Here is Everything You Need to Know about Vegan Bodybuilding


In this post, we present everything you need to know about vegan bodybuilding, including scientific research and common misconceptions. I also put together a sample vegan bodybuilding meal plan toward the bottom.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN BUILD MUSCLE & LOSE FAT BY EATING PLANTS

 

Vegan Bodybuilding Revealed

Vegan Bodybuilding 101

In this article, we present everything you need to know about vegan bodybuilding, including scientific research and common misconceptions.

I also put together a sample vegan bodybuilding meal plan toward the bottom.

Many of the fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders today are hesitant to go vegan due to the fear of compromising their fitness goals. However, the only obstacle they face is the lack of education about vegan bodybuilding.

“Luckily, we know that you can get your protein source from many different ways: you can get it through vegetables if you are a vegetarian. I have seen many bodybuilders that are vegetarian, and they get strong and healthy.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Vegan Bodybuilding Experiment

The YouTube video below is about Joshua Knox, a recreational bodybuilder that works at Google, who tries going vegan for a week.

After reflecting on the experience and noticing how easy it was, Joshua tried going plant-based for thirty days. That turned into over 1.5 years. He talks about how following a vegan bodybuilding diet lead to massive strength and endurance gains.

Joshua also cites health benefits like how his cholesterol went from 196 to 120 in a short period of time. Even if you’ve seen this before it’s certainly worth watching again.

Video – A vegan bodybuilding experiment: Joshua Knox at TEDxFremont

Vegan Bodybuilding Myths

The vegan lifestyle has always been considered a hindrance to bodybuilding due to many unverified opinions from media and society. A quick reality check will help you differentiate fact from fiction in the vegan bodybuilding space:

Myth 1 — “All vegan foods are healthy.”

Not all vegan food items are healthy, including junk food such as chips, French fries, ice cream, etc. Healthy preparation is equally important, even for veg food items, and should be considered along with the food type (e.g., whole foods should be preferred over processed foods).

Myth 2 — “Essential vegan food is more expensive than meat.”

Contrary to popular belief, a vegan diet is actually not more expensive than meat. A plant-based diet comprises of fruits and vegetables, i.e. fresh produce, which is usually more affordable than processed and packaged food.

Myth 3 — “Bodybuilding/bulk-up needs more animal-based protein than plant-based protein.”

Plant-based proteins are equally effective for bulking up as their animal-based counterparts. In fact, plant-based proteins are also rich in antioxidants, which help in recovery after exercise. The YouTube video below provides a useful overview of vegan protein sources

Myth 4 — “Vegan food does not have enough proteins/essential nutrients.”

Absolutely false! A balanced vegan diet covers all the essential macro and micronutrients you need to achieve your bodybuilding goals. Many athletes and bodybuilders are now turning to vegan diets primarily because it offers the same benefits without the dangers of a meat-based diet, including heart disease for red meat eaters.

Video – The Best Sources of Plant Based Protein

Muscle Building Process

While many of us go to the gym to build lean muscle and get into great shape, we often do not see the results as planned. Why? This is largely because working out alone is not a sufficient method to achieve the desired result.

Muscle building is a time-consuming process that requires the right combination of training, diet, and rest, none of which can be left out. It’s like a recipe — after all, what would bread look like without flour?

Here are a few explanations of the science behind muscle growth to help you fine-tune your routine:

Our muscle cells are made up of fibers that are the basic unit of contraction. To build muscles, you have to put greater stress on these fibers than what your body is used to. A heavy workout, especially with high load and low reps exercise, damages these muscle fibers, initiating the muscle repair process.

The repair process takes place when you rest after a workout. The body treats this as an injury and overcompensates by increasing the thickness of repaired muscle fibers, leading to muscle growth called hypertrophy.

Since these muscle fibers are essentially proteins, growth will occur when the body synthesizes enough proteins, with the help of food items consumed. Therefore, it is very important to supply the body with enough proteins to aid muscle rebuilding. The body also needs carbohydrates to facilitate the process.

Hormones such as testosterone also play a role in bodybuilding by stimulating the protein building process. While the male body produces enough testosterone naturally, some bodybuilders use steroids to induce synthetic hormones in the body to accelerate the muscle building process. This practice should be avoided, as it does more harm than good for the body.

Not providing enough rest to the body can actually reverse the intended effect. It can put the body in a destructive state, with irreversible damage to the muscles. The rebuilding process peaks around 24-48 hours after the resistance exercise. As such, each muscle should rest two to three days before repeating.

“Macros” Explained

Macros (macronutrients) such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are the essential fuel for bodybuilding. Good knowledge of various types of nutrients, including their role in muscle development, can help you create a perfect diet plan for any bodybuilding goal.

Protein:

One of the most important and clearly the most popular macronutrient for muscle building is protein, which is needed for building, repairing, and maintaining muscle fibers. Proteins are comprised of amino acids, some of which are naturally produced in the body (non-essential amino acids), while others have to be supplied through our diet (essential amino acids). Amino acids are further discussed later in this article. Some types of proteins are absorbed much faster and easier than others.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are the source of energy you need in order to hit the gym. Some people avoid carbs under the assumption that carbs make them fat. However, a certain level of carbohydrates is essential to perform routine exercise, because deficiency of carbohydrates can make the body resort to breaking down proteins for energy source.

