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What’s Better For Muscle Gain Nuts Vs Legumes?

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: November 18, 2021

A lot of people think that being on a vegan diet means a harder time looking for sources of protein outside of meat, fish, eggs, and other dairy products.
These people are wrong. You can certainly gain muscle on a vegan diet and have as many lean muscles as a meat-eater, if not more.

With a bit of research, you’ll see that you can build muscles, help them recover faster, and maintain high energy levels throughout the day with nuts and legumes, in particular.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of nuts vs. legumes? When should you pick what? Can you really get your daily muscle protein intake just by eating nuts or legumes? Are nuts a bad protein source? How do they compare to vegan protein powders?

These are all questions you might have, and we have all the answers for you. No need to research for hours on end to know what’s better for muscle gain; nuts vs. legumes. You will find everything you need to know about that topic by reading this post.

Nuts And Seeds

  • Advantages

There are many advantages to eating nuts, and we are not only talking in terms of muscle gain.

When we talk about nuts as a protein source, it’s good to also include seeds within that category, as they have almost the same properties and the same benefits.

Both are very high in calories and in proteins. For example, a handful of walnuts alone have 5 grams of protein.

So these are great before or after a workout session; the good fats will be transformed into energy and then help you achieve muscle gain instead of weight gain.

The other great thing about nuts and seeds is that they have a lot of nutrient-absorption capacities, which makes them very interesting, nutritionally speaking. They will help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has declared that eating nuts can help you lower your fat and cholesterol levels, which in turn can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Nuts could also reduce high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, abdominal fat, and even cancer. They can also help prevent inflammation in the body, if you eat them as a part of a low-fat, balanced, and varied diet.

So instead of eating them just like that, if you want some variety, you can add them to a nutritious meal. You could, for example, throw some nuts and seeds in a salad, or just put them in a sandwich. Add them to a smoothie, a porridge, a protein shake, or you could also sprinkle them on pasta, a buddha bowl, and more.

You could also try nut butters, spread them on toast, add them to smoothies, in buddha bowls, and more. I always keep several jars in my fridge; they’re just very yummy, and they’re such a great source of healthy fats. They will definitely help you balance your energy throughout your day.

The possibilities are endless, so let your imagination run free!

  • Disadvantages

There is one disadvantage of eating too many nuts and seeds: they contain high levels of something called phytic acid.

It’s a substance with antioxidant properties and can prevent you from getting cancer or kidney stones. But it can also hinder your body from absorbing nutrients. So phytic acid can be both beneficial and bad.

It will be fine if you eat a healthy and balanced diet, but if you eat too many seeds and nuts, your body could find it harder to absorb all the nutrients it needs from food. It could become a problem for people who suffer from an iron deficiency, for example.

So our advice is: don’t overdo it, but that goes for any food type, no matter how healthy it is. Unless you only eat nuts and seeds all day, you won’t be at risk. Just try to maintain a wholesome and proportionate diet.

You’ll know if you’re eating too many nuts, if you gain some weight, or don’t feel too good overall. But for that you’d really have to be eating nuts all the time, so there’s a low chance for that to happen. Otherwise, nuts won’t really make you gain weight but can help with muscle gain. Some people also claim that nuts can actually help you lose weight..


  • Advantages

If you want to eat something after a workout session that will replenish your body, give you energy, rebuild your muscle tissues and help with muscle gain, you should definitely eat a dish with legumes in it.

Legumes include chickpeas, beans, lentils, and similar foods. They’re a great source of protein and iron. So legumes will help with your carbs intake as well as muscle growth.

They’re also an amazing source of fiber, which helps with digestion and can help to maintain healthy gut bacteria.

You can add legumes everywhere and cook them with pretty much everything. There are a lot of healthy vegan desserts that use chickpeas, for example.

You could also put them in soup, eat them with healthy grains like quinoa, eat them Mexican-style in a burrito, and so on.

  • Disadvantages

As mentioned in the advantages, legumes are a high source of fiber.

This can be both good and bad. In balanced quantities, it can help you with your digestive health, but too much fiber can also damage your gut functions, if you see what I mean. They also contain phytic acid (see above).

We would also advise you not to eat raw legumes since they have lectins in them;, a protein group that can slow down digestion and damage some cells in your digestive tract. So make sure to cook them, even if you’re on a mostly raw-vegan diet.

Otherwise, legumes are very good for you and have a lot to offer nutrition wise, besides being budget friendly.And as long as you cook them and don’t eat them for every meal of your day, there will only be advantages.

