So, you’ve been forced to watch the vegan documentaries by your persistent friends, and they were actually very insightful!
This got you thinking that a change to the Green Side might actually be something you would consider.
If only you didn’t have to sacrifice all that muscle you’ve spent years accumulating.
We all know that Vegan protein sources aren’t complete, right?
Vegans eat avocado on toast and have brunch – they aren’t known to be the holy grail of muscles, right?
Vegan culture has seen massive growth as an online trend in the past few years, being beneficial to the planet, your overall health, and definitely for your Instagram page.
So, no wonder you’re curious if the switch will be worth it.
But let’s be real: you don’t actually know any massive vegan people who just ooze muscle and fitness – or do you?
Mr. Schwarzenegger certainly didn’t get that big by eating chickpeas…
Regardless of if you know a jacked veggie person or not, do they have to eat any different from a “normal” human being to maintain muscle?
Are their macros any different?
Will soy mess up my hormones?
The very short answer is no, you will not lose muscle as a vegan.
Muscle is determined by training, overall protein intake, and overall caloric intake.
As long as you are eating enough complete protein sources, training and resting enough, and consuming enough overall calories, it’s almost impossible for you to lose muscle.
Building muscle is actually very simple, but not always easy.
The simple fact is, a vegan protein source will not make you lose muscle if you are consuming enough food.
Before we get too far into it though, get yourself a copy of my ebook ‘Train Wherever The F*ck You Want!‘
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If you’ve spent any time around vegan deniers or someone who knows anything about nutrition, the conversation about vegan proteins lacking all the essential amino acids has most likely come up.
Amino acids are the small building blocks that form proteins, of which there are 20 in total.
There are nine essential amino acids, namely histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, which humans cannot produce naturally, so we need to get these amino acids through our diet.
The other eleven amino acids are naturally produced by our bodies, so we have to make sure to get the other nine through our diet.
This means that in order to build new muscle, you need to eat enough protein that contains all nine essential amino acids to create the new tissue.
If you were to only eat oats (which are not a complete protein) you won’t be able to build any new muscle – Arnold is not pleased.
All meat sources do contain all nine amino acids, and there are a lot of vegan protein sources that also contain all nine amino acids.
Buckwheat, Soy Protein, Vegan Protein powder blends, beans, rice – the list of whole foods and protein sources is quite extensive.
More often than not, hitting your amino acid quota as a vegan is as simple as combining a few different sources of protein.
If you were to eat four meals throughout the day, it would be best to eat various sources such as soy-based protein, some Tempeh, and maybe some whole grains, and you should have no problem hitting the requirements for building muscle.
The body has the ability to transform the 9 Essential amino acids into the other non-Essential acids, so it is only crucial that you take in enough of the Essential 9.
Maintaining muscle is actually a lot harder than it sounds, at times.
You still have to control all the variables such as nutrition, hydration, sleep, training, and supplementation.
On top of that, even having too much stress can actually rob you of some sweet, beautiful muscles.
Too much stress means a rise in the hormone cortisol, which is needed in small amounts.
But, if you have too much cortisol, you can just kiss that shredded goal goodbye.
Studies have also found that sleeping less than the recommended eight hours can lead to an overconsumption of a whopping 500 calories the next day!
These pesky extra calories can most likely come from carbs, as sleep-deprived individuals seem to crave carbohydrates a lot more.
Additionally, controlling your nutrition is essential, so making sure you have enough calories and enough high-quality protein to retain your muscle falls among your top priorities.
Vegan protein will work perfectly in retaining muscle.
Combined with a resistance training program, you should aim to consume at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Granted you are getting in enough protein – that is, enough protein with the required amino acids – then building or retaining muscle is a very easy task.
As a bonus, vegan protein sources are sometimes great for gut health since they usually contain quite a bit of fiber, I plant components that have been linked to increased gut health, lower insulin resistance, and even fat loss.
Bioavailability is the term used to describe how much of the compound your body physically can absorb.
Sort of like how much of your friend’s annoying boyfriend you can handle before you bailout.
If you consume 100 grams of protein, it needs to be digested in the stomach, after which the amino acids get streamlined into the blood, eventually making their way to the muscles.
