How To Build Muscle on A Plant-Based Diet

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I’ve said this many times before, but to get big you don’t need to eat meat, fish, or any other type of animal protein. There are a lot of athletes that don’t eat meat and build a lot of muscle or perform at a super high level. Personally, I have been a non-meat eating athlete for the past 3 years and I haven’t found it difficult to build muscle at all. Keep reading how to build muscle on a plant-based diet.

How does muscle building work

Just because you’re plant-based or vegan doesn’t change the way of building muscle. The only way to build muscle is to eat a lot of food, a lot of protein, and resistance training. Also, it is super important to hit your daily macronutrients. Don’t skip out on your carbs as they fuel you for your workouts! 

Muscle size only increases when two conditions are present:

  • First, you stimulate growth by consistently engaging in resistance training that exerts stress on muscle fibers, creating micro-tears in them.
  • Second, you need to eat enough calories to support muscle repair and growth, a small but vital proportion of which must consist of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Amino acids help us recover from training, and they help damaged muscle tissues repair and grow.

Are you eating enough?

People who struggle to build muscle find it really difficult to gain weight. I usually tell them to track their daily calorie intake for a period of 1 week to check how many calories they actually consume. They will quickly find out that they are not nearly eating as much as they should. 

To find out how much you need to eat to gain weight and muscle, you first need to know what your maintenance calories are. Your maintenance calories are the number of calories you need to eat to not gain weight or lose weight. That number can vary, because of many reasons like your height, weight, activity level. A great way to know if you are consuming enough calories is to evaluate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and your total caloric expenditure here.

In order to build muscle, you will need to eat more than your maintenance, around 500 calories extra to start off with. So let’s say your maintenance is 2500 calories for a day than to be eating 3000 calories is a good start. After 1 week, step on the scale and check to see if you have gained weight, if not then increase again with 250 calories.

Plant based vs Vegan

A lot of people think plant-based is the same as vegan, but there is a important difference. 

So what is a plant-based diet, well, A plant-based diet predominantly consists of plants; most people use the term to refer to a 100 percent plant diet, but some people include small amounts of animal products. A vegan diet totally eliminates all animal products.

how to build muscle on a plant-based diet
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Benefits Plant-based Diet

One of the most powerful steps you can take to improve your health, boost energy levels, and prevent chronic diseases is to move to a plant-based diet.

Science shows that changing your nutrition is a powerful way to live longer, help the environment, and reduce your risk of getting sick.

9 Benefits of a plant-based diet:

  1. A Plant-Based Diet May Lower Your Blood Pressure

  2. A Plant-Based Diet May Keep Your Heart Healthy

  3. A Plant-Based Diet May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

  4. Eating a Plant-Based Diet Could Help You Lose Weight

  5. Following a Plant-Based Diet Long Term May Help You Live Longer

  6. A Plant-Based Diet May Decrease Your Risk of Cancer

  7. A Plant-Based Diet May Improve Your Cholesterol

  8. Eating a Plant-Based Diet May Minimize Your Risk of Stroke

  9. Ramping Up Your Plant Intake May Keep Your Brain Strong

High Protein Plant-Based Foods

  • You clicked on this article to find out how to build muscle on a plant-based diet. When following a plant-based diet it is super important to follow a diet that is filled with whole foods. You need to see your body as a machine, give it good fuel and it will go like crazy. The same goes with the body, fill it with good nutritious whole foods and you will see great improvements in health and also in the gym.

    • Whole food describes natural foods that are not heavily processed. That means whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients.
    •  Plant-based means food that comes from plants and doesn’t include animal ingredients such as meat, milk, eggs, or honey.

    The misconception that you ‘can’t get enough protein in’ or ‘building muscle on a plant-based diet is impossible’ has been debunked for a while now, but people still seem to question it.

     Therefore I have made a list of whole foods where some are high protein plant-based foods that are delicious and nutritious. Use these foods to create your own healthy plant-based meal plans:

    • Legumes:  any type of beans, Lentils – roughly 6.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.
    • Fruits: Bananas, apples, strawberries
    • Whole grains: grains, cereals, and other starches in their whole form, such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole wheat, oats, barley, etc. Rice 8.5 grams of protein and quinoa 13 grams of protein per 100 grams 
    • Oats (my favorite food EVER)12 grams of protein per 100 grams 
    • Chia Seeds: 3.5 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons

Plant-based high protein foods

The next list of foods are really high in protein and are perfect to make a plant based-diet for bodybuilders and 

  • Per 100 grams:

    • Tofu – 125 calories – 13 grams of protein
    • Tempeh –  150 calories – 17 grams of protein 
    • Seitan – 92 calories – 18 grams of protein
    • Beans – 110 calories – 6.5 gams of protein
    • Lentils – 115 calories – 6 grams of protein
    • Chickpeas – 115 calories – 6.7 grams of protein
    • Nutritional Yeast (28grams)  – 110 calories – 14 grams of protein
    • Oats and oatmeal – 367 calories – 12 grams of protein
    • Plant-based protein powders (28 grams) – 118 calories – 22 grams of protein 
    • Chia Seeds (35 grams) – 170 calories – 6 grams of protein

Plant-based Diet for Bodybuilders Example

Breakfast: 100 grams of oats with a banana

Morning snack: whole-wheat Hummus sandwich

Lunch: Black beans with tofu and vegetables and nutritional yeast.

Snack: Plant-based protein shake with soy milk, fruits, and chia seeds

Dinner: Rice and quinoa mix with vegetables and Tempeh

After Dinner Snack: 1\4 cup of dry roasted nut mix

If you are still unsure about how to build muscle on a plant-based diet, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

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Vincent Sorel

Vincent Sorel

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