Plant-based muscle: An interview with Ed Bauer | Precision Nutrition

Plant-based muscle: An interview with Ed Bauer

By Ryan Andrews, M.S., RD


I don’t really get excited about interviewing many people. But after watching the following video clip of Ed Bauer, I knew I had to learn more about this guy. Plant-based eater and powerlifter Ed Bauer shares his nutrition and workout secrets.

Bauer began his journey into fitness in 1995, with encouragement from his father, a competitive powerlifter.

He adopted a vegan lifestyle in 1996 after learning about the inhumane practices that are often involved in raising animals for food.

These interests soon merged, giving birth to a new passion: understanding more about plant-based eating and sports performance. Ed Bauer now has over five years of personal and group training experience.

Recently, I caught up with Bauer and asked him a few questions.

1. Most guys want to look, well, more like you. Where do most guys go wrong with their nutrition?

Get enough protein

I think most men underestimate the power of protein, and get less than they need to keep body fat under control. Not only does protein go to repairing damaged muscle tissue (assuming muscle is damaged from the tough workouts that you should be pushing yourself through), it also has the ability to curb sugar cravings. And protein we consume is more metabolically costly to digest than carbohydrates.

Guys that want to lean out or build muscle should get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. There are many formulas and complex equations outlining how much protein you need, but I can only speak from personal experience. Meeting my daily protein goal of 175 grams (or higher) helps to keep me lean and satisfied.

Vary your protein sources

As a vegan since 1996, I don’t eat any meat, fish, eggs, dairy, whey protein, or any other product that comes from an animal. For protein, I eat beans, tofu, nuts, tempeh, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, seitan, rice and pea protein powder, veggie analog meats usually with tofu and wheat protein, sometimes quinoa, and oats, and a variety of green veggies, like broccoli, spinach, kale, chard, and spirulina.

Don’t fear soy

Another area that men go wrong is they are completely afraid of soy. While it seems accurate that going overboard on soy can be harmful, having a limited amount in your diet has proven beneficial. It will not turn you into a woman and it does not influence your sex drive. I try to limit my daily soy intake to around 50 grams, mostly from whole food sources like tempeh and tofu. A little more on occasion has never been a problem for me.

Ed stays lean and fit by meeting his daily protein goal of 175 grams.

2. Where do most guys go wrong with their workouts?

Keep it functional and complex

They waste time on isolated movements. This is one of the biggest problems I’ve seen with the fitness industry as a whole. People are convinced that they need elaborate machines and pulley systems to efficiently work the body.

What this ends up doing is teaching the body to move within the artificial confines of a machine’s preset range of motion. Because of these established faulty motor recruitment patterns, people are more likely to get injured when they move or try something without those confines (such as moving in real life).

I’ve embraced CrossFit principles of constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement; with these principles I’ve gotten stronger and leaner, and I look better with less gym time, than I did when I approached workouts like a bodybuilder.

Get a buddy and a community

Also, having a community (i.e. a few workout buddies) and/or a group dynamic really helps push me to the next level in fitness. I always try to get a workout partner, and preferably one who is “better” than me in some way. This makes me push harder. This gets better results and is much more satisfying in the long run. I suggest other guys do the same.

3. Do you have a favorite quote?

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him … we need not wait to see what others do.” — Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Reject the anthropocentric falsehood that maintains the oppressive hierarchy of mankind over the animals. It’s time to set them free.” — Earth Crisis

4. What is your favorite supplement?

Right now it’s PlantFusion Protein Powder

5. What has been your worst supplement experience?

N.O. Xplode. It made me too jittery and I had to constantly run to the bathroom. Neither component makes for a good workout.

Then I asked Bauer to finish the following sentences…

6. The most embarrassing song on my iPod is…

Heaven Is a Place On Earth, Belinda Carlisle.

7. The most embarrassing thing in my kitchen is…

…Dots Candy. What can I say? I still have a sweet tooth.

To satisfy Ed’s sweet tooth

What can Ed teach us?

As usual, it looks like the best minds in health and fitness agree. Notice how many of Ed’s points converge with fundamental PN principles. For example:

  • Eat your veggies. Lots of them.
  • Eat lean protein with every meal (1 gram per body weight or lean mass).
  • Emphasize whole-body movement.
  • Find yourself some fit friends and go have fun with them.
  • Do something positive for the world.
  • Enjoy yourself each day and follow your passions.

And if you do get into the candy, own up to it. Clean slate.

For more news and appearances, visit Ed Bauer’s website:

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