When you follow a bodybuilding lifestyle, you sign up for just that, a lifestyle change, not just a few weight lifting sessions a week and the odd protein shake here and there.
If you were to ask any bodybuilder what the hardest aspect of bodybuilding was, you’d probably expect them to tell you that it’s the training.
Bodybuilders train harder than your average gym Joe, they lift heavy weights, perform a lot of exercises, and really push themselves to their limits. However, bodybuilders tend to enjoy their training and find it relatively easy, the hardest part is nutrition.
Can you get enough protein as a vegan athlete?
Of course. The real question is: how do you substitute the protein you got from animal meat?
In order to build muscle, we need to consume vast amounts of protein, at least 2g of protein per pound of bodyweight, which is why so many bodybuilders consume so much meat and fish.
But what about those following a vegan bodybuilding diet because they don’t eat meat or fish? Building muscle when following a vegetarian bodybuilding diet is not an easy feat, but it’s certainly not impossible either.
Here we’ll be taking a look at some effective vegan bodybuilding diet and lifestyle tips to help vegetarian bodybuilders across the globe build muscle and attain an aesthetic physique as they’ve always wanted.
How do vegan bodybuilders get enough protein?
1. Consume plenty of nutrients
As they’re vegetarians, you’d think that vegetarians consume more than enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to provide their body with more than enough of the essential nutrients they require, but in reality, many vegetarians and vegetarian bodybuilders simply don’t get anywhere near as many nutrients as they should.
Remember, just because they’re vegetarians, this doesn’t mean that they eat vegetables, it simply means that they don’t eat meat and possibly fish.
One of the most effective vegetarian bodybuilding diet tips we can give you is to ensure you consume plenty of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis as these are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, that do your body a world of good.
2. Don’t forget protein shakes
Should vegetarians drink protein shakes? Why wouldn’t they?
Protein shakes are arguably more important to vegetarian bodybuilders than they are to meat-eating bodybuilders, because vegetarian bodybuilders struggle to consume enough protein on a daily basis, due to the fact that much of the food they cannot consume I.E meat and fish, are primary sources of protein.
The good news for vegetarians that consume dairy is that whey protein shakes are perfectly acceptable. Whey protein is arguably the most beneficial source of protein shake, but even vegans can still benefit from protein shakes as soy and hemp protein are two great alternatives.
Obviously, you can’t rely on protein shakes as your primary source of protein, but one or two a day is perfectly acceptable and is a great way of allowing you to hit your daily macros.
3. Vary your food choices
Another great tip for vegetarian bodybuilders is to ensure you vary your food choices on a regular basis.
For example, even though you may enjoy foods such as lentils or beans, this doesn’t mean you should rely on them solely as your primary food choices as variety is the spice of life.
Vegetarians tend to find themselves gravitating towards certain foods in favour of others, but it’s important to ensure you vary your food choices and consume a variety of different foods, and not just high protein foods either.
Vegetables, pulses, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and much more should all become a part of your staple vegetarian muscle building diet, and failing to consume enough will severely damage your gains.
4. Don’t forget your fats
Another common mistake that vegetarian bodybuilders tend to make is to rely on carbohydrates as their primary source of energy, and neglect fats altogether. Remember, not all fats are bad, and in fact many fats are extremely healthy.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are particularly beneficial, but even some saturated fats are also considered healthy.
Look for healthy and natural sources of fat such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, nut butters, and even natural unsalted butter is small quantities.
If you happen to eat fish then even better, as you can go with oily fish such as salmon or mackerel. Healthy fats help boost energy levels, they increase the metabolism, they contribute towards weight loss, they assist with protein synthesis, and much more on top of that, so don’t neglect them.
5. Switch rice for quinoa
Whilst rice is indeed beneficial, especially brown rice as it has a low glycemic index, contains more vitamins and minerals, and is much easier to be digested and broken down, some vegetarians are prone to again consuming far too much of it which can mess with blood glucose levels and can affect the metabolism.
A great alternative is to swap quinoa for rice as it is considered healthier, and tastier as well, plus it’s also a great source of protein.
What makes quinoa especially beneficial from a vegetarian bodybuilding standpoint is that it is considered a complete protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids required by the body.
This is ideal for post-workout recovery as it helps to stimulate protein synthesis in which new muscle proteins are manufactured by the body.
6. Know your proteins
Just because you don’t eat meat, and possibly fish and seafood as well, don’t think that you’re destined to live a life without protein because in actual fact there are many vegetarian-friendly protein sources that taste great and are readily available as well.
If you consume eggs, then they’re ideal as they too are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
There’s also quinoa, which we covered earlier, brown rice, beans, lentils, soya, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and much more besides. Nuts and seeds are also ideal.
And about protein, let’s talk about the best protein sources for vegan bodybuilders.
8 Best Protein Sources For Vegan Bodybuilding Meal plan
Bodybuilding is very much a sport which relies heavily upon diet and nutrition, and in fact, many experts consider bodybuilding to be a combination of around 30% training and 70% nutrition, so that sheds a little more on exactly just how important it can be.
