Going vegan might seem “high and mighty” for some of us, but it actually comes with a host of benefits. Ethical issues aside, veganism has caught on with a number of bodybuilders who have sidestepped all animal products and still maintain a sculpted figure.
Gym-goers are still skeptical of a diet without meat and its byproducts. And rightfully so. How do you make up for the loss of protein?
Legumes, quinoa and plant-based protein powders can replace meat and poultry in a vegan bodybuilder’s diet. That’s not the hard part. The most important factor for a vegan bodybuilder is tweaking your workout regimen and nutritional intake to fit your lifestyle.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Plant-based protein shakes
Don’t believe the jock who tells you plant-based protein powders will have you looking like a size zero model. Whey and casein are the most popular options for meat-eaters, but hemp gets the job done for vegans. Its high fiber content has been known to help with weight loss, and it contains omega-6 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and reduce muscle soreness.
When it comes to protein digestibility, pea protein scores a whopping 85%. This makes it a perfect vegan choice, as it contains amino acids that will be easily absorbed by your body. If you’re looking for a protein powder with similar nutritional effects to casein, pea is the way to the go. Hemp protein does have a lower calorie content than pea protein, though.
Additional supplements for vegans
A plant-based, whole food diet has a few gaps that need filling if you’re going to get the most out of your bodybuilding efforts.
- Vitamin B12 is crucial because it helps with protein metabolism. B12 also keeps red blood cells functioning as they should. A daily supplement is a must, because there’s no quality source of B12 in plants.
- Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide phenomenon; a lack of it will slow down your muscle recovery time. The sunshine vitamin also enhances calcium and phosphorus absorption from the gut.
- Algae oil supplements can take care of your omega-3 fatty acid requirements. Omega-3s are crucial to your recovery time and weight loss.
But a good supplement plan is just one side of the vegan bodybuilding diet. The other is holistic eating that will give you essential nutrients from whole-based foods. The trick is to spread out your nutritional intake throughout the day.
A few tips for maximizing your diet when going vegan and hitting the gym:
- A small portion every 3-4 hours is a good idea. This will speed up your metabolism and provide the nutrients required for muscle growth.
- If you’ve been eating brown rice, make the switch to quinoa, which offers a much higher protein count.
- Legumes like chickpeas are low on fat and give your body a good amount of carbohydrates.
- The antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables will give your immune system the boost it requires to keep you on track with your fitness goals.
- Did you know that 1oz of peanuts or almonds contains about 160 calories? They’re also a source of calcium that is essential for bone health.
- .This goes without saying, but try to stay away from processed food as much as possible.
And remember to keep a close tab on your calorie intake, because a substantial drop will force your body to use protein to fuel your workouts. This will affect your body mass in the long run (and could keep you from short-term gains as well).
A word on vegan bodybuilding workouts
A high-volume workout on a vegan diet is unnecessary and can be harmful in the long run. Low reps and heavy weights for less than 40 minutes will help you expand your muscle mass. If you’re looking at a cardio workout, make sure you consume a plant-based protein shake to help you retain muscle. Short, high-intensity workouts allow for minimal muscle loss; this is crucial as you stick to an ultra-green diet.
Body mass fluctuations are bound to happen on a vegan diet. Instead of giving up, track your daily diet and workout goals to find where you’re going wrong. A major health benefit of veganism is the intake of n-6 fats, which are linked to reductions in hypertension, cardio diseases and high cholesterol.
If you’re up for the vegan bodybuilding challenge, there’s no better way to get started than to simply do it. A holistic nutritional plan paired with timed workout sessions will help you build muscle mass as effectively as any meat-eating bodybuilder out there.