Vegan Bodybuilding Guide for Beginners 
6 Steps to Muscle Building

vegan bodybuilding the definitive guide

Do you want to know how to develop a muscular vegan physique? Then look no further!

Here we provide you with an evidence-based guide to vegan bodybuilding, using science and new developments to help you get those gains. Let’s get into it!


Chapter 1: Should you Bulk or Cut?


If you’re looking to maximize your vegan muscle building, then it is generally advised that you should alternate between bulking and cutting. This means that you should do phases of mass gaining, followed by phases of fat loss.

If you’re a little confused by these terms and how they apply to you, keep reading!

Find a Fitness Goal That Works For You

The majority of people, especially men, are looking for a strong, muscular, and lean physique.

If you want to achieve this fitness goal, then you need to:

A. Increase muscle mass on your body frame.

B. Lose your fat coverage to reveal this muscle mass underneath.

For the most part, this is how you turn heads with your physique - you need low levels of body fat and high levels of muscle mass. It seems obvious, but it’s true. So this gives us a goal - gain muscle and lose fat.

plastic strongman

However, you cannot aim for both of these goals at the same time. So what’s a vegan lifter to do?  Building muscle mass works very differently to reducing fat levels, and gaining muscle inhibits your natural ability to lose fat.

This also works the other way round, with extensive fat loss making it more difficult for you to grow your muscles.

As a result, they can cancel each other out if you try to attempt them at the same time, meaning that you’ll make very slow progress. If you’re not careful, you could wind up looking the same no matter how many days you spend in the gym.

If you want to avoid stagnating, you need to alternate between phases of bulking and cutting - this is gym slang which I’ll explain below.

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    Bulking - building your muscle mass while eating a surplus of calories. This produces an anabolic environment in your body which encourages muscle mass growth.
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    Cutting - losing fat by eating below your caloric needs. This causes your body to burn its stores of excess fat, leading to fat loss.

Basically, you want to alternate between these two periods of bulking up (gaining muscle and a small amount of fat) and cutting (where you lose fat to reveal muscle, while still trying to keep the muscle). By switching between the two, you reduce the problems caused by doing it all at the same time.

After you have done this for several weeks or months, you will be able to observe less fat and more muscle, helping to give you that coveted physique we all crave.

Should you Bulk or Cut?

You might be wondering whether you should be bulking or cutting right now, so how do you know whether to bulk or cut? The first thing you can do is take an honest look at yourself in the mirror and assess your situation.

  • If you have too much fat around your stomach, Cut.
  • If you’re skinny and your ribs are on show, Bulk.
  • If you’re decidedly average, then there’s a more scientific way of finding out what you should do.

You need to estimate your body’s current body fat percentage.

men women fat percentage

Although you could go and get a proper DEXA scan with all the high-end equipment, a ballpark estimate should do in this case.

Take a look at the chart​ (try not to flatter yourself) and put yourself into a rough bracket.

1. For men - If you have around 15% body fat or more, cut down until you’re at around 10%. When you’re around the 10% area, then you can start the process of bulking until you’re back at around 15%. Once you reach 15% again, repeat the process.

2. For women  - Cut down to around 19% body fat. When you reach 19%, bulk up until you reach a percentage of approximately 27%. Repeat this process several times.

Can You Lose Fat and Gain Muscle at the Same Time?

"This all seems very complicated. Can I not just find a way to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously?"

It would certainly make life a lot easier it was possible. This phenomenon of doing it all at once is known as “recomping” or “body recomposition” by fitness fanatics. It’s like the Holy Grail of the fitness world - everyone wants to hack the system and find a way to make it possible. Believe it or not, it is partially possible in some circumstances and for some people - read on for more details.

1. Rank beginners. People who are new to the gym will be able to take advantage of something known affectionately as “newbie gains.” This enables a newbie to gain muscle mass even if they’re eating a diet with fewer calories than normal.

2. Detrained athletes. Detrained athletes who have had to take a break from their usual training regime will often be able to make gains while eating a low-calorie diet, although these effects will wear off eventually.

