Vegan Bodybuilding: The Definitive Guide (2020)

Vegan Bodybuilding - Lose Fat Build Muscle

This is my complete guide to vegan bodybuilding in 2020. 

In this all-new guide you’ll learn:

  • The top veganism myths & lies.
  • How to build your own vegan bodybuilding plan. 
  • What it takes to build muscle on a vegan diet. 
  • Which supplements every vegan should be taking. 
  • Bonus workout programs.

So if you want to optimize your vegan diet to improve your body composition, then you’ll love today’s guide. 

Let’s get started with some myths about veganism. 

(DISCLAIMER: the recommendations in this article are made based on my research and personal experience, but shall not be construed as medical or nutritional advice. You are fully responsible for any actions you take and any consequences that occur as a result of anything you read on this website).

Veganism Myths

Myth #1: You Cannot Get Enough Protein As A Vegan

Now, let’s talk protein. 

Protein intake seems to be the number one concern people have when thinking about transitioning to a vegan diet. 

It does become a bit trickier to hit the optimal protein intake for body composition goals—more muscle, less fat—but it can be done. 

Before we talk about specific recommendations, let’s see how protein sources can be rated when it comes to quality. 

Protein Composition and Quality

There are three main aspects that are taken into account for protein composition: digestibility, quality, and micronutrients. 

Digestibility

This refers to the amount of protein that is absorbed and used by the body after consumption. Plant-based proteins contain a component that the human gut cannot break down called cellulose; for this reason, its absorption is less efficient than with animal proteins. 

However, when plant-based proteins are processed, cellulose is removed, which makes digestibility and absorption much easier for our body. There are some plant-based proteins, like mycoprotein and nutritional yeast, that do not contain cellulose and are better digested.

Micronutrients 

Plant-based protein sources lack vitamin B12 and iron, but they tend to be higher in fiber and phytochemicals and have less of the unhealthy types of fats. 

Protein Quality

Different protein sources are ranked based on their amino acid profile. 

When a protein source contains all the essential amino acids, it is called complete. 

Most plant-based proteins are not complete and require a combination of different sources to get the essential amino acids. 

So, now let’s talk about a scale that was created to combine and rate both digestibility and protein quality called Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). 

If the score is 1 it means that the protein source is complete (contains all essential amino acids), and can be fully digested. 

Here’s a list of different proteins and their score:

Source: https://examine.com/nutrition/rating-proteins/

More things to consider…

Mixed Macro Protein Sources

Most vegan protein sources also contain high amounts of carbs, which make your daily macro calculations a bit more complex and are things you must account for,  especially during a fat loss diet. 

Additionally, most vegan processed meats contain additional fat aside from the extra carbs, which can considerably decrease the total volume of the meal you’re consuming, again making fat loss phases a bit trickier. 

If you have limited macros and calories due to your fat loss diet and all you get is one veggie burger, then it might make the fat loss process a bit tougher. On the contrary, if you’re on a hypercaloric diet to gain muscle, vegan proteins will make finishing all your macros a breeze.

Here’s one example:

Yeah, one burger pattie has 20 grams of protein, but it also has 22 grams of fat. 

The bottom line about vegan protein:

Most vegan proteins are difficult to digest and absorb and lack some of the essential amino acids, but this is not the case for all vegan proteins. Mycoprotein, nutritional yeast, and soy are exceptions. 

So it’s a good idea to increase your protein intake by around 20% while you’re on a vegan diet. 

We’ll dive into actual diet details later in the article.

Myth #2: It’s Impossible To Build Muscle On A Vegan Diet

No, it’s not. 

Here are two successful – and famous – vegan bodybuilders:

Vegan Bodybuilding - Nimai and Torre - Lose Fat Build Muscle

They don’t seem to be lacking muscle. 

Now, you shouldn’t compare yourself to a pro-bodybuilder ‘cause most of them are gifted in the genetics department, but the point here is that whether you’re vegan has no bearing on building muscle. 

To build muscle, there are a couple of things that need to be happening in your nutrition and your training. 

To maximize muscle growth you need to: 

  • Be in a calorie surplus.
  • Apply progressive overload in the gym. 
  • Perform mostly compound lifts. 
  • Consume carbohydrates. 
  • Reduce the amount of cardio. 
  • Eat sufficient protein, fats, and carbs. 

