Vegan Bodybuilding: A 6-Step Extensive Guide in Vegetarian Muscle Building


Interested in how to build a lean and muscular vegan body?

Well, you've come to the right place.

This evidence-based guide to vegan bodybuilding will teach you EXACTLY how to make those vegan gains.

If you're ready, then let's go ahead and dive right in! 

Chapter 1

Should You Bulk or Cut?


To maximize the rate at which you build vegan muscle and lose fat you have to alternate between bulking ​(mass gaining) ​​​​and cutting (fat loss) phases.

Not completely sure what these terms entail, or which one you should be doing based on your current body fat levels and fitness goals?

Read on as this chapter will explain all you need to know!

The First Law of Building a Great Body: Establishing a Fitness Goal

plastic strongman

Most people are looking to progress towards a physique that looks lean, strong and muscular. 

To achieve this goal, two things need to happen:

A. Adding muscle mass to your body frame.

B. Shredding off the fat and revealing this muscle mass.

That's essentially all there is to looking really good naked.

Any girl or guy with a shredded physique is the result of large amounts of muscle mass and low levels of body fat.

That means we have something to aim at: more muscle and less fat.

Sounds simple enough. 

But here's the kicker:

You can't strive towards both goals at the same time.

The process of building muscle mass, and the process of reducing body fat levels, work in completely separate ways:

Optimizing the 'muscle-building machinery' in your body will cancel out most, if not all potential fat loss...

... and vice versa when you focus your nutrition on fat loss it will drastically reduce the body's capacity for muscle growth.

If you try and pursue both at the same there's a high risk you'll progress at a very slow pace, or not make any progress at all.

It's sort of a "chase two rabbits at once and you will not catch either one" scenario.

Trying to do both at once might result in spinning your wheels perpetually - ending up as the guy or girl at the gym that looks the exact same year after year after year.

Don't be this person.

The solution here is to alternate between phases of what is known in gym-speak as bulking and cutting. 

  • check
    Bulking - a phase focused on building muscle where you eat above caloric needs. This promotes an anabolic environment in the body which allows the 'muscle-building machinery', so to speak, to work at full capacity.
  • check
    Cutting - a phase focused on fat loss where you eat below caloric needs. This forces the body to tap into fat storages to meet energy needs, resulting in fat loss.

So the general idea here is to cycle between these periods of bulking, where you aim to maximize the rate of muscle growth (while allowing a small amount of fat gain)...

...and cutting where you shred the body fat to reveal the muscle (while working as hard as possible to keep all your muscle gains).

In this manner we avoid the problems associated with trying to do both at the same.

And over the course of weeks and months, the net result will be more muscle and less fat, which is what we indeed are after.

Rinse and repeat this formula of bulking followed by cutting - until you have a body you are satisfied with.

Should you Bulk or Cut?

​Now you're probably wondering:

"Wh​ich one should I be doing?"

The first option to determining what is appropriate in your situation is to take a good, hard look at the reflection in the mirror. 

Do you have a couple too many pounds hanging around in your belly area? Cut.

Are you underweight with your ribs sticking out? Bulk.

If you're not at either extreme side of the skinny-fat spectrum, there's another and probably better way of determining whether to bulk or cut.

First you need to estimate your current body fat percentage. 

There's no need to get an exact measurement of your body fat using a DEXA scan or calipers, all we need is a ballpark estimate.

If you look at the chart below you should be able to roughly determine your own body fat percentage - and depending on this number there's a couple of options.

men women fat percentage

For men 

If your body fat is at ~15% or above start by cutting down until you're at ~10%.

At this point you can begin a bulking phase until you hit a bodyfat of around ~15% again.

Start over the process by cutting. Rinse and repeat.

For women 

Same rules apply but using different numbers. 

From wherever you're starting, cut down until you're at about  ~19% body fat. 

At this point begin bulking until you hit a bodyfat of approximately 27%. Rinse and repeat.

Building Muscle and Losing Fat At The Same Time - Is it Possible?

Perhaps you're thinking:

"This whole bulking and cutting thing seems like a lot of work... can't I just eat right, train hard and gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously?"

It's a very good question and it would certainly make things a lot easier.

This is also known as body recomposition or 'recomping' and it's the unicorn of the fitness world - everyone wants to know the secret to hacking the system and building muscle whilst shredding fat. 

It's not entirely impossible and for some individuals, and under certain circumstances, it can actually be a viable strategy:

1. Rank beginners.

Someone that have never set their foot in the gym before will reap the benefits of the so-called "newbie-gains".

This allows the beginner to put on muscle mass even in a calorically restricted diet which translates into body recomp.

2. Detrained athletes. 

Individuals that for whatever reason had to take a break (for weeks or months) from training can take advantage of their muscle memory and regain in a caloric deficit.

3. Overweight individuals. 

Excess body fat will provide the calories required to support muscle growth while still losing fat. 

4. Steroids. 

Because well... steroids are really effective (don't do them).

Anybody that doesn't fit into any of the aforementioned groups will likely not be successful.

Now...

I will throw out there that it has in fact been shown that body recomposition can happen in leaner and more experienced athletes. 

However for the vast majority of people past the novice phase, recomping is not a particularly effective strategy for reaching your body composition goals. 

Cycling through periods of bulking and cutting will result in far superior gains, so you can get the body you want as quickly as possible.

Chapter 2

Get Your Calories Right


With a clear goal established, be it muscle building or losing fat, we can venture on further.

Next up is working out your maintanence calories (TDEE). 

With this useful number we can work out exactly how many calories you need to eat for either bulking or cutting.

Energy Balance and Why It's So Damn Important to Grasp

scale

Your body burns a certain amount of calories (energy) every day to sustain vital body functions as well as other activities you partake in such as playing chess and going to the gym and lifting weights.

Feeding your body with exactly as many calories as you expend, results in a state of equilibrium.

You don't gain any weight nor lose any weight here.

This is referred to as your maintenance calories.

Now:

If you tip the scale to one side and eat more calories, aka a caloric surplus, you'll gain weight...

...and if you tip the scale to the other side you'll lose weight, aka a caloric deficit.

The importance of this concept of energy balance can not be overstated for anyone that wants to improve their body composition.

By manipulating calorie intake you can change your body weight in any direction depending on your fitness goals.

