There are some who doubt that vegans and vegetarians can even intake enough nutrients to live a healthy life, so body-building while on a plant based diet could seem a little extreme. Plant based diets have been shown to have long term health benefits, but are they sufficient for building muscle? The short answer to our headline is yes, but it may take a little more effort than their carnivorous counterparts. One of the most essential nutrients in bodybuilding is definitely protein, which may be lacking in a vegan or vegetarian diet. One of the staples of a bodybuilding diet is chicken breast, which a vegan or vegetarian obviously cannot eat. Luckily, there are many useful tips and alternatives that will allow vegans and vegetarians to bodybuild successfully.
1. Have enough calories
In order to build muscle, you need a surplus of calories compared to your normal diet. If you do not have enough calories to burn when working out, your body may use protein instead which will be counter-productive in building muscle. Make sure that your surplus calories are coming from healthy sources though such as vegetables, fruits, nuts alongside protein.
2. Have enough proteins
While plants may not be as densely protein packed as meats, there are tons of great options for adding extra protein to your vegan or vegetarian diet. One great source of protein, that is also delicious, are chickpeas. As we’ve detailed before, hummus is a great post workout snack. Another effective source of protein is quinoa, which you can eat instead of brown rice because it is more protein dense. Nuts and seeds can also give you an adequate amount of protein for a bodybuilding diet.
3. Vary your diet
The best way to ensure that you are not lacking in any nutrients is to not gravitate toward the same food day after day. Each food offers a variety of different benefits so filling your diet with a plethora of different options will help you intake enough nutrients.
4. Make sure to have enough healthy fats
Contrary to its bad reputation, fat is essential to life and a healthy body. Not all fats are created equally though. The best kinds of fat are the ones from natural sources such as avocados, peanut or almond butter, and of course nuts. Make sure to limit your intake though, as even healthy fat does easily convert into body fat.
5. Consider taking supplements
This is not absolutely essential, but there are some nutrients that vegetarians and vegans are more likely to lack. The main ones are iron and calcium. If you’re not a fan of supplements, there is food that contain these nutrients.
In conclusion, it may not be easy to be a vegetarian or vegan bodybuilder, but it is far from impossible. With a well planned diet, a great workout routine, maybe some used fitness equipment, you can build the body you’ve always dreamed of while maintaining your plant based diet.