Building Muscle on a Vegetarian Diet

Is building muscle on a vegetarian diet possible?

Yes,  you can still get strong if you are on a veggie diet.

Just because you are on a vegetarian diet, doesn’t mean that you can’t build muscle mass like us meat-eaters. Here’s how you can do it.

Protein requirements vary, but you will probably want to consume a protein supplement in addition to your normal diet if you are strength training.

You should consume a variety of plant-based protein foods, such as soy products, other legumes (beans and lentils), grains, nuts, and seeds. Egg or whey protein is ideal if that is allowed in your vegetarian diet. As there are different types of vegetarian diets:

  • Vegan: This is a type of vegetarian diet that omits all animal products, yep you can’t eat any meat whatsoever. You also can’t eat dairy products such as eggs or milk.
  • Lactovegetarian: This is a type of vegetarian diet that prohibits you from eating meat, fish, poultry, and eggs but includes dairy as a source of protein.
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: This is a type of vegetarian diet that prohibits you from eating meat, fish, poultry but includes eggs and dairy as a source of protein.

Key is Protein Quality

There are certain important factors to keep in mind when considering vegetable protein. PDCAAS, the FAO/WHO standard for determining protein quality, considers soy protein to be just as useful as whey or animal protein.

Unfortunately, recent research suggests that measurements such as BV and PDCAAS do not take into account important factors such as anti-nutritional factors and chymotrypsin inhibitors.

These anti-nutritional factors limit the extent to which your body can utilize the protein and are commonly found in soy and other vegetable protein isolates.

Thus, it is important to keep in mind that you may require a higher dosage of vegetable protein to gain the same effect.

If you aim for a more moderate but still adequate protein intake (1-1.2g/kg body weight or lean mass), then you can achieve this through a healthy and smart diet.

Just be aware to eat varied sources for a more complete distribution of amino acids.

Bottom line: You don’t have to be a meat-eater to gain muscle and build mass so long as you’re eating high-protein food sources.

Your Protein Intake

Building muscle on a vegetarian diet is possible — but you should eat good quality protein at every meal. So if you are a vegan bodybuilder who wants to gain muscle mass, you’re typically eating five or six meals per day that should include these vegetable protein sources.

It’s also recommended that half of your calories each day should come from carbs, which fuel your muscles. Healthy fats also play a pivotal role for those looking to build muscle — and you can find healthy fats in almonds, olive oil, avocados, and canola oils.

If you have more fitness questions that you want to be answered, check out the Fitness Wiki.

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