The two types of carbohydrates are simple carbohydrates, the quick energy source readily usable by the body, and complex carbohydrates, slow-burning energy sources that take longer and are more work for absorption by the body. The YouTube video below does a great job of explaining the science behind carbohydrates.

Video – Types Of Carbohydrates – What Are Carbohydrates – What Are Good Carbs And Bad Carbs

Fats:

Though fats are unpopular among bodybuilding community, a controlled consumption can actually be useful for the body. Since fats are the densest form of energy, they are used to fuel the body’s day-to-day activities. The two types of fats are:

Saturated fats: These come from animal fat products such as cream and cheese, and fatty meats such as beef. These should be avoided as they contain cholesterol and increase the chances of heart disease.

Unsaturated fats: These are the healthy form of fats that actually provide energy and help with absorption of essential vitamins. Common items such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado, and canola oil are a good source of unsaturated fats.

Micronutrients:

Fiber:

Fibers are low-calorie foods that can help you feel full during the diet period. It slows down the digestion process, thus delaying hunger and keeping your calorie count in check. Furthermore, it helps in the absorption of protein, making an indirect contribution to bodybuilding.

Water:

Drinking enough water to keep your body hydrated is essential for many reasons.

First, it helps in clearing toxins and metabolic wastes from the body in the form of urine. A high-protein diet leads to accumulation of toxins such as urea and ketones, which are washed away with water.

Second, water helps in the transfer of nutrients to the muscle cells of the body, a very important task in bodybuilding.

Third, during a workout, your body loses a great deal of water in the form of sweat, and drinking more water replenishes this.

Video – How Many Calories a Day to Gain Muscle or Lose Weight

Determining how many macronutrients you need: A quick way to keep a track of your macronutrients is to measure the required calorie intake for your body and then distribute those calorie intakes among the three macronutrients (i.e., proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.)

An average person needs 15-16 calories per pound of bodyweight for maintenance — for example, a 160 lb. individual would need ~2500-3000 calories per day. And these calories can be converted to macronutrients by weight using the following conversion factors.

  • Proteins: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Fats: 1 gram = 9 calories

However, this requirement depends on many different factors for each individual, and there is no one fixed answer for everyone. A few key factors that determine the macronutrient consumption rate are listed below:

Age:

In general, the body’s macronutrient requirement goes down with age. A child needs more macronutrients during the growth phase of their body than an average adult needs for the maintenance of their body. During old age, the body’s metabolism slows down, thereby compromising its ability to digest macronutrients. Undigested macronutrients accumulates as fat in the body.

Gender:

Men typically require higher amount of macronutrients than women do, because they have a larger body (both height and weight) and more muscle mass. However, pregnant women and lactating mothers have increased metabolic needs that require additional protein intake.

Body type

A lesser known but very important factor to determine your macronutrient requirement is your genetics. Depending upon your metabolism rate, your body can be classified as one of the three categories below:

Ectomorphs: These are hard gainers whose bodies just refuse to bulk up due to a fast metabolism, which burns calories very quickly. The ratio of macronutrients that ectomorphs typically need to hit is 50 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. They need to consume on average 750-1000 calories more than their maintenance calories to bulk up.

Mesomorphs: This is the ideal body type to have, as it reacts perfectly to diet and workout routine. An ideal diet for mesomorphs would be around 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. Since their metabolism is not as fast as ectomorphs, for bulking up, their body needs just 500 more calories than that for maintenance routine.

Endomorphs: These are the people generally referred to as overweight. They appear large, with fat accumulated around their waist area. Due to a slow metabolism, their body accumulates fat very quickly, and they have to make a conscious effort to keep a check on their calorie intake. They should keep their carbs to a minimum, with an ideal ratio of 25 percent carbs, 35 percent protein, and 40 percent fat. Food intake should be 200-500 calories lower than maintenance calories.

Protein consumption based on fitness targets: Since most of your body parts are made of protein, you need a constant supply of protein to maintain the overall health and function of the body. However, if your fitness goal is to bulk up or lose weight, you need even more protein because of the accelerated muscle breaking and rebuilding process.

Vegan Bodybuilding Diet

Plant-Based Nutrients vs. Animal-Based Nutrients

“Animal-based protein is the same as plant-based proteins” — this is a very common misconception that can be debunked with readily available facts.

Your body does not absorb the protein directly in its current form. Instead, when you consume a high-protein meal, it is broken down into its constituent amino acids in the stomach. These amino acids are then transported via your bloodstream to various parts of your body to aid in muscle tissue maintenance, repair, and growth.

The body then selectively combines these amino acids to form different proteins to make up most solid matter in the human body, including eyes, nails, hair, muscles, skin, heart, etc.

There are about 20 known amino acids that mix up and twist together to make up to 50,000 different kinds of protein. These are divided into two categories based on their synthesis mechanism:

  • Around 10 of these amino acids are naturally produced by the body. These are called non-essential amino acids.
  • Remaining amino acids cannot be manufactured internally by the body. These are called essential amino acids, since they have to be supplied by a balanced protein-rich diet.

The primary purpose of consumed proteins is to supply the body with essential amino acids. While both plant- and animal-based proteins can provide essential amino acids, they primarily differ in amino acid profile. This profile determines the rate at which the absorbed amino acids are put to use in our body.

