- Posted August 13, 2013 by
Add Muscle Mass as a Vegan
Veganism is a lifestyle that prohibits the use of animal products in any capacity, whether as food, clothing, or another use. While a vegan diet can be designed to provide complete nutrition, it can often be difficult to build muscle while consuming only plant-based foods. Many muscle-building regimens call for large amounts of meat, due to its high amount of complete proteins. However, by designing your diet correctly and getting enough protein from plant sources, you can gain muscle mass as a vegan.
Make sure to work several high-protein foods into each meal. There are 3 plant-based sources of protein: nuts and seeds, cereals, and legumes. Because these proteins must be consumed in conjunction to deliver the complete set of amino acids, try to work foods from at least 2 of these groups into each meal or snack. For example, peanut butter (a legume) works well with bread (a cereal), and rice (a cereal) works well with both beans (a legume) and sesame seeds (a seed).
- Brewer's yeast also represents a good source of protein. It can easily be incorporated into spreads or shakes.
Ensure that you consume adequate amounts of several essential vitamins and minerals. There are 3 vitamins and minerals, more commonly obtained through animal sources, that are paramount to a good muscle-building routine: calcium, B12, and iodine.
- Calcium is a mineral used in the contraction of muscles, as well as in the maintenance of bones. Good vegan sources of calcium include broccoli, kale, and spinach. You can also buy calcium-fortified foods, such as orange juice.
- Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that can only be naturally obtained from animal sources. Therefore, it is crucial that you take vitamin B12 supplements or eat B12-fortified foods as part of a vegan diet.
- Iodine is an element that is essential for thyroid health, which has implications for the maintenance of your metabolic rate. Iodine can be obtained through seaweed or iodized salt.
Eat a varied enough diet to ensure adequate amounts of other trace elements. Deficiencies in any important vitamins or minerals will impede your growth and prevent you from building muscle mass. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day is the best way to ensure adequate intake.
- Vitamin C intake is especially important in a vegan diet, because it improves iron absorption. Animal sources of iron are called "heme" iron, and are easier to absorb than plant-based iron. Vitamin C helps compensate for this.
Eat enough times throughout the day. During a muscle-building program, it is important to eat between 6 and 8 times per day (3 or 4 meals and 3 or 4 small snacks). Eat servings at about 2 hour intervals, and make sure to consume only nutritious foods. Of special importance is eating (or drinking a shake) within an hour or so of finishing a workout. Your body needs nutrients the most during the refractory period after an exercise session.
Drink an adequate amount of water. This is perhaps the most crucial aspect of any muscle-building regimen. You need to drink water throughout the day, consuming around 8 pints (3.8 L) per day during your peak exercising periods. Consider carrying a water bottle with you on outings to maintain hydration.