Getting the right kind of nutrition is the first step in any bodybuilding process. An integral part of any muscle-building effort is the right intake of protein food for bodybuilding. As a general rule of thumb to promote muscle growth, it is recommended that you consume about 0.70 – 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day. At the same time, being in a state of caloric surplus can also play to your advantage, especially if you are following through with a rigid workout pattern.
Traditionally, bodybuilding diets are based around non-vegetarian sources such as animal meat due to their high protein and low-fat ratio. However, if you want to go vegetarian for bodybuilding, following a vegan diet plan is one of the most popular trends in recent years. Several people have worked towards incorporating vegan foods into their nutritional intake as a way of standing in solidarity with animal abuse and promoting sustainable consumption.
Bodybuilders and gym-goers, in particular, gravitate towards a vegan diet plan as they not only ethical but also are proven to be very effective for boosting muscle mass. However, most vegan nutrition has a relatively lower protein quality as compared to animal-based sources, making it a difficult process to stay in shape.
This is why it is important to plan out all your meals in advance and design your vegan diet plan in such a way that the recommended daily allowance of all your essential vitamins and minerals is met. This requires a special focus on protein food for bodybuilding and is especially important for those who are transitioning from a regular diet that incorporates non-vegetarian sources as well. In cases like these, it is best to gradually substitute your regular diet with vegan alternatives until you fully switch over.
How To Create an Effective Vegan Diet Plan
Let us understand more about how to structure your vegan diet plan for bodybuilding so that you can get the most out of it.
High Protein Plant Foods
One of the most important things to do while following any bodybuilding diet is to make sure that your body is getting protein food for bodybuilding. Traditionally protein sources need to be full of amino acids as well so that your body can further synthesis protein to produce units of energy. However, vegan sources of protein are significantly lower on amino acids.
This is why it is important for you to incorporate high protein vegan-based foods such as tofu, legumes, quinoa, seitan as a way to boost your lean muscle gain and protein intake. Additionally, you can also supplement your diet with vegan, plant-based protein powders in combination with a proper workout to boost your protein absorption and intake.
Make sure to eat enough fat
Muscle gain cannot be achieved simply through protein. Your body must have a minimal amount of healthy fats stored in it in order to make it easier to bulk up. By consuming the optimal amounts of fat, your body also gets the calories and carbs that it requires to support the physical exertion that it goes through.
The general rule of thumb for fat consumption is to incorporate at least 0.5 grams of healthy fats per kilogram of body weight every day. It is also recommended that you maintain an accurate record of your daily food intake, primarily food groups such as carbs, proteins, and fats as a way to ensure a healthy proportion of all three.
Drink plenty of fluids
Vegetarian for bodybuilding diets are based on consuming natural whole foods such as pulses, legumes, fresh fruits, and vegetables, which are full of dietary fibre. This can often lead to an excess of fibre intake in your body, causing complications such as flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating. This situation can be avoided by maintaining optimal fluid consumption.
Drinking enough water can not only help you balance out your fibre intake but also help jumpstart your body’s metabolic activity and get rid of bloating. WHO recommends that we consume an average of at least eight glasses (or 2 litres) of water every day to promote optimal body functioning.
Another thing to keep in mind when you want to go vegetarian for bodybuilding or while following a vegan bodybuilding diet is to make yourself aware of the food that you have been consuming. Vegan practices restrict the consumption of different types of foods, making it difficult to consume the nutrients that you require. It is vital that you identify the nutrients that you need to consume and in what quantity to promote your bodybuilding routine and stick with foods that are rich in them.
Foods To Eat In A Vegan Diet Plan
Here are some of the best bodybuilder foods that you are allowed to consume while following a vegan diet:
- Meat substitutes: There are several food sources that have been based on soy or pea protein that mimic the taste, texture, and nutritional qualities of meat.
- Soy products: Soy-based products such as edamame, soy milk, soy protein powder, tofu and tempeh are good protein sources.
- Whole grains: Natural whole grains such as quinoa and amaranth are rich in protein and help reduce the LDL levels in our body as well.
- Calcium-fortified products: Fortified products such as milk and yoghurt can help you meet the daily requirements for essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
- Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast is a great source of Vitamin B12, which aids muscle recovery and eliminating lactic acid buildup. It is also a great way to add some texture and flavour to most vegan-based dishes.
- Vegan protein supplements: These supplements are generally sourced and incorporated from foods like peas, hemp, and brown rice, making them the ideal way to meet the recommended daily allowance of protein for your bodybuilding needs.
Foods To Avoid When Following a Vegan Diet Plan
- Animal-based products: It may be a given, but one has to completely abandon the consumption of animal-based protein sources such as fish, poultry, dairy, meat or eggs. Additionally, you are also not allowed to consume supplements that have been derived from animals either.
- Mock meats and cheeses: While soy-based products are fine to consume, mock meats and cheeses are incorporated with a lot of additives and chemicals to imitate the exact texture of meat. These can end up doing more harm than good to your body and must be avoided at all costs.
- Vegan junk food: It is recommended that you stay off of vegan junk foods such as ice cream, candy, or snack bars since they contain a lot of additives and sugars.
Drawbacks Of A Vegan Diet Plan
Despite being properly executed, following a vegan diet plan can sometimes give rise to certain problems, such as:
Risk of nutrient deficiencies
While vegan diets are indeed nutritious in nature, they are also depriving several essential food groups such as calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, etc which are primarily derived from animal-based sources. Over time, this can potentially lead to a severe nutritional deficiency.
High fibre intake
One of the more common downsides of following a vegan bodybuilding diet is that it can often lead to excessive fibre consumption. In certain cases, this has been found to lead to complications such as bloating, flatulence, weakness.
Sample Vegan Meal Plan
- Breakfast: A bowl of protein oatmeal, vegan protein powder topped with nut butter, soy milk, and a banana.
- Lunch: A cup of tofu stir-fry, vegan pasta, topped off with veggies of your choice.
- Dinner: A cup of teriyaki tempeh with broccoli and quinoa.
Bedtime Snack: Strawberry-banana protein shake.