And it all boils down to the very simple, scientifically sound theory of calories in and calories out:

  • Consistently overfeed your body with more calories than it burns over time, and your body will store these excess calories as body fat.
  • Consistently underfeed your body with less calories than it burns over time, and your body will burn body fat as an energy source.

This is why it's possible to lose 56 pounds in 6 months eating nothing but McDonald’s. 

You can eat as much junk food or vegan ice cream you want and still maintain a nice looking body...

...assuming you don't consume more energy than you burn.

Reason why I'm harping on this point is because so many people are utterly confused by weight loss.

There's this misconception that there are 'healthy clean foods' and 'unhealthy dirty foods' - and by eating the former you will automatically look awesome.

That's not how this works.

Eat less and get lean. Eat more and put on pounds. 

It's real simple when you understand the underlying mechanisms of weight gain and loss.

How Many Calories Should You Eat?

First of all, you need to calculate your maintenance calories.

This is typically referred to as your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) - a measure of how much energy is used per day with activity taken into account. 

Estimating your caloric needs, or TDEE, is not too difficult.

Just follow this step-by-step formula:


1. First calculate your lean body mass (LBM)

Take your weight in kilograms (pounds x 0.45) and multiply it with (1 - your current body fat percentage).

For example if you weigh 80 kilograms and you have 18% body fat, your LBM will be 80 x (1-0.18) = 62.4 kg

2. Estimate your basal metabolic rate (BMR)

Plug your lean body mass (in kg) into this formula: 370 + (21.6 x LBM) = BMR

With a LBM of 62.4 you'd get 370 + (21.6 x 62.4) = 1718 calories

3. Multiply your BMR with an activity factor

The amount of calories you burn per day will vary in correlation with your activity level.

So take your BMR and multiply it with the factor that best describes your lifestyle:

  • Sedentary (Little or no exercise in a week): BMR x 1.1
  • Lightly active (Light exercise 1-3 days/week): BMR x1.2

  • Moderately active (Moderate exercise 3-5 days/week): BMR x1.35
  • Very active (Hard exercise 6-7 days/week): BMR x1.45
  • Extremely active *Very hard exercise + physical job): BMR x1.6-1.8

Voila.

You've calculated your maintenance calories!

Then increase or reduce it depending on what you're body composition goal is:

  • check
    For bulking increase your TDEE by 10%. 

This should result in a weight gain of about 1-2 kg, or 2-4 pounds, per month for men.

Beginners with more potential for muscle gain can benefit from the higher end of the range, that is 2 kg or 4 pounds per month.

Intermediate to advanced lifters should instead limit weight gain to 1 kg or 2 pounds, or even less, per month.

For women you would be looking at about half those numbers: 0.5-1 kg, or 1-2 pounds per month.​​​

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    For cutting reduce your TDEE by 20%.

This should equate to a weight loss rate of about 2-3 kg, or 4-6 pounds, per month.

Let's also look at an example of how the numbers would look like:

A 80 kg, or 176 lbs, active vegan lifter plugs in his or her stats into a calculator and has a TDEE of 2800 calories.

For bulking, calories would be 2800 * 1.10 = 3080 kcal

For cutting, calories would be 2800 * 0.80 = 2240 kcal.

Chapter 3

Get Your Macros Right


The next step is to get your macros right:

The three main macronutrients are proteins, fats and carbs - the stuff that calories and foods are made up out of. 

While "a calorie is a calorie" is true when it comes to mere weight gain or loss...

... the macronutrient composition of your diet has a huge impact on body composition, or how effectively you put on muscle mass and lose fat.

Get this equation wrong and you may severely hinder progress, potentially wasting months and years.

Do it right however, and you'll be rewarded with an awesome body sooner rather than later.

What Are Macros & Why Are They Important in Our Quest to Building a Great Body?

“Macros” is an abbreviation for the word macronutrients, which refers to the three basic nutrient groups that are required in large amounts: proteins, fats and carbohydrate.

All of the calories you consume come from either one of these nutrients:

  • 1
    ​​1 gram of protein = 4 calo​​​​ries
  • 2
    ​​​1 gram of ​carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • 3
    ​​​​1 gram of ​fat = 9 calories

As we know, a calorie is indeed a calorie when it comes to either losing weight or gaining weight.

Eat more calories than you burn and they are stored as fat, and vice versa.

However, our main objective is not necessarily just weight gain or loss, it's improving body composition i.e more muscle and less fat.

Here's what I mean by that:

  • During cutting, we want to lose body fat and not muscle mass.
  • During bulking, we want to maximize muscle growth and minimize fat storage.

For us to accomplish these things, not only do we have follow the principles of energy balance and consume the right amount of calories...

... but it's equally important to balance intake of these macronutrients in an optimal fashion.

Let's get cracking on precisely how to do that:

​Get Your Protein Right

legumes

Protein is the macronutrient that differs the most between vegan and omnivorous diets. 

It's not that hard figuring out why... despite the flaws of animal products, they generally speaking do contain a lot of protein.

Cutting out all meat, milk and whey protein without replacing them with high-protein plant foods may lead to a reduced intake of protein.

This can be detrimental as failing to get adequate protein is not good when it comes to improving body composition.

Protein provides the amino acids our body requires to repair and build new muscle tissue... and a higher protein intake than the current RDA (0.8 g protein per kg) has been shown in numerous studies to to enhance muscle and strength gains.

And higher intakes of protein is also pretty awesome when you are leaning down:

While I have some huge reservations about eating animal protein, I definitely recommend eating lots of plant protein.

It doesn't come prepackaged with saturated fats, cholesterol, cruelty and it helps you build muscle and lose fat. It's a win win.

So How Many Grams of Protein Do I Need?

To answer this question let's not rely on anecdotes such as: 

"Vegan bodybuilder so and so eats Y amount protein, thus everyone should eat that much!"...

...or plain stupidity e.g. "30 bananas have lots of protein and gorillas eat bananas and are big and strong = you should also eat bananas".

Instead let's look at the current body of sports nutrition science has to say:

In 2017 a huge meta-analysis was conducted to examine the effects of protein supplementation on muscle and strength gains, where they looked at 49 relevant RCT's longer in 6 weeks duration.

Here's the key takeaway from this review:

​Protein supplementation beyond total protein intakes of 1.62 g/kg/day resulted in no further RET-induced gains in FFM.

Or put another way, eating ~1.6 grams of protein per kg bodyweight, or about 0.73 g protein per lbs, will maximize your muscle and strength gains.