Animal-based proteins containing “substrate” amino acids are more readily available for our own protein synthesis, since these amino acids are similar to those found in humans. Plant-based proteins contain simpler amino acids that need more work from our body to be converted to usable forms.

In addition, one needs to consume more variety of plant foods to get all essential amino acids compared to lesser variety of animal foods for the same purpose. However, plants come with added benefits of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and antioxidants.

Being a vegan does not mean the same boring diet every day. That said, vegan or not, bodybuilding diets tend to be boring and repetitive. A well-planned vegan bodybuilding diet is a great way to enjoy a variety of food options and to meet all your nutritional needs simultaneously. Here, we discuss what you need to know about a highly effective plant-based diet.

Protein sources: Almost all vegan foods contain some amount of protein, but the key here is to choose the most effective food items for proteins. Soy products are the most common source, along with chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, broccoli, walnuts, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and corn.

Calcium sources: Milk and dairy foods are highest in calcium. However, dark green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, kale, and broccoli, are good plant sources when eaten in sufficient quantities. Fruit juices and soy milk are also rich in calcium.

Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids: These are essential for the heart, brain, skin, and joints. A few of the commonly available sources of fatty acids include canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed, and soybeans.

Iron: A lack of red meat can cause deficiency of iron, a common concern among vegans. Good plant sources of iron include dried fruits, whole grains, nuts, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and pulses. Foods rich in vitamin C should go along with iron, as vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron in the blood. Green leafy vegetables are rich in both of these.

Vitamin B12: One of the important vitamins not easily available in vegan food is vitamin B12. An easy way to meet this deficiency is to consume vitamin B12 supplements. It’s also found in fortified nutritional yeast, some supermarket cereals, and fortified soy and rice milks.

Vitamin D: Another missing vitamin in vegan food is vitamin D. A quick and easy way to generate vitamin D in the body is to get exposure to the sun for 15 minutes per day. However, if you have an indoor job with little or no time for exposure, vitamin D supplements are the way to go.

Eating Habits

Now that you know the science behind bodybuilding and the nutrients that can make it happen for you, it is time to roll up those sleeves and make a plan for your fitness goals. Remember that a disciplined execution of the plan is equally important as the plan itself.

Meal frequency: Although this topic is up for debate, some experts say you should eat every two to three hours to constantly replenish the body’s nutrient levels. Besides the three main meals of the day, eating protein-heavy snacks in between is beneficial for bodybuilding.

Conversely, other experts say it doesn’t matter, as long as you meet your targeted macronutrient totals for the day. What should you do? Try one method for 90 days and see if it’s working for you. Different things work for different people.

Don’t skip meals: This is more targeted for those who compete at a high level. Skipping meals is a bad idea because it may alter your body’s nutrient absorption mechanism — e.g., if you don’t supply the body with enough carbohydrates on time, it will start using proteins for energy. This could mess up your muscle growth process due to deficiency of proteins.

Distribution of nutrients: Post-workout meals should be heavier on carbohydrates, while later meals of the day should have more protein content in them. This is because the body will convert excessive carbs to fat if you sit around all day. That said, try to have a consistent ratio of macros with each meal throughout the day.

Drink lots of water: When you are not eating, the body is digesting previously consumed food, allowing for the absorption of nutrients into the body. Water is essential for this process, so the body should be drinking up during non-meal times.

Knowing the disadvantages of non-vegan food compared to vegan food: It is hard to resist the temptation of meat, as it is considered an easier source of protein in one’s diet, though not an ideal one for multiple reasons. Besides damaging the environment and causing animal cruelty, some of its harmful effects on health can be a warning sign for vegan bodybuilders and even meat-eaters.

High levels of saturated fat and cholesterol content in some cuts of meat increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Processed meat is usually loaded with sodium, which is a serious concern, as it often leads to high blood pressure, stroke, or heart failure.

The most common form of meat, red meat, takes longer to digest, and excess unabsorbed meat can affect the liver.

Excess consumption of meat can increase iron intake in the body. This can lead to excessive iron content in the brain and may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Answering Common Concerns

Whole vegan food vs. processed vegan food:

Once you decide to go vegan for environmental, ethical, and/or health reasons, it is extremely important to stick to the right kind of vegan food. Eating processed fast food like pasta, burgers, cookies, etc., even if they are vegan, defeats the health aspect of this commitment. You should instead stick to plant-based whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc.

Sugar content in processed food is much higher than whole foods, which makes it difficult to keep a count of your calorie intake.

Whole foods generate less waste for the environment. A simple example will demonstrate this. A processed box of vegan cookies requires many more resources from the environment than a bag of apples (e.g., trees for paper and packaging, electricity for baking, etc.)

Whole foods make you feel fuller for a longer duration, thus mitigating your craving for more food. You are likely to feel hungrier after eating a box of cookies than after eating an equivalent number of apples.

Need of protein shakes with vegan diet: If you are a vegan bodybuilder or athlete, you will need to incorporate vegan protein powder into your meal plan. Why? It is virtually impossible to hit your target amounts of protein from vegan food alone.

Especially if you’re a guy like me who weighs 225-230 lb. — can you imagine the amount of beans and quinoa I would have to eat?

That said, if you are a garden variety vegan (pun not intended) who doesn’t train hard in the gym, then a whole food, plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily need protein powder supplementation.