3. Overweight individuals. People who have high levels of body fat that will be able to support their muscle growth while simultaneously losing their excess fat.

4. Steroids. Steroids can help to produce a body recomposition effect, although we don’t recommend taking them, whether you’re a vegan or an omnivore.

It would be remiss of me not to point out that some athletes can indeed encourage body recomposition, but it is a very rare occurrence. Most people who are beyond the newbie stage will never be able to take advantage of the joys of recomping. Sigh.

 Most of the time, cycles of bulking and cutting are the best way to get the physique you

Chapter 2

Get Your Calories Right


Now that we have established a fitness goal, we can go further on our journey. Now we must work on maintenance calories, known as TDEE.

This useful number tells us exactly how many calories we need for either bulking or cutting effectively.

It’s Crucial to Balance Your Energy

Every day, your body burns a certain number of calories, simply just to sustain you and keep you alive. These calories are burned when you breathe, walk, eat, and watch Netflix. You also burn additional calories when you do things like go to the gym and lift weights.

If you feed your body with the exact amount of calories that you use, you will reach an equilibrium where you don’t gain weight or lose weight - you just stay the same. This is known as maintenance calories.

So, if you eat more calories than you use every day, you will gain weight. However, if you eat fewer calories than you use every day, you will lose weight.

scale

If you want to improve your body composition, then you need to understand this balance of energy and use it to your advantage. By controlling your caloric surpluses and deficits, you’ll be able to gain and lose weight effectively.

It all comes down to the amounts of calories in versus the amounts of calories out.

  • If you feed your body with more calories than it burns, your body will store these excess calories as body fat.
  • If you eat too little and give your body fewer calories than it burns, your body will burn the body fat as a source of energy.

This is why you can hypothetically lose 56 pounds in 6 months by eating nothing but McDonald’s - you just need to ensure you’re in a caloric deficit. Alas, you can eat vegan junk food all you like, so long as you watch your calories and burn more calories than you eat (1).

Contrary to popular belief, binging on “healthy clean foods” is not an automatic ticket to weight loss. Alas, many people are able to drop the pounds while eating foods that you wouldn’t think of as being particularly healthy.

It sounds strange if you’re not used to it, but it’s very simple once you understand the underlying mechanisms of weight loss and weight gain.

How Many Calories Should You Eat?

​Before anything else, you need to calculate your maintenance calories, also known as TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). This is quite easy to do – just calculate the formula below:

Namnlös design (1)

​1. Calculate your lean body mass (LBM)

In kilograms, take your weight and multiply it by (1-)your current body fat percentage. For instance, if you weigh 80 kg and you have 15% body fat, then your LBM would be 80 x (1-0.15) = 68 kg

2. Estimate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) - Now, insert your lean body mass into the following formula: 370 + (21.6 x LBM) = BMR. So with an LBM of 68, you'd get 370 + (21.6 x 68) = 1838 calories

3. Multiply your BMR with an activity factor

The number of calories you burn every day will vary according to how active or sedentary your lifestyle is. Take your BMR and multiply it according to the guidelines that best describe you:

  • Sedentary (Little to 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

​Now you’ve calculated your maintenance calories! Isn’t it a marvelous feeling? So how should you adjust it when you’re bulking and cutting?

​1. When bulking, increase your TDEE by 10%

This caloric surplus should help you to gain around 1-2kg per month if you’re a man, although beginners will be able to sometimes achieve weight gains of 2kg per month and beyond. For women, this increase should help you to gain around 0.5-1kg per month.

2. When cutting, reduce your TDEE by 20%

This should lead to weight losses of around 2-3 kg per month for both men and women. For example, if you’re an active vegan who weighs 80kg and you have a TDEE of 2,800 calories, then you would do the following:

When bulking, your calories would be 2800 * 1.10 = 3080 kcal

When cutting, your calories would be 2800 * 0.80 = 2240 kcal

Chapter 3

Get Your Macros Right


Now you need to make sure that you’re getting the right amount of macronutrients in your diet. This refers to the proteins, fats, and carbs that make up the calories in food.