Any more than that didn't seem to have any further positive effect.

That's all you need, period.

Or is it?

You see, there can actually be rather large differences between individuals in how much protein is needed to just maintain muscle mass.

This review found 1.6 g protein per kg to be the mean optimal intake, which basically means that for most people it will work optimally. 

However there are always outliers and some individuals may do better with more protein, and some with less.

The authors bring this point up and recommend another number that would cover the needs of any outliers:

...it may be prudent to recommend ~2.2 g protein/kg/d for those seeking to maximise resistance training-induced gains in FFM.

Okay I'll stop confusing anyone any further.

For the purposes of adding as much muscle as possible and look awesome, consume anywhere between:

1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram per day / 0.73-1 grams of protein per lbs.

My personal recommendation is to lean towards the higher end of this range, seeing as plant protein generally speaking is less anabolic than animal-based protein (less BCAA and leucine content, not digested as well etc).

Also worth mentioning, is that a higher protein intake can be a good idea during a weight loss phase as it may help with preserving muscle mass.

So for instance a 80 kg, or 176 pound, plant-eater would thus need to eat:

176 x 0.73-1 = 128-176 g of protein.

​Getting Your Fats Right

walnuts

Fat is an essential component of our diet, without it we wouldn't survive.

It can be used by the body as fuel (though carbs are the preferred energy source)...

...but it's utility stretches far beyond simply providing some calories for energy needs.

The fats we consume are used to support healthy hormonal status, manufacturing of structurally sound cell membranes, nutrient absorption, amongst many other vital body processes.

And let's not forget that it makes food taste damn good (tahini sauce makes everything better, it is known).

How Many Grams of Fat Should You Eat?

Beyond hitting the needs for the essential fatty acids... there's really no clear-cut answer of how much you need.

Some people find they do better on a very low-fat, high-carb diet while others thrive on a more moderate-fat diet.

Now:

For reasons I will elaborate on further later, carbohydrates are almost indispensable for athletes that desire rapid muscle growth and enhanced physical performance.  

That is why the typical general recommendation is to get in enough fat to support good health, and then fill the rest of calories up with carbs. 

When you've satisfied your basic needs for fat, there's not much more benefit to adding in any more... and an increase in carbs instead would most likely serve you much better.

A good range for fat intake to start with however is 15-30% of calories from fat. 

This leaves plenty of space for the all-important carbohydrates, and within this range you can adjust up and down according to your unique needs and preferences.

How this typically works out is that during cutting, the fats have to creep down towards 15%... while on a bulk you have a larger intake of calories which means fats can go up as well. 

Here's how it would work out when you do the math:

Vegan athlete X has estimated his TDEE to be 2800 calories.

That means 2800 x 0.15-30 = 420 - 840 calories ought to come from fat.

As 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, this equals to 47-93 grams of fat.

​Getting Your Carbs Right

There's no reason to fear carbohydrate. They aren't your enemy or unhealthy in any way, shape or form.

Carbs are great - especially so for any athlete or bodybuilder. 

They can aid athletic performance, help you recover between training sessions, build muscle during a bulking phase, and help you retain as much muscle as possible during cutting.

During high-intensity exercise your muscles utilize the glycogen stores as an immediate source of fuel...

... and keeping these glycogen stores replenished with carbohydrate ​enhances workout performance.

On the other hand, an inadequate carbohydrate intake impairs strength training performance and contributes to reduced muscular endurance in athletes on a calorie deficit.

As Einstein liked to say "Keep it carbed baby!"

How Many Grams of Carbohydrate Should You Eat?

​A recent review on nutrition guidelines for strength sports, provides recommended carbohydrate intakes for bodybuilding be between 4–7 g/kg.

That should give you some idea ​for optimal carbohydrate intake.

​However here's how I prefer setting up your carb target:

We've already established how many calories, protein and fat to eat, so that means it's simply a matter of filling up the rest of calories from carbs.

Again using the example of our 80kg, 176 pound gym-goer with a TDEE of 2800 kcal, a protein intake of 128-176 g and a fat intake of 47-93 gram.

(For the sake of making the math easier let's go with 150 g protein and 70 grams of fat.)

As we established a gram of each macronutrient contains:

1 gram protein = 4 kcal

1 gram carb = 4 kcal

1 gram fat = 9 kcal

So for this individual we're looking at 150*4 = 600 kcal from protein and 60*9 = 630 kcal from fat.

In order to reach the 2800 calorie mark for the day he would then fill out the rest of his calories with carbohydrate. 

Take 2800 and subtract 600 kcal from fat and 630 kcal from protein, and that leaves us with 1570 kcal from carbs, converted into grams 1570/4 = 393 g carbs.

It may seem slightly complicated if you have never done this before, but once you get the hang of it it's real easy. 

​Tracking Macros and Adjusting Accordingly

calculator and pen

Bulking or cutting sorted. Check.

Calories sorted. Check.

​Vegan macros sorted. Check. ​​​ 

Now how do we actually keep track of all of these damn numbers?

A very convenient way of doing this is to use the app MyFitnessPal on your phone.

​Using MyFitnessPal is pretty ​intuitive.

You simply add the amount of foods you eat and then MyFitnessPal will calculate how many calories, proteins, fats and carbs you're at. 

Looks like this:

myfitnesspal

Not my account in case you were wondering about the yoghurt and eggs.

At a first glance it might seem like a bit of a hassle of having to do this over and over again.

Well, in the next chapter we will learn how to design a vegan bodybuilding meal plan based on your customized macronutrient targets.

That means you can follow your meal plan and avoid having to constantly weigh out foods and add them to MyFitnessPal.

However if you like the flexibility of doing all of this macro stuff 'on the go', you'll likely find that after a couple of weeks of consistent logging that it does become like second nature.

It literally takes a couple of seconds for me to enter the information into the app and it doesn't feel like a massive chore. As with picking up any other new habit it will eventually mesh together with the rest of your lifestyle. 

​Another alternative for tracking macros is the browser-based www.cronometer.com.

Cron-O-Meter might not be quite as handy, but it does provide more comprehensive information on nutrition if you want to review micronutrient content. 

Chapter 4

Designing a Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Plan


Up until now we've looked at optimal nutrition for an athlete using exclusively numbers i.e. you need this much calories, x amount of protein, x amount of fats and x amount of carbs.

Now we need to translate all these numbers and recommendations into a solid plant-based bodybuilding diet plan.

