Can You Build Muscle On A Plant-Based Diet?

Plant Based Diet

Vegetarians have long been subject to criticism from proponents of animal-based protein that you cannot build muscle on a plant-based diet.

About the only thing memorable from the box office bomb “Escape Plan” was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s line after being punched in the face by Sylvester Stallone:

“You hit like a vegetarian.”

Exhibit A: David Carter, Professional Football Player

Tell that to professional football player David Carter. In 2014, Carter was overweight at 155 kg.

He decided to go on a 100% plant based diet and lost 20kg within a period of 1 year.

Today, Carter weighs at a leaner 136kg and swears he is in the best shape and condition of his life.

On a regular basis, Carter eats 500gms of protein every day mostly from beans, grains, nuts and hemp.

But professional sport is Carter’s life. Not everyone can lead the life of a professional athlete.

Carter believes if a plant-based diet helped him build muscle with all the demands of football, it will work for everyone.

3 Simple Rules For Building Muscle On A Plant-Based Diet

Rule #1: You Need Protein

Protein contains amino acids which have distinct functions.

You need to eat a variety of protein in order to fulfill a complete profile to cover all the key functions of the human body.

Of course, as you know your body needs protein to help muscles recover after exercise.

Critics of plant-based diets point out vegetables are not good sources of protein.

On the contrary, there are many good sources of proteins from plants and roots:

  • Soybean
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Hemp
  • Chick Peas
  • Beans

Quinoa is a complete plant protein which people consume more as a carbohydrate replacement.

So it is possible to meet your daily protein requirement from plant sources alone.

Rule #2: You Need Calories

If you want to put on muscle size, you need extra calories. People who consume animal protein have no problem because these sources are dense in calories unlike vegetables and fruits.

Thus, if you want to put on muscle size, you need to eat more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Trainer Ryan Bailey who built his 98kg physique purely on a plant-based diet eats a lot of mangos, avocados, watermelon, berries, apples and pomegranates to cover his daily calorie requirement.

Rule #3: You Need Your Greens

Green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and Chinese cabbage are not just loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting phytonutrients.

According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman who authored a study on nutrition for vegetarian athletes reports that green vegetable have more protein per calorie than animal protein!

If you are thinking about switching to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle but are hesitant because you are afraid of losing muscle mass, you won’t.

Give it a try for one month and observe if there are positive changes to your physique, health and overall fitness.