Want to bulk up on a plant-based diet? Check out our top vegan muscle-building tips, protein-packed foods, vegan bodybuilders and high-protein recipes.
With the stereotype of the weak and skinny vegan still around, it’s no wonder why so many people think you cannot grow muscle eating a plant-based diet!
That’s because as a vegan, you don’t eat many of the typical muscle gain or bodybuilder foods like steak, eggs or whey protein shakes.
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Let’s change this common misconception with some nutrition basics, inspiring vegan bodybuilders and lots of tasty high-protein vegan recipes that fuel your vegan muscle growth on a daily basis!
One more quick note before we start with our tips: we’ll focus mainly on the nutrition and lifestyle part of vegan muscle building and recommend that you consult other experts on creating workout routines.
Can you gain muscle as a vegan?
Yes, you can gain muscle as a vegan if you stick to the basics of proper nutrition and training.
There are many high-protein vegan foods that you can base your diet on and follow professional advice on weight lifting or even work with a personal trainer to reach your goals.
Keep reading to learn more about plant-based nutrition and calories for muscle building.
How do vegans get their protein?
Just because someone doesn’t consume meat, dairy and eggs, doesn’t mean that they can’t get enough protein from plant-based sources!
While it can be a bit more challenging to plan your diet accordingly, focusing on the following vegan staple foods assures that you cover a wide range of amino acids:
- Tofu & tempeh
- Textured vegetable protein
- Hemp & chia seeds
- Protein powder
More plant-based nutrition tips
It’s important not to overlook other nutrition basics like eating enough complex carbs, healthy fats and avoiding nutrient deficiencies.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to focus on and our free cheat sheets for meeting these nutrient needs!
- Iron: found in dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, dried fruits (low iron means low energy)
- Calcium: found in spinach, collard, kale, broccoli, hemp milk (for muscle contraction and bone health)
- Zinc: found in pumpkin seeds, almonds, macadamias, oatmeal or cereals (for muscle growth and repair)
- Potassium: found in bananas, oranges, potatoes, kale, avocados (electrolyte for muscle contraction lost via sweat)
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Vegan bodybuilding diet
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, appropriately planned vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
As an aspiring vegan bodybuilder, it’s recommended that you consume 10-20% more calories daily than required for weight maintenance.
The following graphic shows you which foods offer more calories per pound than others to help you meet your needs!
Current research suggests that those working towards muscle gain require between 1.6-2.4 g/kg of protein per day!
Find out exactly how much protein and calories you should eat by doing the math and choose from the following recipe collections to develop the perfect vegan bodybuilding diet for you!
- High-calorie meals
- High-protein meals
- Vegan protein snacks
- Silken tofu recipes
- Vegan quinoa recipes
- What to eat with hummus
Sample day of eating
Here’s what you can eat in a day for vegan muscle building!
Tips for vegan muscle building
Here are some of the best tips to follow for muscle growth on a plant-based diet.
- Keep your expectations realistic and build habits
- Challenge yourself regularly
- Fill up on lots of protein-packed foods (listed above)
- Get enough healthy fats to meet calorie and nutritional needs
- Don’t overcomplicate things and stick to the basics
- Always have vegan food & snacks available to exceed your caloric needs for the day
- Don’t take in too much fiber as this can cause you to undereat involuntarily
- Make smart food swaps to replace animal protein.
- Get into meal planning & meal prep to meet your nutrition goals
- Keep your appetite up by eating foods you love
- Try to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your energy levels high
- Take your vitamin B12 and any other supplements (get a blood test first!)
- Do the right exercises for muscle growth
- Stay consistent with your training even if you don’t always see progress
- Give yourself enough time to rest & recover
- Track your food intake to keep yourself accountable
- Work with an RD or professional trainer if needed
Make the nutrition part easier for yourself with the help of vegan subscription boxes!
Many vegan bodybuilders have fueled themselves effectively on a plant-based diet for years! Thanks to their dedication, they have extraordinary fitness and an incredible physique.
See what’s possible and get inspired by the following athletes!
Torre chose a vegan lifestyle back in 1998 and didn’t start competing in bodybuilding before 2009!
Since then, he has won numerous competitions and was awarded by the Humane League in 2016 for his animal advocacy.
Vegetarian from birth, Nimai has never eaten meat in his life and went completely vegan in 2015.
With an IFBB pro card, he is an excellent example of how to live a compassionate life while growing lots of muscle!
Veganism is central to Jehina’s life because she was born into a vegan family and has never had any meat, dairy or eggs!
She’s the first-ever vegan IFBB Pro Physique competitor and has been bodybuilding since 19.
Patrik won the German Junior Bodybuilding title aged 20 in 1999 and Germany’s Strongest Man in 2011!
He had been vegetarian for several years before going vegan in 2011 and two years later, he set a world record in yoke walk by carrying a 550kg yoke at Toronto Veg Fest.
Brian initially went vegan to heal his cystic acne and now has over a decade of vegan bodybuilding under his belt.
He is a certified trainer and very active on social media where shares what he eats in a day, muscle-building recipes and fitness tips!
More helpful vegan guides
Education plays an important role when you want to follow a healthy vegan diet and if you want to be fit and build muscle!
Check out these guides next.
- 30+ Vegan Documentaries
- 30+ Inspiring Vegan Youtubers
- 25+ Best Vegan Podcasts
- 40+ Must-Read Vegan Books
- Vegan Grocery List
Have you had success with vegan muscle building? Which foods & meals did you focus on and do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments below and Pin this article here.