​This might be the most difficult part for many transitioning to a vegan diet. 

I know I was completely clueless when I made the switch from a diet of chicken and rice to eating exclusively plants.

So in this chapter we'll look at how implement your calories and macronutrient targets within a nutritious meal plan compromised out of tasty, vegan foods that you actually love eating.

Hitting Your Macros, and Micros

kale

We've now got a firm grasp of the concept of energy balance and how it relates to weight gain and weight loss, how different macronutrients affect body composition, and how to balance these to achieve your fitness goals...

...well, those are some pretty powerful tools that you can use to sculpt your physique. 

However, there's a lot more to nutrition than just macros.

Yes, as I mentioned previously eating at McDonald's exclusively and maintaining a caloric deficit can induce weight loss and even improve markers of health.

Even if your macros couldn't possibly get any more optimal, and you're rapidly losing weight on a weekly basis - is eating burgers and fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner healthy?

​Hell no.

It's healthier than eating too many burgers to the point where the calories stack up as belly fat, sure, but even a calorically restricted McDonald's diet could stand to improve in many ways. 

Macros are important, true.

But it's equally important to keep an eye on your micronutrients if you want to be healthy:

Calcium, zinc, iron, iodine, vitamin B12, other vitamins & minerals, omega-3s, fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, phenols, carotenoids, anthocyanins, sulphorophane and the list goes on and on and on.

Macros are the big, energy-dense components of one's diet.

Micronutrients are needed in much smaller quantities, but that doesn't make them any less crucial.

Now I can hear what you're thinking:

"That's a shitload of things to keep track of, I don't even know what half of those are!"

Fortunately there's no need for you to go to university and spend 5 years on becoming a full-fledged nutrionist.

All one needs to do, is for the most park make intelligent food choices. 

Eat Mostly (90%) Nutrient-Dense, Whole Plant Foods

Nutrient density of a food is the ratio of nutrients per calorie

Using completely arbitrary numbers, lets say food X has 100 nutrients per calorie. 

Another food Y has 4 nutrients per calorie.

By eating more of food X relative to Y, your diet will automatically become a lot more nutrient-dense. 

The standard American diet has a total nutritional density of about zero:

Highly processed and refined foods such as ice cream, candy, cakes, cookies, pizza, burgers and junk food provides tons of energy but negligible amounts of vitamins and minerals.

On the opposite side of the spectrum we're looking at whole and unprocessed plant foods:

Starches, root vegetables, whole grains, legumes such as chickpeas, beans and lentils, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and all that good stuff.

As a rule of thumb, whole plant foods such as these are incredibly nutritious and contains loads of essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Basically all plant foods as close as possible to 'as grown in nature'. 

daily dozen

Dr. Greger's daily dozen is a very helpful visualization of what a healthy plant-based diet should include.

If you base your diet pre-dominantly around these kind of foods the total nutritional content of your diet will be exceptionally high, which is desirable in terms of optimal health and longevity.

Make sure that your diet consists of at least 90% whole plant foods, with the remaining 10% allowed to come from less nutrient-dense and more processed food sources.

This way you'll both reap the benefits of a whole food plant based diet, but you can still treat yourself with some pasta, breads, cake, cookies, cereals, muffins, vegan ice cream or whatever you find extra palatable.

(Personally I eat a diet consisting of around 99% whole foods as that seems to be working well for me, but you do you).

​Eat a Variety of Plant Foods

Another key aspect of a healthy plant-based diet is variety.

​Eating a diet consisting of nothing but oatmeal, ​vegan protein powder and peanuts might actually work to hit your macro targets...

... but your most certainly not getting all the nutrients your body needs to thrive in the long-term.

By eating an assortment of many different plant foods, aka "eating the rainbow", you'll ensure your body is getting a wide spectrum of different nutrients.

Now there's no need to get obsessive with this stuff.

You don't need to eat 49 different vegetables and superfoods every day to look and feel great. That's being silly.

Just make sure to include foods from each of the four food groups detailed below:

Legumes

vegan meal

"Where do I get my protein from?!"

Well you'd be surprised by just how much protein is found in foods viewed as 'carbs'.

Whole grains and vegetables can rack up quite a few protonz at the end of the day.

As an example 400 grams of broccoli is more than 10 grams of protein and 100 g of oatmeal provides 17 grams of protein!

However for anyone struggling with getting adequate protein on a vegan diet - look no further than legumes .

Foods such as chickpeas, lentils, peas and beanstofu and tempeh are exceptionally protein-dense.

Not only that, the protein found in legumes has a high ratio of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are super important important for muscle growth.

If you're not including beans and lentils in your diet you are seriously missing out on gains.

Below is a list of some of my favorite high-protein plant foods.

Do feel free to eat all of these in copious quanitites at every meal:

  • Red, green and brown lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
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    Kidney beans
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    All other varieties of beans
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    Edamame
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    Bean and lentil pasta
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    Tofu
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    Tempeh
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    Vegan protein powder

Nuts & Seeds

nuts and seeds

For healthy fats on a vegan diet look no further than nuts and seeds.

In addition to injecting the essential fatty acids into your diet, they are also fantastic sources of a plethora of other nutrients including protein, fiber, mineral, vitamin E, phytosterols and phenols.

If it's not evident that I'm crazy about nuts by now (uhm... yeah not those), nut consumption has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality.

Eat your nuts and seeds kids. 

And there's one variety that's just to good to pass up on:

Flax seeds.

They are insanely nutrient-dense with one tablespoon providing 1.6 grams of omega-3 as well as compounds called lignans which have been proposed to have anti-cancer properties.

Get one tablespoon per day.

Here are some alternatives when it comes to healthy vegan fat sources:

  • Flax seeds (eat them)
  • leaf
    Chia seeds
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    Cashew nuts
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    Brazil nuts
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    Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Avocado
  • leaf
    Macadamia nuts
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    Walnuts
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    Tahini (sesame seed paste)
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    And all other obscure nuts and seeds that I failed to mention

Starches

You would have to try pretty damn hard to avoid carbohydrates on a vegan diet.

Carbs are pretty much found in all plant foods (even nuts and seeds contain small amounts of carbs).

Complex carbohydrates and starchy foods should make out the bulk of your carb intake.

These are a good alternative due to the high nutrient and fiber content which means they digest slowly, without causing any dramatic blood sugar spikes.

Refined carbs such as pasta, bread and flour-based foods are also fine in moderate amounts.

