Are you planning to go on a vegan diet for weight loss and muscle gain? If so, we’ve got you covered with some of the best vegan diet guidelines, vegan nutrition plans to follow, delicious veggie recipes and more.
It can be really hard to know what the best vegan diet for weight loss and muscle gain is. There’re an awful lot of diets out there, some recommending carbs some recommending protein and others recommending an all-around approach.
Best Vegan Diet For Weight Loss And Muscle Gain
If you’ve been on a vegan diet for some time, you’re probably feeling pretty good. Maybe you’re losing weight, feeling more energetic, and enjoying better health overall. Not to mention, it’s better for animals and the environment.
But what about your fitness goals? Can you gain muscle on a vegan diet? The answer is, you definitely can!
Some people have misconceptions around plant-based protein sources. They think that it is difficult to get enough protein to support muscle growth on a vegan diet. But don’t worry, that is not the case.
If you want evidence that muscle gain is possible on a vegan diet, check out Barny du Plessis. He is vegan, and won the Mr. Universe in 2014. There’s also Kendrick Yahcob Farris, an American Olympic weightlifter who finished 11th in his weight class at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
These are only a couple of examples out of many prominent athletes who are fueled by plant-based diets.
Regardless of your diet, there are two essential components when it comes to muscle gain. You need to stress your muscles through exercise, which stimulates the recovery process. Then you need adequate nutrition to aid that recovery.
This article will only address the nutrition aspect of muscle gain. We’ll discuss how you can maximize muscle mass on a vegan diet. We’ll list some of the best plant-based protein sources, and we’ll also discuss what you should look for in a vegan protein supplement.
Track your calories and macronutrients
Depending on your current weight, lifestyle, and fitness goals, you’ll need to consume a certain amount of calories every day. You’ll also need to eat a proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to optimize muscle gains.
For example, if you want to add lean muscle but lose excess fat at the same time, you’ll have a specific daily calorie intake goal. But if you’re a “hard-gainer” and you need to increase weight as you add muscle, you’ll have a different daily caloric goal.
If possible, you should speak to a dietician who can recommend a nutrition plan tailored specifically to you. If consulting a nutritionist isn’t an option at the moment, there are a couple of tools that might be helpful.
The first one is a weight-gain calculator from calculators.org. All you need to do is add some details about yourself and your goals. The results will display your daily caloric and protein requirements.
MyFitnessPal, Fooducate Lifesum, My Diet Coach and more are excellent apps you can use to track your daily calories. You can also make sure your macros are on point so you can progress towards your gains.
Eat plenty of nuts and vegetables
One of the most critical aspects of following a plant-based diet is, well, eating plants. Try to include a wide variety of fruits and veggies in your diet every day: especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.
Eating kale, spinach, or broccoli may not directly contribute to your muscle gains. But they improve digestion, metabolism, and hormonal function . These functions regulate how you absorb nutrients from your food, and how well you use them as fuel.
Almonds, pecan, pistachios, and other nuts are good non-dairy sources of calcium. You need calcium for bone health, which will support your efforts in the gym. Consider a vitamin D supplement (or make sure to get plenty of sunlight) for optimal calcium absorption .
Kale is an excellent source of vitamin K, which also promotes healthy bones .
How to get enough plant-based protein for muscle growth
Let’s talk about protein. It contains amino acids, which play a significant role in muscle growth . Here are some of the best plant-based protein sources to help you gain muscle on a vegan diet.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse. They have been used in middle eastern cuisine for ages. If you’ve ever had hummus, it mostly contains chickpeas.
A 100 gram serving of chickpeas contains around 10 grams of protein. It is also a good source of iron and fiber to promote muscle gain and optimal digestion.
Kidney beans are a legume native to Central America but used in cuisines all around the world.
Every 100 grams of boiled kidney beans pack around 9 grams of protein. They are rich in fiber, and various vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, manganese, and potassium. Kidney beans also contain vitamin K1, which helps maintain bone mineral density.
Lentils are another member of the legume family. They are a staple in India, where a large portion of the population is vegetarian.
Much like kidney beans, boiled lentils pack around 9 grams of protein in every 100-gram serving. They are also a great source of iron, which could be beneficial to you on a vegan diet.
With roots in the Inca civilization, quinoa is a gluten-free seed, and one of the world’s trendiest superfoods today. And for a good reason. It is highly nutritious and a rich source of protein.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains around 8 grams of protein. Quinoa also contains critical nutrients like zinc, manganese, magnesium, folate, and more.
Vegan protein supplements
When you’re on a vegan diet, there might be times when you’ll have to rely on a supplement to get enough protein to support your muscle gain goals.
For example, when you’re traveling, and you don’t have access to your kitchen. Depending on what part of the country you’re visiting, it might be a challenge to find lentils and hummus on a restaurant menu.
When shopping for a vegan protein supplement, look for the following types:
- Pea protein – Pea protein is a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids, some of which your body must get from diet. It is a good source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), which are crucial for muscle growth .
- Brown rice protein – Extracted from brown rice, it is one of the easiest proteins to digest. The higher bioavailability allows your body to use it for muscle growth better.
Besides high-quality protein, you should also make sure your protein supplement is free of harmful ingredients like processed sugars. The vegan protein powders offered by Naked Nutrition included Naked Pea and Naked Rice, both of which have only one ingredient which makes it easy to know exactly what is going into your body.
But, because there are no artificial sweeteners or added sugars the final flavor of your vegan vegan recipes and shakes will be determined by the fruits or vegetables you decide to blend with the powder.
Closing thoughts on vegan muscle gain
Gaining muscle is definitely doable on a vegan diet. As with any other diet, you need to assess your goals and plan your fitness and nutrition accordingly. Try to include as many of the plant-based protein sources in your diet as possible. Also, make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to optimize digestion. If you remain consistent with your diet and fitness routines, you’ll be flexing those new vegan muscles before you know it!
