A Vegan Diet for Bodybuilding

A Vegan Diet for Bodybuilding

This type of diet has risen in popularity in recent years, because the number of people who adopt this way of eating for its purported health benefits and ethics surrounding animal treatment is increasing. It has been noticed that the vegan diet has not only attracted the interest of the general population, but also that of athletes, including bodybuilders.

What is a Vegan Diet for Bodybuilding?

We know that bodybuilders strive to develop their musculature through intensive resistance training for aesthetic purposes. The nutrition is playing an important part in the process of muscular development. Generally, it is accepted that for optimal muscle growth to happen, protein intake should be rather high at around 0.7 – 1.0 grams per pound (this is 1.6 – 2.2 grams per kg) of body weight per day.

The calorie surplus of 10 – 20% is also beneficial for gaining muscle mass, especially for people who are not brand new to training. The traditional bodybuilding diet is including a lot of animal sources due to their high protein and calorie content. The vegan bodybuilding diet is devoid of all animal products, and it is higher in protein than the traditional vegan diets. This is a challenge for many bodybuilders, because the plant – based proteins tend to be of lower quality than their animal – based counterparts, which can affect muscle gain.

This is an argument why you need to be a careful at planning to ensure sufficient intake of protein, calories, and several micronutrients, which a vegan diet may lack. Also, it is noticed that this type of bodybuilding diet changes during different stages of a bodybuilder’s life, such as whether he is in his off – season or undergoing contest preparation, when the fat loss is common.

How you can implement the diet:

A Vegan Diet for Bodybuilding
The vegan food pyramid. Vector illustration isolated on a dark grey background. Medical, healthcare and dietary poster.

It may seem quite simple to implement a vegan diet, but it takes a good deal of planning to ensure that you are eating complete meals. The vegan bodybuilding diet is including several staple foods on which many of the meals are based. If you are a bodybuilder, and you want to start the vegan diet, then it is beneficial to plan out five to seven days of meals to ensure that you have all of the ingredients, as many vegan recipes require several items. If you are transitioning from a traditional diet, then it may help to slowly incorporate more vegan foods into your regular diet before you fully switch over.

Fill up on high – protein plant foods:

When you are using a vegan bodybuilding diet, then it is very important to get enough protein, to aid your muscle – building goals. You should remember that many vegan protein sources usually do not have all of the essential amino acids, higher amounts and a wider variety of these foods needs to be eaten to regularly meet your needs.

It is very important to fill up on high protein vegan foods, such as quinoa, legumes, tofu and seitan, because they can help you to meet your protein needs to maximize muscle gain. Also, the vegan protein powders can help you to meet your protein needs by providing concentrated sources of protein surrounding workouts and throughout the day.

Make sure to eat enough fat:

When you are consuming sufficient amount of fat, then you will obtain the calories which you need to promote the muscle gain, as fat provides twice the number of calories as carbs and protein per gum. The general recommendation for the fat intake for off – season bodybuilders is 1 gram per kg (0.5 grams per pound) of body weight daily.

For a male bodybuilder weighing 175 pounds (80 kg) the equal amount is around 80 grams of fat per day. When you are going on a vegan bodybuilding diet, then it can help you to track your intake of macronutrients (such as fat, carbs and protein), for the first few weeks to ensure that you are meeting your needs.

Drink plenty of fluids:

It is known that the vegan diet is high in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, so the fiber intake can become quite high. When you significantly increase your fiber intake, then your risk of some side effects can increase, such as abdominal pain, excessive flatulence and bloating. You need to drink enough water, so this can help to prevent the complications from a high fiber vegan diet.

A good place to start is a minimum of 1 ml of fluid per calorie. If you are eating a 2,000 calorie diet, then you should aim for 2,000 ml (68 ounces) of fluids. But, you should keep in your mind that your water needs may vary, especially when you are exercising.

Educate yourself:

The education is playing an important role in following a vegan diet and set apart a successful diet from an unsuccessful one. The vegan bodybuilding diet prohibits the intake of several food groups, so it puts followers at risk for certain nutrient deficiencies. To prevent them, you need to know which foods provide the key nutrients which the diet may otherwise lack. Nowadays, there is a rise in the popularity of the vegan diet, so educational resources have been created, and they can lead you in the right direction.

Foods to eat:

Usually, the vegan bodybuilding diet includes many of the following foods:

  • Vegan dark chocolate: The vegan dark chocolate is high in antioxidants. It has some essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B and Vitamin E and iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
  • Healthy oils: Some oils that provide a good source of healthy fats and some essential Omega – 3s include hemp seed, avocado and olive oil.
  • Tahini: This is a paste made from sesame seeds, and it provides a good amount of fat and a bit of protein per serving.
  • Nuts and nut butters: They can give you a good source of protein when it is combined with other complementary proteins. Also, these foods are a good source of healthy fats.
  • Whole grains and cereals: They can provide you a good source of protein, B vitamins and fiber.
  • Fruits and vegetables: The vegan bodybuilding diet must include fruits and vegetables.
  • Oats: It is known that oats and oatmeal can provide a good amount of protein per serving, as well as some beneficial fiber.
  • Sprouted grain breads: They can give you a good source of protein and complex carbs.
  • Nutritional yeast: They are used in the vegan cooking for its savory flavor. The nutritional yeast is commonly fortified with Vitamin B12.
  • Vegan protein powders: The best varieties are usually made from a combination of brown rice, hemp and peas, which are all protein sources.
  • Spirulina: This is a blue – green alga that has a lot of protein, as well as several vitamins and minerals.
  • Calcium – fortified plant milks and yogurts: These are fortified products, which can help vegans to meet their daily requirements for calcium and vitamin D.
  • Soy products: Some examples of soy products include soy protein powder, soy milk, edamame, tempeh and tofu.
  • Meat substitutes: Meat substitutes are made to look and feel like meat, and they are usually made with soy or pea protein.
  • Quinoa and amaranth: These two products are pseudo grains, and they provide complete sources of protein.
  • Hemp, flax, sunflower, and chia seeds: These products have a good amount of protein and Omega – 3 fatty acids.
  • Beans and legumes: These foods can give you a good amount of protein and fiber.

Dietary supplements:

The vegan bodybuilding diet may lack certain nutrients, so it is recommended that followers should take advantage of certain dietary supplements. It has been noticed that with the rise in popularity of the vegan bodybuilding diet in the recent years, the nutrition supplements geared towards those following it have greatly improved in taste and quality.

The vegan protein powder is one of the main supplements to consider, and this will allow you to reach the protein intake levels that are recommended for bodybuilding while staying within a certain calorie range. There are many different vegan protein powders which are available, such as brown rice, hemp, pea and soy isolate. It is recommended to find a powder with several sources to ensure that you are getting all of the essential amino acids.

The vegan multivitamin is another potentially beneficial supplement, and it includes sufficient quantities of the nutrients which the vegan diet typically lacks, such as vitamin D, Vitamin B12, zinc, iron and calcium. The creatine and β-Alanine are other supplements which you can consider adding to your vegan bodybuilding diet. These are two well – studied compounds, and they are naturally found in meat products and available in vegan – friendly varieties. Also, they can play a role in the energy metabolism and muscle gain.


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