Building muscle without eating meat isn’t impossible. You can do it easily. The vegan diet will make your health better very quickly and if you just learn what your body’s needs are, you’ll have the results you want in no time. Getting the body you want and leading a healthy life is easier than you think and today is the best day to start changing your habits for the better.
Consume healthy calories
Consuming the right amount of calories is crucial when you begin your plant-based diet. If you don’t consume enough calories, you’ll start losing body mass when your body starts using itself as an energy source. It’s all about the right choice of food. Think of all your meals and count calories. Eating a lot of nuts and quinoa is bound to provide you with lots of healthy calories. Fruits like raisins and bananas are great sources of calories too.
Make sure that your snacks are full of calories too. Get peanut butter or almond butter in your diet more often. Your smoothies should be made with plant-based milk. Getting soy milk in your diet is bound to give you great results since it is highest in protein. Vegan meats will do you a great favour too. Meats such as tempeh, tofu or seitan are there to help you lead a healthier life. A useful tip would be to cook in coconut oil to boost the calories in your everyday meals.
Eat Healthy Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates don’t just provide you with energy, but they also help you build muscle. You shouldn’t completely avoid them, and you shouldn’t eat unhealthy amounts of them either. Forget the unhealthy treats and look for low-glycemic carbs. For instance, fiber-filled whole wheat pasta and bread would be great choices if you want to make up for all the healthy carbohydrates.
If you don’t have a clue how to eat healthy carbohydrates for breakfast, opting for oatmeal will solve this problem. Include more legumes and beans in your meals. Chickpeas, lentils, and black beans are all great and healthy ways to consume carbohydrates daily. To avoid losing strength and energy, you’ll need these kinds of food. For the best results, try to make 45-60% of your diet consist of carbs.
Make Sure You’re Getting Omega-3
Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Its purpose is to help you build muscle and body mass. It also helps your body avoid injuries. Omega-3 is usually acquired from fish. Since it’s such an important part of your diet, it would be a shame to not get it in a plant-based diet. There are ways to get the benefits of omega-3 from plant-based sources too.
For instance, you can get your omega-3 from walnuts. Walnuts contain more omega-3 than salmon. Chia seeds, famous for their benefits, are also a great source of omega-3. Next to chia seeds, flax seeds are great for your muscles too. Base your diet more on plant oils, fortified vegan milk, and algae oil to make sure your body gets all of the nutritious foods it needs. Going regularly to the gym won’t be enough to get the muscles you want. Paying attention to the kind of food you’re getting into your organism will, on the other side, make a great difference.
Eat Little and Often
Having a positive nitrogen balance will help you a lot when building your muscles. That means that you should have a steady flow of nutrients. Nutrients such as protein, fats, calories, and carbs should constantly enter your body. Because of this, it’s better to have a few smaller meals than just three big ones. Being on a vegan diet doesn’t mean that you’ll always be hungry or weak. You can get all you need from plant-based sources.
Training yourself to have six to eight small meals a day is what you should start doing immediately. Include some big snacks too. Snacks like fruit, seeds, nuts, and bars are certain to help you achieve positive nitrogen balance and keep the flow going. This way, you’ll be sure that your body gets all of the energy it needs. Your body will get fueled and your metabolism will be boosted which will result in burning fat faster.
Keep a Food Journal
To see what works best for you, try keeping track of what you eat. Planning recipes and meals will be much easier if you start a food journal. Consider the amount of time you’ll have ahead of you each day and then plan accordingly. For instance, if you have a lot of time on certain days, you can experiment and cook longer, try out different recipes. Then, you can note what is simple and what you can use on busier days.
Peanut butter or a banana smoothie could be your option for busy days, and you could prepare the meals in advance. You will retain the balance easier if you do start a food journal. It will help you keep track of all the proteins, carbs, and calories you consume. You can even download apps that will help you keep track of your meals. If modern-day technology can help you acquire better habits and a healthier lifestyle, you should definitely embrace it.
Supplements and Bars
Supplementing your diet with high-protein can do a lot for your health and muscles. You can find lots of protein shakes and bars on the market. Finding a quality organic protein powder will make your life much easier, especially during busy days. You can get your natural powder or powder with different aromas.
Buying vegan protein cookies won’t be a problem either. You can find all sorts of flavors such as a chocolate chip or peanut butter. Think of what you’re looking for and get gluten-free or vegan protein cookies. You should get low-calorie, low-sugar vegan protein bars. When buying protein bars, look for the ones with pea, pumpkin seed or flaxseed. Quinoa protein and chia seeds are also very good when it comes to vegan bars and cookies.
