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Vegan Muscle Building Diet: How to Gain Muscle on a Vegan Diet | Soul in the RawMany people wonder how (and if it’s even possible) to gain muscle on a vegan diet. In the last 6 months or so, I was able to achieve insane results. This happened by following the proper vegan bodybuilding diet, and working out properly too.

I’ve been lifting weight for years, but saw very little change until several months ago. In the last 6 months, I have been able to progress to lifting heavy weights. I am also growing some impressive muscle, and feeling better than I ever did in and out of the gym!

Today, I want to share with you my vegan bodybuilding diet, and 8 powerful, step-by-step tips on how you can gain muscle on a vegan diet, even if you think there is no way you ever could! This blog post will be broken up into two section. In the first, I will discuss my vegan bodybuilding diet, and give you tips on what foods to consume to gain muscle. In the second, I will discuss my exercise and workout routine/tips. This is going to be thorough, and it’s going to help you get the results you need!

While I am not a professional personal trainer, or a professional bodybuilder, I’m pretty sure you aren’t either. All you are looking for are tips on gaining muscle, and if I can do it, believe me, you can do it too!

My Exact Vegan Bodybuilding Diet

Before we begin, I want to answer the most common question I get: what is your vegan bodybuilding diet?!?!?!

Vegan BodyBuilding Diet | Soul in the Raw

To follow the easy and delicious vegan diet that I follow to gain muscle, download this amazing 2-week vegan meal plan + grocery list. It will walk you through exactly how to eat to gain muscle on this lifestyle!

The Vegan Bodybuilding Diet: Step by Step Instructions to Gain Muscle on a Vegan Diet

Now, I’d love to share the step-by-step instructions you should follow to gain muscle on a vegan diet.

Step 1: Eat the Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet

The most common question I got about what I do to gain muscle on this lifestyle is what do I actually eat?!?!

Vegan BodyBuilding Diet | Soul in the Raw

It is shockingly simple.

I eat whole, plant foods. This means that I do not eat any processed food (for the most part; occasionally, perhaps once a week, I will eat a processed plant foods). I do not consume oil or refined sugars (I sweeten things with green stevia leaves or dates, like this amazing cheesecake for example). Most of my calories are coming from simple, plant foods – the kind you can find at the produce section of your grocery store or farmer’s market.

My diet mainly revolves around fruits during the day, and vegetables, grains, and legumes, as well as nuts and seeds in the evening.

All of the food I consume contains easily readable and recognizable ingredients, so it is not processed.

I do not consume ANY PROTEIN POWDER. If you are shocked, then stay tuned for the next tips and you’ll see how I still gain muscle without it! The reason for skipping the protein powder is that it is very processed – just like oil and white sugar. It does not contain carbs and fats, and only contains protein. So I skip it, and I promise you, it is not necessary for muscle gain!

Step 2: The Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet and Protein

This question will surely come up: how do I get enough protein on this lifestyle to gain muscle?

I personally do not worry about protein at all. I worry more about getting enough fiber, and all of my micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. These are more important to me than protein.

If you are worried about your protein consumption, I highly recommend you check out my detailed blog post on plant-based protein to learn all the science behind how much you need, and what to eat to get enough.

Many well-known, long-term vegan bodybuilders such as Robert Cheeke have said that they do not consume any processed protein powders and instead focus on getting their protein from whole-food sources like legumes, whole grains, and greens.

In order to eat enough protein without worrying about it too much, make sure that you eat enough calories. When you start weightlifting, you will see that your appetite will be a lot bigger, and you will need more calories to sustain all that new muscle!

Step 3: The Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet, Hydration, and Pre and Post-Workouts

Being hydrated during, before, and after your workouts is crucial. A dehydrated body will not build muscle efficiently.

I hit the gym at 6:30am. Before I get there, I finish an entire 1-liter jug of water, and another 1-liter jug during my workout. I also drink one additional 1-liter jug during the day.

With regards to pre and post-workouts – I do not have a specific routine. I simply eat when I am hungry, and whatever whole foods I am craving.

Step 4: The Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet and Sleep

No diet or exercise routine will work well enough for you unless you sleep, allow your body to rest and recover, and truly destress during the night.

Every person needs different amounts of sleep, so make sure to find out exactly how much you need and allow your body just that, so that your muscles can grow and rejuvenate during the night.

Vegan BodyBuilding Diet | Soul in the Raw

Step 5: The Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet and Inflammation

When you lift weights, you often create inflammation in your body. This is actually why you are sore after workouts.

To combat that, I am absolutely adament about getting in my plant-based, anti-inflammatory foods daily. The two foods I consume every single day, without questions are turmeric (+black pepper to enhance absorption), and flax seeds, which are an anti-inflammatory omega-3 source.

