The idea that building muscle needs meat, eggs and crazy amounts of protein is being phased out. from the protein and eggs craze of the 80s and 90s we are learning more, that eating plants is actually better for overall fitness. However, I still get the question. if I eat plants how can i build muscle? plants don’t seem to have protein! whenever people hear vegan + muscle building the answer is probably “nahh that’s not going to get you any results” however scientists seem to disagree with this idea.
Plant-based diets if done right can provide all the micro-nutrients and the protein that is needed to help build muscle. As social media has increased over the years so has veganism and more information is available now than has ever been before. Current research with regards to vegan protein and muscle gains indicated that the cultural idea of meat means muscle is not correct.
Although veganism has had a bad rep because of the idea on a lack of B12, iron, zinc, calcium and minerals, a well balanced nutritional approach towards veganism can help provide the nutrition and supplementation need to become athletic.
Lets talk about protein
It is generally known that athletes and individuals undergoing increased energy demands might require more protein compared to their counterparts. the recommendation for protein consumption are around:
- 0.8g/kg/day for a normally active adult
- 1.2 -1.4g/kg/day for an endurance sport athlete
- 1.6 -1.7g/kg/day for a strength training athlete
The role of protein serves as a substrate for exercise performance and as a boost for exercise adaptation. when we talk about protein we usually are referring to the Net protein Balance (NPB), which is the balance between the Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB) and the Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS).
The way in which to body adapts is by achieving a positive NPB via elevated protein synthesis in the muscle (MPS), leading towards the promotion of exercise recovery, muscle anabolic growth and eventually adaptation and the reverse happens in caloric deficits.
However, through the strategic selection and management of food choices, and with special attention being paid to the achievement of energy, macro and micronutrient recommendations, along with appropriate supplementation, a vegan diet can achieve the needs of most athletes satisfactorily
But what if I cut out meat, how can I get my protein?
The myth that meatless diets lack protein is unfounded. Protein is found in various plant sources these include: Broccoli, lentils, nuts, beans, chickpeas, peas, flaxseeds, tahini.
The idea that one must eat meat to be strong is wrong, although plant proteins might not have a complete protein profile they have the advantage that you are consuming a Clean protein source with no trans or saturated fats. By combing types of different protein sources like eating beans and wholemeal bread gives you a complete protein source.
Tofu and soyabeans also offer a great way of obtaining a complete protein source for vegans. compared to milik it has less saturated fats and calories in general and also great for those who are lactose intolerant.
If i’m training how which is the best way to assimilate my protein?
A lot of people eating vegan or vegetarian diets tend to consume more carbohydrates in general. The best way to aid muscle buildup (anabolism) is taking in more clean sources of protein at the required amounts, the best way of doing this is through shakes such as:
- Pea protein isolate
- Soya Protein isolate
- Brown rice protein
- Blended proteins
In conclusion i think that a plant based diet focusing on sources of plant proteins that optimize muscle growth and performance is they way forward, although emphasis has been placed on marketing various forms of protein to obtain results, the reality is more of a mixture of training and eating right.
Being vegan sometimes doesn’t always transmit into eating the right food, hence the reason why a plant based diet approach seems more doable.