In bodybuilding, protein is arguably the most important macronutrient required by the body as its essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. When most of us think of protein, we think of chicken breast, beef, fish, eggs, dairy, and various other sources of meat and fish.
If you happen to be living a vegan lifestyle and following a vegan bodybuilding meal plan, however, those foods will be off limits. People often think that it’s impossible to get enough protein if you’re a vegetarian/vegan but that’s just not the case. Here’s a look at 8 of the best protein sources for vegan bodybuilders which should be included in any vegan bodybuilding meal plan.
Lentils are ideal for vegan bodybuilders as they’re extremely versatile, they go with a variety of different foods and meals, they’re simple to prepare, they taste great, and they’re packed full of plant-based protein, as well as various other nutrients as well, including dietary fiber. Though it would be difficult to consume lentils on their own, when added to meals to bulk them out they really help to enhance the taste and nutrient content of said meals. One cup of lentils contains around 18 grams of protein.
Hemp seeds would make a welcome addition to any vegan bodybuilding meal plan as they’re not only a great source of vegan-friendly protein, they also contain a selection of different healthy fats including Omega – 3 fatty acids, which benefit the body in so many different ways.
Hemp seeds have a mild sweetness to them, and an unmistakable nutty taste and texture. Hemp seeds are very small in size, so much like lentils, they’re best added to help bulk dishes out and increase the natural protein content. They can be blended and added to shakes and smoothies, they can be sprinkled over salads, they can be added to stews, soups, curries etc., Or they can be ground into a fine flour and used for baking. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds will contain around 10 grams of protein.
Quinoa is a firm favorite amongst vegans and health-conscious individuals in general for that matter, and you’d be hard-pressed to come across a vegan bodybuilding meal plan that doesn’t contain this healthy and delicious grain. Quinoa is a grain, which is gluten-free, that is not only a great source of protein, it’s also a great source of slow-release carbohydrates as well.
When cooked it fluffs up and has a great texture to it. It can be used in place of rice in various dishes, it can be added to salads, or it can make a healthy and delicious side dish. One cup of cooked Quinoa contains around 18 – 20 grams of protein.
Soy Protein Powder
Vegan bodybuilders will need to get protein into their bodies quickly and conveniently, just like any other bodybuilder, and whilst proteins such as whey and casein, which come from dairy sources may be off-limits, soy protein powder is ideal.
Soy protein powder is derived from soy beans, comes in a number of flavors, and can be mixed with water, or almond, soy, or any other vegan-friendly “milk”, and consumed as a delicious shake. One serving will contain around 30 – 40 grams of protein on average.
Beans are ideal for vegans as they come in a number of different varieties, with each one being just as healthy, beneficial, and as delicious as the last. As well as being versatile and delicious, beans are also absolutely ideal for vegan bodybuilders, due to the fact that they are incredibly rich in protein.
One average sized serving of beans will contain roughly 14 – 18 grams of protein on average. What’s more, as the beans are also rich in carbohydrates, they provide a slow and sustained release of energy in the body after they’ve been consumed, meaning that they’re perfect as a pre-workout food to fuel and energize your body before you begin a workout.
Tofu is actually made from fermented soya bean curds and is now considered one of the healthiest, tastiest, and most beneficial vegan protein sources in the entire world. What’s especially great about tofu is that it can be flavoured and prepared in a number of different ways, and can add flavour and texture to virtually any dish you can imagine.
Many vegans will prepare dishes that would ordinarily have contained meat or fish and will use tofu instead. Bodybuilders can’t go wrong with tofu, as one cup contains roughly 10 grams of protein, making it a high protein food source that tastes amazing in the process.
Amaranth is actually not all that well-known in many parts of the world, which is a real shame because in some cultures it is a vegan staple that tastes absolutely delicious and is packed full of natural goodness. Amaranth’s nutritional profile is very similar to that of Quinoa, and it is packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, B vitamins, iron, and zinc as well. Amaranth is a form of grain that provides around 7 grams of protein per cup, making it a very respectable source of protein.
When we think of oatmeal, we think of it as a breakfast food designed to provide us with plenty of slow-release carbohydrates to fuel our bodies and give us the energy needed to get through the day. Whilst it’s true that oatmeal is indeed a great source of carbohydrates, what many people don’t realise, is that oatmeal is also a great source of protein as well.
Compared with brown rice, for example, oatmeal contains more than three times the amount of protein, along with much lower starch content. On top of that, oatmeal is also a great source of dietary fibre, as well as B vitamins and minerals as well.
Plant-based protein powders are still processed food and many are being processed using hexane. Hexane is an explosive chemical neurotoxin that can damage your central nervous system. There is also controversy surrounding brown rice protein as brown rice has been known to be contaminated with arsenic. Arsenic is a toxic substance that is extremely dangerous to humans. When choosing a plant-based protein powder it is best to take some time and do your research.
What are your favorite protein sources?