Foods to eat
The vegan bodybuilding diet usually includes many of the following foods:
- Beans and legumes. These provide a good source of protein and fiber.
- Hemp, flax, sunflower, and chia seeds. They contain a good amount of protein and omega-3s.
- Quinoa and amaranth. These two pseudograins provide complete sources of protein.
- Meat substitutes. Made to look and feel like meat, these products are usually made with soy or pea protein.
- Soy products. Examples include tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk, and soy protein powder.
- Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts. These fortified products can help vegans meet their daily requirements for calcium and vitamin D.
- Spirulina. This blue-green algae packs a lot of protein, as well as several vitamins and minerals.
- Vegan protein powders. The best varieties are usually made from a combination of protein sources, such as peas, hemp, and brown rice.
- Nutritional yeast. Used in vegan cooking for its savory flavor, nutritional yeast is commonly fortified with vitamin B12.
- Sprouted grain breads. These provide a good source of protein and complex carbs.
- Oats. Oatmeal and oats provide a good amount of protein per serving, as well as some beneficial fiber.
- Fruit and vegetables. These are an important part of any vegan diet.
- Whole grains and cereals. These can provide a good source of protein, B vitamins, and fiber.
- Nuts and nut butters. They can provide a good source of protein when combined with other complementary proteins. Plus, they’re a good source of healthy fats.
- Tahini. This paste made from sesame seeds provides a good amount of fat and a bit of protein per serving.
- Healthy oils. Oils, such as olive, avocado, and hempseed, provide a good source of healthy fats and some essential omega-3s.
- Vegan dark chocolate. High in antioxidants, vegan dark chocolate contains some essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, and E.
Considering that the vegan bodybuilding diet may lack certain nutrients, it’s recommended that followers take advantage of certain dietary supplements.
With the rise in popularity of the vegan diet in recent years, nutrition supplements geared toward those following it have greatly improved in quality and taste.
One of the main supplements to consider is a vegan protein powder, which allows you to reach the protein intake levels recommended for bodybuilding while staying within a certain calorie range.
There are numerous vegan protein powders available, such as soy isolate, pea, hemp, and brown rice. It’s best to find a powder with several sources to ensure you’re getting all of the essential amino acids.
Another potentially beneficial supplement is a vegan multivitamin that includes sufficient quantities of the nutrients that the vegan diet typically lacks, such as calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D.
Some other supplements to consider are creatine and beta-alanine. These two well-studied compounds are naturally found in meat products and available in vegan-friendly varieties. They can play a role in energy metabolism and muscle gain.
While supplementing is not entirely necessary on the vegan diet, it can reduce the chances of nutrient deficiency and optimize the diet for your bodybuilding purposes.
SUMMARYThe vegan bodybuilding diet is based on several nutritious whole foods. Dietary supplements may also play a crucial role in making up for nutrients the diet may lack.
The vegan bodybuilding diet tends to avoid or limit the following foods:
- Animal foods. Meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and bee products are entirely off-limits on a vegan diet. Certain animal additives found in several foods fall into this category as well.
- Foods that might not be vegan-friendly. Some breads, deep-fried foods, candy, potato chips, dark chocolate, and other products may harbor animal-derived ingredients.
- Vegan junk food. Candy, ice cream, and some vegan protein bars should be restricted, as they tend to be high in refined sugar and calories.
- Mock meats and cheeses. These tend to be processed and may contain additives. They also tend to provide fewer nutrients than whole foods. Therefore, these products should be limited.
SUMMARYWhile vegan diets are typically based on non-animal whole foods, there are some foods you should watch out for when starting the diet. Some may contain traces of animal-derived ingredients, whereas others may lack a sound nutritional profile.
While calorie and macronutrient intakes vary greatly by individual and specific goals, here is a sample 5-day vegan bodybuilding diet meal plan.
- Breakfast: protein oatmeal made with oats, vegan protein powder, soy milk, banana, and nut butter
- Lunch: tofu stir-fry made with extra firm tofu, vegan pasta, beans, red lentils, celery, onion, and spinach
- Dinner: teriyaki tempeh with broccoli and quinoa
- Snack: strawberry-banana protein shake
- Breakfast: breakfast burritos made with tofu scramble and vegetables on vegan tortillas
- Lunch: lentil loaf made with lentils, kidney beans, veggies, and nutritional yeast
- Dinner: black-bean veggie burger with sweet potato fries
- Snack: peanut butter and oatmeal snack bars
- Breakfast: hummus toast made with sprouted grain bread, hummus, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds
- Lunch: vegan burrito bowl made with rice, beans, and homemade mock taco meat
- Dinner: sweet-and-sour stir-fry made with tofu, rice noodles, and vegetables
- Snack: mock tuna salad sandwich
- Breakfast: chocolate-peanut-butter smoothie bowl made with bananas, peanut butter, almond milk, vegan protein powder, and cocoa powder
- Lunch: black bean and quinoa “meat” balls over whole grain vegan pasta
- Dinner: vegan chili with tofu mince, kidney beans, tomatoes, and red lentils
- Snack: roasted chickpeas with red pepper flakes
- Breakfast: protein pancakes made with whole grain flour and vegan protein powder with toppings of your choice
- Lunch: coconut-tofu-curry stir-fry made with tofu, soba noodles, and edamame
- Dinner: vegan sloppy joe made with lentils and veggies
- Snack: chocolate-peanut-butter protein shake
SUMMARYWith many creative recipes available, the vegan bodybuilding diet doesn’t have to be boring. There are several staple ingredients that many of the recipes are based upon. It’s helpful to plan out several days of meals to make shopping easier.