All of these points are important, and the last one is of the utmost importance. 

Your muscles are literally made out of protein, and if you don’t feed them protein from exogenous sources, building and retaining muscle will become an uphill battle. 

And as you already know, it is completely possible to eat enough protein; you just need to plan accordingly.  

One more thing: there are plenty of meat-eaters who are skinny fat and carry very little muscle.

So it’s not the diet per se that will get you jacked, it’s your lifestyle choices. 

Myth #3: A Vegan Diet Will Make You Weak

This is nothing but ignorance. 

There are plenty of weak omnivores and plenty of weak vegans. 

Your eating style will not make you weak or strong, but your lifestyle choices will. 

If you choose to focus on building muscle, improving your body composition, training hard with weights and eating properly, then you’ll be strong whether you’re vegan or not. 

Now that we have gotten the most common myths out of the way, it’s time to talk about some of the lies that are spread around about vegan diets.

Lies That Are Spread About Veganism

When you go vegan, you will be replacing high-protein products such as meat, eggs, dairy and fish with some not-so-high protein products such as grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, and tofu.

Yet, there are mock meats and plant-based protein powders that are high in protein, and you’ll have to consume some of those to be able to hit your daily protein intake. 

Remember that this article is for people who want to maximize their body composition: more muscle, less fat. 

If you’re an average person who mostly cares about being healthy, then just by eating a varied vegan diet, you’ll be able to get enough dietary protein from food to achieve good health without adding protein powders or mock meats. 

I want to make this article crystal clear about the limitations of a vegan diet and how to work around them so that you can get the best possible results. 

Lie #1: You Don’t Need Much Protein To Grow Muscle.

If you don’t care about body composition goals, then not worrying too much about your protein is fine. 

But if you care about growing muscles and looking better naked, then you need to be precise with the amount of protein you consume on a daily basis.

Why? Because muscles are built out of protein. Literally. And you need to eat protein to build more muscle and to retain the muscles you already have.

The balance between protein degradation and protein synthesis is called protein turnover, or protein balance. Your body uses protein for cells (skin, hair, etc), and it also uses some of it for energy when other sources are not available. 

Dietary protein allows your body to replenish muscle cells that are used up by the body to support different functions and processes, so eating protein prevents your muscles from shrinking. 

And if growing muscle is your goal, then you need to make sure that the protein balance is positive.  This happens when you eat more protein than what your body breaks down for different processes. 

How much protein do you need if you care about building muscle and losing fat?

Around 1-1.2 grams for every pound of bodyweight. 

Remember, since some plant-based protein sources are harder to digest and absorb by the body, this is 20% higher than what an omnivore would eat. 

Lie #3: Vegetables Are Great Protein Sources

This is just false. 

Veggies are great carb, fiber and micronutrient sources, but not great protein sources. 

Let me explain. 

To get 13 grams of protein you’d need to eat around one pound (453 grams) of:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts

Now consider that someone like me who weighs around 200 lbs. needs to eat between 200-240 grams of protein per day. 

That’s around 15 lbs of broccoli in one day. 

That’s how much a 4-month baby weighs…

Broccoli Vegan Bodybuilding - Lose Fat Build Muscle

Whereas to get 13 grams of protein from animal sources, you need: 

  • 41 grams of chicken breast 
  • 61 grams of 96/4 ground beef 
  • 44 grams of turkey breast 

The bottom line? Animal protein sources are of higher quality when it comes to protein content and quality per gram. 

That said, it’s still completely possible to get all of your protein on a vegan diet, you just need to be a bit more creative about it. 

Let me share some good news:

There are also plenty of mock meats and supplements that are very high in protein content per gram, are good quality, and make it really easy to hit your daily protein intake.

And in the vegan bodybuilding nutrition plan I’m giving you later, you’ll learn how to easily hit your daily protein intake. 

Alright, let’s move on to lie #4. 

Lie #4: A Vegan Diet Is The Only Way To Improve Your Health

Claiming that a vegan diet is better for health and performance than an omnivore diet, and that you HAVE to become vegan to be in good health, is completely false.

Given how popular veganism has become, there are lots of vegan junk foods that could make health improvement an uphill battle, so it’s not about having to choose one side or the other for health and performance. It’s about doing things properly, regardless of the side you choose. 