Getting Started

Congratulate yourself for reaching the end of this lengthy article. If you are reading this, then you are really motivated to leave meat and make the commitment to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Making a sudden switch to a vegan bodybuilding diet can be difficult and often impossible for daily meat-eaters.

One way to transition to a vegan bodybuilding diet is to gradually reduce the meat in your diet while increasing fruits and vegetables. Here are a couple of tips to help you get started:

Get connected. Find vegan bodybuilding communities online. There is power in numbers and it will help keep you accountable. Reach out, ask questions and let others help you with your journey. Remember, they have been where you are and can relate.

Get motivated. It is difficult to give up meat just for kicks. A habit change that affects your lifestyle requires much more motivation. So read up on why you want to be a vegan (you have probably started on this already). Key areas to study include animal rights, personal health benefits, its effect on the planet, etc.

Ramp up. Each week, increase the number of meatless meals in your diet. Find ways to include fruits and greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collards in your daily meals. You can also try one or two veg recipes in your weekly meal plan and gradually increase the number with time.

Substitute meat with veg products. Take your preferred recipes and substitute the meat with something vegan. For example, make fajitas using extra-firm tofu rather than chicken. You will be surprised at how many dishes taste very similar with these simple substitutions.

Branch out. Scan the Internet for vegan menus. Buy or borrow vegan cookbooks. Check out ethnic restaurants to sample new vegan cuisines. The more variety you bring to your vegan diet, the more likely you’ll meet all your nutritional needs.

Tell friends and family. If you are serious about being a vegan, tell your friends and family about it. Discuss your reasons and commitments on this issue. This commitment will give you additional motivation, since it is easier to cheat oneself than to cheat others.

Vegan Bodybuilding Meal Plan

(inspired by Robert Cheeke’s vegan bodybuilding meal plan)

Meal #1

  • Vegan protein shake
  • Lemon water
  • Banana

Meal #2

  • Tofu scramble
  • Assorted fresh vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, peppers)
  • 16 ounces of water

Meal #3

  • Burrito with rice or quinoa, greens, beans, and avocado
  • Small green salad with omega 3-6-9 EFA Oil
  • 16 ounces of water

Meal #4

  • Almond or peanut butter with sliced apples
  • 16 ounces of water

Meal #5

  • Large green salad with steamed green vegetables and tempeh
  • Bowl of carrot/ginger soup
  • 16 ounces of water

Meal #6

  • Almonds
  • Vegan protein shake
  • 16 ounces of water

Estimated Totals:

  • Total Calories = 4,000
    Total grams protein = 200g
    Total grams of carbohydrates = 660g
    Total grams of fats = 70g
    Total water consumption = 104 ounces (factoring in water for protein drinks too)

Video – Plant-strong & healthy living: Rip Esselstyn at TEDxFremont

Author Bio:

Chris Willitts (creator of V3), is the founder and owner of Vegetarian Bodybuilding.

V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System is a mixture of science and author’s advice, providing users with optimal diet and exercise. This system is designed for vegans and vegetarians only.

A lot of research has been put in this program. Furthermore, a lot of professional bodybuilders and athletes tried and tested the program, praising its progressiveness and efficiency.

The program is about taking control of your own body and health according to your potential and needs. And worry not; you’ll get plenty of proteins with this system. It will boost you with energy, and you’ll feel just a strong as any carnivore would (perhaps even stronger, depending on how much you invest in your exercise). It avoids vitamins deficiency and provides you with a lot of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Instead of saying things like “I think a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders,” the V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System claims “I know a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders, and I have results to prove it.”

To find out more, visit the website at V3 Bodybuilding – Vegan Bodybuilding

VEGAN MUSCLE-BUILDING MEAL PLAN DONE RIGHT


The Basics of Vegan Muscle-Building - When you look at the facts, a vegan bodybuilding diet makes lots of sense. In fact, it’s not that different from a meat-based bodybuilding plan.To build muscle (or to lose fat), the meal plan for a vegan and a meat-eater are essentially the same in terms of nutrient and caloric intake. It all boils down to dialing in your macronutrient intake to the right ratio, based on your fitness goals (and physical/biological status). Essentially, there are three steps for building muscle mass with vegan foods. Read on to find out more.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN BUILD MUSCLE & LOSE FAT BY EATING PLANTS

 

A shift is starting in mainstream nutrition. Health-conscious bodybuilders and athletes are moving towards vegan diets for building muscle.

Vegan bodybuilding is all the rage these days.

As concerns over environmental damage, health effects, and animal cruelty associated with factory farming continue to grow, many laypersons, health professionals, and athletes are advocating a shift to plant-based nutrition.

Among their ranks are professional vegan bodybuilders like Torre Washington, vegan bikini competitor Samantha Shorkey and former Ms. Bikini Universe Marzia Prince, vegan strongman competitors like world record holder Patrik Baboumiam, and vegan professional athletes like David Carter (defensive lineman – Oakland Raiders). These athletes and others like them are giving us a glimpse at the future of fitness….and the future looks plant-based.

Clearly, professional vegan athletes are kicking some serious butt on the world’s stage.

Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, the greatest bodybuilder of all time, recently made a statement about how we should try to go part-time vegetarian.

If you’re ready to take your bodybuilding to the next level, follow the advice of the pros and give a vegan diet a try. You might be amazed at the difference.

The Basics of Vegan Muscle-Building

When you look at the facts, a vegan bodybuilding diet makes lots of sense. In fact, it’s not that different from a meat-based bodybuilding plan.