Although it doesn’t matter what your calories are made of when it comes to simple weight gain and weight loss, the macros of your calories do matter when you’re trying to build muscle and change your overall body composition and control your muscle mass.

If you don’t get your macros right, you could easily waste months and even years on ineffective muscle building which isn’t being fuelled properly.

Why Are Macros So Important to Building a Great Body?

Macronutrients are the three basic nutrient groups that our bodies need in order to function properly - proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. All of your calories come from one of these three macronutrients or “macros.”

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

When it comes to losing weight or gaining weight, a calorie is treated the same, no matter where it comes from. However, if you’re looking to gain muscle mass and reduce body fat, altering your body composition, then macros need to be taken into account during the bulking and cutting process. As a quick reminder:

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

However, it’s also important to balance your intake of macronutrients too, as they can have an effect on your body composition. So, how do we do that?

​Get Your Protein Right

You’ll often hear meat-eaters asking vegans where they get their protein from, and for good reason. Animal products tend to create more protein than plant products, although this does not make it impossible for vegans to acquire protein.

If you’re eating a vegan diet but you’re not focusing on your protein intake, you may end up becoming deficient in protein, and this is not good when you’re trying to improve your body composition.

You see, protein provides our bodies with the amino acids they need in order to repair and build new muscle tissue - assisting with gains. A protein intake of 0.8g per kg has been shown to improve muscle and strength gains in numerous studies.

legumes

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 enhance muscle and strength gains (2).

Also, higher intakes of protein are great when you are leaning down:

  • You'll lose less muscle mass during cutting (3)
  • Makes you feel fuller by increasing satiety (4)
  • Provides a thermic effect that may aid in reducing body fat (5)
  • Helps with reducing body fat during energy restriction (6)

Although I have some very big reservations when it comes to eating animal protein, I definitely recommend eating lots of plant protein nonetheless.

Plant protein doesn’t come with large amounts of cholesterol, saturated fat, and animal cruelty - it’s certainly the superior form of protein in my book.

So How Many Grams of Protein Do I Need?

To answer this question, let’s not compare anecdotes or see what some random famous vegan bodybuilder does - it’s all about you, your body, and your fitness goals. So, let’s look at what the literature in sports nutrition science says:

A huge meta-analysis was carried out in 2017, looking at the effects of protein supplementation on strength and muscle gains. They looked at a total of 49 relevant RCTs for longer than 6 weeks.

The key takeaway fact is this: intaking more than 1.62g protein per kg of weight per day resulted in no more RET-induced gains in FFM.

To put it simply, eating 1.62g protein per kg of weight per day is the best way to maximize gains in strength and muscle.

If you eat any more than that, it doesn’t have a further positive effect - you’re just wasting protein, or are you? It turns out that there can be quite big differences between individuals when it comes to how much protein they need for building up muscle (7).

One review found that 1.6g protein per kg is actually the mean optimal intake, making it an average which is likely to work well for average people. However, outliers and people with unique body compositions could be exceptions to this mean amount, needing more or less protein according to the way their body functions.

For example, the authors say that it could be prudent to recommend ~2.2 g protein/kg/day for those who want to maximize gains from resistance training in FFM.

Okay, I'll stop confusing anyone any further. For the purposes of adding as much muscle as possible and looking awesome, intake somewhere between:

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

I would personally recommend leaning toward the higher side of this, as plant-based protein tends to be less anabolic than animal-based protein. This is due to less BCAA and leucine content, in addition to the fact that our bodies don’t always digest plant protein as efficiently (8).

Furthermore, do bear in mind that higher protein intake can be good during a weight loss period, as protein can help to effectively preserve muscle mass when shredding (9).

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

176 x 0.73-1 = 128-176 g of protein.

