A Vegan Bodybuilding Diet & Meal Plan That Works
Bodybuilding, or progressively lifting weights to increase muscle mass, is a popular and healthy pastime for many. In order to maximize the physical benefits of lifting weights at the gym, it is important to enjoy a diet that complements your bodybuilding goals. Fortunately, it is possible to be a vegan bodybuilder and see physical results without eating animal products.
Can Vegans Still Increase Body Mass?
Yes! Bodybuilders can still build mass on a vegan diet. If you want to increase muscle mass while eating a vegan diet, you need to:
- Consume adequate protein
- Eat a calorie surplus
- Track macro-nutrients regularly
What Foods Aren't Allowed on a Vegan Bodybuilding Diet?
Like any vegan diet, a vegan bodybuilder diet does not include any animal products. For some bodybuilders, this can be challenging. Just some of the typical bodybuilder foods not allowed on a vegan diet include all of the following:
- Cottage cheese
- Whey protein powders
What Protein Can Vegan Bodybuilders Eat?
Although some of the most commonly consumed sources of protein are not vegan, there are plenty of great vegan protein options that are ideal for bodybuilders. Vegan bodybuilders might enjoy each of the following high-protein foods:
- Soy-based foods
- Chia seeds
- Vegan protein powders
- Vegan meat substitutes
- Vegan protein bars
How Many Calories do Vegan Bodybuilders Need to Consume Every Day?
This exact number will depend on your maintenance calories, or the amount you eat each day to stay the same weight. Most bodybuilding experts recommend eating 500 calories more per day or two than your maintenance in order to increase weight steadily. A vegan diet can definitely allow you to eat a surplus of calories and build muscle mass.
Is it Hard to Cook a Typical Vegan Bodybuilder's Meal?
If you are already familiar with cooking basic meals, then cooking a vegan menu specifically for bodybuilders won't be any harder. However, there are fewer packaged foods and products that are suitable for this type of diet, so many vegans who enjoy bodybuilding have to spend more time preparing their meals in the kitchen.
Vegan Diet vs. Omnivore Diet: What's Best for Bodybuilders?
There is no simple answer to this question. Ultimately, you can achieve your bodybuilding goals through an omnivorous, vegetarian or vegan diet. Each can provide you with the right nutrients and calories to achieve strength and physique goals. To determine which diet is right for you, you might need to ask yourself the following questions first:
- Am I a vegan for moral, ethical, or health reasons?
- Do I have time to prepare high-protein meals at home?
- Can I enjoy multiple meals a day without meat?
- Can I live without cheese, yogurt, and honey?
- Am I eating a vegan diet because of a medical recommendation?
The answers to these questions will reveal whether you should continue with your vegan diet or whether another bodybuilding diet might be the best way to achieve your goals.
What are the Challenges of Sticking to a Vegan Bodybuilder Meal Plan?
The biggest challenges of sticking to a vegan diet plan when bodybuilding are getting enough calories, consuming enough protein, and avoiding processed foods. Since a vegan diet tends to be higher in carbohydrates and fat, getting in enough protein can be tough. At the same time, you may need to consume a high volume of food in order to eat sufficient calories to bulk. Finally, many vegans trying to bulk rely heavily on processed protein bars and shakes, which may not be ideal for everyone.
What are the Best Supplements for a Vegan Bodybuilder?
Bodybuilders of all types will typically want to supplement with protein powders, creatine, and caffeine. Look for vegan protein powders, a vegan variety of creatine, and a caffeine source you can enjoy on your way to the next workout like energy and caffeine gum from Neuro.
What Does a Sample Vegan Bodybuilding Meal Plan Look Like?
Many bodybuilders, vegan and otherwise, find that sticking to a consistent meal plan is best. This week-long meal plan follows key principles of routine, consistency, and simplicity in order to achieve goals. There are no specific serving sizes because every individual has unique calorie needs. You may need to adjust portions to better meet your bodybuilding goals.
- A high-calorie granola
- Almond milk
- Coconut yogurt
- A tempeh sandwich on whole wheat bread
- Two slices of vegan cheese
- A piece of fruit on the side
- A vegan protein shake for dessert
- One or two vegan meat substitute patties
- Vegetables tossed in olive oil
- Salad topped with tofu cubes
- A chocolate-flavored vegan protein bar OR
- An ice-blended protein shake
Rather than mixing up your diet for each day of the week, stick with a dietary routine. This makes it easier to know how many calories you are eating and takes the guesswork out of preparation. For variety, mix up the evening meal each week. You might try the following vegan dishes that can be high in protein:
- Quinoa salad with vegan "chicken" strips
- Edamame pasta with tomato sauce and vegan cheese
- Savory oatmeal made with almond milk, plain protein powder and nutritional yeast
As the vegan diet becomes increasingly popular for a variety of reasons, more and more bodybuilders will also try out vegan diets. Although taking in enough protein can be more challenging on a vegan diet, a diet free from animal products can still be healthy and allow you to achieve your bodybuilding goals. The keys to success will include nutrient tracking and the right supplements for maximum strength, growth, and energy.