To build muscle (or to lose fat), the meal plan for a vegan and a meat-eater are essentially the same in terms of nutrient and caloric intake. It all boils down to dialing in your macronutrient intake to the right ratio, based on your fitness goals (and physical/biological status).

Essentially, there are three steps for building muscle mass with vegan foods.

First, building muscle requires taking in a protein and caloric surplus (eating more calories than you burn metabolically and through exercise) from healthy whole food sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans/nuts.

Second, you will also need to create the demand for more muscle through intense weight training.

Finally, you will need adequate rest to fully heal and recover (rest is when we technically get stronger).

What is a Whole-food, Plant-based Diet?

The key to successful veganism isn’t shoving your face with chips and Oreos instead of steak, instead, it’s all about eating a plant-based, whole-food diet filled with all the nutrients your body craves.

In essence, a whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on vegetablesfruits, legumes, and whole grains—and it excludes (or minimizes) meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.

The key to success with a plant-based diet is knowing your daily macronutrient needs.

Planned meals with appropriate macronutrient ratios will build strength and muscle for most bodybuilders and athletes, regardless of their diet. When a variety of whole foods of sufficient quantity is consumed daily, vegetarian bodybuilders easily can meet their macronutrient requirements from plant-based sources.

How Many Calories Do I Need?

Daily calorie requirements for bodybuilders will vary depending on your age, weight, fitness goals and gender.

Here’s an example:

Age: 35

Sex: Male

Height: 6’0”

Activity: 5+ days per week

Goal: Gain 2lbs of muscle per week

This person should consume 4,184 calories.

To calculate your daily calories, visit: MyPlate Calculator

How Much Fat Should I Consume?

Fat is essential for many body functions, including hormone production. A good rule is to consume 0.5 grams (or less) of fat per pound of bodyweight. For our 210lb vegetarian bodybuilder, this means 105g or a little lower is ideal (no lower than 75g or 80g).

Again, the goal here is to target whole foods as your source. Fats from nuts, seeds, and especially avocados are ideal.

Protein Needs for Vegan Bodybuilders

A major concern for many bodybuilders contemplating going vegan is protein. Top athletes frequently worry that plant-based foods won’t provide them with enough, but creating a muscle-building vegan meal plan is easier than you think.

People always ask me how I get my protein and then look at me funny when I tell them, “Food.”

A vegan diet of dark green, leafy vegetables, fruits, rice, or pasta provides protein levels more than sufficient to add or maintain muscle, although creatine and iron may need to be supplemented. Plant-based protein powders are also high-quality sources of protein and can help fill in the gaps for vegetarian bodybuilders.

Consumption of plant protein, as opposed to animal protein, has also been shown to have positive benefits like retarding cancer, reducing atherosclerosis, increasing insulin sensitivity (preventing fat gain), and protecting against degenerative diseases.

The idea is to consume more protein-dense whole foods like seeds, nuts, beans, and whole grains. They tend to be the most calorie-dense plant foods, and calories are a precious part of the equation when it comes to vegetarian bodybuilding.

Most vegan foods contain protein, and so long as you eat enough throughout the day, you will get all the amino acids required to build muscle. From there, you can simply supplement your protein (and macronutrient) deficit with protein shakes like many other bodybuilders.

How Much Protein Do I Need to Build Muscle?

To build muscle with a vegan diet, you should start with one gram of protein per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 210lbs and want to weigh 220lb, try to consume 220 grams of protein daily (your kidneys will be fine).

“I know vegan bodybuilders who need more protein, and I know some that need less. It’s about discovering your personal numbers to hit through meticulous journaling.”

Keep in mind that the average person who doesn’t train hard and doesn’t put the same physical demand on the body needs much less protein.

Should I Use Vegan Protein Powders?

Yes, but do your research and be selective.

If you sift through some labels, you may notice that some protein powders use ingredients (chemicals, preservatives, etc.) that resemble a science fiction cocktail you would feed an alien. In other words, some protein powders are healthier than others, and the best ones are mostly derived from whole foods with few ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

The two vegan protein powders that I use are made by Garden of Life and PlantFusion.

Coping with Common Vegan Nutrient Deficiencies

The biggest risk of veganism is vitamin B-12 deficiency, since B-12 is absorbed solely through diet, and for humans, there are no reliable plant sources. Meat, eggs, and dairy products are all sources of B-12, as well as organically grown plants that have been fertilized and therefore “contaminated” with the vitamin-producing bacteria found in manure.

With poor B-12 metabolism, vegetarians are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Yet this dietary deficiency can be easily remedied with supplements (available in generic form) and fortified cereals or dairy products.

Besides vitamin B-12, authors from the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) writing in the journal Nutrition found that other nutrients of concern for vegetarians include zinc, vitamin D, and calcium. While predominantly in animal products, they can also be obtained in fortified soy milk and whole grain cereals.

Once these issues are addressed, vegan or vegetarian sources of protein become just as effective for thriving health and building strength and muscle. Diets high in unrefined plant foods have consistently been associated with benefits in lifespan, immunity, cardiovascular health, and improved athletic performance. 

Vegan Bodybuilding Meal Plan

If you’re ready to take your bodybuilding to the next level, this vegan meal plan is designed to get you there.