>> Full Article on Protein on a Vegan Diet <<

​Getting Your Fats Right

walnuts

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

It can be used by the body as fuel (although 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 taste better, as everyone certainly knows).

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 fat 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.

​We’ll go into more detail later, but carbs are brilliant for athletes who want to improve their endurance and boost their muscle mass gaining abilities.

Because of this, you’ll often be recommended to eat enough fat to keep your body healthy, then spending the rest of your calorie budget on carbs. You see, after you have satisfied your body’s basic needs for fat, adding more of it is not particularly good for you. Instead, it’s better to fill up on carbs.

​​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 will 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 should come from fat. As 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, this equals to 47-93 grams of fat.

>> Full Article on Fat on a Vegan Diet <<

​Getting Your Carbs Right

There's no reason to fear carbohydrates. They aren't your enemy and they aren’t intrinsically unhealthy in any way, shape, or form.

Carbs are great - especially 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.

When you exercise intensely, your muscles use your glycogen stores as a form of fuel, making sure that these glycogen stores are stocked up with carbohydrate in order to enhance workout performance (10) (11).

However, not getting enough carbohydrates reduces strength training performance results and also reduces muscular endurance for athletes who are eating fewer calories (12) (13).

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

How Many Grams of Carbohydrate Should You Eat?

According to a recent review on strength sports nutrition guidelines, you should intake between 4–7 g/kg of carbohydrates per day when you’re trying to build muscle. That should give you some idea for optimal carbohydrate intake (14).

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

The amount of calories, fat, and protein you need to eat has already been explained in this guide, so this means that now after the protein and fat, you must get the rest of the 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 before, a gram of each macronutrient contains:

1 gram protein = 4 kcal

1 gram carb = 4 kcal

1 gram fat = 9 kcal

Now, for this person, it’s 150 x 4 which equals 600 calories from protein and 60 x 9 = 630 calories from fat. So, for them to reach their 2,800-calorie daily goal, they would need to eat their remaining calories in the form of carbs.

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 really easy.

>> Full Article on Carbs on a Vegan Diet <<

​Tracking Macros and Adjusting Accordingly

myfitnesspal

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

Bulking or cutting sorted? ​Yes. Calories sorted? ​Yes. Vegan macros sorted? ​Yes. ​​​ Now how do we actually keep track of all of these damn numbers? A very convenient way of doing this is by using MyFitnessPal via your smartphone.

​Using MyFitnessPal is pretty ​intuitive. You simply add the amount of foods you eat and then MyFitnessPal will calculate your calories, protein, fat, and carb intake for the day.

I know there’s yogurt and eggs - it’s not my account, don’t worry! I haven’t betrayed you all! And yes I know, it can look like a hassle 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. This means that 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 you get used to it rather quickly.

Within a couple of seconds, I can 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. You can also use www.cronometer.com for tracking macros if you prefer a browser-based option.

Although Cron-O-Meter is not quite as handy, it does give you more detailed information and data, which is good if you want to review your micronutrient levels.

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 many 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 to implement your calories and macronutrient targets within a nutritious meal plan compromised out of tasty, vegan foods that you actually love eating.

We go more in-depth on this in this guide on how to create a vegan bodybuilding meal plan.

Hitting Your Macros and Micros

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 in order 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 nothing but McDonald’s while maintaining a caloric deficit can help with weight loss and actually improve certain aspects of your health (1).

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, as such? Hell no.

kale

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 you must closely monitor micronutrients if you want to be healthy:

There are a lot of micronutrients to keep track of. 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 know how you’re probably feeling:

"I don’t know what all that stuff is, how can I keep an eye on all of that?!"

Fortunately, there's no need for you to go to university and spend 5 years on becoming a full-fledged nutritionist. For the most part, one just needs to simply make intelligent food choices.

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

daily dozen

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

A food’s nutrient density refers to how many nutrients it has per calorie. For example, if Food X has 100 nutrients calorie, and another food called Food Y has 4 nutrients per calorie, then we can say that Food X is much more nutrient-dense than Food Y - by eating more of it, you’ll be eating a more nutrient-dense diet.

