Some may assume that muscle building and weight training is difficult for those on any type of vegetarian diet, because building muscle requires protein, which is most commonly derived from animal sources. The fact is there are many vegan sources of quality protein that are also low in unhealthy fats that increase the risk for heart disease.
For example, a 4-ounce piece of beef liver, beef ribs, or ground beef contains approximately 30 grams of protein. You can obtain close to the same amount of protein from soy products, namely edamame and tempeh, both of which provide 29 grams and 21 grams respectively for 4 ounces.
Building muscle on a vegan diet is realizable when you know the best sources of vegan protein rich foods. Just a year ago, a vegan strongman proved that vegans could be exceptionally strong as he hoisted an impressive, record-breaking 1,212.54 pounds over an area of almost three yards.
There are in fact many serious bodybuilders that are vegan, consuming no animal products of any kind. Another aspect to consider is that typically, animal protein is filled with unhealthy fat, and since fat intake is of a special concern for those building muscle, a vegan or vegetarian diet offers low fat plant based proteins.
It’s best to break up meal times into several small meals during the day and include essential macronutrients, such as fats and carbs, along with protein to maintain the energy needed for intense workouts.
In order to achieve bodybuilding goals, experts recommend that weight-training enthusiasts consume a ratio of 30/30/40 of protein/fat/carbohydrates daily. Let’s review some of the best vegan protein sources to build muscle and gain strength.
Nuts and nut butters are protein rich, and the lower fat varieties include peanuts, walnuts, and almonds with a 1/2 cup supplying about 15 grams of protein.
Tempeh and tofu are plant-based soy proteins that contain the same types of amino acids as beef. They substitute meat in many recipes. 1 cup of tempeh contains almost 31 grams of protein and 1 cup of tofu contains 20 grams of protein.
Beans such as pinto beans, navy beans, black beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas are high quality protein sources that are much lower in fat than animal proteins. They support muscle strength and growth and provide various other essential nutrients the body needs, such as calcium, iron and fiber.
The whole grain superfood, quinoa contains 9 essential amino acids to support muscle building and 24 grams of protein per 1 cup serving. Plus, the selection of quinoa is seemingly endless as there are 120 featured varieties. Quinoa also provides vegan bodybuilders with plenty of carbs to fuel long, intense workouts.
For those who are okay with including dairy in their vegetarian diet, nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt is a great option and provides a whopping 16 grams of quality protein per 6 ounce serving along with lots of calcium.
Soybean and lentil sprouts, edamame, and leafy greens are just a few high quality sources of vegetable proteins that also provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Include, green peas, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, lima beans, and mushrooms in your diet regularly to get the benefit of these protein rich plant foods.
As you can see, many great plant proteins will support your muscle training efforts, so feel free to eliminate meat and animal products from your diet and go strength train!