Even really processed carbs such as cakes, cookies, sugary foods can also be included in a healthy diet if you don't overdo it and stay within your calories (probably not as an every day occurrence but as a treat from time to time).

Here's a couple of options for foods that you can base your carbohydrate intake around:

  • leaf
    Sweet potatoes and yams
  • leaf
    White potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Bulgur
  • leaf
    Oatmeal
  • leaf
    Whole-wheat pasta & bread

Fruits & Vegetables

broccoli and carrots

Fruits and vegetables should not be treated as a side-dish to your main meal. 

A wise man or woman makes sure to fill up his or her plate with a large amounts of greens. 

Why are they so important?

For starters, intake of fruit and vegetable is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality.

Besides providing fiber and the vitamins and minerals we require - they also contain a variety of antioxidants, phenols and other beneficial plant compounds.

For instance:

There's the flavonoid anthocyanin that can help protect against cardiovascular disease - found only in certain vegetables such as red cabbage and blueberries.

Then we have the incredibly powerful antioxidant sulforaphane which is suggested to have anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This antioxidant is rather elusive and can only be found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. 

Hence it's highly advisable to try and eat the rainbow, as it were, to cover as many as possible of these nutrients.

As a rule of thumb vegetables are very low in calories and are perfect for adding lots of food volume.

So a tip is that if you want to lose weight, make sure to fill up your plate with veggies.

There's almost an endless list of fruits and veggies but here are a couple you should consider:

Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers of all colors
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    Red cabbage
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    Cauliflower
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    Green peas
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    Kale, spinach and dark leafy greens
  • leaf
    Tomatoes
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    Mushrooms
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    Herbs i.e coriander or cilantro (?) parsley, sage, dill

Fruits

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • leaf
    Mangos
  • leaf
    Pineapple
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    Blueberries
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    Cherries
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    Kiwis
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    ​Durian (if you have a brave soul)

The Vegan Athlete Plate Model

If you think this crude picture has been made hastily in Paint you're wrong.

Anyways, let's try and piece together our vegan diet plan.

You can take inspiration from the plate model I illustrated above:

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    1/3 of the plate with some type of complex carbohydrate
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    1/3 of the plate with some type of legume
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    1/3 of the plate with some type of vegetable
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    1 serving nuts/seeds or nut butter
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    1 serving fruit

Keep in mind that this plate model is to be used as a mere guideline, not a rule.

There are approximately five million ways of setting up your plant-based diet.

So long as you hit your macros and roughly 90% comes from a variety of whole plant foods you are doing fantastic. 

Right then, let's have a look at two sample vegan meal plans.

Vegan Bodybuilding Bulking Meal Plan

A 80 kg, or 176 pound, vegan gym-goer has decided to pack on some muscle mass.

He or she calculates the right vegan macros which in this case looks like:

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    TDEE of 2800 kcal = for bulking 2800 * 1.1 = 3080 kcal
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    Protein somewhere in the 128-176 gram range
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    Fat somewhere in the 51-103 gram range
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    Rest of the calories from carbohydrate.

Breakfast - ​Tofu Scramble ​with Sourdough Bread

  • ​Tofu - 200 g
  • ​Sourdough Bread - large slice (96 g)
  • ​Red pepper -  ​164 g
  • Kale - ​100 g

=​547.4 kcal: ​37.9 g protein, ​14.3 g fat, ​72.9 g carbs


Lunch - ​ Beans​, Sweet Potato, Broccoli and​ Avocado

  • ​Black beans -  ​170 g
  • ​Sweet potato - 400 g
  • ​Broccoli - 300 g
  • ​Avocado - 100 g
  • Calorie-free spices, herbs and condiments

​=8​​56.8 kcal: ​29.5 g protein, ​17.9 g fat, ​155.5 g carbs


​Pre/Post Workout Snack - Protein Smoothie

  • ​​Bananas - 2 medium sized (236 g)
  • ​Frozen berries - 200 g
  • ​Ground flax seeds - 2 tbsp (14 g)
  • ​Soy milk - 300 ml
  • Pea protein powder - 28 g

​=​663.2 kcal: ​43.4 g protein, ​16.8 g fat, ​92.4 g carbs.


Dinner - Butternut​ Lentil Curry ​​​with ​Quinoa

  • ​Red lentils - 100 g (dry uncooked weight)
  • ​Quinoa - 100 g (dry uncooked weight)
  • ​Butternut squash - 300 g
  • ​Cashew nuts - 30 g

​1​011.9 kcal: 46.2 g protein, 21.7 g fat, ​167.8 g carbs.


Grand total of:

3079 kcal with ​157.0 g protein, ​​70.7 g fat, 488.5 g carbs.

Or 18 % protein, 20% fat and 62 % carbs.


​As you can see we are hitting​ both total calories as well as the macronutrient targets.

Out of curiosity I also added all the foods to cron-o-meter to see what the full nutritional profile would look like.

And it's not looking bad at all:

​(Concerned about the lack of B12 and vitamin D? I'll elaborate on these two nutrients in the supplement ​section)

Vegan Bodybuilding Cutting Meal Plan

​Our same ​80 kg, or 176 pound, vegan ​gym-goer has decided to ​shred some fat.

He or she calculates the right vegan macros which in this case looks like:

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    ​TDEE of 2800 kcal = for ​cutting 2800 * 0.8 = ​2240 kcal
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    Protein somewhere in the 128-176 gram range (higher rather than lower to retain as much muscle mass as possible)
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    Fat somewhere in the 37-75 gram range
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    Rest of the calories from carbohydrate.

