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The Ultimate Vegan Bodybuilder Diet

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 10, 2022

Bodybuilding is a very personal fitness goal, with physiques ranging from extremely lean to a more practical application in your daily life. There are common misconceptions that bodybuilders need to have an extremely diverse diet to not only get their nutrients but also to bulk up and maintain their muscle mass. With popular vegan bodybuilder Zack Belknap showing us this can be done even at professional levels, we'll go over the best diet tips and recipes you can follow to reach your goals.

Protein: Why You Don't Need To Be A Carnivore

It is no secret that protein is an essential building block for building and maintaining muscle mass. You need at least 0.36 grams per pound of body weight on a regular diet, and about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight on a bodybuilding diet. Unless you are eating many meals a day, it is extremely difficult to consume this much protein. this is why a healthy and protein-rich diet should be aided by vegan protein shakes to ensure you are getting maximum results from your exercise.

Exercise and Diet - How To Balance The Two

bicep exercises
Photo by Gordon Cowie on Unsplash

Depending on your goals, you will need to decide if you are first bulking or cutting. Bodybuilding is not any different from a vegan diet, so you must first build mass before "leaning" out your image for competitions, photoshoots, or personal image. The bulking part of the phase is where you are consuming more than your metabolic rate so that you can increase your muscle mass. During this phase, you will also increase your fat storage as well, which will be reduced in the cutting phase. During both phases, you must maximize the protein intake in your diet to minimize muscle loss during strength training and leaning out.

Although veganism has become synonymous with weight loss due to its healing nature, it is not any less difficult to put on weight and muscle with a high protein vegan diet.

5 Vegan High-Protein Recipes

Here are some great, high-protein recipes to add to your repertoire which will aid you in maximizing your muscle mass creation and retention:

Vegan Chicken Recipe

Yes, you read that right. "But chicken isn't vegan!" - actually vegan "chicken" is much better for your bodybuilding needs than its poultry counterpart. This recipe uses seitan as a protein base, which is made from wheat gluten and is 75% protein - great for building muscle. Add seitan, flour, yeast, and seasoning into a bowl (could be salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, etc) and mix. Stir until the texture resembles dough, and knead it for one minute. Break apart into small pieces, place them in foil, and steam for 30 minutes. Once they've been steamed, they can be eaten as is, or grilled and fried for a better texture. Season generously and enjoy. Mix with your favorite high-protein greens to make a delicious vegan chicken salad recipe 25g protein, 200 calories per serving.

Vegan Chicken Broth Recipe

Chicken broth often emulates feelings of warmth and comfort and adds flavor to any dish. Making a vegan chicken broth substitute is easy, you'll just need: Nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder, parsley, celery salt, paprika, and turmeric for color. Looking for instructions for this recipe? there's just one: blend with a food processor or blender (or mix manually if you feel up to it!). Store in a container and just add boiling water any time you need some broth. Season to taste and modify the recipe as you see fit.

Vegan Bean Soups Recipes

Bean soups are amazing as they can be easily cooked in an instant pot or one-pot style. You will need Beans (soybeans are the highest in protein), onions and garlic, carrots, celery, sweet potato, broth, parsley, roasted tomatoes, vinegar, and your chosen seasonings. As always, add some oil to a hot pan and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Keep stirring and add sliced carrot, celery, and sweet potato. Cook this mixture for about 7 minutes. Add your beans, broth, vinegar, and tomatoes to the pan, and season generously (options include bay leaf, Italian seasoning, and powders). Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Serve with fresh parsley once cooled. Protein varies on the bean used, serving is 150-200 calories.

Vegan Eggplant Recipes

Eggplants are extremely easy to make and are high in protein. Chickpeas, Tofu and Roasted Eggplant have a great combined flavor and can be mixed with various sauces and curries to have a quick and easy post-workout meal. Use your vegan broth recipe that we mentioned the above, or check out the best vegan sauces that you can buy (or easily make).

Vegan Stir Fry Sauce Recipes

Stir fry is one of the most versatile dishes, as you can practically combine any mixture of flavors, spices, and quantities and get something amazing, depending on your taste and budget. Stir fry requires no directions, as it is just boiling rice or noodles and combining it into one big pot to fry and simmer. Always start by sauteing onion, garlic, and ginger and add high protein ingredients and veggies such as legumes, frozen vegetables, edamame, coconut flakes/oil, and carrots. You will know your stir fry is ready when your most durable ingredient (such as carrots and root vegetables) become tender. Season, add soy sauce, and enjoy.


Are vegan foods high in lysine?vegan food

Yes! legumes, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and carnivorous leafy vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, spinach) are high in lysine and are great for a bodybuilding diet.

Can you gain weight on a vegan diet?

Although veganism has become synonymous with weight loss due to its healing nature, it is not any less difficult to put on weight and muscle with a high protein vegan diet.

How do vegan bodybuilders get protein?

It is a common misconception that protein can only be found in large quantities from meat. Plant protein, in some cases, can outweigh its carnivorous counterparts. Tofu, beans, lentils, soy, nuts, and seitan are common examples. You can also take vegan protein supplements to aid your diet.




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