Think you can’t gain muscle on a vegan diet? Think again!
A lot of people (mistakenly) assume that it’s impossible to build muscle mass when on a vegan diet. It may be a bit harder than if you were eating animal protein, but it’s definitely not impossible.
Read on for some science-backed tips and tricks that will help you to gain muscle and get stronger while sticking to a vegan diet.
Tip 1: Keep High-Protein Foods on Hand
For those who are struggling to gain muscle on a plant-based diet, the main issue is often that they don’t know what kinds of foods to eat to get enough protein.
There are lots of high-protein, great-tasting options for vegans and vegetarians. You just need to think outside the box to meet your daily protein needs.
Outlined below are some of our top recommendations for high-protein plant-based foods:
Spirulina is a type of algae that has a total protein concentration of 70%. This actually makes it superior to meat and dairy products when it comes to protein count. For example, a typical steak contains just 25% protein.
Another positive to spirulina is that it comes in powdered supplement form. It can be conveniently added to smoothies or sprinkled on top of a salad for additional protein and flavor.
Nutritional yeast contains 8 grams (0.28 ounces) of protein per one-quarter cup and has a unique, cheesy flavor. It’s a staple among many vegans and vegetarians (as well as those who don’t or can’t eat dairy products) and is commonly used as a replacement for grated cheese on top of foods like pasta and salads.
Nuts and Peanuts
If you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet, adding nuts and peanuts (technically a legume rather than a true nut) to your diet is a great way to increase protein and healthy fat intake.
Peanuts emerge with the highest protein count with 26 grams (0.9 ounces) of protein per 100 grams (3.5 ounces). Other nuts like almonds, pistachios, and cashews are also nutritious and protein-rich alternatives.
Beans and Legumes
Some of the best beans and legumes for plant-based eaters include soybeans, kidney beans, split peas, and chickpeas. In a 100 gram serving, they can provide you with between 20 to 25 grams of protein.
Beans and legumes are also high in fiber. Because of this, they can reduce visceral fat around the organs, which is linked to other health problems.
If you are looking for a starchy carbohydrate that also provides some protein, oatmeal is an excellent choice. You can enjoy oatmeal on its own or mix it with other plant-based protein options.
Tofu and Tempeh
For vegans and vegetarians, tofu and tempeh are often used as alternatives to meat. They are incredibly versatile and high in protein, averaging at about 12 grams of protein for each 100-gram serving. They’re lower in calories than most meats, too.
Tip 2: Eat Enough Protein
During a strenuous workout session, our muscle tissues develop micro-tears. This is why we feel sore after lifting heavy weights and pushing our bodies to the limit.
Protein is important because it helps to repair these micro-tears. It also helps the body to build more muscle over time and prevents muscle breakdown.
It doesn’t matter what kind of diet you’re following. If you want to gain muscle, you need to eat enough protein. How much is enough, though?
For omnivorous people who get at least 10 percent of their protein from animal products (most vegetarians likely fall into this category), “enough” typically looks like 1.2-2.2 grams (0.04-0.07 ounces) of protein per pound of body weight.
For vegans and those who get less than 10 percent of their protein from animal sources, it’s recommended to aim for about 20 percent more than the guidelines mentioned above (1.4-2.4 grams or 0.042-0.084 ounces per pound of body weight). This helps to make up for the fact that humans cannot digest and absorb plant protein as efficiently as they can animal protein.
Tip 3: Prioritize Complete Proteins
When you’re following a plant-based diet, it’s important to eat a variety of protein-rich foods. This helps you ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids (or EAAs) you need to build muscle and ensure your body is functioning properly.
Essential amino acids are amino acids that the body cannot make on its own. They must come from food or supplements.
There are nine essential amino acids that a protein source must contain to be considered "complete":
Many plant-based protein sources, including oatmeal, nuts, and many legumes, are incomplete proteins. However, there are plenty of others that do contain adequate amounts of essential amino acids, such as quinoa, peas, soybeans, tofu, and tempeh.
Tip 4: Look for BCAAs
Of the nine essential amino acids, three are known as Branched-Chain Amino Acids. Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are particularly important when it comes to building muscle, supporting recovery, and preventing muscle breakdown.
When considering the amino acid composition of different plant-based foods, it’s important to look for these three amino acids. Leucine, in particular, is one of the most important when it comes to supporting maximum muscle gain.
You can buy BCAA supplements that just contain these three amino acids. You can also get them from complete proteins, including most protein powders.
Tip 5: Eat Protein After Your Workout
Aim to consume at least 20 grams (0.7 ounces) of protein after each workout session. This helps to encourage muscle growth and supports optimal muscle recovery.
Don’t have time to make a full, high-protein meal after your workout? A plant-based protein shake is a great option.
Plant-based protein powders make it easy for you to hit your daily protein goals and fuel your body after a tough training session. For best results, look for a protein powder that is made from complete protein sources such as peas. This helps you to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of EAAs and BCAAs in each serving.
Trying to build muscle on a vegan or vegetarian diet can be difficult at first. It’s not impossible, though. This is especially true now that there are more plant-based options available on the market, including plant-based protein powders.
Of all the plant-based protein powders available in stores and online, our plant-based protein powder stands out from the rest. It’s made with 25 grams (0.9 ounces) of protein from high-quality plant sources (a combination of pea, brown rice, and fava bean protein), and it contains 3 grams (0.1 ounces) of the Branched-Chain Amino Acid, Leucine.
With its delicious taste and stellar nutrient profile, Plant Perform will surely help you to level up your performance and recovery. Place an order and try it for yourself today!