Bodybuilding isn’t just about getting huge like the hulk. It’s about being fit, and in shape. Sadly, there is no quick fix if you do it naturally, especially if you are doing it vegan. Nutrition for vegan bodybuilding differs from most body builders but it still works well in building lean muscle. It takes a lot of work but that’s what makes it all so much more gratifying. You have to make sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs so that you don’t deplete your resources or burn muscle instead of the fat which happens if you aren’t eating enough.
Whether it’s nutrition for vegan body builders or meat eating body builders, To function properly, the body needs three macro-nutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. Fad diets have swept across America convincing us that carbohydrates are the devil, and fat is the Anti-Christ. Eat nothing but protein but studies say otherwise. The body needs all three but what it doesn’t need is sugar, and high amounts of saturated fats. Let’s first look over some definitions.
Carbohydrates: your body’s main source of energy. When you eat carbohydrates, your pancreas then releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin attaches itself to carbohydrates and either stores it as muscle or as fat. It hitchhikes on to amino acids, body’s building blocks of proteins, and stores it in the muscle to be used to grow and repair. Too much insulin produces fat, and too little will prevent muscle growth the body will feel low energy levels.
- Complex Carbohydrates: provides sustained energy through out your day for peak performance and daily function.
- Simple Carbohydrates: Immediate fix of energy. Fruit for example is a simple carbohydrate best eaten 30 min. after a workout to replenish glycogen level and aid in building lean muscle.
Protein: It’s what all of the tissues in your body are made of. Without Protein you neither burn fat nor build lean muscle. It releases carbohydrates throughout the day in the form of glucose to keep your energy sustained throughout the day.
Vegan Protein: Increase your amount of plant based protein to build lean muscle. 1-1.5 g of protein per lean body mass. You can use Vegan protein supplements like Vega or Sun warrior protein as an option. They’re both great plant based proteins and don’t have that nasty chalky taste like other supplements.
Fats: Fat is found in every cell in the body. Responsible for lubricating joints, and balances your hormones.
- Poly-unsaturated fat: Do not affect cholesterol levels and found in corn oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil etc.
- Mono-unsaturated fat (Good fats): raises good cholesterol levels. Majority contains beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants. Found in virgin olive oil, safflower, avocado, almond butter etc.
Make sure you are drinking enough water; more than 65% of your body, including your muscles, are made up of water. Cold water helps increase metabolism naturally and will aid your body in staying cool; it lubricates your joints, and also controls your appetite. Nutrition for vegan bodybuilders may be different but the water intake is the same. Everyone needs water! Some body builders dehydrate before the show so that the muscles can show easier. Dehydration is not good for you. You should drink half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 lbs, you should drink a minimum of 75 fluid ounces of water daily. Increase the amount if you exercise.
Build a plan: If you want to build muscle, you have to build a plan. Keep a workout journal to keep track of your weekly workouts. Vegan bodybuilding requires you to work a different muscle group each day. You also want to rotate your rest days around so that you can create muscle confusion. Your body will adapt to the workouts so if you switch the rest days around it can prevent you from hitting a plateau. Here’s an example of a workout schedule:
- Monday: Chest
- Tuesday: Legs
- Wednesday: Back
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Shoulders
- Saturday: Arms and Abs
- Sunday: Rest
Most body builders eat a lot of animal protein daily to get help them build their physique but it’s not the only way to do it. Jim Morris is a 77yr. old body builder with an amazing physique who claims that his vegan diet is the main reason why his health is impeccable and his body is in amazing shape. He used to suffer from digestive issues, and arthritis up until he started shifting his diet and became 100% vegan 13 years ago. Mr. Universe, Bill Pearl, was Jim’s main inspiration. After watching Bill, a vegan, win Mr. Universe at the age of 42, Jim decided to convert and became a vegan body builder.
Bodybuilding takes dedication, consistency, and a nutritious diet plan. Nutrition for Vegan Body Builders is different from the norm but it doesn’t prevent the body from building muscle. On the contrary, a vegan diet can support the growth of lean muscle and may sustain the body well into old age. There are more vegan body builders than ever before and they are proving that a vegan diet works just fine. Every body is different; a diet that works for one person may not work for the next and vise-versa. The important thing is to formulate a plan that works best for you and the results you want to achieve.