Even if you do change your diet to better completely, it still won’t be enough for you to work on your muscles. You shouldn’t forget to exercise regularly if you want amazing results. A suitable amount of protein will help you get there, but it definitely won’t do it on its own.
You really shouldn’t forget about all the training. Putting a lot of effort daily will have an amazing outcome in the end. You can opt for lifting weights or doing pushups - whatever works best for you. If you haven’t had experience with the strength training before, you can always find a professional trainer to get you started. YouTube videos will also help you in the beginning until you develop your routine and start working out regularly.
Eat complementary proteins
Proteins are made of amino acids. Your body is capable of making some of the amino acids, but it mostly relies on the one you get from the food. Those amino acids are called essential amino acids. The complete protein contains all of the essential amino acids, while the incomplete protein doesn’t. Plant-based proteins are mostly incomplete, with some exceptions. For instance, quinoa, hemp, chia, and soy are complete proteins.
Due to the fact that most of vegan proteins are incomplete, it’s no surprise the best thing you can do is to pair them with other foods. If you pair them right, you’ll get the combination of all of the amino acids. Complementary proteins are very important for you to succeed and get all of the benefits of proteins. You should, for example, pair beans with rice. Lentil and barley is another great combination. Oats and almonds, too, will make a great complimentary plant-based protein.
Iron is very important for you since it carries oxygen throughout your body and makes red blood cells. It’s no wonder you should consume it more. The problem is that the plant-based sources of iron aren’t as absorbed as the animal ones.
When you don’t consume enough iron, your body has trouble making enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As a consequence of this, you may get to iron deficiency anemia. To ensure you get enough iron, you should eat legumes, nuts, and seeds as much as possible. Lentils and leafy greens are great sources of iron too.
Drink super shakes
When you don’t have enough time to organize a healthy meal, you can at least make a super shake. If you drink 3 plant-powered shakes a day, next to your regular meals, you’ll make a huge difference. You’ll immediately fix any problem regarding your progress. The only things you’ll need to make such super shakes are a blender and a couple of ingredients. This is all it will take to increase your calories and build muscle.
For instance, you can make a vanilla super shake. You’ll need 5 ice cubes, a handful of frozen strawberries and a handful of spinach. Next, you’ll need two scoops of protein powder and 2 tablespoons of raw almond milk. Finally, add a ¼ cup of coconut flakes. After just a month of consumption, you’ll see a positive impact.
Drink a lot of fluids
Being a vegan and working out a lot means you’ll probably consume a lot of fiber. The fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, they will all increase the fiber intake. You may experience some downsides of excessive fiber intake, such as bloating or excessive flatulence. You may also feel abdominal pain for the same reason.
The solution to this problem is pretty simple. You should just drink enough water. A high fiber caused by vegan dieting can be easily prevented if you just drink enough water. If you don’t know how to start and what enough means, you can drink 1ml of fluid per calorie for starters. This way, you’ll prevent any possible complications. If you’re exercising, you may notice that your need for water rises. Of course, you should listen to your body and, if it needs it, provide it with more fluid. For example, if you’re eating a 500-calorie meal, you should drink 500 ml of fluids. If you lift some weights too, you should definitely drink more than that.
Make sure to eat enough fat
If you want to successfully promote muscle gain, you should consume a sufficient amount of fat. Without that amount of fat, you’ll make the whole process much slower. You can be a vegan and still gain muscle effectively. All you need to do is consume enough fat. The fat is important since it provides twice the number of calories as carbs and proteins do per gram.
When you opt for a vegan bodybuilding diet, your fat intake should be at least 0.5 grams per pound. The best thing you can do is track the intake of macronutrients, at least for a couple of weeks. If you make sure that your diet consists of the right amount of proteins, fat, and carbs, and you work out regularly, you shouldn’t encounter any problems in gaining muscle effectively.
You don’t need vegetables all the time
Vegetables are undeniably healthy. The thing is that sometimes they’re not that useful for you. The perfect example is the one when you’re trying to build muscle.
Bulky raw vegetables like carrots or broccoli won’t help you gain muscle. Don’t be afraid to sometimes avoid eating them. Instead, you can opt for foods that have calories. Foods such as grains, beans, or nuts will be your best friend during the process of building muscle. Of course, you shouldn’t run from the veggies completely. Incorporate them in your diet, but focus on other types of food more.
If you’ve learned how to get every ingredient you need and you’ve developed good training routines, you’re ready to start. You’ll find all this is a very pleasant experience since you will make your mind and body healthier and better.
Written by Lena Hemsworth
About the Author
Lena Hemsworth is a lifestyle blogger, foodie, and lover of a good book. She's also a strong believer in the written word and positive thoughts.
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