Please keep in mind that eating at certain times can increase the effectiveness of your nutritional intake. Here’s an example for a 210lb man who wants to weigh 220lbs:

Meal 1

  • 16 oz fresh raw juice (kale, spinach, parsley, cucumber, celery, ginger, green apple, and lemon)
  • Protein shake with 2 servings of vegan protein powder, 1 cup almond milk, and 1/2 banana

Meal 2

  • 1-2 servings of tofu and spinach scramble (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups oatmeal mixed with 2 tbsp pumpkin almond butter

Meal 3

  • Muscle-building black bean veggie burger with 1/2 avocado sliced on top
  • 1 large kale salad with mixed greens and tomato

Meal 4

  • 2 cups oatmeal with cinnamon
  • 1 apple with 2 tbsp almond butter
  • Protein shake with 2 servings of vegan protein powder, 1 cup almond milk, and 1/2 banana

Meal 5

  • 1/2 pack seitan
  • 1/2 pound steamed broccoli
  • Couscous and lentil salad

Meal 6

  • Vegan protein powder with 1 cup almond milk

Approximate totals for the day

  • 4,100-4,200 calories
  • 220g protein
  • 550-600g carbs
  • 90g fat

Bonus Recipe: Tofu and Spinach Scramble Recipe

This tasty recipe is an easy way to fill up on powerful protein. Eat up!

*Makes only two servings

Carbs: 27.5 | Fat: 14.5 | Protein: 21 | Calories: 317

  • 14-ounce package firm tofu drained and cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 6 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 lemon freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper, optional

To get more ideas about vegan muscle-building, watch this video – HIGH PROTEIN VEGAN MEAL PREP

Author Bio:

Chris Willitts (creator of V3), is the founder and owner of Vegetarian Bodybuilding.

V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System is a mixture of science and author’s advice, providing users with optimal diet and exercise. This system is designed for vegans and vegetarians only.

A lot of research has been put in this program. Furthermore, a lot of professional bodybuilders and athletes tried and tested the program, praising its progressiveness and efficiency.

The program is about taking control of your own body and health according to your potential and needs. And worry not; you’ll get plenty of proteins with this system. It will boost you with energy, and you’ll feel just a strong as any carnivore would (perhaps even stronger, depending on how much you invest in your exercise). It avoids vitamins deficiency and provides you with a lot of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Instead of saying things like “I think a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders,” the V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System claims “I know a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders, and I have results to prove it.”

To find out more, visit the website at V3 Bodybuilding – Vegan Muscle-Building Meal Ideas

Vegan Bodybuilding Diet – The Ultimate Vegan Diet Plan for Bodybuilding and Athletic Performance


Starting a vegan bodybuilding routine isn’t as tricky as you might expect. The good news is that the core bodybuilding diet guidelines are the same for vegan and omnivores alike. In fact, the only difference is that all of the protein sources in a vegan diet are non-meat, non-dairy, and are free from animal by-products. Listed in this article are ten tips for following a healthy, highly effective vegan bodybuilding diet.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN BUILD MUSCLE & LOSE FAT BY EATING PLANTS

 

Vegan bodybuilding and plant-based fitness are becoming more popular every day.

Contrary to the outdated paradigm of traditional bodybuilding, going meat-free doesn’t mean you can’t build muscle or achieve your fitness goals. Instead, science is showing that eating a plant-based diet might be one of the best ways to reach them faster.

Although the mainstream fitness community seems to believe that bodybuilders must consume copious amounts of “superior” animal protein to bulk up, countless vegan bodybuilders have developed strong, sexy physiques while eating only plant-based foods.

If you’re a looking to build more lean muscle by way of a vegan bodybuilding diet, this article is the resource you need to get started.

Why Simply Cutting Out Meat Isn’t Enough

For the vegan novice, it’s easy to think that all it takes to gain the abs of your dreams is to cut out eggs and cheese in favor of cherished snack foods instead. However, this style of diet is more like to add on flab than fabulous muscle tone. To bulk up with veganism, you’ll need to follow a healthy, whole foods diet that gives your body exactly what it needs to thrive.

Crafting a vegan bodybuilding diet that works for you isn’t rocket science, but it does take some basic knowledge, motivation, and attention to detail. In this article, I will demystify the vegan bodybuilding meal plan and bikini competition diet and break it down into its most essential elements. Beyond the myths and the hype, here’s what bodybuilders should know about building muscle the vegan way.

Vegan Bodybuilding Diet – Guidelines for Vegan Bodybuilding Nutrition

Starting a vegan bodybuilding routine isn’t as tricky as you might expect. The good news is that the core bodybuilding diet guidelines are the same for vegan and omnivores alike. In fact, the only difference is that all of the protein sources in a vegan diet are non-meat, non-dairy, and are free from animal by-products.

Below are ten tips for following a healthy, highly effective vegan bodybuilding diet.

  1. Get Sufficient Calories

When using a vegan bodybuilding diet, getting enough calories is critical.

An average plant-based vegan diet has a much lower calorie content than a conventional diet, meaning vegans should closely monitor their levels. If you don’t consume enough calories, your body can shift into a catabolic state, meaning it devours itself for energy. The larger the calorie deficit, the more your body will fuel itself on existing muscle tissue instead. In other words, without consuming enough calories your hard-earned muscle mass will slowly waste away.

