How to Build Muscle While Following a Vegan Diet

How to Build Muscle While Following a Vegan Diet

Making the decision to become a vegan is a tough one. There are many positives, but also a few often unmentioned downsides that are rarely discussed. The ability to build muscle is one of them. Sadly, there is some evidence that building muscle is more difficult while following a vegan diet. But don’t despair! It is easily fixable. In this article we will look at three common issues and how you can overcome them while sticking to a vegan diet.

The three issues are:

  1. A lack of good quality protein
  2. Reduced testosterone levels
  3. Lower Creatine levels

We will now look at a way for vegans to overcome each obstacle.

Issue #1 A Lack of Good Quality Protein

It’s not that there aren’t many forms of protein in a vegan diet, it’s just that it is difficult to hit your required levels of muscle building. Say what you like about animal products but they are usually very cheap per gram of protein, and very calorie dense (lots of calories in a small amount of food). Meaning that you can get a lot of protein in just a little bit of steak (for example).

Vegan protein sources on the other hand, are often more expensive per gram and you need to eat a lot more of the food to get the same amount. For example, broccoli is an excellent source of protein. But you would need to eat absolutely tonnes of it before you got the same amount of protein as you would from chicken!

Solution: While often seen as expensive, vegan protein powders actually work out very reasonable when you look at price per gram of protein. They are all ethically sourced, and provided they use a blend of different protein sources (pea protein being the best) they are able to create a “complete protein”. Meaning that it contains all of the amino acids necessary to build muscle.

Issue #2 Reduced Testosterone Levels

This next issue is a bit more complicated than you’d think. Often, changing diets to vegan can help men to lose weight, sleep better, and reduce stress (as a result of being leaner and sleeping better). All of these things can help to protect your testosterone levels.

However, studies have shown that a vegan diet contains less saturated fat than a regular diet. This can often be a good thing, but a lack of saturated fat can actually lead to reduced testosterone levels. Low testosterone can affect libido, fertility, and muscle growth.

It is important to point out that for most people reducing saturated fat intake is important. But if you are a vegan male looking to build muscle you will need to increase your saturated fat intake.

How to Build Muscle While Following a Vegan Diet

Solution: There are some foods that are vegan and also contain saturated fat. Coconut oil is a good example of this, but there are also some nuts that you can eat. Adding these to your diet should help you to maintain your testosterone. You can also look to maintain testosterone production by focusing on your recovery from exercise (sleep more).

Issue #3 Lower Creatine Levels

Creatine mono-hydrate is essential for building muscle, our body produces and stores a certain amount of it. But to see real gains, you really need to supplement this through your diet. Sadly, the only real way to increase your creatine intake is through eating animal products.

Because of this, vegans tend to have much lower levels of creatine in their body. Meaning they can’t train to the same intensity (we’re not talking a huge difference here by the way, but it is significant enough to mention).

Creatine is responsible for allowing you to train harder, recover quicker, and it can also have cognitive benefits.

Solution: Amazingly, creatine mono-hydrate supplements are vegan friendly! They are created in a lab and have absolutely no connection to animal products. This means that vegans can supplement with creatine. In fact, vegans see better results from creatine supplementation than non-vegans!

How to Build Muscle While Following a Vegan Diet

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