As vegans, we are always asked where we get our protein. Bodybuilders and athletes are even more concerned about their protein intake. Guilt Free Vegan gives us Ten Tips for Building Lean Muscle on a Vegan Diet. You want your total protein intake to be between 10-15% of total calories when working to build muscle. High protein vegan foods include lentils, tofu, black beans, quinoa, amaranth, soy milk, green peas, artichokes, hemp seeds, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, tempeh, hemp milk, edamame, spinach, black-eyed peas, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, almonds, spirulina, tahini, nutritional yeast, chickpeas, peanut butter, and many more.
1. Calorie Surplus and Calorie Deficit
Calorie Surplus is when you eat more calories than you burn to help the body to build muscle and store fat. Eat larger portions of starchy foods and smaller salads. Make sure to include more generous portions of nut butter and seeds.
A Calorie Deficit is a shortage of calories consumed compared to the calories required to maintain current body weight. If you are trying to lose body fat change your portion sizes to reduce fat intake and increase fruits and vegetables. Focus on eating less fat and cut calories.
2. Majority of Calories Surrounding Workout
You want to eat your pre-workout workout meal at least two hours before your workout, and it should consist mostly carbohydrates and a little protein. Eat 40% of your calories for the day before and after your workout. Eat lighter meals the rest of the day. Try to eat a tablespoon of almond butter in your oatmeal. After your workout, eat a non-fat high-carbohydrate snack to convert it into energy, this can include fruit or a power smoothie.
3. Remove Oils, Sugar, and Alchohol
Oils average 120 calories with 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. Extracting oils from plant foods like olives, grapeseeds, avocados, and sesames are way too high in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. You are better off eating the food in their original form to get all of the nutrients and fiber.
Sugar is empty calories and causes deposits of fat in the liver. Sugar causes obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. When we eat sugar, it releases dopamine and gives us pleasure leading to addiction. Eating salty foods will increase your craving for sugar as your body tries to balance out the flavor. Sugar can impair cognitive function and reduce memory and responsiveness. You can replace sugar with sweet vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes.
Having a beer or a glass of wine with friends is not seen as destructive to one's health. Excessive drinking can reduce muscle mass. If you are trying to build muscle alcohol reduces vitamins B, C, K, and zinc. Alcohol can disrupt your sleeping habits by increasing brain activity. There is also the calories to consider since one beer can contain 154 calories. By giving up alcohol, you reduce the chance of getting head, neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancer.
4. Muscle Supporting Foods
A good diet of clean foods will increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. Eat leafy greens like spinach to encourage muscle growth (Popeye was right!) and beets to help repair joints. Eat apples, oranges, bananas, and cantaloupes to develop muscles. Complete proteins and fiber can be found in brown rice, quinoa, and sprouted grains.
5. Post Workout Shake
You should drink a shake after your workout to make it easier for the nutrients to reach your muscles and give you energy. Make sure to include leafy greens, fruit, healthy fats, and superfoods into your shake.
Leafy greens are outstanding for magnesium and reducing muscle stress. Spinach, kale, romaine or Swiss chard are perfect nutrient dense options.
The fruit you add to your shake should be low-glycemic including berries, papaya, bananas, acai, and goji to help your blood from spiking.
Finally, don't forget your superfoods to help you recover faster and give you more energy. Include cacao, maca, goji, acai, chia, hemp, spirulina, Camu-Camu, and wheatgrass before and after your workout.
6. Train 5 to 6 Days a Week
If you just want to maintain the muscles, you already have then hit the gym twice a week is good. If you are serious about increasing your muscle size, then you need to workout between five to six days a week. You can do sets of eight to twelve reps to gain muscle while doing some lower rep strength work and some higher twenty to thirty reps strength-endurance work every four weeks to help stimulate muscle growth.
Try exercises with a lot of mass building benefits like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and pull-ups. More weight will add more size. Think about bicep curls and calf raises to isolate muscle groups.
7. Shorter Rest Between Light Sets
Resting between one minute or less between sets is important. You should rest a few minutes between exercise for heavier workouts while take shorter rest periods when you are trying to increase muscle size. Don't forget to get eight to nine hours of sleep per night too.
8. Stay Hydrated
Two hours before your workout drink eight ounces of water to give your kidneys enough time to process it. You want to drink sixteen ounces of water every half hour during a hard workout. Hydrated muscles perform better, and your workout will be more productive. You can also weigh yourself before and after a workout; this will give you the correct amount of water to drink. You want to drink 20 ounces of water for every pound you lost. It is important to stay hydrated to regulate temperature and lubricate your joints.
9. Cardio or Diet
Diet is more important than cardio. Whole foods you eat and the cleaner you eat, the harder it is to keep body fat. Make sure to eat beans, legumes, yams, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables. Eat more caloric foods like nut butter, nuts, seeds, and tahini, but not as a primary source of calories.
10. Enjoy What You Do!
Remember to change your workout enough to avoid plateaus. Make sure to stick with your training program to improve strength. If you walked into the gym happy and determined with an enthusiastic attitude, you will succeed in building lean muscle.