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Tips for Bodybuilding on A Vegan Diet

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 6, 2022

The bodybuilding journey is unique for everyone because each person's end goals can vary wildly. One person may lift to slim up, while others do it to get bigger. The beauty of the sport is that it is diverse—different types of bodybuilding target specific objectives, including better health and more strength, mobility, flexibility, and weight control. So let’s do the heavy lifting for you while we explain why you don't have to be a carnivore to look like one.

Bodybuilding vs. Physique on a Vegan Diet

Starting out, people interested in bodybuilding will encounter misconceptions and muddled explanations. Let's get the first one out of the way. Bodybuilding and physique are entirely different things.
When you focus on bodybuilding, you want to build mass and develop muscle groups. And your diet reflects that. You can't show off your bulk unless you stay lean.
While building a physique includes muscle mass, it is only one aspect. Instead of lifting just for size, a person focusing on physique concerns themselves more with overall body shape. For example, physique emphasizes keeping the waist narrow and lean and not necessarily developing sizeable lower abdominal muscles.

On the other hand, those focusing on bodybuilding tend to have substantial stomach muscles. And, they aren't generally trying to achieve a V-taper shape or have a specific ratio that differs throughout their body.
What isn't different between bodybuilding and physique is the fact that you can achieve both things on a vegan diet.

Vegan ProteinWhey vs Plant Protein

It's not a cloak and dagger secret that protein is the power source for a bodybuilder. However, what people underestimate is the amount.
You will have to find a steady supply of vegan protein that works for you. And you can find plenty of vegan protein powders and supplements.

Physicians recommend that bodybuilders working towards building significant body mass eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Hitting your vegan protein goals doesn't have to be boring. You have tons of protein-rich options, including:

  • tempeh
  • quinoa
  • chickpeas and other legumes
  • flaxseed
  • tofu
  • edamame
  • buckwheat
  • soy milk and other milk alternatives
  • soy protein and other vegan protein powders
  • nuts

What about rice?

Rice is an essential staple for bodybuilders regardless of if you are vegan or not. But have you seen the rice selection out there?
Let's take a look at the best rice for bodybuilding and you.

Brown rice has tons of fiber, vitamins, nutrients, and healthy compounds. Standard white rice has carbohydrates that replace depleted glycogen stores in the muscles after intense workouts. It works with the body to absorb macronutrients and micronutrients. White rice provides faster replenishment with no potential digestive issues that some people experience with brown rice. White rice (basmati or jasmine) is better for bodybuilders than brown rice because of its fast absorption and digestion, which helps stimulate muscle growth.

Salt, Salt, Salt

Salt makes things better. And vegan diets are full of foods with zero sodium, which makes it even more tempting to grab the shaker and think it's okay. But, like all good things, moderation is everything. We will help narrow down how much sodium per day bodybuilding will work for you and your goals. In general, 1,500 mg of sodium per day should be your absolute maximum salt consumption. You should probably aim for an amount closer to 800 to 1,000 mg of sodium per day. It's good to keep sodium low, but don't go too low. Your body needs a certain sodium level for electrolytes. And, electrolyte deficiency is not fun and dangerous. The most reasonable target is somewhere between 500 and 1,000 milligrams per day.

And remember, not all salt is created equal. Scientific research suggests that pink Himalayan salt is the purest form of salt because it's 84% sodium chloride with the remaining 16% being made up of naturally occurring trace minerals including silicon, phosphorous, vanadium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, and iodine. These trace minerals are essential for our bodies.

Another fantastic option is Redmond Real Salt, which is mined in Utah and also includes important trace minerals in their purest form.

Your Vegan Nutrition Diet Plan

The good news is that an optimal vegan bodybuilding diet is not that much different from a non-vegan bodybuilding diet. The core of both diet plans is protein consumption. It must remain high and consistent throughout your bodybuilding journey if you focus on mass building and fat-burning.vegan groceries fruits

An example of a bodybuilder's diet plan has three parts protein, one part carbs, and one part fruits and vegetables. You won't find a ton of differences between vegan and non-vegan meals.

Also, the recommendation is that you eat five meals a day to keep your body fully fueled and energized. It also keeps your protein and fiber consistent so that your body can remain balanced.
Do not forget to drink your water. Without proper hydration, nothing is going to work right. Make it your goal to drink at least a gallon a day or more.

Getting Your Bodybuilding Workout Together

Once you've achieved the vegan dream, it’s now time to incorporate weight training. But, you don't have to rush out and sign a gym membership agreement right this second. You can start in the comfort of your home. and go at your own pace.

At-Home Bodybuilding

Dumbbells

You can find dumbbells from 1 1/2 pounds to 50 pounds. Those with the best Olympic dumbbell handles are the safest and smoothest, and a great start to a home gym.
Dumbbell exercises are great for building up the different arm and shoulder muscle groups and can be better than barbells.

Kettlebells

Kettlebells are more expensive than dumbbells. However, they work a far wider array of muscles and do more than build mass. With the right kettlebell exercises, you can improve strength, heart fitness, endurance, and flexibility.

Don't Forget Your Legs

Bodyweight exercises are super helpful when you mix them in with weight training. And that's where your legs come in. Your leg muscles are the largest and strongest muscle group and are essential to keeping a balanced body. A bonus is that your leg muscles do the most work when burning fat.

FAQs

Is it hard to build muscle on a vegan diet?

Let's bust the misconception now - no. It is no different than any other diet and is all about balance. As long you keep that steady stream of protein, it is no different than a vegetarian or omnivore.

Are there vegan supplements for bodybuilders?

You will see a million nutrition products such as sports gels, gummies, powders, and protein bars. While many supplements are not vegan, companies have begun addressing specific dietary needs such as vegan.
Fruit and veggies are always the best way to get nutrients, but you can find plenty of vegan supplements if you need a little extra something.

Can I lose weight on a vegan bodybuilding diet?

When you are a vegan, you naturally take in far less processed foods. A lot of times, switching to a vegan diet plan will help someone healthily shed a few extra pounds.
Nutrient-rich and low-calorie foods are a conscious way to continue losing weight.

Can I gain weight on a vegan bodybuilding diet?

The natural effect of a vegan diet is some weight loss. However, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain the weight you want to bulk up.


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