Breakfast - ​Protein Oatmeal

  • ​​Oatmeal - ​80 g
  • ​Apple - 150 g
  • ​Frozen mixed berries - 100 g​
  • ​Pea protein powder -  30 g
  • Ground flax seeds - 2 tbsp (14 g)

​=​629.7 kcal: ​39.7 g protein, ​13.2 g fat, ​93.3 g carbs


Lunch - Roasted ​Chickpea & Butternut Squash Salad

  • ​Chickpeas - 200 g
  • ​Butternut - 300 g
  • ​Broccoli - 200 g
  • ​Carrot - 60 g
  • Red cabbage - 100 g
  • Onion - 70 g
  • Tahini - 1 tbsp (15 g)

​=​6​37.1 kcal: ​27.0 g protein, ​14.2 g fat, ​​114.5 g carbs


Pre/Post Workout Snack - Protein Smoothie

  • ​Banana - ​118 g
  • ​Frozen blueberries - 100 g
  • ​​Soy milk - 250 g
  • ​Pea protein powder - 30 g

=​​403.9 kcal: ​​37.7 g protein, ​​9.8 g fat, ​​​45.5 g carbs


​Dinner - Lentil ​Veggie Stew

  • ​​​Red lentils - 100 g (uncooked weight)
  • ​Green peas - 200 g
  • ​Mushrooms - 100 g
  • ​Spinach -  200 g
  • Calorie-free spices, herbs and condiments

=​​​582.0 kcal: ​​​43.0 g protein, ​​3.8 g fat, ​​​102.1 g carbs


Grand total of:

​2253 kcal with 147.4 g protein, 41.1 g fat, ​355.5 g carbs.

Or 23 % protein, 16% fat and 61 % carbs.


​And for good measure I'll include the micronutrients as well:

How Many Times to Eat Per Day?

monkey eating watermelon

The old-school approach to meal frequency is to eat multiple small meals throughout the day.

It's thought to 'stoke the metabolic fire' and burn more fat.

The truth is that this is not a very accurate model of how the body works.

Getting your calories from 2 meals versus 6 meals doesn't seem to have any impact on changes in body fat. 

Hence, how many meals you choose to eat should be determined by personal preference and needs.

Struggling with getting enough calories in during a bulk?

Perhaps get a nice big breakfast in and space out your food over 6 feeding occasions so you don't have to stuff yourself every meal. 

Having difficulties maintaining a caloric deficit?

You could try intermittent fasting where you only eat during a 6-8 hour window, which equates to about ~2-3 meals per day. 

Chapter 5

S​upplement Intelligently


Being suspicious towards taking supplements is a healthy attitude.

Frankly, most are garbage.

That's why I recommend you to supplement intelligently.

An example of how to do that would be to find nutritional gaps in your diet, such as vitamin B12, and take specific supplements to fix those.

Or if you want some extra 'oomph' and power at the gym you can invest in science-backed, safe compounds such as creatine (completely optional however).

You Don't Need Supplements (Except for B12)

Whole plant foods should provide your body with the bulk of energy and nutrients required - not dietary supplements. 

I'll be the first one to say that you can build a fantastic vegan body with no supplements whatsoever.

Vegan supplements only serve to:

A. Fill in any nutritional gaps in your vegan diet

and

B. Give a slight edge when it comes to improving performance and enhancing lean body mass gains.

With that out of the way, it seems appropriate to start by addressing the most urgent need:

Vitamin B12

vitamin b12

What I wrote earlier is true...

...with one single exception: vitamin B12.

There are no reliable natural sources of B12 on a vegan diet and it must be 'artificially' supplied in some manner - either in the form of fortified foods or as a sublingual or oral supplement.

Nope. Spirulina, mushrooms, chlorella, seaweed or any other obscure plant food will not work.

And this isn't my personal opinion on the matter, any serious plant-based doctor worth their salt will repeat the same thing: 

Get your B12, it is vitally important.

Either through fortified foods or as an oral or sublingual pill (1000 mcg) every few days. 

Please. Be sensible and do not think you can skip this part of a vegan diet.

Vitamin D

vitamin d

Vitamin D​ has hormone-like properties and is produced by the skin through sun exposure, hence why it's sometimes referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin'.

There are no reliable plant sources of the more bioactive form called vitamin D3. 

So that leaves us with one option, sunbathing.

The problem with this method is that you can't sunbathe all year around in some places around the globe. 

There are a number of health benefits associated with high levels of vitamin D, perhaps the most compelling one being a moderate reduction in mortality.

Personally I take 5000 IU from a vegan vitamin D3 supplement everyday to make sure I get enough to maintain optimal vitamin D status.

(Make sure the vitamin D you purchase is 100% vegan as most brands are derived from sheep's wool).

Algae-Based Omega-3

Algae-based omega-3

The omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our health and survival.

A plant-based diet does provide omega-3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - found in plant foods such as chia, flax and hemp seeds as well as nuts such as walnuts and macadamia nuts.

Then what's the need for an algae-based omega-3 supplement?

Well there are also two other long-chain omega-3 fatty acids called EPA & DHA.

These fatty acids have been indicated to help protect against heart disease, enhance brain health and mitigate cognitive decline, reduce inflammation and much more.

EPA & DHA is found only in fatty fish, however a viable option for vegans is to take an algae-based omega-3 supplement (100% plant-based).

Studies have shows that vegans have low baseline levels of EPA & DHA - which is why I choose to err on the side of caution and take an algae-based omega-3 supplement every day.

If you can not afford or don't want to take a vegan EPA & DHA supplement, the next best option is to make sure you get omega-3 from either flax or chia seeds.

Iodine

iodine supplement

Iodine is one essential nutrient that many vegans neglect entirely. 

An adequate intake of this trace element is required for healthy thyroid function and a deficiency might result in thyroid dysfunction or hypothyroidism.

Here's the problem for us plant-eaters:

Iodine is only found inconsistently in plant foods depending on the iodine content of the soil - as such there are no reliable plants sources of vegan iodine.

Basically you have two options which is to either A. rely on iodized salt or B. take a vegan iodine supplement.

Both of which are viable strategies, though if you want to limit salt consumption then obviously a supplement is better. 

(Nope seaweed is not a good source as it may actually contain toxic amounts of iodine)

Creatine 

creatine

Creatine is an incredibly well known and researched performance-enhancing supplement.

Here's a quick summary of this gym supplement staple:

Creatine is a molecule produced in the body that acts as an energy storage for the cells.

When you take creatine you effectively fill up these energy storages which then helps aid cellular function during lifting.

This effect translates into:

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    Increased anaerobic working capacity i.e repeated high intensity efforts such as strength training with high reps (10-15)
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    An average +8% and +14% more performance on 1RM strength and endurance strength
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    A small yet significant increase in lean mass gains by 0.36%.
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    Awesome pumps in the gym from increased cell swelling

Now if that didn't convince you here's why I highly recommend any plant-based athlete to supplement with creatine:

Creatine is only found naturally in animal foods such as meat, eggs, and fish - which means there are no vegan food sources of creatine. 

Measured creatine levels in vegetarians are also lower compared to the omnivores... 

...and when vegans supplement with creatine they also see more drastic increase in muscle concentrations of creatine.

