Vegan and vegetarian diets have become incredibly popular in recent years as countless people remove animal products from their diet. Some choose to do so for ethical reasons; others avoid animal products to improve their health.
While there is no doubt that vegetarianism can be healthy, the question remains:
“How to build muscle on a vegetarian diet? Is it even possible?”
Let’s find out.
What Does It Take to Bulk?
Bulking might seem complicated and possibly even impossible for the naturally skinny ‘hardgainers.’ But, the truth is, it all comes down to two things:
a. Consuming enough calories
b. Getting enough protein
First, consuming enough calories is essential for supplying your body with the energy it needs to carry out its many processes. The excess energy goes to repairing muscle after training and promoting growth in the form of muscle and fat. According to guidelines, consuming 150 to 300 calories over your maintenance is beneficial for growing at an optimal rate.
Second, getting enough protein is vital because the nutrient provides your body with the building blocks (amino acids) it needs to recover and build muscle. Research suggests consuming anywhere from 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
So, to answer the question from earlier in this post: Yes, it’s entirely possible to bulk as a vegetarian. In fact, doing so isn’t that much different from following a regular diet.
Plant-Based Diet for Bulking: Build Muscle Without Animal Products
The first thing I advise you is to bump your daily meal count. Doing so would provide you with more opportunities to eat, making it easier for you to get the necessary calories to gain weight and build muscle. For example, let’s say that you have to eat 3,500 calories daily to gain weight. Having three meals would mean eating at least 1,150 calories each time. In contrast, having six meals would mean eating 500 to 600 calories each time, which is far more manageable.
Another tip for plant-based bulking is to bet on high-protein foods, given the nutrient’s importance for muscle gain. Aside from vegan protein powders, good foods include:
· Nuts, seeds, and nut butter
· Tofu and tempeh
· Beans and lentils
· Oats and quinoa
· Soy milk
Consuming enough calories on a vegetarian diet can be difficult because many foods are highly satiating and not that calorie-dense. As such, I also recommend including one or two weight gainer shakes in your day. Such a shake can be as simple as soy milk with a banana, vegan protein powder, and seeds. Blend it up and enjoy.
Bulking can be challenging because there are numerous things to keep in mind. The process might be even trickier for vegetarians, given the somewhat limited food selection. But, as you saw above, there are numerous simple tactics you can employ to make the process better.
If you’re looking for further guidance on training and nutrition for optimal growth, check out my online programs to find the one that fits you best.