Eating enough protein isn’t always easy when you’re on a vegan or vegetarian diet! A lot of bodybuilders and athletes have to supplement their regular diet with protein powder just to keep up with the demands placed on their bodies by their workouts. But if you’re trying to eat more protein and build muscle while on a vegetable-heavy diet, you’re in luck! We’ve got a list of excellent vegan-friendly muscle building foods that can help you pack on the bulk:
Beans are the king of the legume family, thanks to their high protein and fiber content. They are the second highest source of protein (after red meat), and they deliver a hefty dose of critical nutrients—including antioxidants in red and black beans. Pair them with brown rice or another whole grain, and you get all the amino acids needed for complete proteins. Best of all, they’re incredibly easy to make flavorful and delicious.
Nuts are an amazing source of protein, along with healthy fat and the fiber your body needs in order to digest your food properly. You’ll find that you get around 160 calories from each serving of nuts, which is plenty for your high-octane workout or training session. Plus, you get a ton of calcium and other critical minerals from each serving. Whether peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, or pistachios, you should definitely add more nuts to your diet!
Lentils, soy beans, chickpeas, and peas are all amazing protein sources, on par with beans. You’ll find that they’re also an incomplete protein, but become complete when paired with the amino acids found in whole grains. Best of all, they’re easy to add into salads, soups, or any number of dishes, and they’ll make the meals both heartier and healthier.
Soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, and rice milk all contain protein and are made without dairy products. Calcium-fortified hemp milk, for example, has 3 grams of protein per serving, along with a dose of the bone-friendly calcium your body needs. One cup of soy milk delivers eight grams of protein, making it one of the best alternatives to cow’s milk out there.
You might not think of leafy greens as being loaded with protein, but you’d be surprised when you realize just how high the amino acid content of certain greens are. Take kale, for example. Two cups of kale contains 4 grams of protein, and spinach has half that protein content. It’s not your only source of protein, but it’s definitely a good way to increase your amino acid intake while staying far away from red meats.
Chia seeds may be the belle of the health world ball, but you’ll find that most seeds—including pumpkin, flax, and hemp—are an amazing source of protein. You’ll get a small dose of fiber-rich protein that will do wonders to improve your digestion and aid in muscle-building. Add seeds into your salads, soups, stews, or simply sprinkle it over your favorite non-dairy yoghurt to keep it vegan!
If all else fails, try protein powder! Vegan protein powders tend to be made using brown rice, peas, hemp, flax, and other protein-rich vegetables, and they can be an excellent source of the amino acids your body needs to build muscle. If you’re going to do hardcore workouts and want to see real results, it may be a good idea to add more protein powder into your life. They contain complete proteins and can ensure your body has the muscle-building amino acids required for muscle repair and growth.