There should be no denying that the vegan movement is growing in numbers with each passing day. If you are one of the people who have decided to base their diet entirely on plants – congratulations, you’ve just embarked on a journey that can bring a very positive change in your life. However, the dietary restrictions implied by this practice require a bit of ingenuity and getting used to new circumstances.
For instance, how can you assemble the diet that promotes seamless muscle growth now that the major sources of protein are out of the question? Well, it’s actually far simpler than you might think.
A matter of proteins
Let us first address the elephant in the room here – the king of huge gains, the protein itself. On average, the human body requires 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight which is more than a manageable amount, even for a vegan. However, if you are trying to produce serious gains, the number of grams you need to consume climbs to 1.8 – producing a daily total of 90–130 grams per day.
This is a much more serious requirement – especially talking into consideration that vegan meals are usually very rich in certain amino acids that are not the best protein synthesis drivers in the world. In short, the sheer amount of food you need to consume to reach these numbers simply makes the whole thing pointless.
The easiest way to solve this problem is either to double down on protein-rich foods like seitan and tofu or cheat your way out with plant-based vegan protein powder and between-meal shakes.
Of course, although very important for muscle growth, protein is not the only nutrient that makes the foundation for a seamless gym going. Therefore, there are a lot of people who are concerned that increased physical exertion in combination with the dietary restrictions of the vegan practice can produce a deficiency in Vitamins D and B12.
These concerns are largely justified, so you should increase the intake of plant-based sources of these two important organic molecules.
In the case of Vitamin D (deficiency can cause muscle pain and fatigue), that would be fortified foods, supplementation and even prolonged exposure to the sun.
Vitamin B12 (deficiency causes depression, confusion, and balance problems) can be found in foods like fortified cereals, mushrooms, and plant-based milk.
Proper calorie intake
Finally – gaining lean muscle mass means burning tons of calories on a daily basis. If you are not able to reach the calorie-requirements of your workout regimen (about 200 of additional calories on top of your weight-maintenance caloric needs), you should switch to some more calorie-dense foods and throw into the equation a couple of snacks.
Generally speaking, you will get the best results with meals containing a lot of seeds, nuts, bananas, pecans, mangoes, and dried fruits. Of course, you can also find tons of different alternatives in the form of power bars and dietary supplements.
And now that we’ve covered all of the dietary considerations, let’s quickly breeze through the very meat of the muscle growth – workouts. Here, you will be glad to know that your lifestyle will not set any additional obstacles in terms of workout variety.
Still, you need to be aware that you are running on the slightly scarce fuel so the time you will need to fully recover will probably need to be a bit longer. Because of that, you should keep your initial training sessions under 45 minutes. As for the cardio, 2 to 3 sessions lasting 15 to 20 minutes per week will more than suffice – at least until your body adjusts to the newly imposed circumstances.
We hope these few considerations will help you find your way through the gym world even after you have switched to a new dietary regimen. Life of a vegan is full of exciting opportunities. These opportunities, however, sometimes require adjustment and a couple of compromises. Now, you know what adjustments you need to make to grow your muscles. We’ll leave all the hard work that follows to you.