In general, when you think of a plant-based diet, you don't immediately think of building muscle. Muscle growth is much more associated with a meat and dairy diet that is often still very popular in the gym. But is a vegan diet and muscle building possible?
Yes, we'll show you. This article introduces you to the basics of a plant-based diet. You will learn how to create a nutrition plan aimed at muscle building.
What is a plant-based diet?
Also known as a vegan diet, a plant-based diet revolves around eating flora rather than fauna. A plant-based diet does not include meat, fish, seafood, eggs, or dairy products. However, that does not mean that every meal should consist of carrots or salads. You can choose from a wide variety of products, grains, fats and proteins, all derived from plants.
If you've always been an omnivore and you love meat and dairy, you may be wondering if a plant-based diet is really healthy. A nutritional plan that gets all its energy and nutrients from plants can definitely keep you healthy. It can even help you build muscle, as long as you choose nutritious options for your meals.
Calculate calories for building muscle
Like any good muscle-building diet plan, a plant-based diet starts with calculating the number of calories you need each day. Your daily calorie requirement does not change based on the type of diet you follow. It depends on your energy needs and your normal activity level.
First determine the total daily energy expenditure that your body needs. This includes performing basic functions and fueling your workouts. When selecting your activity level, consider the strength and muscle building workouts you will be doing.
Next, you need to add a calorie surplus. Your total daily energy expenditure only reflects maintenance calories. Sticking to that number of calories won't help you build muscle. Therefore, add 250 to 500 calories to your total daily energy expenditure to get the number of calories you need for muscle building.
Know your macronutrients
Eating smart is more than just counting calories, especially when you add more calories to your daily average. You should also pay attention to the macronutrient balance. That is, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which you consume every day. A diet with too much vegetable fat or too little vegetable protein will not help you build muscle effectively.
A good breakdown is 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. Your ideal macros may vary slightly, but this ratio contains enough protein to encourage muscle growth. Enough carbohydrates to fuel your body. Enough fat to help your body absorb nutrients before exercising and then recover.
Try using a macro tracking app to make sure you're getting the right amounts and making healthy choices for each meal. A good app is My Fitness Pal, in which you can keep track of all your daily food and activities.
Focus Your Muscle Building Diet On Good Foods
Any effective muscle building diet should revolve around good healthy foods rather than processed foods or junk foods. If you follow a plant-based diet, try to eat plenty of leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables. In addition, it is important to combine with potatoes and other tubers, beans and lentils, fresh and frozen fruits and whole grains such as oats and brown rice. Nuts and seeds are also great choices, as are vegetable oils, avocados, coconut, and proteins like tofu and tempeh. Good protein sources are also peas or broccoli. View our blog about protein-rich vegetables here.
Avoid sugary candies, refined starches, and vegan substitute foods that are full of fillers and empty calories. These foods can increase calories, but they don't provide the nutrients you need for muscle building.
Eat at the right times
If you're looking to build muscle, eating at predetermined times throughout the day can help take your progress to the next level. Of course, you need to fuel your body throughout the day, especially before, during and after strength training.
Make sure you eat complete vegan meals with a good macro balance for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Eat a small snack about two hours before your workout and about 30 minutes after your workout. Go heavy on the carbs and protein and light on the fat. You need carbohydrates for energy and proteins for muscle building. Too much fat can slow you down and compromise your performance in the gym. Remember that the calories and nutrients for your pre- and post-workout snacks should be factored into your total for the day. Find out here which protein-rich, plant-based snacks you could take.
Plan plant-based meals and snacks in advance
Transitioning to a completely plant-based diet can be difficult as you have to convert old habits into new ones. To make the transition easier and reduce the risk of going back to animal fats and proteins, plan ahead for plant-based meals and snacks.
Start the day with a high-protein, vegetable-packed tofu scramble or a whole-wheat protein bowl, and for lunch, try a vegan chili with avocado or a green salad packed with fresh produce and legumes. For a snack, go for a homemade trail mix or some vegetable yogurt with fruit, and for dinner, eat a lentil burger or a hearty vegetable stew. Use diet plan app to get nutritious recipes that fit easily into your diet plan. A good app is…
Commit 100% to your workouts and track your results
When your plant-based diet effectively nourishes your body, all you need to do is design your ideal workout and track your progress. Schedule cardio and strength sessions five or six times a week and train each muscle group at least once a week. With consistent practice, you will effectively strengthen and grow your muscles.
Use a fitness tracker to track your workouts and calories burned, along with your meals and calories burned. Keeping all your vital stats in one handy place makes it easy to keep track of how far you've progressed with your plant-based diet.
A vegan diet and build muscle, not possible?
When you track your progress, find a good workout routine, track your macros, and focus your diet on healthy foods, you can definitely build muscle and stay healthy while following a plant-based diet.
Is a vegan diet and muscle building possible? So the answer is a resounding YES!
View here an overview of all our vegan recipes.
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