Over the past several years, people have become more mindful about what they eat, and as a result, the vegan diet has become increasingly popular. However, the ‘real’ debate is whether the vegan diet is beneficial for bodybuilders and athletes. The short answer is definitely. Since most people consume meat, eggs and dairy products as their primary source of protein, a vegan diet has been criticized for being too low in protein.
We disagree with and say that it isn’t true. In fact, by making the right eating choices, anyone, including bodybuilders, can easily achieve their protein requirements following a vegan diet.
Did you know that even Arnold Schwarzenegger has cut animal products out of his diet and is 99% vegan now?
“I stay away from more the meats and more from animal products, and animal proteins, because there was this misconception that that’s the only way you get big and strong, so now I back off that and I feel much better,” he said in an interview with Men’s Health.
So if Arnold Schwarzenegger can follow a (mostly) vegan diet and look like that at 73, then so can you!
What Does a Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Look Like?
It may seem like an oxymoron consider a sport marked by extreme muscle definition like bodybuilding can co-exist with a plant-based regime. Yet, some argue that not only can one boost their strength and build muscle on a vegan diet, but they can do it better than their omnivorous competitors.
To see visible results, a bodybuilder needs to simultaneously gain muscle while losing fat, which is achieved through a combination of diet and strength training.
Whether you’re a meat-eater, vegetarian, or vegan, the basic principles of a diet remain the same. To ensure that you are getting the right nutrition, you need to follow a balanced diet. It is essential to eat the right foods with the right amount of calories.
By incorporating the following foods in your diet, you can reach your bodybuilding goals while following a vegan diet.
Best Vegan Sources of Protein
Protein plays an integral part in maintaining one’s health. Many fundamental processes, such as keeping the red blood cells healthy, are dependent on the consumption of protein. Since the key to building and maintain muscle mass is protein, it is even more important for athletes to get adequate amounts of proteins.
Here, we list some of the healthiest sources of vegan protein that should part of every vegan bodybuilder’s diet.
Grains: Grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and bulgur wheat are excellent sources of protein and can also keep you fuller for longer.
Beans: Kidney, soya, and black beans can be an excellent addition to any diet.
Other Pulses: Not only are pulses such as chickpeas, lentils, and green peas great sources of protein, but they can help add a delicious variety to your diet.
Nuts And Nuts Butter: Peanuts, almost and hazelnuts are all great sources of protein and can come in handy if you’re looking for a quick snack.
Seeds: Seeds such as chia, flax, sunflower, and sesame can be added to various dishes to enhance their taste and protein contents.
Tofu or Soya Bean Curd: Made from condensed and solidified soya milk, tofu can be a healthy, protein-rich substitute for meat in most dishes.
Best Vegan Sources of Carbohydrates
Over the years, carbohydrates have developed a controversial reputation in the nutritional world. The popularization of no-carb diets such as Keto and Atkins has only made things worse. However, carbohydrates are an essential nutrient required by the body to function correctly. Cutting it out of your diet for the long-term only causes more harm than good. This is especially true if you’re working out and bodybuilding. A right balance of carbohydrates in your diet is essential for any healthy and sustainable progress. Your body breaks the carbohydrates down into glucose, which is then used to provide your body with the fuel and energy it needs.
To ensure that you are consuming the right kind of carbohydrates, including the following vegan foods into your diet.
• Whole wheat bread
• Whole wheat pasta
• Brown rice
• Fresh fruits
• Non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, beets, etc.)
• Black beans
• Sweet potatoes
• White potatoes
Best Vegan Sources of Fat
Due to being a more concentrated source of energy as compared to protein or carbohydrates, fats are essential for bodybuilders. It packs far more calories per gram. If you aim to bulk up, you need that surplus of calories to add muscle mass. By consuming fat, you can get that surplus without having to eat an excessive amount of food.
Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K are essential in small amounts for a healthy lifestyle. Since they do not dissolve in water, they are most beneficial when consumed via higher-fat foods as then they get absorbed more efficiently by the body. Additionally, most of the nuts that provide fat are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential micronutrients are required by the body in small amounts to function properly. Since these nutrients aren’t produced in the body, it is necessary to consume them through healthy sources.
Here, we list some of the healthiest vegan sources of fat, which also provide a healthy dose of omega-3 fats.
• Flax seeds
• Chia seeds
• Macadamia nuts
• Brazil nuts
• Cashew nuts
Aside from consuming adequate amounts of the above food, it is necessary to stay hydrated at all times. Although protein shakes can be essential in any bodybuilder’s diet, drinking water throughout the day is even more critical.
The general recommendation is to drink 2 litres of fluid per day. However, water shouldn’t be your only source of hydration. Fruits and vegetables also provide an ample amount of water. With that being said, be sure to reach for water instead of unhealthy beverages whenever you feel thirsty.
Since the traditional bodybuilding diet includes large amounts of animal protein, some people assume that the vegan diet is a no go. However, as stated in this blog, that is certainly not true. By making the right food choices and doing meal preps in advance, you can easily achieve, and even surpass your fitness goals on a vegan diet.