showing the protein density of some of the foods we have been talking about:
The movie “Game Changers”
What do I think about the movie “Game Changers”? This page on “Fake Vegan News” is a perfect place to discuss it! It seems to be a sequel to “The China Study” – a book long on anecdotes and short on hard data. The main thing I have to say is that people believe what they want to believe. If you think that you can look like Nimai Delgado or fight like MMA fighter James Wilks while getting your protein from peanut butter and broccoli, please give that a try for 5 years and let me know how that works out for you.
If you want science, read the journals rather than watching a Hollywood movie. If they stuck to peer reviewed and published research in this movie, they wouldn’t have had enough content to fill a trailer, let alone a whole movie.
One thing I do agree with the movie on is that soy is a great source of protein. I also think that its wise to get your protein from a variety of sources without relying on any one for more than 30% of your protein needs.
I believe its healthy to get as many of your calories from plant based sources as possible BUT its not all or nothing like this movie says. In the absence of good research, the best assumption is that the benefit you get from eating plant based is a sliding scale – eat 90% of your calories from plants and get 90% of the health benefits. What if you want to maximize muscular gain AND health? IMO, that is what I do – please see the section titled “Is Scooby a Vegan?”.
Vegans can be massive bodybuilders!
Many vegans like to point to a handful of pro competing vegans as proof that you can get huge and muscular as a vegan. To me, this is kind of like pointing to Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman as proof that breathing air can make you massive. Its like I always say:
bad nutrition + steroids = GAINZ!
stupid workouts + steroids = GAINZ!