After decades of learning from personal failures and successes, I have officially cracked the code on how to truly build and sustain muscle. So little, in fact, that I had to rely almost entirely on trial and error. Thankfully, over time I started to figure it out, and I grew from weighing pounds in when I went vegan, to a pound champion bodybuilder at my peak, built entirely by plants and hard work in the gym. Your quest to build muscle on a plant-based diet relies on understanding your true macronutrient and calorie needs. Not guessing, or estimating, or assuming characteristics about your current habits, but real, raw data based on who you are and what you do. BMR is the amount of calories you expend simply by existing, based on your gender, age, height, and weight. Combine that number with your actual activity level—any additional movements beyond just existing, like walking the dog, running errands, hitting the gym, or walking up a flight of stairs. This gives you the approximate number of total calories you expend daily… your calorie needs. If you expend 2, calories per day, you need to consume 2, calories per day just to maintain weight. In order to gain muscle, you would need to consume more than 2, calories, ideally from mostly real plant foods. Not that long ago I shared this technique, along with a breakdown of my own caloric needs, in an interview for the No Meat Athlete Academy.
We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. The vegan diet has risen in popularity in recent years as an increasing number of people adopt this way of eating for its purported health benefits and ethics surrounding animal treatment. It has not only attracted the interest of the general population but also that of athletes — including bodybuilders. This article reviews the vegan diet for bodybuilding, lists foods to include and avoid, and provides a sample 5-day meal plan. Bodybuilders strive to develop their musculature through intensive resistance training for aesthetic purposes. Nutrition plays a key role in the process of muscular development. Traditional bodybuilding diets include a lot of animal source foods due to their high protein and calorie content. The vegan bodybuilding diet is devoid of all animal products and higher in protein than traditional vegan diets 2. This presents a challenge for bodybuilders following a vegan diet, as plant-based proteins tend to be of lower quality than their animal-based counterparts, which can affect muscle gain 3, 4. Therefore, it takes careful planning to ensure sufficient intake of protein, calories, and several micronutrients that a vegan diet may lack. The vegan bodybuilding diet is high in fruits, vegetables, and plant-based protein.
Instead, science is showing that eating a plant-based diet might be one of the best ways to reach them faster. However, this style of diet is more like to add on flab than fabulous muscle tone. In this article, I will demystify the vegan bodybuilding meal plan and bikini competition diet and break it down into its most essential elements. In fact, the only difference is that all of the protein sources in a vegan diet are non-meat, non-dairy, and are free from animal byproducts. An average plant-based vegan diet has a much lower calorie content than a conventional diet, meaning vegans should closely monitor their levels. The larger the calorie deficit, the more your body will fuel itself on existing muscle tissue instead. In other words, without consuming enough calories your hard-earned muscle mass will slowly waste away. For peak form, bodybuilders should strive for 15 to 20 calories per pound of bodyweight, and then adjust that number based on noticeable gains or losses at the gym. Of the three macronutrients protein, carbohydrates, and fats the one that seems to matter most to bodybuilders is protein. This sometimes leads to stress for vegan athletes.