Building muscle on plant based diet: Part one – Protein

It’s the one thing every bodybuilder has thought at some point in his or her life – ‘You can’t build muscle on a plant based/Vegan diet, can you?’ I mean vegans eat rabbit food right? How can one possibly build those thick slabs of juicy meat without eating meat?

Well sorry folks but I’m here to tell you that it is entirely possible to build muscle while eating a wholly plant based diet. You see our body doesn’t care where you get your food from, it doesn’t see beef or beans. No, your body sees food for what it can get out of it – nutrients.

Our bodies want protein, carbs and fats and depending on what you feed your body will determine the outcome. Sure you could eat like a traditional bro and eat your 6 egg omelette, 4 meals of chicken, rice and veggies and smash down that post workout whey shake, you’ll get plenty of protein with all those aminos that your muscles are craving. Or you could try something completely different, what is that you might ask?

Why not make a change and swap those eggs and chicken for beans or tofu? Give up that whey and try a pea/rice protein blend? But surely you won’t be getting enough protein from those…plants? A new study I read at also shows that when it comes to fat loss, vegans came out on top losing the most weight.

Well yeah you might not get as much protein but do we really need as much as everyone thinks? Studies suggest that a trained individual needs roughly between 1.4-1.7 grams per kg of body weight in order to build or maintain lean muscle mass. Doesn’t seem like a lot does it? That’s because it isn’t really. A study published by the ‘International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism’  even states that excess protein consumption (over 35% of your total daily calories) can actually be dangerous.

In my opinion the fitness industry is flooded with BS information out there to make people believe that they need more protein than they really do. Ask yourself, why is that? Well what is the main product that most supplement companies push? That’s right…Protein powders!

Since turning vegan I’ve actually decreased my daily protein consumption from around 230g to 160g. That’s a massive 70g drop and I haven’t seen any muscle loss. I’d anything my strength has increased due to the extra carbs, but that’s another story.

One of the most common comments I hear about plant based protein is “it’s not a complete amino acid profile” and yeah I’m guilty of using this sentence over and over prior to turning vegan. But again like I said earlier, our bodies are wonderful and don’t need every amino acid in every meal in order for muscle protein synthesis to occur. As long as you get a full spectrum of amino acids from different sources throughout the day you will be fine and not die from a protein deficiency!

If the next concern you have is where to get your protein from I’ve developed a useful tool which you can download here it can help you calculate your daily macro nutrients. But here is a list of protein rich vegan-friendly foods:

  • Tofu
  • Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, peas, soy, lentils)
  • Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts)
  • Seeds (hemp, flax, chia, pumpkin)
  • Grains (rice, oats, quinoa, couscous)
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan (gluten protein)
  • Some vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale)
  • Soy milk
  • Protein powders (rice, pea)
  • Spirulina

That fact is our bodies need protein but not as much as the mainstream would have you believe. As you can see there are plenty of protein sources available at your disposal and by eating these foods you’re not only doing your body a favour but also our planet by not contributing to animal suffering and reducing your carbon footprint. If you’re having trouble getting inspiration for your meals, you can always check out my recipes page here.


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11 thoughts on “Building muscle on plant based diet: Part one – Protein

  1. I absolutely agree! It would also be interesting to have the same chart of protein sources listed per 100 calories! Because I probably won’t throw back 100g of peanut butter or pumpkin seeds but 100g of tempeh or tofu won’t set me back as many calories. It does all add up at the end of the day, and we end up getting more than we realize without going out of our way to look for protein (in meat etc).


    1. Haha that’s true well what I can do is see if is can make a chart that shows per 100cals.
      Protein is in so many things and people worry too much about it, but as long as you’re eating whole food sources its so easy to get enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this! It’s so helpful. I love that you touched on the fact our bodies don’t need as much protein as the media portrays. You’re completely right. When we get enough for our bodies we just pee out the excess! Sorry to be vulgar! Haha. But yeah, meat isn’t a necessity for protein intake. Great post, following 🙂


    1. Hey Jennifer, glad you found this post helpful. Yeah, I’m sick and tired of seeing people being told they need such drastic amounts of protein, it really isn’t good for our bodies – putting our kidneys under constant pressure and not to mention our digestive system constantly working from trying to digest all the meat. So much protein available from the plant world! Thanks again for the kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

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