If you’re someone who wants to become vegan – or perhaps you are a vegan who is into fitness, you might need to change what you eat, but you won’t need to change what you do in the gym. An important tip to remember is that yes, vegans can source their protein from plants and can successfully develop muscle. It’s entirely possible to get leaner and stronger on a plant-based diet. It’s time to read up, visit the fridge, and lift some weights!
1. Set Your Goals
As with anyone with a fitness focus, it’s important to set your goals. Do you want to bulk up and build muscle? Do you want to lose weight? Are you already muscular but want to cut some fat? Do you want to build endurance and keep your heart healthy? How many days a week can you and do you want to work out? I know it’s a lot to consider but it’s important to think about what you want to achieve. Remember: An hour is only 4 percent of your 24-hour day.
2. The Right Nutrition Plan
With any body transformation, what you eat is half the battle — seriously:
- If you’re eating to get big and strong, eat a lot.
- If you want to lose weight, eat fewer calories and eliminate heavily processed foods.
- If you’re lifting, keep protein filled foods handy and don’t be afraid of carbs!
Most workout programs will include a suggested nutrition program. Online calorie calculators or apps such as My Fitness Pal can help you get a good understanding of what your body might need. The good news is if you have to restrict your calorie intake most plans are vegan orientated, you’re already halfway there!
Unfortunately, if you’re aiming to gain muscle it’s more than likely that standard workout meal plans will almost always include animal derived products. Luckily, you can make some easy substitutions to keep your workouts going.
A good tip is to look out for whey protein (whey = milk) and substitute it with a vegan protein powder. Most powders have a rice or pea protein base. I currently have a balance between switching up with Prana On Protein, SunWarrior Raw and Amazonia’s Raw Protein. I find switching up between proteins helps your body not become immune to an individual protein base and helps keep your tastebuds satisfied. Another helpful tip about being vegan is developing a mindset to take note of artificial colours and additives in most workout and protein supplements. Once you start looking out for what’s vegan and what isn’t you’ll be surprised about the hidden nasties.
You can also substitute meat recipes with plant-based options. If you’re transitioning to veganism or are a fan of mock meats – they are comparable to the real thing in taste and are still loaded with protein. Another bonus is that the most popular foods for muscle growth – oats, rice and sweet potato are already vegan! You’ll have no trouble reaching your macros!
4. Don’t Let the Meatheads Drag You Down
The most important tip of all! There are always going to be those who doubt you when it comes to eating a plant-based diet. Gaining muscle and strength on a vegan diet may seem challenging but just remember why you chose to eat the way you do. For me, it’s about animals, ethics and the environment. There is so much suffering going on everyday in the industries. I don’t think an animal needs to have a poor quality of life, be slaughtered or exploited for any gain of mine. The health benefits are just a bonus!