Which means we reap even further benefits from creatine supplementation.

For me the decision is simple, creatine just works and there's no reason to think it's harmful.

I take 5 grams of quality vegan creatine supplement every day. 

Vegan Protein Powder 

brown rice protein

​A vegan protein powder is as much a supplement as it is food in powder form.

A plant-based protein powder is an extremely convenient way of making sure you get enough protein per day.

There are a number of different types of protein sources. Pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein, soy protein, a vegan blend of different proteins and so forth and so on.

For the vegan athlete I'd recommend a pea protein as it's often cheaper than other alternatives and contains plenty of muscle-building BCAA.

I know I definitely wouldn't be able to hit my macros during cutting without a pea protein powder. Thus I consider it a staple in my supplement stack.

For a more in-depth look at vegan protein powder check out this article.

Caffeine

two coffee cups

Caffeine is central nervous system stimulant, and is the world's most widely consumed physoactive drug in the form of coffee.

​Consume a heaping cup of black coffee as a pre-workout and you'll notice you have tons more energy to throw barbells around (without hurting others ideally).

Caffeine has also been shown to reliably increase strength and performance and has a thermogenic effect that increases metabolic rate (which means fat loss becomes easier).

Furthermore, in a recent study rats were fed a diet supplemented with coffee and the coffee group saw increases in muscle hypertrophy and an upregulation of pathways that regulate protein synthesis. 

However as this was a rat study we'll have to wait for further studies to see if these effects also translates to humans. 

Still, more coffee never hurt anybody. 

So do whatever it takes to get that caffeine in you. Tea, coffee, pills.

If you absolutely abhor the taste of coffee you could go for either a pre-workout supplement or fat burner that contains caffeine.

Chapter 6

Follow an Effective ​Training Routine


8000 words in and we still haven't touched upon the topic of training.

That's how important proper nutrition is.

But at this point, we've pretty much got all the basics in place which will support your efforts in the gym.

The question then is:

What exactly do we do at the gym?

The Simple Truth Behind Gains: Progressive Tension Overload

plane lifting

Figuring out what to do at the gym is no simple task. 

With the vast amount of conflicting information on how to train optimally, it's hard to even make a decision on what workout routine to go with.

And worse yet, when you've finally settled on something that looks half decent, you find a new, shiny training method to try out and jump ship again.

This 'grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side' mentality is the worst possible strategy if your goal is to build muscle and drop fat.

'Routine-hopping' i.e. not consistently sticking with one training program for more than a week or two or three, will guarantee that you never get anywhere.

horse

Must make new gains!

Here's the simple explanation why:

By constantly switching up your routines, changing exercises, trying out new reps x sets schemes and so on, no variable is ever kept constant. 

And as such, it's going to be virtually impossible to implement the most important piece of the puzzle: progressive overload.

You may have encountered this term before and wondered what it meant...

...at it's essence it means imposing your muscle fibres to a greater stress over time.

If you don't force your muscles to do more than what they're accustomed to, then there's no incentive for them to make any further adaptations. 

Think about this:

Your training must be progressive in it's nature.

Simply because the only alternative is stagnation, and stagnation is the complete antithesis to making gains. 

Very poetic, I know, but it's the damn truth. 

The guy doing 135 pound on the bench press for 3 sets of 10 reps year after year will not grow - despite how hard these sets are perceived to be or much protein he consumes.

Alright, how do we do this 'progressive overload' thing?

The most effective way is to simply increase the amount of weight you're lifting.

Say you perform 3 sets of 10 reps at 110 lbs on the bench press.

The next workout you should aim for 3 sets of 10 reps at 115 lbs. 

If you fail, try again next workout.

And try again and again.

Hopefully over the course of workouts, weeks, months and years you will be able to lift 220 lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps.

Voila - your chest, shoulders and triceps look freaking awesome and you will be showered with compliments because of your killer body. 

Worth mentioning is that form should not be compromised because weight has been added to an exercise. 

Adding 5 pounds at the expense of your technique is not a good strategy due to the increased risk of injury, and also looking stupid if you get stuck with a bar on your chest.

Other viable strategies for progressively overloading your muscles are:

Adding reps:

Using the previous example of 3x10 (sets x reps) at 110 lbs on the bench press, instead of adding weight next workout you do 3x11 at 110 lbs. 

Adding sets:

3x10 at 110 lbs --> next workout do 4x10 at 110 lbs.

Reducing rest time:

If you perform 3x10 at 110 lbs resting 3 minutes between sets - the next workout reduce rest time to 2.5 minutes and perform 3x10 at 110 lbs.

Making the exercise more difficult:

Slowing down the rep tempo, pausing the reps at the bottom, using a more challenging technique and so on and so forth.

Creating an Effective Vegan Muscle-Building Routine

​Below are the essentials of designing an effective workout routine (information ​distilled from this article):

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    Train each muscle group about 2 times per week. 
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    Pick a balanced training split that fits your weekly schedule.
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    Intensity should fall in the range of 60-85% or about 5-20 reps (most of the time doing 6-12 reps).
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    For volume shoot for 30-60 reps per muscle group per session and/or 10+ hard sets per muscle group per week.
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    Base your routine on compound lifts with supplemental isolation movements.
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    You have to make sure to progressively overload your muscles.

​​Obviously it's damn near impossible to create a routine that is tailored to everyone's specific needs, different schedules, goals, genetics, amount of bananas eaten per day ​and ​21 other factors.

Hence why I designed ​the sample routine below to be as effective for as many individuals as possible:

A. Takes only about 4 hours per week and fits easily into a busy schedule. 

B. Moderate frequency and volume ensures that you can recover and stay both motivated and fresh whilst making long-term vegan gains.

