Many people firmly believe that being a vegan and having a shredded physique don’t go hand-in-hand. This comes from the commonly shared opinion that vegans don’t consume sufficient amounts of protein since its only sources are animal products – red or white meat, fish, milk, eggs, etc.
Well, guess what? They are wrong!
Whatever your reasons for transitioning to veganism were, you don’t have to give up your beliefs and eating habits in order to be fit or built up. Vegans can gain just as much muscles and strength as anybody else, and even be healthier.
Let’s take a few famous and successful athletes for example: the NFL player David Carter, the MMA fighter Jake Shield, the Ironman champion John Joseph, sisters Williams, and many others.
So, how is this possible?
Besides already mentioned protein sources, it can also be found in a number of plants such as legumes (beans and peas), vegetables (rice, potato, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, artichokes), nuts, seeds, whey, soy, hemp, etc.
Therefore, the combination of well balanced vegan diet program and planned workout schedule can lead to a healthy and muscular physique.
Do vegans need more protein?
Together with fats and carbohydrates, protein is a macronutrient consisted of amino acids. It is responsible for good functioning of metabolism, preservation of immune system and development of muscles. Which is exactly why it is an essential part of every diet.
But, the question is: How much protein is needed?
Thanks to the human’s naturally slow growth, our diet does not have to be full of protein. Depending on the source of information, the numbers vary. The average amount of protein required to meet the daily needs of a healthy adult person is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight, which is approximately 10-15% of total calories.
However, as athletes spend a lot of energy, their protein needs are even higher – 1-1.2g per kilogram. What is more, if you are a vegan on a hard training schedule trying to maximize muscularity and strength, the amount of protein your body needs on daily basis can go up to 2g per kilogram of body weight.
Don’t let these numbers discourage you!
You don’t have to measure the amounts of protein you take during every meal. As far as you eat diverse foods, you are on the right track. If you are still afraid that you are not getting enough protein, try incorporating vegan protein powders into your diet program.
All in all, it’s always the best solution to stick to the average amounts and wait for the results. Otherwise, the excess of protein in your body can do more harm than good, since the body storages it as fat, and nobody wants fat.
Not only protein is important
If you want to improve your muscle mass, you need to take care of carbohydrates intake as well. They fill your body with long-lasting energy and regulate the blood sugar levels.
Be sure that you eat carbs directly after workouts. Carbohydrates help insulin release which makes your body develop muscles.
And, no, you won’t gain fat by eating carbs as long as you mix them with protein. If you completely avoid carbs, it can lead to carbs deficiency whose consequences result in hypoglycemia or ketoacidosis.
However, be careful! Not all vegan carbs are good carbs. Instead of vegan pizza or pasta, stick to the brown rice, whole grain bread, oats, and potatoes.
Eat less, but more often!
When it comes to your overall diet program, it is important to have at least 4-6 smaller meals. Your body will be constantly fed with calories this way, which means more energy. In case your work prevents you from having long breaks that frequently, you can easily prepare tasty smoothies or your own protein bars the night before that you can eat in few seconds.
Make your muscles do their work
A well balanced vegan diet will not help you improve your muscle mass and get shredded physique without a proper training. Muscles need to be stimulated in order to develop.
The more you break your muscles, the more they grow.
It is known that vegans should avoid long-lasting cardio exercises so as not to burn much energy. No matter how well programmed your vegan diet is, you still gain your energy harder than people who eat meat. Instead, you should concentrate on strength and resistance exercises such as weight lifting.
Bear in mind that diversity is the key. In other words, you should not focus on only one group of muscles during the training. So, try exercises that demand movements of more than one body part. The best exercises are usually those that imitate hard labor work and everyday activities.
Since the muscles develop during the recovery phase, make sure that 2 or 3 days a week are your rest days.
Wait! Don’t forget the water.
Hydration is a crucial part of muscle building. Make sure you drink sufficient amounts of water before, during and after the training. Again, don’t overdo it. If you want to perform well and get some amazing results out of training, simply remember not to ignore your thirst.
As it is above mentioned, diversity and good balance are keys to everything. Go, build your muscles and defend your vegan lifestyle.
Article by Victoria Lim