I have really great recipes for you to try, plus loads more info on these two powerhouses. Click here to check out my flax seed recipes and information, and click here to check out my turmeric recipes and information. All of these are extremely delicious – you do not need to suffer through the consumption of these wonderful foods!

The Vegan Bodybuilding Diet: Workout & Gym Tips

Step 6: The Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet: Lift Heavy with Proper Form, Slowly and in Controlled Fashion

You will never gain muscle without lifting heavy. Period.

No matter what you eat, in what order, and how many times you hit the gym, you will not see changes in your body without lifting heavy weights.

Challenge yourself, but do it properly. Never ever compromise your form to lift heavier weights.

So what I mean by lift heavy is that your last repetitions in a given set will be very difficult to do, almost until failure (when you literally cannot get the weight up any more). You should not do this for every single exercise you do, but for at least a couple in each workout.

When I started to do this, I started to see MAJOR changes and actual impressive muscle growth and gain in my body.

A great way to do this is by doing negatives (when you lift the weight very quickly and then lower it very slowly). This way you can lift a weight that is too heavy for you to lift normally, but it will get you used to lifting heavy and help you grow your muscle. You can also perform lower repetitions with heavier weights, and then progress to a higher number of repetitions with lower weights. For example, do a set of 5, 8, 10, 12 reps, and with each set, lower your weight. You will begin with a weight that is extremely challenging for you to do. This is exactly what I have been doing to gain muscle!

I explain this in greater detail here:

Importantly, however, never ever compromise your form to lift heavier than your body can at any given point. Look at yourself in the mirror, watch proper form tutorials on youtube, and really focus on doing the exercises correctly.

Lately, I have been incorporating a lot more slow and controlled motions into my workouts. And this has made a big difference as well. This means getting the weight up and down slowly, without jamming your joints (your knees and elbows) at all. While you do this, you’re feeling the burning sensation in the muscle you are working all the way through.

Step 7: The Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet: Vary your Workouts, Vary your Nutrients

Just like I always encourage you to eat a plethora of vegan foods, you should also vary your workouts. Do not perform the same exercises every week. Change up your routine (the muscle groups you work together, the number of exercises your perform, the numbers of reps and sets), and also vary the types of exercises you do.

If you’d like me to start recording some work out videos, just let me know in the comments! I’d love to show you some ideas!

Varying your workouts helps tremendously with inijury prevention. Is also helps you target the same muscle from different angles in different ways, for a stronger body and more definition.

Vegan BodyBuilding Diet: How to Gain Muscle on a Vegan Diet | Soul in the Raw

Step 8: The Perfect Vegan Bodybuilding Diet: Connect Mind to Muscle

Oh, this one is key!!! When you are performing your workouts, really focus in your mind on the muscle you are working. This will not only help you feel the exercise in the correct spot that you are supposed to feel it in. It will also help you prevent injury, stop over-exertion, and help you grow your muscles.

This is my favorite part about weightlifting. It’s because it helps me connect to my body in ways I never could before. And it’s the main reason I love to lift so much!

If you are having trouble connecting mind to muscle on your own, especially when you work muscle groups that are not visible, like your back, have someone tap the part of your body where you are supposed to feel the exercise. I demonstrate this in this video.

My Personal Workout Routine

If you’re interested in seeing my own workout routine, you can watch my video here:

In this blog post, I covered the 8 steps you need to gain muscle on a vegan diet. These are both in terms of your vegan bodybuilding diet, and in terms of the workouts you should be doing:

  1. Eat a whole food, plant-based diet, getting your calories mainly from the produce section in the grocery store
  2. Do not worry about protein, and do not consume protein powders for muscle gain. Simply eat enough calories and focus on whole foods
  3. Stay hydrated both before, during, and even after your workout
  4. Get enough sleep – this is the time when your muscles really get a chance to grow and recover
  5. Consume anti-inflammatory foods, such as turmeric and flax seeds, to prevent extra soreness
  6. Lift heavy weights, using proper form, and without jerking them, in a slow and controlled fashion
  7. Vary your workouts to prevent injury and target muscles in different angles
  8. Connect mind to muscle when you are performing your workouts
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Marina Yanay-Triner is a wellness coach and recipe developer through Soul in the Raw. Marina creates easy and delicious vegan recipes and writes about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, focusing on evidence-based nutrition information. She loves to help clients go and stick to plant based eating through her powerful coaching program, combining nutrition and cooking education along with transformational mindset work. Marina adopted a whole food, plant based lifestyle over 7 years ago, inspired by her mother's incredible healing story of reversing a crippling bladder disease. She has reversed PMS symptoms and encourage emotional healing from trauma as a result of this transition. Marina is incredibly passionate about the vegan diet for human health, animal welfare, and the well-being of our planet, all of which she envisions as co-dependent.