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

For example, common junk foods like candy, cakes, ice cream, cookies, pizza and more will provide you with lots of energy but negligible amounts of vitamins and minerals.

However, we’re not looking at junk foods - we’re looking at whole and unprocessed plant foods. These include 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, you want to consume plant foods as close as possible to 'as grown in nature'.

This “daily dozen” is a helpful visualization which helps you helps you to envision a healthy vegan diet and what it should be made up of. Basing your diet around this stuff means that your diet will be very high in nutrients, and this is desirable in terms of optimal health and longevity.

Ideally, you should eat at least 90% whole plant foods, using that last 10% on foods which are less nutrient-dense and perhaps more processed. This allows you to live a healthy plant-based diet while still enjoying some pasta, bread, cake, cookies, cereals, muffins, vegan ice cream or whatever you find to be 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

Variety is another part of a healthy plant-based diet which cannot be ignored. For instance, while eating oatmeal, vegan protein powder and peanuts might help you meet your macronutrient goals, you’re 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 be sure to consume different plant foods from the four food groups detailed below:

1. Protein

"Where do I get my protein from?!" There’s actually a surprising amount of protein in the foods viewed as 'carbs'. Vegetables and whole grains actually pack a decent protein punch. For instance, 400g of broccoli contains over 10g of protein, while 100g of oatmeal packs in a whopping 17g 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, beans, tofu 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 for muscle growth (15).

vegan meal

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

Below you can find a summary of my personal favorite high-protein plant foods. Feel free to eat a whole bunch of these foods in 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
  • Vegan protein bar

2. Fats

nuts and seeds

For healthy fats on a vegan diet, look no further than nuts and seeds. As well as filling your body up with essential fatty acids, nuts and seeds are also great sources of nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamin E, phenols, and phytosterols.

You may be able to tell that I’m a little bit crazy about nuts (umm, yeah not those), and for good reason - nut consumption is now associated with reduced heart disease, cancer, and mortality risks (16).

Eat your nuts and seeds kids! And there's one variety that's just too good to pass up on:

Flax seeds.

Flax seeds are incredibly nutrient-dense, with a single tablespoon of flax seeds containing 1.6g of omega-3 in addition to compounds named “lignans” which are said to have anti-cancer properties to them. Get one tablespoon per day (17).

Looking for alternative sources of healthy vegan fat? Below are my top picks.

  • Flax seeds (eat them)
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    Chia seeds
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    Cashew nuts
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    Brazil nuts
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    Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Avocado
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    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

3. Carbs

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, and 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 everyday 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:

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

4. 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 will make sure to fill up his or her plate with large amounts of greens.

Why are they so important?

For starters, eating more fruit and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart problems, 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 (18). For instance:

There is a flavonoid called anthocyanin that can help to fight against cardiovascular disease. This precious flavonoid is only found in special vegetables such as blueberries and red cabbages. In addition to that, we have the very powerful sulforaphane, which supposedly helps to fight cancer, inflammation, and much more. It also contains an antioxidant which is rather elusive and can only be found in broccoli, in addition to some other cruciferous vegetables (19) (20).

As a result, it's highly advisable to try and “eat the rainbow,” as it were, to cover as many of these nutrients as possible. Generally speaking, vegetables are very healthy, low-calorie, and are great for increasing your food volume so that you feel fuller after meals.

So if you’re looking to drop the pounds (or kilos), then make sure you eat a ton of vegetables with every meal!

Of course, the amount of fruit and veg in the world is too large to list in its entirety, but here are some key fruits and veggies that 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
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    Tomatoes
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    Mushrooms
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    Herbs i.e coriander or cilantro (?) parsley, sage, dill

Fruits

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
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    Mangos
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    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 MS 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:

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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

Do bear in mind that this plate model is supposed to be used as just a 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, then you are doing fantastic.

Right then, let's inspect two sample vegan meal plans.