Now, all proteins are equal, but some are more equal than others.
The bioavailability of foods is influenced by various factors such as chemical form, the health of the individual, and even supplements taken with the food.
For instance, caffeine can lower the bioavailability of Iron.
Most non-vegan protein options such as red meat or eggs have pretty high bioavailability sitting at 80 – 100.
This means that if you eat 30 grams worth of protein from eggs or meat, you will theoretically absorb 80 – 100% of that protein.
However, the bioavailability of Plant Proteins varies from source to source.
Soy has a bioavailability of just 6% lower than red meat.
Some sources are better than others, with a source like Wheat Gluten having a bioavailability of just 47, thus making it an inferior protein.
Rice protein has a bioavailability rating of 70, which also is not bad.
This basically means that you might need to consume a bit more protein as a vegan to reach your daily goals when taking bioavailability into consideration.
Muscle strength is determined by the amount of force you can exert or the amount of mass you can move, while muscular endurance is determined by how long you can move the mass without reaching failure.
These two factors are determined by things like the amount of muscle you have, the amount of glycogen you have stored in your muscles, and how adapted you are to the training.
If you are more experienced in a certain training method or exercise, logically you might be stronger than others.
The fact that muscle strength is not determined by diet means that on average, vegans do not have weaker muscles.
There is plenty of opportunities for vegans to build a great amount of strength and muscles, especially when they place themselves in a caloric surplus combined with a resistance training program.
For optimal results, you should aim to train at least four times a week, making sure you recover between sessions and getting in 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Aiming to lift more progressively is also vital in building new tissue, as this provides a novel stimulus to the muscle, a stimulus that must be met with muscular adaption or in other words, growth.
The one area that vegans might lack, is in the amount of creatine they have to fuel the workouts.
Creatine is a natural amino acid found most commonly in meats.
Humans do produce their own creatine, but there are mountains of evidence to show that creatine supplementation is healthy and can help with resistance training and building strength.
Since vegans do not eat meat, obviously, supplementing with five grams of creatine per day might be a very welcome addition.
Stock up on all your supplements like plant-based protein, creatine, and BCAAs here.
Building muscle has become the new black. Everyone wants to be strong, fit, and healthy.
Who can blame them?
There are various benefits to having more muscle: some examples include better health markers, increased insulin sensitivity, and of course looking amazing on the ‘gram.
Building muscle is a simple process of giving the body more than it needs, that is, a caloric surplus.
Combined with ample amounts of protein and a training program that supplies a novel stimulus, you will undoubtedly build new muscle tissue.
To build muscle as a vegan, you need to be in a caloric surplus.
You also need to be consuming enough high-quality protein to build muscle tissue.
Adding a resistance training program as well as a good eight hours of quality sleep every night is a sure-fire way of getting you to that goal you want to achieve – without harming any animals in the process!
To calculate how many calories you need to consume in order to build muscle you first need to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and then factor in the amount of energy you expend whilst training and then add anything from 200-500 calories on top of that to start your bulk.
Have a look through this article I recently posted on how to build muscle.
Let’s jump back to physics class, sitting next to your crush, and delve into the laws of Thermodynamics – fun. Stick with me!
The laws simply state that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, and in accordance with this, energy can only be transformed from one form into another.
Food can be eaten and then it can be stored as energy either as muscle, fat, or glycogen in the muscle.
The likelihood that the food will be stored as fat or muscle depends on a variety of conditions such as the composition of the food itself, your training schedule and intensity, your overall health, your insulin sensitivity, etc.
When taking this into consideration, the most ideal Vegan Muscle Building Foods would include a High-Quality Vegan Protein Powder, whole grains, lentils, tofu, oats, and most complex carbohydrates.
Aiming to get at least 200 calories in a surplus with adequate protein will suffice in building muscle.
Vegans have exactly the same muscle-building potentials as omnivores.
Your only limitations will be the amount of food you can eat, how hard you can train and your own genetics which play a massive role.
Gaining a few pounds of muscle is a fantastic goal to have that will certainly lead to increased physical and mental health.
There is no need to harm any animal for you to get your pump on!
Check out this video I put up on youtube recently showing 3 high-protein breakfast options.
I’ve even included a vegan one!