Building Muscle on a Plant-Based Diet
It might not be common knowledge. But many vegan athletes consume adequate, quality protein on a plant-based diet and thrive with high levels of health and fitness. Building muscle on a vegan diet should not be considered a challenge, an oxymoron or an improbable task doomed<!-edit–> for failure. Like anything else in nutrition, getting enough protein in your diet comes down to the basics, and common sense. Eat frequently, eat quality whole foods and consume an adequate quantity to elicit the kind of muscle gains you’re looking to experience. If your goal is to build muscle, it must be understood how muscle grows in the first place. You can’t expect to pack on muscle without understanding how the process works.
For starters, you have a basic minimum caloric need just to maintain your weight, muscle and health. This is determined based on your age, size, weight and gender, and primarily based around how many calories you’re expending (burning) each day. You burn calories in everything you do — from sleeping to walking to exercising. And the more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. Due to the nature of physical activity, athletes burn far more calories than non-athletes. So they require more calories through the consumption of food than their non-athlete counterparts. We know we need to eat well and eat often. But what we eat — and what we choose not to eat — are also important factors. It’s pretty common for an athlete to require 0.8 – 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to maintain muscle.
Building muscle, often requires the consumption of 1.2 – 2.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. It may seem like a lot. But thousands of bodybuilders and athletes — who dedicate their personal or professional lives to building muscle — have found that this system is effective. It’s just the way the body works. It is a system which supports any sports interest from tennis to running to lifting weights. We break the body down through exercise and need to build it back up through sound and adequate nutrition.
Go vegan for a day: This one day vegan meal plan has a variety of plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, and fats. Designed to satisfy an open-minded meat-eater. All are vegan.
Day 1 Breakfast
The Whole Beet Smoothie
Prep Time: 5 mins
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1½ tsp lemon juice
- 1 serving Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate
- ½ cup frozen blackberries, or blueberries
- 1 cup coconut manna (butter, not oil), or 2 Tbsp dried and flaked coconut (unsweetened and sulphite-free)
- 1 medium raw beet root, diced (about 1/3 cup)
- ¼ cup beet greens
1.Add liquid ingredient to the blender first (coconut water, lemon juice), followed by Vega Sport Performance Protein.
2.Last, add the remaining ingredients (frozen berries, coconut meat, beetroot and greens).
3.Blend for 1 minute or until very smooth.
Vegan Protein Balls
Prep Time: 10 mins
1.Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and roll into balls. If the mixture feels too dry, add a teaspoon of water and adjust until you reach a rollable dough-like consistency.
2.Store ball in an air tight container in the freezer for up to two weeks.
Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea and Quinoa Bowl
Servings: 4 Prep Time: 60 mins
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry with paper towel 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (or your favorite cooked grain)
- Toppings: raw kale, shredded carrots or beets, diced avocado, hemp hearts
- ½ cup cashews, soaked
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp tahini
- 1 large garlic clove
- ¼ tsp grain sea salt
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 6 Tbsp water, or as needed to thin out
1.Soak cashews in a bowl of water overnight (or for 8 hours). For a quick-soak method, pour boiling water over cashews and let sit in the bowl for at least 45 minutes.
2.Preheat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 3.In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper.
4.Coat the cauliflower and chickpeas with the olive oil mixture and spread onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.
5.Roast the cauliflower and chickpeas for 15 minutes at 400°F. After 15 minutes, give the pan a gentle shake. Roast for another 10-15 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked through and the chickpeas are golden in color.
6.Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by adding all dressing ingredients into a blender and blending on high speed until smooth.
7.Add half a cup of cooked quinoa to a large bowl, top with half of the roasted veggie mixture, desired veggies, and drizzled dressing on top.
Snack Nacho Seasoned Roasted Chickpeas
Prep Time: 40 mins
- 2 (14 oz/398 mL) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp chili powder
- Salt, as desired
1.Preheat oven to 400 ̊F.
2.Mix chickpeas with oil and spices until evenly coated.
3.Spread chickpeas evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.
4.Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until crispy (shake pan occasionally during the cooking time to ensure an even roast).
Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
Prep Time: 30 mins
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, as desired
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
- ¾ cup cayenne hot sauce (such as Franks)
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
1.Preheat oven to 450°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.In a mixing bowl, combine brown rice flour, water, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Whisk to get all the lumps out. Add more water if need to thin out batter. Batter should just thinly coat cauliflowers.
3.Dip cauliflower into batter and allow excess batter to drip off. Place cauliflower on parchment lined cookie sheet.
4.Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping once, or until batter is hardened and cauliflower is cooked through.
5.Whisk together cayenne hot sauce and coconut oil until combine. Toss cooked cauliflower in sauce. Serve with Cashew Ranch Dressing or Baba Ganoush.
Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
Prep Time: 15 mins
- ½ banana, mashed
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- ¼ tsp coconut oil, melted
- ½ serving Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate
- 2 Tbsp gluten-free flour (such as oat flour, quinoa flour or brown rice flour)
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- Pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk (such as almond, coconut or hemp)
- ¼ chopped dark chocolate (optional)
Sweetener of your choice such as maple syrup, stevia or agave (optional) Preparation
1.In an oven-safe mug, combine mashed banana, peanut butter and coconut oil until well combined.
2.Mix in protein, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3.Add in milk. Mix all ingredients together until well combined. If batter is too dry add a little more almond milk, alternatively, if mixture is too wet add in more gluten-free flour.
4.Microwave Method: Microwave mug for 1 and half minutes. Check consistency, if not baked enough cook for another 30 seconds at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Oven Method: Bake in a preheat oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until desired texture.
5.Optional: Bake this a little less to get a lava cake-like consistency. Firm on the outside but piping hot and melty on the inside.