Can You Gain Muscles & Increase Strength on a Vegan Diet?

When you think about bodybuilding or gaining muscles, chances are that images of high protein foods like generous portions of red meat and eggs start flashing in your mind. Since that’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe fuels all the athletes, we feel like we need to consume it too if we plan of becoming more muscular.

Even though it is true that most athletes consume a diet that mostly comprises of animal-based protein and fats, it is not the only way to bulk up and build strength. In fact, you can achieve the same results by following vegan or plant-based diet. However, you will have to learn the basics of a plant-based diet in order to create a diet plan that is suitable for building muscles.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

More commonly known as vegan diet, a plant-based diet revolves around getting all of your food in nutrition from plat-based sources. This means that it excludes any sort of meat, fish, eggs, seafood, and even dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Nevertheless, this does not mean that you will have to live on salads and carrots sticks if you plan on going vegan.

In fact, vegans can consume a wide variety of produce, grains, fats, proteins, etc. as long as they are derived from plants. The basic rule is that anything that comes from flora is allowed, but flora is off-limits.

However, aside from some people who follow a veganism or vegetarianism due to any reasons (dietary restrictions, allergies, religious restrictions, etc.), most people tend to be omnivorous. So if you’re one of those people who has spent their entire life on a diet of ribs and steak dinners, you may wonder how difficult it would be to switch to a plant-based diet and whether the benefits are actually worth the effort.

Going plant-based has a lot of benefits; for you as well as the environment. In order to reap these benefits while also staying healthy and building muscles, you need to create a diet plan that focuses on nutritious options.

Fruits and Nuts Smoothies Bowl

Calorie Counting

No diet can actually work if your don’t keep a count of the calories you are consuming on a daily basis. Consuming vegetables does not mean that you can eat all you want without keeping an eye on your consumption. Yes, it is significantly more difficult to go above your calorie requirements if you’re only consuming healthy foods, but it is still important to keep a record.

To start off, you first need to find out how many calories your body requires per day to achieve the goals you have. For this purpose, you will have to determine your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This calculation takes your age, height, weight, and activity level into account in order to determine the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight.

Since your goal is to build muscle, you will have to add a calorie surplus to your results. The numbers you’ll get from TDEE will only help you maintain your weight, so for the purpose of gaining muscles, you will have to add about 250 to 500 calories, depending on how much you workout.

Understand Micronutrients

The right way for building muscle, increasing strength and maintaining healthy eating habits is to ensure that you’re consuming an ideal balance of macronutrients in your diet. This means the combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as the vitamins and minerals you consume on a daily basis.

For instance, if you aren’t consuming enough plant-based proteins, then you won’t build muscles no matter how hard you work out. In fact, it can potentially result in you losing muscles over time.

In order to build muscle, a macro nutrient balance should consist of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent proteins and 30 percent fat. Although the ideal ratio may slightly vary for each person, this ratio contains enough protein to promote muscle growth, enough carbohydrates to fuel the body, and enough fat to help the body absorb all the nutrients it is being provided with.

You can opt for a macro-tracking app to keep a track of your diet.

Focus on Whole Foods

It is surprising how much manufactured and processed junk food people consume when their harms are being focused on repeatedly by health experts. However, when you switch to plant-based diet, focusing on whole foods will prove to be very effective in achieving your goals.

A good diet plan is to include a lot of leafy greens and bright colored vegetables to your diet, along with potatoes and other tubers. Beans, lentils and whole grains like oars and browns rice should also find a good place in your diet. Additionally, fresh and frozen fruits, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils can help create a diet that doesn’t get boring.

Even though they are technically vegan, it is recommended to avoid sugary sweets, refined starches, and vegan replacement foods. These are packed with empty calories and fillers that don’t do anything good for your body, but can harm it in various ways.


A Person About to Pick up a Barbell

Commit To Workouts

No matter what you eat, you won’t gain much muscle if you aren’t committed to a strict workout routine. In order to see any significant results, you’ll have to plan for muscle-building and cardio session about five to six times a week, while focusing on each muscle group at least once a week.

Remember to designate at least one or two days for rest each week as your body requires time to recover from the wear and tear the muscles experience during workout. Not having rest days can increase your risk of injury.