Can I still build muscle on a vegan diet?

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Can I still build muscle on a vegan diet?

With vegan diets becoming more popular around the world there comes the question that many people have asked themselves, “how do vegans build muscle without meat?”. As this diet has become popular amongst athletes from a range of sports, there has been much research that has gone into the effects of a vegan diet on gaining muscle mass. In this article we are going to be sharing how you can still build muscle on a vegan diet and if cutting the animal products is going to have any effects on your health.

 

Getting enough protein

When doing a vegan diet its crucial you get enough protein. Although many people believe that meat is the only good source of protein, they couldn’t be more wrong. There are many protein dense vegan foods like tofu, hemp seeds and nuts. On a vegan diet you may feel like you have to consume a higher volume of food to reach your goals, but who has ever complained about eating more food? Your body requires essential amino acids to build strong muscles and bones. Many plant-based foods are incomplete proteins, this means that they don’t contain all the essential amino acids so its important you combine protein rich foods to get all your essential amino acids.

Many people use supplements like whey protein to reach their daily protein intake goals. Many of these supplements get their protein from either meat or dairy sources so they can’t be taken by vegans. However, there are vegan sources of whey like pea protein and other plant-based protein powder. There are also many benefits by taking vegan whey instead of normal whey. These include less digestive stress, increased diet diversity and not consuming the harmful hormones and steroids they give to animals. Also depending on your source of protein, you may reap benefits from the plant, for example bumpkin seed protein will provide you with antioxidants and can put you at reduced risk of certain cancers.

 

Recover quicker

One thing that may come to a shock to some is that a vegan diet can help your muscles recover quicker and more effectively. Compared to an omnivores diet there is a lot less cholesterol and saturated fat in vegan foods. This helps you lower your risk of cardiovascular and heart disease as cholesterol build up wont result in blocked arteries.  This will also increase blood flow which is good for supplying your muscles with what they need quickly. This means essential amino acids, proteins and oxygen won’t be delayed getting to your muscle cells.  Veggies and other plant foods also contain many anti-inflammatory and antioxidants, this may help to ease pain after a workout.

The improved recovery time is the reason many professional athletes are turning vegan. The cleaner arteries and improved blood flow can also have benefits to your performance. This improves the oxygen to your muscles during workouts which means they can produce more energy. As a result, you will be able to go for longer and not fatigue as quickly.

 

Improved performance

If you have recently started a vegan diet, they one major benefit you may be experiencing is that your physical performance has improved. A reason for this as stated previously is because your blood flow is less restricted and more essential molecules can reach your muscles.  This means that your muscles wont fatigue as quickly and you will be able to go for longer and reduce the risk of injury as your not training on already fatigue muscles. There are many athletes that have gone vegan for the performance benefits, these include Wolverhampton wanderers star Matt Doherty, David Haye and Lewis Hamilton.

When doing a vegan diet your cardiovascular health is really improved. As a result, if you do a sport that involves cardio, your performance will improve running on plant fuel. This is due to plant-based foods being clean and not promoting fat gain. The more fat you put on can be something that can cause performance to be reduced as you will weigh more and may be less flexible. Flexibility is also improved when participating in a vegan diet, this is also a factor that can lead to improved performance and more flexibility when doing movements.

 

Fat loss

As many already know a vegan diet can help you reach your fat loss goals. When on a plant-based diet, your more likely to start eating healthier foods and if your strict then you will cut out the pant based unhealthy foods like fried chips and fried tofu. This swapping out the just for whole foods has many more benefits other than fat loss like reduced blood pressure and cholesterol. Vegan diets are also higher in fibre compared to the diet of an omnivore. The high fibre can make digesting food easier and can keep you feeling full till your next meal, so you are less likely to start snacking.

Veganism can also help you lose weight without restricting calories. In 2016 a study was done comparing the weight loss of people participating in a vegan, vegetarian and omnivorous diets. They concluded that the people who done the vegan diets lost the most fat over the period than the other participants. A plant-based diet also promotes healthy gut bacteria to be produced. This can ease digestion and protect against diseases like diabetes.

 

Do the maths

If you are participating in a vegan diet and do not want any disturbance to your gains, then be prepared to add up your macros. This may require research as vegetables usually don’t come with labels containing their nutrients. However, if you are adding up your required nutrients correctly then you should be able to reap many benefits from a vegan diet and this will contribute to a long, healthy life. There is a reason many athletes have switched to whole food diets and it is something you should at least try, just remember due to plant not being very high in calories, you will be eating a higher volume of food.

 

Overall, a vegan diet is something everyone should consider trying and offers many benefits not only to fitness but also to general health. Although some substitute meats can be unhealthy, if you miss the texture of meat and taste then these are always an option. So, the answer to the question stated previously “can you build muscle on a vegan diet?”, is in short yes. If you get your nutrition right and make sure you are hitting your macro and calorie goals, then you should see nothing but progress and you will generally feel better and have more energy.