“But where do you get your protein?” It’s the question that many vegans are all too familiar with, and the urban myth that vegan diets are lacking in protein is just about as old as the one that says we’re all long-haired hippies! Well, we have some tips to show you just how easy it can be to answer the haters, and maintain a protein-rich diet.
With #vegainz topping out at 127k tags on Instagram, and #veganprotein with a whopping 576k tags, we know we’re not the only ones to cotton on to the fact that it’s possible to gain muscle on a vegan diet. More and more fitness bloggers are sharing the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and the many ways you can create exciting plant-based meals that are rich in protein too. Thoughts of warming bowls of veggie goodness is just the inspo we need to get down to the gym in the colder months.
So, here are our five top tips for gaining muscle on a vegan diet that’ll see you chanting “Vegainz!” from the rooftops.
Know your macros from your micros:
They’re not as scary as they sound. Put simply, macros (macronutrients) are the big food groups we all learnt about in primary school – Carbohydrates, fat, fibre, etc. So that means that micronutrients are the small food groups – vitamins and minerals.
We all know that protein (a macro) is where it’s at when it comes to gaining muscle fast, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the other big food groups. While it’s important to up your protein intake when increasing your level of activity, it’s also important to remember that carbs and good fats are also vital players in building a healthy, balanced diet and providing all-round nutrition. And don’t forget those micronutrients either! In these grey winter months, we’re all lacking in vitamin D which can make our energy levels take a plummet. So finding foods rich in this dynamite vitamin can give you the kick you need to get down to the gym!
That extra rep:
Did you know it can be as simple as just adding one extra rep per set to your lifting routine to get your muscles into gear? While you’re working out, muscle fibres are damaged, and proteins are what help these fibres rebuild to create bigger and stronger muscle fibres. This fibre breakage is what you get when you’re at your very physical limit – the muscle twinges we feel when we’re on our very last rep. Pushing ourselves to this limit where we can’t lift anymore is where the muscle magic happens. But remember to know your limits – don’t push yourself too far, and make sure you rest up between workouts!
Powerful plant-based proteins:
Knowing which foods are high in protein is rule 1 of the vegainz life! Adding a few of these powerful plant-based foods will give your meals the boost they need to turn from humble to hearty:
Chickpeas, tempeh, falafel, hummus, kidney beans, legumes, soy milk, soy yoghurt, nuts, seeds, nut butters, lentils, nut milks.
These are the sorts of foods that you want to be eating pre and post-workout to ensure your hungry muscles are getting what they want!
Profusion Organic Chickpea Cous Cous
There’s an ongoing argument in the nutrition world about whether it’s better to have 3 larger meals or to eat little and often. Whilst it’s never a good idea to stuff yourself sporadically, there is actually little evidence that eating 6 small meals a day has much benefit either. The key player in doing away with hunger pangs is making sure your protein levels are topped up. Protein is great at keeping you satiated, so boosting the protein content in your meals is your best bet when it comes to staying fuller for longer. This will help you from snacking on foods that do little to satisfy your cravings.
Chicken breasts, plain rice and boiled eggs, OR a colourful goodness bowl packed full of fresh plant-based protein? We know what we’d rather have after a session in the gym… While many people think that being vegan can be restrictive to what you can and can’t eat, we actually think that it makes us think outside the box! It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut when you’re focusing on your workout routines too, but that’s why we’ve made things easier for you. We’ve got an extensive range of vegan recipes on our website, so you don’t even have to think about what to have for dinner tonight. Take a look at some of our favourites below, and look out for starring roles from some of our protein-rich products.