It is hard to imagine about becoming big and strong on a vegan diet because it is the general perception. Vegan diet has become a synonym of words like skinny and weak which is a complete myth and it should be rectified. There are many athletes, bodybuilders and power lifters which have achieved height of success on a vegan diet and break the misconception that vegan diet can make you lose strength and reduce your health. If you are thinking that how one can become strong by consuming a vegan diet then here are some points which will explain the healthy journey of veganism.
Get enough calories
Plant based diet is generally rich in fiber but low in calories. Therefore, In order to become strong and gain muscles, you will require to eat large amount of food or to have surplus calories which you can get from calorie rich foods like grains, seeds and nuts, starches and refined carbohydrates. It is general perception that refined carbs are bad which is true in case of over consumption but if you take it in right amount then it will help in increasing the refilling the glycogen stores in the body after an intensive workout and also helps in enhancing muscle building process in the body.
For beginners, you should consume at least 40 calories per kilogram of bodyweight daily and the more advanced athletes should consume about 50 calories each day. The formula of calculating calorie per day is:
Bodyweight x 40 = Calorie per Day (CPD)
Calorie per day is the amount of calories you will require to build more muscle mass and gain strength. It is important to eat more calories on heavy training days and eat light on less intensive workout days but make sure your calorie consumption matches your CPD.
It is the main and major source of energy in human body beside fats and helps you in increasing the muscle mass. The 50 – 60 percent of your CPD should be consisted of carbs because each gram of carbs has 4 calories. To promote muscle generation and growth, energy and maintain the blood sugar level, you should include complex carbohydrates such as oats, legumes, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, berries, and soy in your diet.
The formula to get the total daily carbohydrate amount is = (___ CPD x 0.5) ÷ 4 = ___ grams of carbs per day
This nutrient is essential for building muscles as it is the main constituent and therefore you should get approx. 2 – 3 grams of protein for every kilogram of your body weight or about 20 – 30 percent of your CPD. Our body can’t absorb more than 30 grams of protein in 2 hours time (except right after workout) therefore you should plan your protein intake on regular intervals and include several high protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, Seitan, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, veggie burgers, and other vegan meat substitutes.
Wide variety of protein sources are suggested to ensure that you are taking all the essential amino acids which are component of proteins and important for muscle growth. There are many vegan items with good amino acid profiles such as vegan soy, pea and hemp protein isolate powders easily available in grocery stores. These items enhance the muscle growth especially if it is taken after training as an energy booster.
The formula to get the total daily protein amount is = (___ CPD x 0.3) ÷ 4 = ___ grams of proteins per day
Meat based diet is rich in saturated fats or “bad fat” while plant based diet is rich in unsaturated fat or “good fat” and your 20 percent calorie amount should come from this nutrient. Fat rich sources like extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and coconut milk provides moderate amount of saturated fats which is also necessary for proper functioning of biological reactions. Unsaturated fats elevate the energy levels and give you a healthy skin. Omega – 3 fatty acids is an important nutrient for cardiovascular health and you can get it from freshly grounded flax seeds and its oil.
The formula to get the total daily fat amount is = (___ CPD x 0.2) ÷ 9 = ___ grams of fats per day
Vitamin B12 doesn’t found in plant based diet therefore you should meet its daily requirement by taking it either through fortified foods (soy milk, nutritional yeast, marmite, berocca) or through B12 supplements. Iron is another nutrient which is very important in respiration and metabolism. It can be found in dark leafy greens, lentils, chickpeas, figs, and vegan iron tablets. You should also consume any source of vitamin C along with iron source to increase its absorption.
A well designed diet plan is very necessary for proper growth and development of muscles. Your diet plan should contain three big meals and three snacks in whole day. You should also take carbs or proteins right after your training session as your muscles tends to absorb more nutrients in this period which is important for their growth. If you will not provide energy after the workout then the muscles will feed on their own energy reserves which you will definitely not like it. Try to get a daily dose of 1 – 1.5 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight and 20 – 30 grams of protein.
You can also take help of a professional like doctor or dietician or fitness instructor to design your meal plan. Follow these simple tips while going through a vegan diet and you will become strong and big for sure.