How to Build Muscle When You Are on a Vegan Diet
There are many reasons to go vegan, spanning from personal health to health of the planet. There is a common misconception that vegans are scrawny and skinny. While this may be true for some, for many vegans, nothing could be further from the truth. Whether you have been a vegan for ten years or are just beginning to consider the benefits, there are ways to build muscle while maintaining a vegan diet.
Get Your Fruits and Veggies
Eating fruits and vegetables should be second nature to vegans. It is a plant based diet, after all! Fruits and veggies contain many micro and macro nutrients, and while not all plants directly contribute to muscle growth, they assist in nutrient absorption by improving digestion, hormonal function, and metabolism. Many vegetables are protein-packed and directly assist in muscle development. Some veggies you should be loading up on your plate include chickpeas, beans, lentils, and quinoa. Yeah, that’s right, quinoa is a vegetable! Not a grain! Finally, while not all are fruits (some are technically seeds), nuts are a great way to get enough protein.
Tracking calories is an essential part of any fitness journey, regardless of your goal. If calories in are under calories out, you lose weight. If calories in are over calories out, you gain weight! Weight gain is essential in building muscle, as you need an excess of calories to “bulk up.” An excellent way to make sure you are eating in a caloric surplus is to load up on calorie dense foods. Not many vegans can achieve this with fruits, veggies, and nuts alone as they keep you fuller longer.
Protein is a must in order to build muscle. While many fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables have amazing amounts of protein, there are other substances plant-based people can use. Seitan, tofu, tempeh, and even nutritional yeast can be used to up protein intake. But consuming enough protein while maintaining a caloric surplus without getting sick can be difficult. This is why there are so many protein supplements on the market! There are drinks, bars, shakes, and even chips! However, many of these are not vegan-friendly. Many contain ingredients such as animal milk powder and sometimes even bone marrow or unspecified “parts.” This can create a bit of a challenge for many vegan bodybuilding enthusiasts. You need protein to build muscle.
Types of Vegan Protein Supplements
Whey protein is the most popular protein on the market. Whey protein is not an option for vegan and plant-based people, as it is derived from cows. However, there are many different types of plant-based protein on the market; you simply need to know where to look. Potato protein is an excellent substitution to whey, but people with gluten intolerances or those on a low-carb diet may want to avoid this option. Rice is OK for those with gluten intolerance; however, this would not be beneficial if you are on a low-carb diet. Pea protein is a great option for people with gluten sensitivities and is a viable option for those seeking a low-carb diet. Pea protein is rich in amino acids, containing all essential amino acids. It’s easy to digest and allows for a fast absorption of fiber. It’s good for the kidneys and heart, and the best part is that this powerful vegan protein is allergen-free and will not cause allergic reactions!
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