The vegetarian and vegan diet plan and workout can make it hard to build muscle. We give you some tips to make it easier to build and maintain muscle mass.
Working out has long been broken down to a science. At the core of building muscle is the need for protein. That’s why you can find aisles full of protein shakes, bars, and powders. Building muscle often requires that you stock up on meat, egg whites and protein powders with your workout to guarantee that extra muscle growth.
But what if you can’t eat meat?
What if you are on a vegetarian or on a vegan diet plan and workout?
Can you get still big and get those toned muscles you’re looking for?
Want the quick answer? Yes.
When people think of protein they tend to picture meat right away. But protein can actually be found in more food items than just meat. In fact, egg whites are among the most popular muscle-building protein foods out there! Even if you do eat meat, you will want to add eggs or egg whites to your diet in high volume.
Simple, it can definitely throw some difficulties into the body building mix. Something to keep in mind for vegans is that muscle growth on a vegan diet is certain to be more difficult. You won’t achieve the same build as the other fitness gurus, but you can still achieve a healthy and fit build nonetheless.
Difference Between Vegan And Vegetarian Diet
First off, let’s clarify the difference between vegetarians and vegans. There seems to be a common misconception about what each term means. That’s where we come in. We have a simplified, to-the-point definition for each of those special diet categories.
A vegetarian is a person who does not consume meat. A vegan is someone who does not consume meat or any byproducts of animals such as dairy, eggs, and gelatin. Meanwhile, a pescetarian is a person who does not eat any meat except for fish.
You will frequently hear pescetarians call themselves vegetarians, but that’s not an accurate label.
Pescetarians eat fish and fish is meat. You may also read definitions stating that vegans only eat plant-based foods, but that is not necessarily true. Unfortunately, many young vegans end up living off of processed junk and are more aptly titled junk food vegans. Merely because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you solely consume healthy, plant-based foods.
But there are plenty of vegan health benefits.
The other component to address with these special easy diets is the cultural connotations that often come with them. Many people automatically assume that someone who is vegetarian or vegan has chosen to be that way for some political or religious reasons. But there are actually a decent number of people that choose to be vegetarian or vegan just to be healthier.
Of course, there are also people who choose it because they are very passionate about the lives of animals and will corner you into an argument about it. With that said, you should not assume that’s necessarily the case. In today’s social climate, many people who avoid meat or only eat it a couple of times a week will call themselves vegetarian. In fact, the term seems to be quite loosely thrown around.
Vegetarian & Vegan Muscle Building Diet
When you’re going vegetarian, you’ll need a diet tailored to your workout. It’s vital to eat frequently when you are building muscle on a vegetarian diet. That’s because meats stay in the body for a long time compared to everything else. When you are digesting all the foods quickly, your body has less energy to work with.
So you will need to constantly be feeding it.
You can also research how to eat vegetables for muscle gains.
The good news is that fruits and veggies have very low-calorie amounts, so if you stick to the healthy vegetarian foods, you won’t need to worry about gaining weight from the extra eating. Of course, if you load up on vegetarian junk food, you’re in for an uphill climb and unhealthy lifestyle.
To help narrow your choices on the right vegetarian foods to aid in your bodybuilding venture, we have come up with a list of vegetarian foods to focus on.
Eggs / Egg Whites
Egg whites are generally the more favored option, but regular eggs will do fine too. Research on the unhealthiness of egg yolk has recently been countered so you may not notice a notable difference if you eat the yolk. Eggs offer an excellent source of protein for vegetarians in a direct and plentiful way that you will not receive from any other vegetarian source.
Which Fruits Are Best?
There are many great fruit options you should include in your diet.
The list that follows should give you a great start.
Pineapples – They are known to help with inflammation and athletic injuries. They can also benefit your post-workout gains.
Bananas – These are great for the pre-workout, these are packed with digestible carbs.
Blueberries – The vitamins and minerals found in these are vital to improving your workout and athletic performance.
Cherries – Fiberlicious, they aid in positive sleep cycles and may help build muscle.
Peaches – This is a great source of potassium that’s great for your workout.
Grapefruit – Studies have indicated that grapefruit aids in burning fat.
Which Veggies Should You Eat?
Not to be outdone by the fruits, there are many great veggies to get into your diet. We have narrowed it down to just a few of the better options:
Spinach – You’re going to need to iron and you may want to consider adding iron supplements to go along with your spinach salads.
Kale – This superfood offers plenty of nutrients to keep you building muscle.
Broccoli – This strong stalk is great for your fitness needs.
What About Some Other Great Protein Sources?