Just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Check this out:

Vegan Bodybuilding - Lose Fat Build Muscle

Looks delicious, huh? Not too healthy though…and they’re both 100% vegan. 

The truth? Someone can be very unhealthy on a vegan diet, and someone can be very healthy on an omnivore diet. And the opposite is true: someone can be very healthy on a vegan diet and very unhealthy on an omnivore diet. 

If calories, food composition, macronutrients, and micronutrients are under control and within the healthy ranges, both an omnivore and a vegan diet will lead to health improvement. 

So, if you decide to transition into veganism, do so for the right reasons: animal suffering and environmental concerns, and also understand that matching performance and muscle growth will be a bit trickier, which is a tradeoff that’s completely worth it if you care about animal suffering and the negative environmental impact of farming. 

The bottom line? Becoming vegan for ethical, environmental, and health concerns is a very good idea. But the idea that the highest levels of health and performance are only achieved by cutting out animal products is just not true. 

So now let’s talk about how you can build a vegan bodybuilding plan you can use to build muscle, lose fat, and look better naked. 

Let’s Create Your Vegan Bodybuilding Meal Plan

Nutrition Vegan Bodybuilding - Lose Fat Build Muscle

There are three things you need to take into account when building a nutrition plan:

1- Calories

2- Macronutrients

3- Meal timing

If you don’t know what these things mean, check out this article on the nutritional priorities.

Let’s break each down now:

Step #1: Calories 

Before you can decide how many calories you will be eating, you need to define your goal. 

And there are three goals you can work towards when you’re dieting:

1- Muscle Gain

2- Weight Maintenance 

3- Fat Loss 

Decide whether you want to bulk, cut or maintain. If you’re not sure what to do, this article will help you decide. 

Either way, you’ll use a very simple formula to determine the number of calories you’ll be eating:

  • For fat loss: 8-10 calories per pound of bodyweight.
  • For maintenance: 12-15 calories per pound of bodyweight.
  • For muscle gain: 14-16 calories per pound of bodyweight.

So if you’re 200 lbs, you’ll eat around:

  • 2000 daily calories for fat loss. 
  • 2600 calories for maintenance.
  • 3000 calories for muscle gain.

Step #2: Let’s figure out your vegan macros: 

After you know your calories, you’ll divide them into macros, and there are three: protein, carbs, and fats.

Here’s how much you need to be eating of each: 

Protein:

Vegan Bodybuillding - Tofu - Lose Fat Build Muscle

Contains 4 calories per gram. 

Let’s start by focusing on the number one problem most vegans face: eating enough protein. 

Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to body composition changes (your muscles are literally made of protein).

Feeding your body enough protein is crucial, both during fat-loss diets to prevent the breakdown of your current muscle tissue, and during muscle-gain diets to build new muscle.

That means that to get your required daily protein intake you need to multiply your bodyweight in lbs times 1.2.

Here’s a table that breaks it down for you:

Vegan Bodybuilding - Daily Protein Intake - Lose Fat Build Muscle

Now, let’s see how much fat you should be eating on a daily basis. 

Fat:

Contains 9 calories per gram. 

Fats also play a very important role when it comes to health and body composition because they are responsible for regulating many hormones. 

If your fats are not at the minimum required amounts, then the production of some hormones will be negatively affected. 

Testosterone is one of them. I’m sure you know how important it is for becoming muscular and improving your body composition. 

It seems that keeping your fat intake somewhere in between 0.3 – 0.5 grams for every pound of your bodyweight is enough to cover your bases, and there doesn’t seem to be additional benefits from consuming more fat than this. 

In this case you’ll be eating 0.3 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis. 

Here’s the table:

Vegan Bodybuilding - Daily Fat Intake - Lose Fat Build Muscle

Carbs:

Contain 4 calories per gram. 

When it comes to body composition improvements, carbs come in second place, right after protein. 

If you eat sufficient protein but no carbs, you’ll be like a greased-up car with no gas: you’ll go nowhere.  [1]

Carbs provide the energy you need for great workout sessions, the kind of sessions you need to build a great body. 

As a general rule, as length and intensity of your training sessions increase, your carb intake should increase too. 

