It is often a common perception that a piece chicken or a steak should be on the menu when you finish your strength training, however that is not entirely possible when you are following a vegan diet?
Going vegan is now becoming a popular lifestyle choice amongst the many, with sports people and celebrities endorsing the benefits of a plant-based diet. So much so, that body builders and weightlifting professionals are now proving that muscle building is possible by switching from steak, milk, and eggs to beans, nuts, and greens.
So, how it is possible when protein acts as the repair to your damaged muscles and to build them back stronger. There are a number of basic rules that should be considered to meet your goals.
There are multiple forms of protein
It’s important to know that eating meat from a dead animal is not the only source of protein that can be found. Beans and lentils, tofu, soy products, nuts and seeds are available and can offer a high protein source, while providing other nutrients such as iron and fibre.
Then there is the artificial form, as the majority of whey and casein powders are the by-products of milk and therefore inaccessible to vegans, many companies now offer plant based-protein powders to suit the demand.
Muscle building is a simple theory providing you eat enough calories within your diet. Muscle growth requires a caloric surplus.
Calories and food choices
When trying to build muscle, it is important that you must eat the required amount of calories to obtain the growth and rebuild muscle fibres and cells. A calorie deficit of less than 20 percent is required for this to be achieved, however a surplus is what you should be aiming for.
Animal-based proteins are not on the agenda and ‘dirty bulking’ is advised against due to the potential long-term health risks, so it is advisable to look at certain food groups that can give you the calorie boost when you are strength and resistance training.
Nuts and beans are a good choice for upping your calorie intake as both of the food groups are high in calories and are a well-balanced blend of protein, fibre, and fat. Legumes, especially chickpeas and lentils, are regularly used by vegan strength trainers as they contain increased amounts of protein while being low in fat and minimal cholesterol levels. As does, peas, spinach, kale, broccoli which are the highest protein source in the vegetable groups and should be eaten three-four times a week.
Vegan protein powder and other supplements
An alternative to a large shopping trolley of food each week is using a vegan protein powder. Many supplements now offer a wide range of pea protein and hemp protein powders, with the mixture of almond milk and non-dairy milk providing a suitable meal replacement or snack.
Other supplements such as nut butter, goji berries and vegan protein bars are useful snacks for keeping on track in between meals.
You need to be careful when buying protein powders as many standard supplements offer Whey protein, which is a bi-product of dairy milk. Only consider buying products that either market the product as vegan or non-dairy protein powder.
Eat and drink regularly
Achieving the calorie deficit when training regularly, requires eating often and regularly. Three set meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) should not be skipped and snacks in between will help you to easily achieve your goals and see monthly progress.
Water in any diet is required and drinking regularly will achieve much more efficient fat burning, heart function and the expelling of toxins if you’re well hydrated.
Experiment and find a plan that works
The majority of people who start an exercise program eventually stop. They either find commitments or discover a lack of motivation or a moment of indiscipline, so, it’s important to ask yourself of your goals and set realistic targets as strength training, especially following a vegan diet, can be a lengthy process.
It is important to find a routine/plan that suits your daily lifestyle, ask yourself whether the plan is achievable and whether your food intake meets your strength training requirements. Changing and switching things around when you feel your body has become accustomed to your training and food patterns is vital to any exercise regime.
There is no problem in going wrong as there is no correct way of achieving your goals. Admittedly, there are correct and scientific principles that should be followed but you need to find the right balance for you and your vegan lifestyle.