Protein shakes and protein powders – These are vital add-ons for anyone wanting to get big. Whether you’re on a vegetarian or vegan diet or you consume meat – you’ll need a protein additive to go the extra mile. A regular diet of 2,000 calories just isn’t going to offer your body the protein and nutrients it needs to build enough muscle to get big. You have to take in a lot of calories. Protein shakes or powders are the best way to help you do that. Here are some other great choices:
Here are some other great choices:
Milk – The probiotics (or good bacteria) offers your body great essentials to muscle building.
Chickpeas – This is a great carb choice for growing muscle but staying lean.
Legumes – Here’s a natural protein food to add to your egg intake.
Quinoa – This is even better than brown rice for your workout and offers a whole protein for your body to break down.
Tempeh – This is another variety protein option that you can easily mix with different sauces and spices.
Nuts and Nut Butters – This is the common first stop for vegetarian protein because people have always known that peanut butter has protein. It is an excellent added choice. With that said, just be little weary of the fat content here.
Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil – These are great sources of protein and fiber to build muscle and help your digestion.
Of course, for vegans, their diet will not include eggs/egg whites or milk. You will need to load up even more on other protein sources. Vegans may also find it hard to consume the extra calories that vegetarians will gain from dairy.
The Vegetarian And Vegan Workout
Now to complete your path, you’ll need a great workout to complement that vegetarian or vegan diet. Whichever diet you are on, the workout plan will be similar. Each week, be sure to work out every muscle area once. But, be sure to work out your abs every time.
Abs can be worked out every day. Every person’s limits and plan will be specific to him or her, but typically people who are building muscle will have one rest day. With a lighter diet, such as vegetarianism, you may want to have two or three rest days. You just won’t be packing in the same amount of food energy that people eating meat will. But it doesn’t mean that having one more rest day will keep you from getting bigger.
Also, you could designate a yoga day or two.
Yoga will help improve your flexibility and balance as well as reduce stress.
When it comes to cardio, consider it merely for your heart health. Strength training doesn’t force enough endurance to affect your heart and cardiovascular system the way cardio workouts do. However, you do not want to spend too much time on cardio.
Simple, it can burn away the carbs and calories you may need to build your muscles. Try sticking to 15 minutes or less. This is plenty to get your heart rate up, but it won’t burn a huge amount.
Strength training should be 30 to 45 minutes. You really do not need to go any longer than that. Even for someone who does eat meat, training for longer than 45 minutes can be over-exhausting your muscle groups. But it does depend on how many reps and how much weight you are lifting. In this case, you will want to lift heavier weights at a lower rep count. This breaks down your muscles faster at a harsher amount, allowing for greater re-growth.
When you’re aiming to get bigger, that’s exactly how you want to do it.
Set some type of schedule for yourself to ensure you hit all the muscle groups in one week. Don’t focus merely on your upper body, because your legs need to get built too. The whole buff-chest, chicken-legs combo went out of fashion at least a decade ago, so work out your whole body.
Pair up a large muscle group with a small one and focus on that for one day. Try 20 to 25 minutes total for those muscle groups. After that, focus on abs for a good 10 minutes. People undervalue how much you can work the abs muscles. But they shouldn’t because it tends to be the most attractive muscle area!
For the actual workout routines, give yourself a good mix of weight machines, free weights, and mat exercises. Variety is vital.
It’s not only good for your sanity, but also to the well-rounded fitness of your body. If you use the same machines every week for four weeks straight, your body will adjust to that difficulty. That means you will not get the same workout benefit you did the first week. Fortunately, the Internet provides an endless list of ways to help you vary up your routine.
The upshot is that you can still get big while being vegetarian or on a vegan workout and diet. In fact, it may work better for you if you go a little pseudo-vegetarian. Research has suggested that eating too much meat is harsh on your body.
If you are a meat-eater, consider not eating it every day. Try eating meat maybe four times a week instead, perhaps only on your gym days. The treat most people realize when they eat less meat is how much they used to rely on it to satisfy their hunger. Meat actually only provides a small portion of the nutrients your body needs. Being pseudo-vegetarian can help you consume more of the healthy fruits and veggies that aid in properly digesting and using vitamins and minerals.
Vegetarians can certainly get the short end of the stick when it comes to the gym lifestyle, but the truth is that you don’t need meat to build muscle. Vegans will face a tougher challenge and vegan bodybuilders don’t normally achieve the same stout stature, but they can still get buff and build muscle. So whether you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet plan and workout, you can get that fit and sexy bod you’ve always wanted.
By Alyssa Bright