When Should You Pick What?

Now you know that there are many advantages to eating nuts, seeds, and legumes. You should definitely try to include them in your daily diet. They will help you by giving you higher energy levels, can help rebuild muscle tissues and make you gain muscle mass.

But when should you pick what, and how do you know what to pick?

The answer is that you should eat both every day, as long as you eat them in moderation. Legumes are a huge source of protein, so you can have them after a workout, for lunch or dinner , depending on when you prefer to work out.

They will both help with muscle gain. So variety and balance are key.

Nuts and seeds are good to go in breakfasts or snacks before a workout or even after; if you still have some time before you have your main meal. Nuts will keep you satiated for long and give you energy.

Eating nuts, seeds, and legumes every day will help you with your energy levels, rebuild muscle fat after a workout session, and give your body a lot of healthy vitamins. You can eat nuts as they are, but just make sure you cook your legumes beforehand.

You could also add these to a variety of savory and sweet dishes as well as snacks. There are plenty of nutrition books and cookbooks that can help you with inspiration, and there are many resources online as well.

If you really have a specific muscle gain goal, you will need to have a proper meal plan. For that it is advised that you should consult with a personal trainer and a fitness nutritionist.

This way you can get a perfect plan tailored just for you, with the exact amounts of how much nuts and legumes you should eat, and when to eat them.

Can You Get Your Daily Muscle Protein Intake Just With Nuts Or Legumes?

weight lifter

To reach your daily muscle protein intake goals as a vegan, you can use nuts and legumes, but eating just those won’t be enough. You should also include whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.

If you eat all of these daily, you will definitely get your daily muscle protein intake.

So you should include as many food groups as you can and eat a healthy, multifarious, and balanced diet along with your daily exercise. Your body will thank you for that.

It will also help with your mental health, as well as build muscle gain.


What a person needs to eat will depend on diverse factors. So you could talk to a nutritionist to find out the ratios you need to eat in a day for your daily muscle protein intake.

Are Nuts A Bad Protein Source?

Absolutely not. Nuts are a great protein source and have a lot of protein packed in them. They’re great as snacks on the go, as meal add-ons, or to be eaten in the form of nut butter.

So protein will help you build muscles, bones, and skin. It will also give you energy, as it will make you feel full for longer. And nuts are a fantastic source of protein.

In fact, they’re sometimes even considered to be the best source of protein when you’re on a plant-based diet.

As for which nut has the most protein in it, that would be peanuts. Per a quarter-cup serving, you will get 9.5 grams of protein, which is huge. If you don’t like peanuts, you could eat cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, or hazelnuts instead.

Nuts And Legumes Compared To Vegan Protein Powders

Nuts and legumes are amazing sources of protein and are the biggest sources of protein you can get if you eat a plant-based diet. But how do they compare to vegan protein powders? Aren’t these better for muscle gain?

Protein powders are meant to be an add-on for a healthy diet, which already has nuts and legumes. So they can be a great addition to your plant-based diet and help you with muscle gain. But what will really help is to eat nuts and legumes first. Protein powders can improve the effects.

So no, you don’t need protein powders if you want to build muscles. You can do that with nuts and legumes, as long as you have a good nutrition plan. If your nutritionist recommends you take protein powders to bulk up, you can.

If you want to use protein powders, there can be a lot of benefits, especially if you have high-intensity workout sessions. Just make sure you don’t use them every day.

Focus on eating enough nuts and legumes first. This will already be great for muscle gain. Protein-powders are optional, but you can use them if it fits your overall goals.


To sum it up, in the nuts vs. legumes debate, both are winners. If you’re on a plant-based diet or any other specialised diet, both serve as the biggest sources of protein you can find in plant foods.

Nuts, legumes, and seeds are packed full of proteins and vitamins and can do a lot for your overall health. They also help your body rebuild muscles, facilitate muscle gain, keep you fuller for longer, and also keep your energy levels up.

Just make sure that you don’t eat too much of them, as otherwise, your body won’t be able to absorb the nutrients it needs, and there can be some digestive problems too. But if you keep your diet varied with vegetables and whole cereals, you’ll only experience benefits.

You can eat nuts, legumes, and seeds in pretty much anything. You can eat them as they are, except for legumes which you should cook. You could also add them to other foods. There are so many options out there!

You don’t need to purchase vegan protein powder to help you with your muscle gain. Nuts and seeds are more than enough.

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