Vegan Bodybuilding Bulking Meal Plan

A vegan gym-goer who is 80kg (or 176 lbs) has made the decision that they want to increase their muscle mass. They calculate their vegan macros, which looks like this for them:

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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.

1. 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

​2. 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

​3. 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.

​4. 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.

The bodybuilder in this case is hitting their targets for both total calories and macros. As an experiment, I also added the foods to the Cron-o-meter, giving us a better idea of their complete nutritional profile.

It looks like it’s pretty good!

(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 80kg (or 176 lbs) vegan gym-goer is now going to enter the fat-shredding phase. They work out the correct calories and vegan macros for this cutting phase, coming to:

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    ​TDEE of 2800 kcal = for ​cutting 2800 * 0.8 = ​2240 kcal
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    Protein around 128-176g (staying high to try and keep muscle mass)
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    Fat around 37-75g
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    Remaining calories will be consumed in the form of carbs.

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.

See here for another example of a vegan diet plan for weight loss.

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

How Often Should I Eat Each Day?

monkey eating watermelon

The traditional approach to meal frequencies stipulates that one should eat many small meals throughout the day. This was supposed to burn more fat by “stoking the metabolic fire,” yet this is not a very accurate depiction of the body’s fat burning process.

It doesn’t matter if you eat your calories over 2 or 5 meals; it just does not have much of an impact on your body fat. Therefore, the frequency of your meals should be decided according to your own preferences - do you prefer many small meals or a couple of larger meals?

Finding it hard to get enough calories in at the bulking phase?

If this is the case, consider getting a big breakfast at the start of the day and then spread your food out over about 6 meals. This way, you don’t have to eat a truckload at every meal, which can be nauseating if you’re not used to it.

Finding it hard to keep your calorie consumption low in your cutting phase?

If this is you, why not try intermittent fasting? This is where you eat during a 6-8 hour window, balancing out at around 2-3 meals per day. It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Chapter 5

S​upplement Intelligently


Being suspicious towards taking supplements is a healthy attitude.

Frankly, most are garbage.

That's why I recommend that you 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 in order 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 (although this is completely optional).

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 2 purposes:

A. Fill in any nutrient gaps in your vegan diet

B. Help you with improving performance and enhancing lean body mass gains.

With that out of the way, it seems appropriate to start with one of the most urgent components of a vegetarian or vegan diet:

Vitamin B12

What I wrote earlier is true, with one single exception: vitamin B12. In a true vegan diet, there are no natural sources of B12 - it must be supplemented in the form of a tablet or in fortified foods which have had B12 added to them.

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

Any doctor who advocates a vegan or veggie diet will tell you exactly the same thing: B12 is vitally important. You can get it via an oral/sublingual pill (1000 mcg) which you take a couple of times per week or through specially fortified foods.

Please. Be sensible and do not think you can skip this part of a vegan diet. Here are some of my recommended vegan vitamin B12 Supplements.

vitamin b12

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies naturally make it through our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. Sadly, there are no high-quality plant sources of Vitamin D3, which is the most bioactive form of the vitamin. This means that you need to sunbathe regularly in order to soak up your Vitamin D, but that’s not really practical for a lot of us.

Nonetheless, vitamin D3 comes with a bunch of health benefits, including a supposed reduction in mortality - not bad! (21) (22)

If you’re looking to get your Vitamin D fix without heading to the beach, I recommend taking 5000 IU from a vegan vitamin D3 supplement every day. This will assist you in maintaining an optimal vitamin D balance, even if you can’t have it in its best form.

Make sure the vitamin D you purchase is 100% vegan as most brands are derived from non-vegan ingredients. Here are some of my recommended vegan vitamin D supplements.

Ora Organic Vegan Vitamin D Supplement

Algae-Based Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are conducive to good health, and a vegan diet can give you these fatty acids in a form known as ALA - alpha-linolenic acid. You can find ALA in plant foods such as flax, hemp seeds, chia, and various types of nuts.

So why do I specifically require an algae-based omega-3 supplement?