For peak form, bodybuilders should strive for 15 to 20 calories per pound of bodyweight, and then adjust that number based on noticeable gains or losses at the gym.

  • Keep Your Protein Levels High

Of the three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) the one that seems to matter most to bodybuilders is protein. This sometimes leads to stress for vegan athletes. Will your diet provide enough protein to keep you bulking up? The answer is yes, so long as you track your levels.

Any fitness dietary plan needs to contain a full menu of proteins from a variety of sources. For instance, experienced vegan bodybuilders can combine multiple protein powders derived from hemp, brown rice, and peas to form complete proteins.

There are plenty of ways to get the protein you need on a vegan diet. Dozens of delicious options for vegan protein sources abound, many of which are complete proteins. Examples include peanut butter sandwiches on Ezekiel bread, quinoa, hummus, and chia.

Tempeh is one of the most overlooked sources of vegan protein, but once you try it a few times, you may prefer it over tofu. Chickpeas and other legumes can provide a filling, low-fat source of protein and carbohydrates.

Need Meals on the Go? Turn Towards Vegan Protein Powders!

Let’s be real. Eating a vegan diet is not always convenient, especially when traveling or dining out. And even when you have the good fortune of finding a vegan meal, it’s usually not as high as necessary in vegetarian proteins.

Even so, there’s no real reason to stress about finding convenient protein. With the explosion of vegan protein powder options today, it’s easier than ever to have access to on-the-go protein!

Consuming two to three protein shakes a day will dramatically boost your protein intake, without excessive carbs. This is what helped me dial in my macros and turned my muscle building game around.

Best of all, protein powders are cost effective. Look for powders that are sourced with multiple proteins to better ensure the spectrum of amino acids needed for muscle growth.

  • Keep Omega 3 Levels High with Flax Seed Powder

Bodybuilders and athletes know that getting enough omega-3s is critical.

Consuming a lot of plants can get us close to the amount of omega-3s a vegan athlete needs, but supplementing for good measure is a good idea.

For this reason, ground flax is the perfect omega 3 source for your diet. It has a fantastic fiber profile and can be easier on the digestive system than flax seed oil. To experience the best results, you can take ground when you wake up, after training, and before bed.

  • Take Vegan BCAA

Vegan BCAA can help protect your muscles from the catabolic effects of a low-calorie diet and can help you gain mass. According to a 2010 study published in Med Science Sports Exercise, BCAA reduces muscle soreness after intense training.

What Is BCAA?

The branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are considered essential amino acids because human beings cannot survive unless these are present in a daily diet.

For the bodybuilding benefits, try taking five to 10 grams of BCAA with breakfast, five to 10 grams immediately before and after training and five to 10 grams before bed.

Food Sources of Vegan BCAA

Most amino acids come from meat protein sources, and generally speaking, getting enough aminos and protein is one of the more challenging aspects to bodybuilding as a vegetarian.

Here is a quick list of how to get BCAA from protein-rich vegan food sources:

  • Leucine: soybeans and lentils
  • Isoleucine: almonds, cashews, and chickpeas
  • Valine: peanuts, sesame seeds, and lentils

5. Stay Away from Spirulina for B12

One of the biggest misconceptions in vegan bodybuilding circles is that spirulina contains significant B12. While this is true in a way, it’s not useful to us.

(Spirulina is a biomass of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that can be consumed by humans and animals. It is used as a dietary supplement for human consumption and also as a feed supplement in the aquacultureaquarium, and poultry industries)

It turns out that spirulina and tempeh contain mostly analogs of B12. Herbert [1988] reports that tests on tempeh, a fermented soy product, and spirulina revealed that they contained almost no true B12.

The problem here that this claim has been supported by lab tests for B12 based on the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) assay methods. Unfortunately, as explained in Herbert et al. [1984] and Herbert [1988], the USP assay method for B12 is unreliable.

The presence of analogs, rather than true B12, makes them unreliable sources for B12.

  • Consume Nuts for Fuel

It’s always a smart idea to add these power-packed snacks to your arsenal. Consuming nuts (and nut butter) provides a long-lasting form of energy. They’re also a much-needed source of healthy fat.

Because of how convenient they are to eat, nuts are also a great way to quickly boost your calorie intake. I carry a bag of lightly salted almonds in my backpack at all times.

  • Swap Rice for Quinoa

Rice is a staple of the vegan bodybuilding diet, so an effective method for boost your protein and nutritional intake is to simply swap rice for quinoa.

Quinoa has higher quality protein and is a complete source of protein, whereas brown rice is not. Quinoa is gluten-free and contains calcium, B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin E, and fiber.

Even better, quinoa tastes (and feels) similar to brown rice and should leave your taste buds just as satisfied.

  • Choose Healthy Drinks

There’s no reason to fill your body with unnecessary calories from sugary drinks. I keep things simple with coffee, tea, water, and protein shakes and drink roughly 2.0 to 2.5 liters of fluids each day. One way I gauge if I’m drinking enough fluid is that I make sure that my urine is pale yellow to clear.

If you are getting ready for a bodybuilding, bikini competition or photo shoot, your fluid needs should go up quite a bit and based on what your trainer suggests.

9.  Utilize Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements

No conversation about a bodybuilding diet would be complete without talking about supplements. Nutritional supplements have become practically a requirement for competitive bodybuilders these days, and the industry has shown few signs of trending away from them.

