05 Oct 2017

Can Vegans Build Lean Muscle Like Meat Eaters?

Nutrition Advice

How important is meat in gaining muscle?

That’s a good question to ask if you’re diving headfirst into a personal training program; especially if you don’t eat meat. So, let’s be honest; is trying to gain muscle without meat like trying to drive a car without petrol?

Not at all, it all comes down to protein and calories, and meat doesn’t have the mortgage on those, not by any bend and stretch. If you’re a vegan, this article will be music to your muscles.

Oh, and this is specifically for vegans, not vegetarians who can be fine with dairy products and eggs or pescatarians who are partial to the odd fish. This is a strictly animal product-free zone, so no meat, no milk, no eggs, no fish; only foods derived directly from plants with no sneaky animal-based additives.

So, to paraphrase Olivia Newton John, let’s get vegetable.

Pump up the protein

Protein is basically power pack of amino acids, the building blocks of muscles. There are a total of 20 amino acids, and we need every one of them to build muscle. The bad news: meats can include all 20, vegetables don’t. But don’t fret. With a properly mixed and matched vegan diet, you can meet the carnivores head-on in a body sculpting race.  

What vegan foods contain protein?

Let’s get listicle: almonds, artichokes, asparagus, black beans, black eyed peas, broccoli, Chia seeds, chickpeas, edamame, green beans, green peas, hemp milk, hemp seeds, lentils, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, soy milk, spinach and tofu to name the most popular ones.

That’s a decent variety, but how do you turn most of those into a tasty, protein-packed meal? Don’t worry, your personal trainer can help you with a balanced menu, plus a good mix of plant based protein shakes and muscle building supplements.

Calories are critical

Using calories to gain muscle is a bit like stoking a fire; you want wood (calories) burning away and more wood (calories) on top of that waiting its turn. In other words, you want a calorie surplus (rather then fat) to burn energy and build muscle. Again, your personal trainer can guide you, but as a general rule, you want an extra 250 calories per day on top of your usual intake.

Vitamins are vital

Whether herbivore, omnivore or carnivore, you can’t lose fat, gain muscle and stay healthy without ensuring you are supplementing areas where you may be deficient. Which ones are most important? B, C, D and E, each with its own health and fitness benefits.

Eat more, drink more

Eat smaller meals more frequently to help you lose fat and gain muscle. Drink loads of water to avoid dehydration and create an internal river system that gets all those nutrients where they need to go.  And we’re not talking 8 glasses a day; while you’re training, you need to virtually drown yourself in water – about a litre of it for every 1000 calories burned.

If you're passionate about health and wellness and want to learn more about Nutrition or Fitness, call us today on 1300 616 180 and speak with one of our friendly Careers Advisors. 

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