In addition to ALA, you also have EPA and DHA, two more forms of these delightfully-named fatty acids. EPA and DHA have been shown to fight heart problems, aid brain health, and decrease levels of cognitive decline in people with brain problems.

Annoyingly, EPA and DHA are only found in certain types of fatty fish. Nonetheless, if you take algae-based omega-3 supplements, which are 100% vegan, then you should be able to get a decent amount of all 3 fatty acids.

Ora Organic Omega-3 Spray-350

Studies have shown that vegans possess low levels of EPA & DHA fatty acids; this is why taking algae-based omega-3 supplement products regularly is not a bad idea for those who only eat plants (and algae) (23).

Here are some of my recommended vegan omega-3 supplements.

Iodine

Iodine is a less-sexy-sounding supplement that lots of vegans tend to forget about while they’re searching for nutrients. Taking in a decent amount of this trace element is a good idea for a healthy thyroid, and not getting enough iodine in your diet can actually lead to thyroid dysfunction problems.

Frustratingly, iodine only crops up naturally in plants when the plants have grown in soil which is super rich with iodine. This is not the kind of thing that they tend to list on nutrients labels.

This leaves you with 2 options. You can either rely on iodized salt, which could leave you feeling rather salty after a while (food puns, anyone?) or you could take a vegan iodine supplement.

iodine supplement

Both of these options are perfectly legitimate ways of acquiring that precious iodine, although a vegan iodine supplement is probably the healthier option. Some people may tell you that seaweed is a natural source of iodine, and it is, but it is considered to have toxic levels of the stuff, which is against the point of it all really.

Here are some of my recommended vegan iodine supplements.

Creatine 

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

Here's a quick overview of creatine:

Creatine is a molecule which works as storage for the cells in your body. Consuming creatine is a means of filling up this energy storage, leading to better overall cellular function. It’s a bit like filling up your car with gas before driving it.

Creatine effectively helps you to:

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    Improve your anaerobic working capacity. This is great for high-intensity training, such as strength training with high reps (10-15) (24)
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    Performance improvements of +8% and +14% on 1RM strength and endurance strength, respectively (25)
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    Lean mass gains increases of a massive 0.36%.
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    Better pumps in the gym
creatine

Just in case you need more convincing as to why you should consume copious amounts of creatine supplements, it is worth pointing out that there are no natural vegan food sources of creatine. In other words, you’re only going to get it by taking creatine supplements or eating meat.

This is very important, as veggies and vegans are shown to have lower creatine levels than their omnivore counterparts. Furthermore, vegans who supplement with creatine are prone to huge increases in their muscle concentrations of creatine (26).

Make no mistake - vegans benefit massively from Creatine intake.

There’s not really any good reason to avoid getting it in your diet! For myself personally, I intake 5g of high-quality vegan creatine supplement every single day.

Here are my recommended vegan creatine supplements.

Vegan Protein Powder 

Vegan protein powders are considered both supplements and powdered foods, often being used as meal replacements for people on calorie-controlled diets. Vegan protein powder is great for making sure that you intake an adequate amount of protein from day to day, something which is easy to miss when you’re vegan.

There are many different kinds of protein sources, including soy, rice, peas, hemp, and mysterious blends of different plant-based proteins.

If you’re looking to get a bunch of protein without breaking the bank, then pea-based protein powder is a good way to go - it tends to be on the cheap side and has loads of BCAA in it, which is known to help build muscle.

For many of us vegan athletes, pea protein powder is the secret to hitting our desired macro levels! I hence consider it to be essential in my supplement drawer.

Here are my recommended vegan protein powders.

Transparent Labs Organic Vegan

Caffeine

Caffeine has cleverly worked its way into our lives, dressed up in the form of coffee or tea, slowly getting us all addicted to its brilliant energy-boosting properties. If you consume a big cup of black coffee before a workout, you’ll notice a considerable increase in your energy levels when you’re throwing weights around and being a general gym badass.