C. Good balance of different exercises that will build a well-proportioned physique.

D. Suitable for both beginners and intermediate lifters.

Workout A1: Upper Body

1. Incline Bench Press

3 sets of 6-8 reps 

~3 min rest between sets


2. Dumbbell Row

3 sets of 6-8 reps

~3 min rest between sets


3. Dips

3 sets of 8-10 reps 

~2 min rest between sets


4. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

3 sets of 8-10 reps 

~2 min rest between sets


5. Side Lateral Raise

3 sets of 12-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets


6. Lying Tricep Extension

2 sets of 12-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets


7. Barbell Curl

2 sets of 12-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets

Workout B1: Lower Body

1. Squat or Front Squat

3 sets of 6-8 reps 

~3 min rest between sets


2. Split Squat

3 sets of 8-10 reps

~2 min rest between sets


3. Lying Leg Curl

3 sets of 8-10 reps 

~2 min rest between sets


4. Standing Calf Raise

3 sets of 8-10 reps 

2 min rest between sets


5. Abs

Couple sets of 10-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets

Workout A2: Upper Body

1. Overhead Barbell Press

3 sets of 6-8 reps 

~3 min rest between sets


2. Chin-ups

3 sets of 6-8 reps

~3 min rest between sets


3. Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets of 8-10 reps 

~2 min rest between sets


4. Cable or Chest-Supported Rows

3 sets of 8-10 reps 

~2 min rest between sets


5. Chest Flyes

3 sets of 12-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets


6. Tricep Pushdown

2 sets of 12-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets


7. Hammer Curl

2 sets of 12-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets

Workout B2: Lower Body

1. Deadlifts

3 sets of 6-8 reps 

~3 min rest between sets


2. Leg Press

3 sets of 8-10 reps

~2 min rest between sets


3. Seated Leg Curl

3 sets of 12-15 reps 

~2 min rest between sets


4. Seated Calf Raise

2 sets of 12-15 reps 

~2 min rest between sets


5. Abs

Couple sets of 10-15 reps 

~1.5 min rest between sets

Perform all of the workouts A1, B1, A2, B2 in one week.

This can be done in multiple ways, here are two options:

Monday: Workout A1

Tuesday: off

Wednesday: ​Workout B1

Thursday: off

Friday: Workout A2

Saturday: ​Workout B2

Sunday: off

or

Monday: Workout A1

Tuesday: Workout B1

Wednesday: off

Thursday: Workout A2

Friday: Workout B2

Saturday: off

Sunday: off

How Much Cardio Should You Do?

man pushing sled

Along with your muscle building efforts in the gym, it's also important to work the cardiovascular system for health and longevity reasons.

You know your heart is a muscle and also needs some love.

So on the days where you're not lifting weights, you should ideally engage in some sort of physical activity.

It could be whatever you fancy: yoga, a brisk walk, a session on the stationary bike, boxing, GPP work, dragging a sled around, circuits of body weight movements, shoveling wet and heavy snow (it's brutal work)... ​

... basically just make sure that you move your body for 20-30 minutes every day.

There's no need to go super hard every session. If you're feeling run down from the gym/work/school/life go for a short walk.

Or if you're jumping up and down with energy you could do a 20 minute HIIT bike blast.

During cutting you should shift your cardio towards high intensity interval training (HIIT) as it's highly effective for burning fat whilst also preserving muscle mass.

Do You Need to Warm Up Before Training?

Yeah, you do.

First perform about 5 minutes of light cardio to get your body temperature up and joints loosened up. 

Then:

Before any lower body session perform the agile 8 circuit.

Before any upper body session perform a couple sets of wall slides, band pull-aparts, and perhaps some chins to get the shoulders warmed up and ready for action - here's a good example routine.

When it comes to warming up for a specific exercise you perform a couple of lighter sets before the heavy work sets.

So if you were to do a 135 pound incline bench press it might look something like this:

Set 1: 45 pounds x 10

Set 2: 45 pounds x 10

Set 2: 90 pounds x 8

Set 3: 110 pounds x 5

And then on to the big working sets.

As a rule of thumb bigger movements and the first exercises of the day will require more warm up sets, whilst isolation movements later in the routine require less.

Go Get the Vegan Gains (And Be Really, Really Patient)!

That's about it.

​If you made it through to the end you should now be pretty damn well-equipped to build ​some muscle in a cruelty-free manner.

Now it's a matter of putting this information into action.

​There is some hard work involved ​to produce serious results... but this is also supposed to be fun and enjoyable.

As a natural vegan athlete there is a limit to how fast you gain muscle so you might as well enjoy the ride.

Eat some delicious vegan food, drink good coffee (or if you don't like coffee have some beet juice or something) and bust your ass in the gym.

Don't get discouraged if you do not see immediate results. That is simply not how this stuff works, sorry about that.

Combining all of the previous steps with consistency and hard work is how vegan gains are made.

And above all, patience is your friend here. 

When your plant-based diet and training is on point you have to simply trust the process and let time work its magic. 

As they say (I'm not quite sure who "they" are):

Growing muscle is like watching paint dry.

If you've been doing this for 1 month and still haven't got big bouncy pecs and a shredded six pack, that's completely normal. 

This stuff takes time. 

Think of it as depositing a small amount of money into a savings account every single day.

One day is not going to make you rich or matter in the grand scheme of things. 

However 100 or more consecutive small deposits, and also taking into account the 5% return, will add up and create a snowball effect.

Suddenly what seemed impossible at first has happened, and your body has transformed into something that you can look in the mirror and be proud of.

​I hope you liked this guide!

Please feel free to share it with anyone you think might need it.

Until later, may the vegan gains be with you.

P.S. If you need some more help with this stuff, I also offer one-on-one coaching over here.

Hey there! I’m Alex and I’m obsessed with a vegan diet, strength training and bodybuilding, as well as health and nutrition. When I’m not writing articles on here I am either in the gym, playing electric guitar or cooking vegan food!

11 thoughts on “Vegan Bodybuilding: A 6-Step Extensive Guide in Vegetarian Muscle Building

  1. Hi! Thank you for the incredible information. One question though. Do you know where I can purchase a whole food vegan meal plan for cutting? I have tried to create on but always end up with too many calories, and when I cut the calories, I lose the macro portion of it. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated!

    • Thanks Jim! There are a couple of tips I would give for vegan cutting. I assume it is getting enough protein but not overshooting carbs you’re struggling with.

      1. Base a lot of your calories around legumes, bean, lentils, as this group of plants are per calorie highest in protein.

      2. At a certain caloric deficit you sort of have to drop the ‘whole’ part of whole food plant based.

      Hitting protein macros on a 2000 kcal or less meal plan without a vegan protein powder/tofu/seitan/any other high protein vegan food is going to be very difficult. If you add two protein shakes per day you might find it is a lot easier balancing your calories with macros.

      3. Personally I’ve had great success combining a vegan diet with intermittent fasting, makes cutting really easy and effective.

      If you’ve any more questions I’d be happy to answer them. Best luck on your journey!

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