Building muscle on a plant-based diet

Whether you say you are eating vegan, you are on a plant-based diet, or that you have given up animal products, it all amounts to the same thing. Each term has its own, often political, connotations but the idea behind them is the same. If it comes from an animal, you won’t be eating it. The question is how do you find a diet that works for you when so much of what we eat involves animal-based products. 

Building muscle is clearly an obvious concern for people who are thinking about going vegan. Most meat-eaters will get a relatively high proportion of the protein they need from the meat in their diet. With this not being an option for vegans, where can you turn if you still want to eat enough protein to build muscle effectively? If you are thinking that the only answer must be supplementation then you are wrong. Most vegan bodybuilders have no problem building muscle and look to the food they eat in order to get the right amounts of protein.

Fake meat products are an obvious option but so many people that switch to a plant-based diet don’t want to be reliant upon processed food. So the best option is going to be plants that are protein-rich and there are plenty of these out there. Beans, seeds and nuts are all popular and provide relatively high levels of protein. Supplementation doesn’t need to be relied upon but there are protein shakes out there that are based on whole plants and don’t require you to break the plant-based life.

The debate about how much protein you need rumbles on. One generally accepted level is 1 gram for every pound of bodyweight but it really does depend on what you are hoping to achieve. This sort of level is far more than what you need just to sustain though; this is looking far more towards building muscle and at a relatively fast rate.

Some people who opt to go vegan find themselves obsessed with hitting the right level of protein that they can sometimes be guilty of getting complacent with the other nutrients. So when it comes to fats you might find that you are satisfying the plant-based element of your diet by resorting to relatively high levels of oil when in fact there are plenty of plants out there that you could be eating. Avocados are one example of a plant that has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely down to its high level of good fat.

When you are talking about intense training carbs are generally considered to be essential. Complex carbs are easy to get and relatively cheap, not to mention they are almost always plant-based. But you want to be avoiding refined grains that make up white bread, white pasta, white rice etc. and try to focus on the brown versions instead. Fruit is an excellent way of getting the sugar you need, so the chances are you won’t need to get this from anywhere else.

It’s certainly true that it is easier to adopt this lifestyle now than it was 5 or even 10 years ago. It is more commonplace now and as a result supermarkets are meeting the demand with a more abundant supply. More people are talking about it, especially on the internet, and that means plenty of recipes and nutritional plans are out there to satisfy all your needs.

If you want to know more about healthy eating or you’d like one of the professional personal trainers at Ollie Lawrence to design you a bespoke nutrition plan, talk to us today for more information.

Ollie Lawrence
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