Caffeine has also been shown to reliably boost your performance and strength and is known to produce a thermogenic effect which increases your metabolic rate, making it easier to get rid of excess fat (27) (28). 

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 translate to humans. Still, more coffee never hurt anybody. 

Yes, it’s not just for the coffee zombies among us - get that caffeine inside you. Tea, coffee, pills. Whatever. If you absolutely detest the taste of coffee, you could go for either a vegan pre-workout supplement or a vegan 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!

You must make new gains!

Here's the simple explanation of 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. Essentially, it means imposing your muscle fibers to greater stress over time. Your muscles will only continue to grow and adapt if you force them to do things outside of their usual workload.

Think about this:

Your training must be progressive in its 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 pounds 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 on the bench press, all at a weight of 110 lbs. At your next workout, ideally, try to do 3 sets of 10 reps at a weight of 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:

Increasing your reps:

If we use our previous example of 3x10 (sets x reps) at 110 lbs on the bench press, try doing 3x11 at 110 lbs instead of upping the weight you’re lifting.

Increasing your sets:

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

Reducing your rests:

If you usually do 3x10 at 110 lbs and then rest for 3 minutes between your sets - reduce this resting time down to 2.5 minutes for your next workout while repeating the same 3x10 at 110 lbs.

Increasing the difficulty of the exercise:

Make things more difficult for yourself. For instance, slow down your rep speed, pause your reps and hold them in position, use a more strenuous technique etc.

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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    Work on each muscle group twice per week
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    Find a training regime which is balanced and integrated into your daily schedule.
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    Make the intensity around 60-85% or around 5-20 reps (yet do 6-12 reps most the time).
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    If you want volume, do 30-60 reps per muscle group per session and/or 10+ hard sets per muscle group per week.
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    Center your routine around compound lifts with supplemental isolation movements.
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    It is essential that you progressively overload your muscles if you want them to grow.

​​Of course, it’s near-impossible to create a regime which is perfectly crafted for your working life, family life, eating habits, favorite color, and a bunch of other ​random factors.

So this is why I designed ​the sample routine below to be effective for the average person.

A. It can fit into a tight schedule, taking only about 4 hours per week.

B. It is quite moderate in volume and frequency, meaning that you can recover and maintain your enthusiasm while making those vegan gains that you dream of.

C. There’s a good balance of exercises which aim to give you a better all-around physique.

D. It’s ideal for both newbies and experienced vegan 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 that your heart is a muscle and it 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 in some way 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 around 5 mins of light cardio exercise. This should help to get you loosened up and ready to go.

Then:

Before any lower body session perform the agile 8 circuit.

Before any upper body session, do 2 or 3 sets of wall slides, band pull-aparts, and maybe some chins too. This should get the shoulders all warmed up and ready to go. If you’re looking for a good example routine, check this out.

When you’re getting warmed up for a certain exercise, be sure to do 2 or 3 lighter sets before moving on to heavy work sets.

For instance, if you did a 135-pound incline bench press, this is how you might build up to it:

Set 1: 45 pounds x 10

Set 2: 45 pounds x 10

Set 2: 90 pounds x 8

Set 3: 110 pounds x 5

Then go on to the big heavy working sets after.

Generally speaking, bigger movements and the first exercises of the day need more warming up beforehand. The isolation movements which are later in your regime will need less warming up.

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 en pointe, 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.


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Jason Hughes

Hey, I'm Jason and welcome to my website. I created VeganLiftz because of my passion (more like obsession) with the vegan diet, strength training, and bodybuilding. Feel free to peruse the various articles on this website; I hope you find something useful!
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13 thoughts on “Vegan Bodybuilding Guide for Beginners
Muscle Building All in 6 Steps

  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!

  2. Alex, thank you SO much for this guide. I am currently overweight (88.7kg 159 cm) and am committing to a vegan cutting and building plan. I was about to spend loads of money on an online plan but your article has provided the exact information that I needed and excellent guidance. Thank you SO much!

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