- How muscle building works with a vegan diet.
- Can you build muscle without animal protein?
- How much protein do you need for vegan muscle building?
- Which vegan protein sources are suitable for muscle building?
- Vegan protein powder supports your muscle building
- What else is important when building muscle with a vegan diet?
- Ensure a positive energy balance
- Watch your carbohydrates
- Build fats into your vegan diet
- Liquid calories as an aid in vegan muscle building
- Supplement your vegan diet with workouts
- Vegan muscle building: tips for your recipes
This is how muscle building with a vegan diet works
Nutrition plans and tips for muscle building are many. But only a few of them are also suitable for a vegan diet, because here often fish, meat, eggs and dairy products come on the plate. For many people, vegan nutrition and muscle building are still a contradiction. To build up muscle mass, you need proteins - and for the majority of athletes, these come from animal products. But if you eat a vegan diet, you don't have to give up the dream of a defined body. Because even as a vegan you can build muscles and achieve your fitness goals.
In our guide, we explain how vegan muscle building succeeds, which protein sources are suitable for it and what you should pay attention to in your nutrition plan.
Can you build muscle without animal protein?
For a long time, it was believed that vegan, i.e. purely plant-based proteins, could not keep up with animal protein in terms of muscle building. In the meantime, however, this prejudice has been disproved.
Studies have shown that it makes no difference to musclegain whether athletes consume animal or plant protein. A higher intake of protein promotes muscle mass gain, regardless of the source of the protein.[¹]
For this reason, it is also possible for vegans to build muscle and maintain muscle mass. However, since animal protein has a higher biological value than individual plant protein sources, it makes sense tocombine several plant protein sources in a vegan diet for muscle building. This not only increases the biological value, but also improves the amino acid profile and allows you to absorb all the important amino acids.
How much protein do you need for vegan muscle building?
Even on a vegan diet, protein is at the top of the list for building muscle. But how much protein should you consume daily if you want to build muscle as a vegan? Basically, a daily amount of 1.6 to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended for building muscle mass.[²] Ideally, you should not consume this amount of protein in a single meal, but rather spread your protein intake over the entire day. If you want to use vegetable protein for muscle building, it is advisable to consider a few tips:
- Spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day by focusing on protein-packed meals and snacks.
- Consume protein at regular intervals. Athletes often choose a period of three to four hours for about three to five servings per day.
- Make sure to combine different plant-based protein sources to achieve a higher biological value and a balanced amino acid profile.
Which vegan protein sources are suitable for muscle building?
If you want to build muscle as a vegan, you should pay attention to a balanced diet with plenty of protein. After all, what non-vegan athletes achieve with eggs, fish, and meat can also work with a vegan diet that includes a variety of plant-based foods. By the way, animal sources of protein often provide larger amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat in addition to protein. Vegan foods high in protein, on the other hand, usually contain higher amounts of healthy fats, valuable nutrients and fiber. Therefore, you can easily get enough protein for muscle building even on a vegan diet.
Suitable vegan protein sources for the muscle building are for example:
- Legumes (e.g. lentils, beans, chickpeas)
- amaranth, quinoa, chia
- Seeds (e.g. linseed)
- Nuts (also as a milk alternative in the form of almond milk)
Vegan protein powder supports your muscle building
A vegan diet with plenty of protein should lay the foundation for muscle building. Although there are numerous vegan protein sources with which you can take in protein, it is not always possible to cover the entire protein requirement through the daily diet. For this reason, vegan protein powders can also help you build muscle in addition to a balanced diet.
However, vegan protein powders have long had a low profile. This was because they were often not only worse tasting than whey protein powders, but also had a poorer amino acid profile. This is most common when only a single protein source, such as rice protein, is used in the formulation of vegan protein powders.
To get around this, we combined different plant-based protein sources in our Vegan Designer Protein. Pea, hemp and sunflower protein provide you with a complete amino acid profile and thus supply your muscles with all important amino acids. Due to the high biological value, our Vegan Designer Protein supports you ideally in your muscle building and ensures an effective stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. This makes it perfect for all vegan athletes who want to support their muscle building with a protein-rich diet.
What else is important when building muscle with a vegan diet?
Protein is not everything. Even though high-quality plant-based protein is important for building muscle as a vegan, there are other aspects to successful muscle building. These include:
- Adequate energy for muscle building.
- Muscle protein synthesis must be greater than muscle breakdown
- A good micronutrient distribution for a functioning (energy) metabolism
Therefore, if you want to build muscle vegan, you should in any case supplement with good plant protein sources and also eat enough calories and pay attention to a balanced distribution of fats, carbohydrates and other important nutrients. We have summarized for you how this works best and what you should keep in mind.
