Is it Possible to Gain Weight and Muscle on a Vegan Diet ?

Vegan diet / weight and muscle

Vegan diets have been gaining popularity in recent years due to their numerous health benefits. Many athletes from different sports (Novak Djokovic, Carl Lewis, Scott Jurek…) have found success in getting ripped without meat in their diet.

Eating plant-based food is a way to prevent certain conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. However, there’s still a lot of concern as to whether it’s a sustainable way of eating. The short answer to the question of whether vegans can bulk up is, yes. As long as you’re adhering to a well-planned diet, you’ll be able to consume your protein requirement to build muscle.

How much protein do we need ?

There’s no debate that this is the question vegans get asked the most: Where do you get your protein? Protein is the building block that helps repair tissue and spurs on growth, and animal-derived products have been largely promoted as the main sources to accomplish this effectively. The guidelines cited here on Mule Bar indicate that the average person requires 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. As a general rule of thumb, however, you’ll need to at least double your intake of protein to build muscle mass, assuming that you combine it with resistance or other types of training. Exercise metabolism researcher Oliver C. Witard stated that athletes need about 1.6 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilo of body weight; this means that the high-protein diet of a 65-kilo person requires 106 to 140 grams of protein compared to a standard diet of 52 grams of protein.

While plants are excellent sources of protein, they are generally lower in content compared to animal products. The challenge, then, for vegans is reaching the target of a high-protein diet. For American Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris, it’s about staggering meals throughout the day. The Huffington Post reported that he typically eats pancakes for breakfast; a protein shake for a midmorning snack; avocado quesadillas for lunch; another afternoon snack of black beans and guacamole; black bean quesadillas for dinner; and another protein shake before bed. By dividing his food intake into 5-6 small meals a day, he’s able to consume the daily requirement while maintaining or even increasing his mass in the process.

It does seem like plant-based diets are becoming more popular among elite athletes. Aside from Farris, Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton is also a proud vegan. Hamilton altered his diet and training routine to gain muscle when he went vegan in 2017. His staples include a variety of beans, vegan burgers, green vegetables, hummus, nuts, and lentils. A cup of lentils, which can be including in soup, salads, and burgers, contains 18 grams of protein and is one of the easiest sources of nutrients for vegans.

Do vegans need supplements ?

The main nutrient that vegans need a supplement for is Vitamin B12, which is typically found in meat, fish, and dairy. It’s essential for maintaining the recommended amount of red blood cells in the body.

As for protein, supplements are not a requirement but they do make consuming protein a lot easier. Medical News Today explained that animal protein is more complete in terms of amino acids, while plants are not. This means that vegans will have to eat different sources of protein in order to reach their target. However, plant-based protein powders can help fill those gaps, while also significantly increasing your consumption of protein to ensure that you can gain weight and build muscle mass.

Bulking up as a vegan, as many athletes (Novak djokovichave demonstrated, is not impossible and can even be healthier. As long as you put the time and effort into planning your meals, you’ll be able to achieve your goals even without meat.

Submitted by Althea Christine

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