Most people typically assume that it is difficult to gain muscle on a vegetarian diet (or vegan) because it tends to lack animal protein (especially for vegans).
On the contrary, vegan foods do have plant-based protein sources, and some vegetarians can still consume eggs and dairy. The main advantage of plant-based protein sources is that they are low in fat.
Muscle building on a vegetarian diet requires protein, not meat.
The protein contains the building blocks of muscle, called the essential amino acids. The body makes no distinction as to the source of the protein. Plant-based protein is just as useful for building muscle on a vegan diet.
See how simple it is to gain muscle on a vegetarian diet
A 4-ounce piece of beef liver, beef ribs, or ground beef contains approximately 30 grams of protein. You can obtain about this same amount of protein from plant products, namely edamame and tempeh, both of which provide 29 grams and 16 grams respectively for 4 ounces.
There are in fact many serious bodybuilders who do gain muscle on a vegetarian diet. Typically, animal protein can have high amounts of unhealthy fat, and since the fat intake is of particular concern for body-builders, a vegan or vegetarian diet offers lower fat plant-based proteins.
The key is to get enough protein while on a vegan diet.
How much protein do you need to gain muscle?
It’s not that vegetarians lack a variety of protein sources to support their fitness routine. The problem is, not knowing how much protein one needs to build muscle mass.
Athletes should consume 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle to build muscle and increase its size. This goal is easy to realize as long as you know the protein content of the vegetarian foods that you consume. Lacto-ovo vegetarians get to enjoy some high protein foods since they eat both eggs and dairy.
Protein is the key ingredient needed for gaining and maintaining muscular strength. Bodybuilders and weight trainers require regular intake of protein to feed muscles.
Therefore, you can follow a vegan diet and meal plan that features protein-rich foods as a part of your weight training and bodybuilding regimen. Supplementing your protein can be another way to ensure that you gain muscle on a vegetarian diet.
How to get protein on a vegetarian diet
Now that we’ve learned that muscle building on a vegetarian diet requires protein consumption, it is essential to know how to get protein on a vegetarian diet. I used to be confused as to how to incorporate it into my menu – and would end up with a dish that is not balanced enough for me to be satiated or build muscle mass.
The recommendation is to consume a ration of 30/30/40 of protein/fat/carbs.
Vegetarian Protein Sources List
The below list of vegetarian protein sources will make it easy to plan your muscle building vegetarian menu:
- Nuts and nut-butters – 1/2 cup supplies as much as 15 grams of protein, as well as healthy fats.
- Beans – 1 cup of black contains 15 grams of protein.
- Tempeh and Tofu – 1 cup each contains 20-30 grams of protein.
- Quinoa – contains essential amino acids as well as 24 grams of protein per cup.
- Greek yogurt (for Lacto–ovo vegetarians) – packed with calcium and 16 grams of protein per cup.
- Vegetables – green leafy vegetables, lentils, split peas and soybean sprouts are high in protein and should be added routinely in your meals.
Adding the above protein sources to each of your meals will make it easy to gain muscle on a vegetarian diet.
You may also find the video on muscle building on a plant-based diet useful:
I hope you find these hacks to gain muscle on a vegetarian diet to be useful. Do pin or share with others!