How many carbs will you be eating? Well, that depends on the amount of calories you have left after calculating your protein and your fats. 

Here’s a breakdown of what macros would like if you’re losing fat:

Vegan Bodybuilding - Lose Fat Build Muscle - Fat Loss

Here are the macros if you’d be maintaining your bodyweight:

Vegan Bodybuilding - Lose Fat Build Muscle - Maintenance

And here are the macros for muscle gain:

Vegan Bodybuilding - Lose Fat Build Muscle - Muscle Gain

Now you know how to build your own vegan bodybuilding nutrition plan!

NOTE: These macros are an approximation. Your individual requirements for a vegan nutrition plan might differ from the actual numbers that are on the tables.

If you’d like more individualized help to build your own vegan nutrition plan, feel free to book a quick consultation call with me here: >>Fitness Consultation Call<<

Step #3: Let’s break down your macros into vegan meals:

Let’s recap. You’ll be eating:

  • 1.2 grams of protein for every pound of bodyweight. 
  • 0.3 grams of fat for every pound of bodyweight. 
  • The rest of the calories in carb sources. 

One thing is certain. 

If you want to be able to hit your protein intake, then you’ll have to supplement with a plant-based protein powder, or you’ll have to eat a bunch of mock meats. 

I want to keep things as simple as possible for you, so in this plan you’ll drink 30% of your daily protein intake from a plant-based protein powder in the morning, and 30% in the evening, right before bed. 

This approach will make things super simple for you because with these two servings of protein per day, you’ll cover 60% of your protein requirements for the day. 

You’ll get the rest of the protein from plant-based foods or from mock meats with the rest of your daily meals. That’s up to you!!

Here’s how this meal plan looks for someone who’s 200 lbs and wants to do a fat-loss diet:

  • Cals: 2000 per day
  • Protein: 240 grams
  • Fats: 60 grams
  • Carbs: 125 grams

Which breaks down to:

  • 70 grams of protein upon waking. 
  • 70 grams of protein before bed. 
  • For the rest of the day, three meals of: 33 grams of protein, 41 grams of carbs, 20 grams of fat. 

Vegan Bodybuilding - Falcon Vegan Protein - Lose Fat Build Muscle

Here’s an example for those three meals:

(Foods are weighed raw—you need to cook them before eating—and macros might differ a bit depending on specific brands.)

Vegan Meal #1: 

  • 350 grams of extra firm tofu
  • 40 grams of raw tempeh
  • 50 grams of avocado
  • 140 grams of bananas
  • 2 cups of mixed veggies 

Vegan Meal #2:

  • 80 grams of raw seitan
  • 35 grams of raw soybeans
  • 10 grams olive oil
  • 35 grams of raw lentils
  • 2 cups of mixed veggies

Vegan Meal #3: 

  • 10 grams nutritional yeast
  • 40 grams textured vegetable protein
  • 130 grams tofu extra firm
  • 95 grams raw blueberries
  • 130 grams raw kiwi
  • 20 grams peanut butter

Here’s a chart that tells you how much protein you’ll be supplementing according to your bodyweight:

This approach will allow you to keep things simple, hit your required daily protein intake, and build the body you dream about while being 100% vegan. 

Step #4: Figuring out the rest of your meals

Now, this is where you get to be creative ‘cause you can pick the exact foods you will be consuming. 

Combining a plant-based protein source, or a mock meat, with healthy carbs, healthy fats, and veggies should be the way to go. 

Here are my favorite plant-based protein sources: 

  • Tofu 
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Edamame 
  • Soy milk
  • Soybeans 
  • Spirulina
  • Textured Vegetable Protein

The Supplements EVERY Vegan Needs To Take

Vegan Bodybuilding - Supplements

As you already know, if you want to improve your body composition while on a vegan diet, then you’ll have to be a little more diligent with your food choices and your supplementation. 

If you want the best fitness and health on a vegan diet, then supplementation is a really good idea. 

Here are the main supplements you should be taking on a vegan diet: 

Zinc

Zinc from plant foods is absorbed less effectively. 

Vegans are advised to eat more zinc. Now, I don’t want you to get concerned about consuming zinc-rich food, so the easiest way to work around this is to supplement it. 

50 mg per day is the recommended dose. 

