How to Build Muscle and Be Vegan

Being or becoming healthy is a conscious, continuous process. We have to constantly be aware of what we’re putting into our bodies, how we’re using them, and if we’re getting enough rest. Everything from breakfast to bedtime is a health decision, and now that we have more access to information than ever, there really aren’t very many excuses left.

Of course, there are considerable sacrifices when we make healthy decisions: saying no to fattening sweets or snacks, pulling ourselves away from a screen to work out, or even declining social invitations that don’t align with our healthy lifestyles. Some of us take our health more seriously than others, but given the obesity epidemic, perhaps it isn’t so shocking that some are taking drastic measures to combat it personally. There are plenty of diets and fitness programs, but veganism is one of the fastest growing and most effective for weight loss. Coupled with the fact that the demand for meat is becoming more and more of a problem for sustainability, many people are making the switch to a vegan diet.

But, can these people achieve the fitness goals they might’ve had previously? Considering that people who decide to make this drastic change are probably health-conscious, most probably do have fitness goals that go beyond curling kale into their mouth. But with all this focus on protein, how can vegans still beef up?

You Don’t Have to Give Up Protein Powder

Although protein powder has traditionally contained whey or casein protein, which are both dairy-derived, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are protein powders made of split pea, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and more. In fact, there are advantages to plant-based protein powders, like the absence of lactose and actually being better for your bones than whey or casein protein powders!

Of course, finding these protein powders can be a little tricky. If you have a favorite health food store or your local supermarket has vegan substitutes, you’ll be okay. Otherwise, you can look online and pick whatever flavor combination suits your fancy.

You Can Get Enough Protein on a Vegan Diet

Even enough for bodybuilding! There are plenty of vegan sources of protein out there. You will probably have to  do a little more meal planning than the average American, but if you are truly committed to your fitness goals you are probably doing that anyway. You’ve got to make sure that you’re getting enough of every nutrient in order to ensure your body is able to make gains.

You don’t need that much protein. The recommended amount is 56 grams for a healthy adult man. Of course you’ll need more if you’re actively trying to build muscle, but the average American is already eating 100 grams of protein a day without even trying. There are plenty of vegan athletes, including vegan bodybuilders. Going vegan is by no means an obstacle towards gaining muscle.

Get Your Hands on Some B12

Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient for your body, and unfortunately, it is not created outside of animal products. If you don’t get enough B12, you’re at risk for nervous system damage and heart disease. Not to mention, you’ll also feel incredibly tired, which can make sticking to your workout schedule difficult. However, just because a vegan diet does not provide enough B12 naturally, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a fit vegan. There are artificial sources of B12 that are completely vegan. You can either consume a supplement, or you can make sure to eat B12-fortified foods (such as plant milks, cereal, and even some protein powders). Again, you can find these in a health food store or online.

A vegan diet cuts out many harmful products and actually reduces the risk of various cancers. However, it also means you have to be more rigorous about what you put in your body. Although there are ways to reach your fitness goals, whatever they may be, and maintain a vegan lifestyle, it does require sacrifices, just like every other health choice. Most decide against a vegan diet, but it should never be because they feel like it would inhibit their fitness goals. Rather, the lifestyle and the sacrifices that go along with it are not for them.

9/6/2017 7:00:00 AM
Dayton Uttinger
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Dayton socializes for a living and writes for fun. Her rarely relevant degree gives her experience in political science, writing, running, Spanish, rugby, theater, coding, and spreading herself too thin. She will forever be a prisoner of her family’s business, doomed to inherit responsibility despite frequent existenti...
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