Some people believe that you can’t build muscle on a vegan diet – but that’s just another one of those vegan myths. Yes, animal protein has always been what bodybuilders eat to beef up, but now many of them are making a switch to a vegan diet, like Derek Tresize, Torre Washington, and Jehina Malik (google them and get ready to drool).
This new heavily muscled army of plant-based bodybuilders are challenging the meat-eating stereotype and proving that it is possible to build muscle on a cruelty-free diet. Besides bodybuilders, countless other athletes have already made the switch, including NFL running back Adrian Foster, UFC star Nate Diaz and the tennis players Venus and Serena Williams.
As you probably already know, building muscle is the consequence of training hard and eating well – which means no junk food, lots of nutrient-dense vegetables, and a good split between the macros: Proteins, Fats and Carbs. Let’s talk a little bit more about macros on a vegan diet:
“But oh, it’s so hard to find good sources of protein as a vegan…right?”
No way! It’s actually a LOT simpler than you think.
Many healthy plant-based foods are high in protein, such as beans, oat, nuts, quinoa, lentils, and so on. By eating enough whole plant-based foods, you will have adequate amounts of protein for your muscles to grow. Through a well-balanced diet based on whole-foods, with the optional inclusion of a vegan protein powder, athletes can consume more than sufficient protein to build muscle. As a rule of thumb, if you’re eating a diet that is sufficient in calories with a good variety of food, there is no need to count proteins.
Peanut butter, Wheat Germ, Almonds, Pumpkin Seed, Hemp Seed, Tempeh, Cashew Nuts, Tahini, Oat Bran, Tofu, Black Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas, Etc. (Here’s a longer list)
If you wanna know more about protein on a vegan diet, check these articles:
Fat is essential for many functions throughout the body such as hormone production. There is a hormone called leptin that is actually released by fat and helps to regulate our hunger – so if your fat intake is too low you will be hungrier even if you’re eating enough food! A good thing about vegan fats is that they’re all cholesterol free.
Healthy vegan sources of fats are coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Since nuts and seeds don’t require any preparation, they’re an easy and delicious way to get enough healthy fat into your diet.
I know carbs have a bad reputation, but that’s because some people just eat too much of it and from the wrong sources. In reality, carbs are what fuels your body during high intensity exercise, so if you are a highly active individual, you should keep your carb intake relatively high. This will guarantee that you have more energy to perform better in your workouts – which in turn will help you reach your goals more efficiently.
Well, this one is easy! Most sources of carbs are vegan anyway, so just eat whole foods like oats, quinoa, rice, sweet potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a sample vegan meal plan for physically active people who want to build muscle. Check it out:
A bowl of oats mixed with 1 cup of unsweetened coconut/almond/soy milk, with 1 sliced banana or 1 sliced apple, 1-2 tbsp. chia seeds and/or 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds, berries of choice, and stevia if needed.
An orange or apple with 1/4 cup raw cashews
1 large salad with romaine, kale, carrots, 2-3 tbsp. hummus, sliced red bell peppers, roasted sweet potato or roasted squash cubes, 1/4 cup of edamame, lentils or black beans, 1/4 cup cubed avocado and a lemon/mustard/tahini based dressing.
Protein pudding made with vegan protein powder, coconut flour, vanilla extract, and fresh blueberries (stir with almond milk into a pudding).
Tempeh with sauteed carrots, spinach, and mushrooms
A square of 80% or higher cacao content dark chocolate with an orange
Vegan protein powders come in handy when you don’t have the time to plan meals or when you want to increase your protein intake but can’t eat more food. Of course they are also delicious and can help you reach your goals, but know that it’s perfectly possible to build muscle on a whole-foods vegan diet without the need of protein powder or supplements.
Having said that, we’ve created an awesome guide with the 5 BEST VEGAN PROTEIN POWDERS – you should probably take a look because it will help you choosing one that doesn’t taste like dirt!
So that’s it, now you know that it’s possible to build muscle on a vegan diet – and it’s not even hard. You just need to eat lots of healthy food, train hard and – if you want – supplement with vegan protein powders.
In case you want more ideas on vegan recipes for a muscle building diet, check out this cool book with over 80 RECIPES that will help you:
- Enhance Muscle Gain
- Increase Your Daily Calories While Eating Healthy
- Improve Your Health
- Recover More Quickly and Support your Body’s Needs
- Make Tasty and Healthy Meals for You and Your Family
See you next time, and live healthy!