Ensure a positive energy balance
A positive energy balance is not only important for a vegan diet when building muscle. This means that you take in more calories than you consume. How high this calorie surplus should be, however, cannot be answered in a general way. It depends on a number of factors, including how much weight you want to gain and how quickly you want to buildmuscle. The former is primarily your personal decision. How fast you build muscle cannot necessarily be influenced. The muscle build-up is dependent on various basic conditions, e.g.:
- Genetic conditions
- Hormone balance
- Muscle development
As a rule, beginners build muscle faster than advanced athletes, so they can often choose a higher calorie surplus. To achieve a positive energy balance, energy dense vegan foods can help you. These include:
- Grains and products made from them
- Dried fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Coconut milk
- Tofu and tempeh
- Fats and oils
- Dairy alternatives (e.g., almond milk, oat milk)
Watch your carbohydrates
Although carbohydrates do not play the main role in muscle building, you should by no means neglect them. Because well-filled glycogen stores can give your muscles strength, especially during longer training sessions.[³] In addition, carbohydrates also support recovery after training.
Even when building muscle on a vegan diet, you can choose between slow and fast digesting carbohydrate sources. After your workout, long-chain carbohydrates and fiber are helpful to help your body recover. Just before your workout, carbohydratesshould be available to yourbody as quickly as possible so that your muscles have enough energy for the effort. It is recommended to focus on an easily digestible meal before the effort. Which pre-workout snack is the right one for you, however, you will usually find out for yourself over time.
Suitable carbohydrate sources for vegan muscle building are e.g.
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Whole grains
- Legumes (e.g. beans, lentils)
- Fruits (also dried fruits)
Build fats into your vegan diet
Fats are important for the body and should therefore not be missing in vegan muscle building. The fat intake you set per day also depends on your personal goals. There is no direct upper limit, but a very high-fat diet could possibly have a negative effect on muscle building.[⁴]
Athletes who eat a vegan diet should pay special attention to the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. These are not only important for the general health, but can also support the regeneration of the muscles, the building of muscle mass, and the development of a healthy body.[⁵]the building of muscle mass[⁶] and muscle protein synthesis.[⁷] support. Since it is somewhat more difficult to take in omega-3 fatty acids through food in a vegan diet, the important fatty acids can also be supplied through supplements. Our ESN Omega-3 Vegan capsules support you with valuable omega-3 fatty acids from marine algae and are thus the perfect alternative to non-vegan omega-3 from fish oil.
Liquid calories as an aid in vegan muscle building.
Even if they have set muscle building as a specific goal, many people find it difficult to eat enough calories throughout the day. In this situation, liquid calories can be a good support. One way to do this is by drinking delicious shakes, which will ensure that you get enough calories and protein at the same time. For example, you can mix a shake from our Vegan Designer Protein with almond milk, oatmeal and fruit of your choice. Thanks to the different flavors you can bring enough variety and take your calories and protein virtually incidentally by enjoying really tasty protein shakes.
Supplement your vegan diet with workouts
The following also applies to vegan muscle building: nutrition alone cannot boost the growth of your muscles. Rather, adiet rich in protein and nutrients should go hand in hand with regular workouts. To build muscle mass and see results, strength training several times a week is therefore ideal. Through regular workouts, your muscles signal to your body that more food is needed to ensure adequate supply. As a result, your body begins to mobilize reserves and absorbs new nutrients particularly well. The result: you build muscle.
By the way, you can additionally support your muscles during hard training sessions with all eight essential amino acids. Our ESN EAAs help you get the most out of your workout!
Vegan muscle building: tips for your recipes
If you haven't dealt with the topic of vegan nutrition and muscle building yet, you're probably wondering how you can achieve a good nutritional intake. To best support your muscles with your diet, you can follow these guidelines:
- Carbohydrates: long-chain carbohydrates are best included in your largest meals. Shortly before training, you can also rely on fast-available carbohydrates that provide energy, but do not burden your digestion during the workout.
- Protein: Plant-based protein should be included in each of your meals from a variety of sources throughout the day for successful muscle building.
- Fats: Incorporate healthy fats into your diet, such as high-quality oils and nuts.
- Other nutrients: To provide your body with all the important nutrients, you should eat at least two to three servings of vegetables per day and fruit should also be on the menu daily.
If you have been eating vegan for a while, you have probably already found a selection of vegan recipes for you. However, targeted muscle building may present challenges to even experienced vegan cooks, because the necessary calorie surplus must be achieved somehow. We've put together a few tips for you on how to add more protein and calories to your diet, even with small adjustments:
- Add nut puree or coconut milkto homemade sauces and spreads, for example.
- Use high-quality oils to sauté or refine your food
- Sprinkle nuts and seeds over your dishes
- Use pureed foods: soups, sauces and shakes are easier to eat.
Use protein powder for baking: Our Vegan Designer Protein is not only convincing in shakes, but also in baking.
Conclusion: Muscle building is also possible for vegans without any problems
As a vegan, you should not be deterred by prejudices about vegan nutrition and muscle building. If you pay attention to a good combination of protein-rich nutrition and vigorous training several times a week, you can achieve your goals in the long term even with vegan protein sources. For a varied and delicious vegan diet, you can use not only plant foods, but also our Vegan Designer Protein. If you supply your muscles with high-quality protein and all the important amino acids, it doesn't matter whether you eat animal or plant protein. So nothing more stands in the way of vegan muscle building.