When you think of a bodybuilder, a buff, toned, muscular figure, who do you picture? What does their diet look like? Would you ever imagine there can be a such thing as a vegan bodybuilder?
It’s highly likely you pictured someone who eats meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After all, meat is the best and only source of ‘muscle-building’ protein… right?
Wrong! As a vegan bodybuilder, you don’t need animal products to build and maintain lean muscle mass.
In fact, it’s entirely possible to do so with a plant-based diet, and there are plenty of bodybuilders who have proved that this is the case by reaching champion status.
If you’re looking for tips on how to effectively build muscle without eating any animal products, look no further.
This article will provide everything you need to know about being a vegan bodybuilder: from plant-based muscle foods to building muscle on a vegan bodybuilder diet. Let’s get started.
Vegan and Muscular: Is It Really Possible?
Many people think that veganism and bodybuilding just don’t go hand in hand. After all, how can you maintain a muscular physique without the protein found in animal products?
The answer is simple: plant-based proteins. While meat does provide high levels of protein, so do certain plants!
Protein-rich foods such as legumes, nuts, tempeh, tofu and seitan are all excellent sources of essential amino acids; the building blocks for muscle growth.
Plus, there are plenty of other vegetarian sources too. Whole grains such as quinoa and Bulgar wheat are great complements to any vegan diet; they also contain healthy carbohydrates, which help fuel workouts and build muscle mass over time.
Vegans Who Made It Big in Bodybuilding
If you’re still skeptical about vegan bodybuilding, there are a number of successful male and female vegan bodybuilders who have done it – and achieved great results.
Take, for example, the ten-time Ms. Olympia champion Iris Kyle, or Patrik Baboumian, the German bodybuilder who holds the title of Germany’s Strongest Man; who are both vegan.
These athletes prove that it is indeed possible to build muscle on a vegan diet! You just need to know what foods are best suited to help you reach your goals faster.
Diet of a Vegan Bodybuilder
It’s highly possible to build your muscles on a vegan diet, but whether you’re a carnivore, herbivore, or somewhere in between, you need to be very particular about the foods you eat to get the most out of your training.
Let’s take a look at what a typical vegan bodybuilder’s diet looks like.
The foundation of any muscle-building diet is protein. As mentioned before, there are plenty of plant-based sources that are as effective as animal products.
Good sources include tempeh, tofu, seitan, and legumes such as black beans and lentils, all of which contain essential amino acids for muscle growth.
Carbs provide your body with energy to fuel workouts and help build muscle mass over time.
Whole grains such as Bulgar, wheat, and quinoa are great choices for vegans looking to build muscle, and they contain plenty of fiber. Other carbohydrate sources include sweet potatoes, oats, Wholemeal breads and pastas.
Healthy fats are important for maintaining good health; they also provide the building blocks for hormones like testosterone, which helps support muscle growth in both men and women!
Great fat sources include nuts (such as almonds or walnuts), avocados, coconut oil/milk/butter, nut butters (including peanut butter) or olive oil.
Other Nutrients You Need to Build Muscle on a Vegan Diet
In addition to protein, carbs and fats, you should make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals into your diet.
This is especially important for vegans who are building muscle, as certain vitamins and minerals can only be found in animal products; or they have to be supplemented.
Some of the key nutrients you should include in your vegan diet plan are B12 (found in fortified foods such as soymilk and nutritional yeast), iron (found in dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds), calcium (found in tofu, sesame seeds, tahini and almonds) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds).
Turning Vegan Protein into Meals
Now we know exactly what to eat… but how should we eat it? What meals incorporate just the right amounts of vegan protein, carbs and fats to help build muscle mass?
- Breakfast: Start your day off with a power-packed breakfast. Try making a smoothie bowl with some frozen fruit, banana, almond milk and some nut butter.
- Or if you’re in more of a savory mood, try having scrambled tofu on toast. It’s full of protein and will fuel you for the rest of the day.
- Lunch and Dinner: For lunch or dinner, whip up a batch of lentil curry or tempeh stir fry. Both are packed full of plant-based proteins, which will help support vegan muscle building.
- Snacks: During snack time, reach for foods such as hummus and veggies, trail mix (with nuts and seeds), dark chocolate-covered almonds, or even an energy bar made from dates and nuts. All these snacks contain healthy fats and carbohydrates that’ll give you sustained energy throughout your training sessions.
If you’re looking for something more substantial, try making a vegan protein shake with nut butter, banana and almond milk. It’s packed full of nutrients that’ll help build muscle.
Is It More Difficult to Be a Raw Vegan Bodybuilder?
Not necessarily. While it may be more challenging to maintain a raw vegan diet, as certain plant-based proteins are easier to digest when cooked, it’s certainly possible.
For those unaware of the raw vegan lifestyle, it’s essentially a way of eating that only involves unprocessed, uncooked plant-based foods. This includes whole fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, sprouted grains and legumes – all of which contain high levels of protein.
It would be naive to say that raw veganism is not challenging; it requires a deep understanding of nutrition, as well as how to put meals together that will ensure you get enough protein and other essential nutrients.
However, with the right advice and dedication, it is perfectly possible to reach your bodybuilding goals as a raw vegan.
List of Foods with Vegan Bodybuilding Protein
Want a comprehensive list of ingredients to refer back to? Here’s an exhaustive list of protein sources to use whenever you’re putting together a vegan bodybuilding meal.
- Proteins: Tempeh, Tofu, Seitan, Lentils, Black Beans, Chickpeas, Quinoa, Bulgur Wheat, Nuts (Almonds and Walnuts), Nut Butters (Including Peanut Butter), Hemp Seeds
- Fats: Coconut Milk/Oil/Butter, Avocado Oil and Flesh, Olive Oil, Nut Butters (Including Peanut Butter)
- Carbohydrates: Sweet Potatoes, Oats, Whole Wheat Breads and Pastas, Brown Rice
Remember that your health is just as important as building those muscles, so with every meal, make an effort to include all food groups in just the right proportions.
There you have it; everything you need to know about being a vegan bodybuilder, from vegan muscle foods to building muscle on a vegan diet. With the right advice and dedication, it is entirely possible to reach your goals as a plant-based athlete and become one of the many who have proved that vegans can be strong too!
Zoppler is reader supported and may earn affiliate commissions from links on this page. We support and believe in all the products and services we promote and are affiliated with.