If you’re a dedicated vegan and want to gain more muscle mass, you might feel like you’re taking on the impossible. You often hear that protein is the most crucial food for muscle growth and that you should consume a lot of it to be successful.
But don’t jump to this conclusion so quickly. While it is unquestionably true that protein is a crucial ingredient to have in your diet, you don’t necessary need to consume large amounts of it to see results. Despite not eating any meat or animal products, there are many ways for vegans to gain the muscle they desire.
Here are the 15 top tips that every vegan bodybuilder should know.
1. Calories are Crucial
Ensuring you consume enough calories is the first thing a vegan bodybuilder needs to do. Your body is far more inclined to use incoming protein as fuel if you regularly consume insufficient calories, and you very well may see a deficit accumulating.
2. Fruits and Vegetables are Your Friends
Be sure you are eating lots of fruits and vegetables as well. These will give you a high-quality source of nutrients as well as all the antioxidant defense your immune system needs to be healthy.
3. Don’t Forget About Legumes or Chickpeas
Chickpeas and other legumes are some of the most important sources of protein for vegans who want to gain muscle. They are terrific low-fat sources of carbs and make a delicious snack before a challenging workout.
4. Quinoa Instead of Rice
If you typically consume brown rice with your meals, try substituting some quinoa for it. Quinoa has a similar flavor to brown rice, which is a hybrid of brown rice and oatmeal, however it has more protein overall than brown rice. Additionally, quinoa is a complete protein source, in contrast to brown rice, which is not. This is necessary for the process of muscle development.
5. Make Good Use of Plant Protein Powders
Using plant-based protein powders is a really good choice. These are easy and convenient for when you need them and will significantly increase your protein intake. They are unquestionably a “must-have” for your daily diet, provided that you remember to combine them with other sources of protein. If you don’t know where to start, check out our list of some of the best plant-based protein powders.
6. Don’t Eat Too Many Processed Foods
One major error that many vegans encounter is leaning too heavily on dense, excessively processed foods. Avoid doing this. Keep in mind that being a vegan does not give you carte blanche to consume any amount of high-carb snack items. You still need to make an effort to eat fresh foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts as part of a balanced diet.
7. Workouts Should Be Short But Active
Being a vegan, your training should focus on quick but intense sessions. By doing this, you’ll be able to keep your body from losing muscle mass and from needing so much protein to get through your workouts. Your demand for protein will be significantly increased if you engage in really lengthy workout sessions, which could be challenging if you follow a vegan diet.
8. Switch Up Your Diet Often
Make sure you’re also putting in the effort to mix up the items in your diet. You may discover that it’s easier to keep eating the same thing repeatedly. However, you should try to stop this if you are able. Ingesting a greater variety can help you avoid nutrient deficits and succeed with your diet plan.
9. Tempeh as an Alternative to Tofu
Tempeh is a lesser-known protein source that is excellent for vegans. Tempeh is essentially a fermented block of beans, typically soybeans. Sometimes grains like millet, rice, or barley are included as well. Tempeh is not common, but is both delicious and nutritious, so start coming up with original methods to incorporate it into your diet right away. Vegans often find that they prefer tempeh over tofu, a more common protein source.
10. Power Up with Nuts
Nuts are another excellent item that you should consume. Nuts offer both a beneficial amount of fat and a sustained source of energy. A handful will greatly increase your calorie intake and make gaining muscle that much simpler. Another way to consume nuts and hydrate simultaneously is with nut mylk, a vegan alternative to cow’s milk. Check out our guide on how to make it at home!
11. Nut Butters for a Calorie Boost
Start spreading as much natural peanut butter or other nut butter as you can on your favorite foods. This will increase the amount of fat in your body and contribute to increasing your daily caloric intake, which is crucial if you want to gain muscle. Try dipping your apples or bananas in peanut butter, or try mixing in your favorite nut butter with your next bowl of oatmeal or fruit smoothie.
12. Iron Supplements to Avoid Deficiency
Iron deficiency is a common problem for vegans since we don’t consume red meat. You don’t want to take a chance on having low iron levels because iron is necessary for healthy red blood cell growth. If you are low on iron, you’ll also quickly discover that you become fatigued during your workouts. Think about taking an iron supplement in your daily routine if you intend to follow a vegan diet for a prolonged period of time.
13. Get Your Greens
Broccoli and spinach are two veggies that you should consider eating in larger quantities. This is because, as a vegan, you might also be deficient in calcium. Both broccoli and spinach contain this essential nutrient and are easy to add to meals, snacks, or smoothies. If you’re still having a hard time getting enough calcium through your diet, you could consider taking a calcium supplement.
14. Foods for Fatty Acids
Fatty acids are essential for reducing muscle soreness and recovery times after workouts. Some research also indicates they can help increase muscle strength and range of motion. Including walnuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil as regular ingredients in your diet will help you get enough of these important nutrients.
15. Keep a Positive Mindset
Unfortunately, one challenge faced by a lot of vegan bodybuilders is negative feedback from others. For whatever reason, some people don’t like when others get stronger without consuming animal products. Try to ignore this as much as you can. Their negative impact is absolutely not going to help you if you want to put on serious muscle. Instead, stay positive and motivated. As a vegan, it may take a little longer to gain muscle, but if you keep working hard at it, you can absolutely find success. You’ve got this!
Looking for more ways to get plant-based protein in your diet? Here’s a short list to get you started. If you have other tips you’d like to share with your fellow vegan bodybuilders, let us know in the comments below!