Rice protein and hemp protein are excellent sources of vegan protein that can easily replace whey and other animal-sourced products in shakes. But ultimately, the best vegan protein powder is made with multiple proteins to ensure the spectrum of amino acids needed to build muscle.

Garden of Life, Vega, and PlantFusion produce some excellent protein blends that skip the meat and go straight for the muscle.

10. Address Deficiencies Before They Become Damaging

When using a vegan bodybuilding diet, getting sufficient nutrients is critical.

It’s a good idea to vary the foods in your diet, as this will help prevent nutrient deficiencies.

This goes without saying for any bodybuilder. Also, keeping lots of variety in your diet makes eating more enjoyable.

Pay special attention to these common vegan deficiencies:

  • Protein
  • Calories
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Zinc

If you’re feeling that your body is low on one or more of these nutrients, make sure to start taking a nutritional supplement that will get you back on track.

Vegan Bodybuilding Diet – Vegan Diet Plan Tips

Beyond the kinds of food you eat, the amount, timing, and way you eat it will make a difference in how fast you hit your bodybuilding goals. Below are some tips for getting the most out of your food so that you can put it to work for you.

  1. Eat Directly Before and After Workouts

Many vegan bodybuilders focus on main meals and don’t pay much attention to the snacks in between them. This is a mistake. Snacks are immediate sources of energy for your workouts and your recovery, and the snacks you choose at specific times make a huge difference in your performance and how you feel later on.

The best pre- and post-workout snacks are a healthy mix of protein and carbs. Light carbs like bananas, dates, and apples are great before your workout. When you’re done at the gym, enjoy a pick me up of carrots with hummus or protein shakes with vegan protein powder.

2. Monitor Your Body Weight and Body Fat

Since most vegans are concerned with lean muscle mass and not losing it, be sure take effective measurements.

This means you should be regularly measuring your body fat levels and comparing it to overall body weight in order to achieve a more accurate assessment of your progress in the gym than stepping on the scale alone.

  • Keep a Food Journal

The key to your success in adopting a vegan bodybuilding diet is not necessarily food intake – it’s about having an accurate awareness of what you eat. Human memory alone is not a reliable source for this kind of awareness. Instead, you need to take meticulous notes in a food journal.

To keep a proper food journal, you need to write down every sip of water and every crumb of food you consume throughout the day. Anything less is wasting your time. While it may seem like a pain at first, the process becomes effortless after a few days.

As a beginning vegan bodybuilder, you’re flying blind in a storm without this information. It’s simply too easy otherwise to have a misleading impression of what you’re actually eating and what’s actually working.

Sample Vegan Bodybuilding Meal Plan

Ideally, a vegan bodybuilding diet plan consists of 5-6 smaller meals. This gives your body a timely and consistent supply of nutrients for muscle repair and growth. It also keeps blood sugar levels more balanced.

Here are two days of sample meal plans to get you started for the week. Each one is packed with power and 100% vegan.

Meal Plan Day 1

  • Breakfast

Vegan protein shake, banana, 2 tablespoons of natural almond butter

  • Mid-morning

Bowl of lentil soup, cucumber salad with cherry tomatoes and avocado, 1 baked sweet potato

  • Lunch

Veggie burger, kale salad with handful of pumpkin seeds, apple

  • Post-Workout

Edamame & quinoa wrap with sweet ginger dressing, banana, vegan protein shake

  • Dinner

Veggie chili

  • Before bed

Vegan protein shake, 1 tablespoon of natural almond butter

Meal Plan Day 2

  • Breakfast

Bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, vegan protein shake

  • Mid-morning

Apple, handful of grapes, handful of strawberries, 1 cucumber

  • Lunch

Large salad with mixed greens

Mixed beans with artichokes and sprouts

Vegan protein shake

  • Post-Workout

Celery sticks with natural almond butter

  • Dinner

Veggie burrito with quinoa, beans, and avocado

Small side salad with mixed greens

  • Before bed

Vegan protein shake, mixed nuts

Tying It All Together

No matter which foods you settle on for your daily meals, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting plenty of variety to supply your body with a full array of muscle-building nutrients and protein sources.

With these meal plan recommendations and diet plan tips in mind, you should be more than equipped to start planning your healthy vegan meals. The overwhelming health and fitness benefits of a plant-based diet are undeniable, so now is the time to give vegan bodybuilding everything you’ve got!

For more ideas about vegan bodybuilding diet, watch this video – VEGAN MEAL PREP FOR MUSCLE | EASY HIGH PROTEIN MEALS

Author Bio:

Chris Willitts (creator of V3), is the founder and owner of Vegetarian Bodybuilding.

V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System is a mixture of science and author’s advice, providing users with optimal diet and exercise. This system is designed for vegans and vegetarians only.

A lot of research has been put in this program. Furthermore, a lot of professional bodybuilders and athletes tried and tested the program, praising its progressiveness and efficiency.

The program is about taking control of your own body and health according to your potential and needs. And worry not; you’ll get plenty of proteins with this system. It will boost you with energy, and you’ll feel just a strong as any carnivore would (perhaps even stronger, depending on how much you invest in your exercise). It avoids vitamins deficiency and provides you with a lot of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Instead of saying things like “I think a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders,” the V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System claims “I know a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders, and I have results to prove it.”

To find out more, visit the website at V3 Bodybuilding – Vegan Bodybuilding Diet

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