Iron

In general, vegans get less iron than omnivores, and this happens because plant-derived iron (non-heme iron) is more difficult to absorb. 

Deficiencies in iron can lead to anemia. {1}

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Tiredness 
  • Headaches 
  • Reduced performance

To cover your bases, consume 13mg of iron per day.

Vitamin D

If you don’t get enough sun exposure, then supplementing Vitamin D might be a good idea. 

Ideally, you can get some blood work done to assess if you’re deficient in Vitamin D. 

It is recommended to supplement between 800-4000 IU per day. 

Vitamin D also aids in calcium metabolism. 

Calcium

If you’re careful about your food choices, then supplementing calcium is not necessary. 

Plant-based calcium sources include beans, spinach, broccoli, arugula.

Vitamin B12

B12 is a nutrient that’s found mainly in animal protein sources. Hence, why vegans are often deficient in this vitamin. One vegan source of B12 is Nutritional Yeast. 

Regardless, it is recommended for vegans to supplement with B12. 

The recommended daily dose is 2.4 – 2.8 μg.

Creatine

Whether you’re vegan or not, you should be supplementing with creatine if you care about improving your body composition.

Creatine is mainly found in animal products—meat, eggs, etc.—but the supplement version is synthesized in a lab without the use of animal products. 

It’s not a required supplement for health, but it will help you improve your body composition. 

Creatine allows you to train a bit harder, and over time that translates to more muscle and a better body. 

This post tells you how to take it: 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

This post will teach you everything you need to know about creatine. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Creatine is a molecule formed by three amino acids: L-arginine, glycine, and methionine.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ It’s one of the most well-researched supplements in the world with over 500 human studies that prove its efficiency and safety.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ How does it work?⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Your body uses ATP for energy. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ When you’re performing intense activities – such as weightlifting or sprinting, your body turns ATP (adenosine triphosphate) into ADP (adenosine diphosphate).⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Creatine gives ADP a phosphate group and turns it back into ATP – which is usable energy. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In simple words, creatine allows you to perform more work in the gym. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ For example, off creatine, you might be able to get 135×8 in the bench press, and with creatine, you might get 10 or 12 reps. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In the long run, more work in the gym means more muscle. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Creatine also causes intramuscular water retention, so it causes some weight gain by making your muscles larger in diameter – it literally makes your muscles bigger. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ (It does not cause bloating). ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ How to take it?⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ You’ll start with a loading phase where you’ll take 20 grams per day for 7 days. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Once the loading phase is over, then you’ll move into maintenance, and you’ll take 5 grams per day for as long as you wish. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ You do not need to cycle off creatine. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ For more FAQs, check out the image. ⁣⁣ .⁣ .⁣ .⁣ #creatine #supplements #fitness #gym ⁣ #jacked #getjacked #bodybuilding ⁣ ⁣

A post shared by Julian Hierro (@julianhierro) on

EPA/ DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As you already know you need to consume a certain amount of fat per day to make sure your body is functioning properly. 

There are two types of essential fats that are critical for health and survival: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Just like the essential amino acids, these fats cannot be produced by the human body and they have to be consumed via external sources, or supplemented. 

When these fats are under-eaten, you can start having some issues with hormone production and dysregulation. 

Generally, in western diets, omega-3 fatty acids are under-eaten, so whether you’re vegan or not, it’s a good idea to take a daily supplement of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Between 1000-2000 mg of combined EPA and DHA is recommended for most people. 

BONUS: Free Training Programs

You can have the best vegan bodybuilding diet plan on earth, but if you don’t pair it with the right training program, then it’ll be pointless.

I’ve got your back, though. 

Here are three free training programs. Pick the one you like the most, download it, and start getting results:

Get your workout program here.

The bottom line on Vegan bodybuilding?

As you already know, it’s completely possible to get an amazing body on a vegan diet. 

You can build muscle, lose fat, and look incredible, as long as you set up your nutrition and training properly. 

So if someone tells you that you can’t get jacked on a vegan diet, here’s what to do:

Get jacked, and then beat them up.

Just kidding

A well-planned vegan diet with the right supplementation can be just as effective as an omnivore diet. 

If you enjoyed the article and would like to get notified when I publish the next one, then subscribe below. 

 

 

 

 

 

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