Contrary to popular belief, putting on muscle and shedding pounds while consuming a plant-based diet is definitely possible. I would like to share with you tips on how to eat and workout on a plant-based diet.
Let me address the popular misconception that eating adequate amount of protein for muscle growth can only be done by eating animal-based food sources. Protein, and carbs, as well as a combination of healthy fats and other nutrients together go hand in hand to building the body of your dreams.
Ask any athlete and they will tell you that it is not a one-size-fits-all approach that helped them towards achieving high levels of fitness. It most certainly never is the case in regards to nutrition and recovery either.
I am not disputing that you need protein to build muscle, you do, and I do not think any Vegan-athlete would be as strong without it. It is the mindset towards protein consumption that needs to be geared towards healthier forms of eating protein.
Remember, macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and the way that these macronutrients interact with micronutrients in order to create a healthy inside also matters. I think the issue with bodybuilders and athletes is a long-term approach is most suited, as is the case with me, any diet is necessary but planned properly, can contribute to a beautiful piece of muscular machinery. Baring in mind that eating right is also a form of self respect.
I am a regular gym-goer and I enjoy lifting weights to stay fit. I have a good physique and eat healthy most of the time. I maintain 15% body fat, I look forward to my workouts and am consistent at the gym. I am muscular, fit and do not smoke, drink excessively and do not eat fried foods, sugar or processed foods. This is because I know that there is no nutritional value in those things. Having said that, I do not believe in deprivation at all. I believe in having a health-Centered approach towards achieving optimal physical conditioning and muscle growth.
My success at the gym has mainly been attributed to my consistency, hard work and realistic mindset. I thus do not skip workouts to go out for a heavy night of drinking as it does not fit with my lifestyle. I made it clear to myself when I started transitioning into a Vegan diet for health reasons that I would not compromise my physical strength unless I knew what I was getting into. Little did I know that eating Vegan has made me feel lighter than I anticipated, which only means I had to start eating more quality-rich foods, and I get to do that in higher amounts because I want to be getting stronger and not weaker at the gym.
The Right Combination of High Quality Plant-Protein, Carbs and Fats will help you recover faster
I thus still eat according to my goals. I have managed to put on muscle, and I maintain a shredded and lean physique. Whole sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats are what necessary for building muscle and staying lean. If you are consuming a healthy amount of carbs like sweet potatoes and a good source of plant-protein, like lentils, hemp-seeds, almonds, nuts, nut-butters, quinoa, chickpeas, tempeh, tofu or black beans, kidney beans, soy beans, you can still put on a good amount of muscle provided that you are including at least one of them in all of your meals.
Soy is nutritious as well, I recommended Tempheh and Tofu, however, Edamame and Soy-nuts are great as well and they are a healthy choice for protein as they contain fiber too.
Fats, just like olive oil, avocado are good for your brain, body and health. Zucchini, Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Eggplant are also full of vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrate sources like Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice and many types of bread can give your body enough energy to perform well. A Vegan diet also is abundant in fruits and vegetables, which really does make your skin, and body feel light.
Try to avoid Sugar and MSG
Overconsumption of sugar and MSG-filled foods will cloud your judgment and corrupt your gut, this will not have any value to your recovery from your training session from a long-term and health point of view. Because building your body at the gym is only a quarter of the equation, I stress that the foods that you put into your body, the rest that you have, and the duration and intensity of workouts are all the key to your long-term success. MSG and Sugar are addictive and do not provide any benefits to your brain or long-term health.
Shorter Workouts, Higher Intensity
As I mentioned in my Vegan Bodybuilding Basics, your workout sessions can be shorter only because you do not need to spend as much time at the gym. Higher volume, higher intensity, less rest periods is how I am able to get results at the gym while on a vegan diet. You do not need to feel stuffed and lethargic at the gym, I did when I ate meat and this helped my workouts but did nothing for my health.
As long as you are eating well, baring in mind the basics of nutrition, choosing high quality over high quantity in your plant-based protein sources, you should be just as strong as before your transition into Veganism and as an athlete/beginner. Make sure to take your recovery seriously to avoid future injury.
I currently supplement my diet with Creatine, Vitamin B12 and Omega 3. I take Creatine in Vegan-friendly supplement form, as unfortunately, it can only be found in animal sources. I am currently dosing at 5 mg of Creatine a day. Vitamin B12 is also only found in animals, thus this is a no-brainer that you must get this in supplement form.
Omega 3 helps with brain cognition, and this supplement is an added benefit to your diet, it can be found in walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, seaweed and algae or supplement form.