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September 20, 2020

Vegan Calisthenics Diet & Training
Everything You Need to Know

Rafid Nassir
Published by Rafid Nassir
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Vegan calisthenics is a bodyweight workout made famous by Frank Medrano.

Basically, it involves performing calisthenics training while undertaking a plant-based diet. So no meat or animal-based foods is be allowed.

One issue with vegan diets is a lack of calories, which may result in muscle loss if you are performing the intense bodyweight exercises required.

The following article will look at what you should be eating, to ensure you are getting enough calories, and enough of the nutrients required to actively build muscle too.

Vegan Diet For Calisthenics

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This may be redundant for many of you reading this but it is worth stating, as a vegan you are not allowed to eat any animal, or any animal-related product. All other foods will be fine.

That means no meat, dairy, eggs, fish, or seafood can be consumed. This is the basic premise of vegan calisthenics.

As you are considering calisthenics, you will need to think about what kinds of foods you should eat to give you the strength and energy to perform these bodyweight exercises.

The 4 main components you need to look at when looking at your vegan diet are: 

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Total number of calories consumed

Protein Intake For Calisthenics

Protein Pancake

Protein is incredibly important when attempting to build muscle whether you are on a vegan diet or not.

This is why out of the three main macronutrients, you should consume more protein than carbohydrates and fat.

Your diet should consist of 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and 30% fats.

Protein is made up of amino acids that help to repair and rebuild the micro-tears in your muscle fiber that is torn when you perform resistance training.

You can get your protein from the following foods:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Grains

I would make sure to get the bulk of your protein for your vegan calisthenics from grains and nuts. Beans and legumes are a good source of protein, but I would not rely on them too much as they can sometimes cause gas and intestinal discomfort.

If you feel as though you are not getting enough protein through your diet alone then you could always supplement it with vegan protein shakes like hemppea, or brown rice protein.

You may even want to try one of the various vegan protein bars on the market.

Carbohydrates For Calisthenics

various food with carbs

Carbohydrates are also important as once consumed they are converted into glycogen, which can be used as fuel when you work out.

If you do not consume enough carbs, then your body will instead turn towards your muscle mass for energy, which will result in you losing that hard-earned muscle mass through catabolysis.

Lack of carbs in your diet can also cause other issues. This is because carbohydrates can increase the risk of low T3 syndrome, which occurs when the thyroid hormone T3 is not produced.

The problem with this is that this hormone controls your metabolism, energy, and weight control.

If you are not producing T3 then you are at risk of weight gain and chronic fatigue [1].

Luckily if you are consuming grains already as suggested then you will already be consuming a good amount of carbs too. You should also consider adding other fruits and vegetables too.

Fat Intake For Calisthenics

Dietary fats are important for producing the hormones you require for muscle growth. One of the issues of undertaking a low-fat diet is that they can often cause a drop in testosterone production [2].

To add fat to your diet you should include the following:

  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado

Total Calorie Intake For Calisthenics

When undertaking a vegan diet you will also need to keep track of your overall calorie intake.

First, you will need to think about what you are trying to achieve:

  • Are you trying to build mass?
  • Is your goal to burn fat?
  • Do you want to maintain your current physique?

Once you have decided what your goal is, you will need to work out how many calories you need to consume daily to maintain your current weight.

There are calculators online that can help you to work this out.

By keeping a food diary and writing down everything you eat and the number of calories they contain, you will be able to maintain your current weight.

To build mass, you should try and add 10-15% onto your daily calorie intake. This is to create what is known as a calorie surplus.

If you wish to burn fat then you should try and reduce your daily calorie intake by 10-15%, creating a calorie deficit.

Further Tips For Success

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Here are some more tips to ensure you have the strength to perform your best while training:

  • Treat yourself to a coffee. You may think of coffee as a guilty pleasure, so you may try to avoid it entirely. However, this may be a mistake. The occasional treat won’t do much harm, and that little caffeine kick could potentially give you a little extra energy you can use for those tough calisthenic workouts [3]. Just try and avoid the sugar if you are trying to cut fat.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is incredibly important when training. When you sleep your body will recover from exercise through protein synthesis and through the release of growth hormones [4]. Try and aim to get between 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night.
  • You need to be persistent. If you want to see results you cannot approach any fitness regime half-heartedly. You will need to give your all when you are training and should try to stick to your diet as best as you can too. Of course, the occasional slip or indulgence won’t harm your overall efforts, but you should try to be as strict as possible.
  • Consider supplements. One issue that is commonly reported by vegans is vitamin B12 deficiencies. If you are keeping track of your diet and nutritional intake then this may not be an issue. However, if it does become an issue for you then you may want to consider using a supplement. There are various supplements available to help with any potential deficiency.

Can A Vegan Diet And Bodyweight Exercises Work?

Medrano is not the only vegan athlete that has seen success with a calisthenics diet, there are many more. But this Frank Medrano diet hopefully gave you an idea on how to build make the most out of your calisthenics workout and training.

If you follow our tips above, making sure you are getting all of the essential nutrients from your food and working hard, then there is no reason why you cannot see an incredible change to your physique.

It just needs you to take action, to make a plan, and to stick to it. Good luck!


References:

  1. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/894601
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6298507
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/exercise-versus-caffeine-which-is-your-best-ally-to-fight-fatigue-2017060811843
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51106123_Sleep_and_muscle_recovery_Endocrinological_and_molecular_basis_for_a_new_and_promising_hypothesis

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Rafid Nassir is a health and fitness fanatic, with the main aim of maximising muscle mass and minimising body fat, with as little time investment as possible.
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