Among avid athletes, bodybuilders and gym-goers, there are often misconceptions related to eating vegan and adapting to a raw vegan diet. Often people think that any form of athletic prowess can only be achieved by consuming large amounts of meat, dairy products and eggs.
Are there vegan bodybuilders? Well, you would be thrilled to know there are several world-class athletes such as David Haye, Venus Williams, Lionel Messi, and Virat Kohli, who don’t consume meat. Bodybuilders and athletes of today are shifting to meat-free diets as a vegan bodybuilding diet is not much different from a normal healthy diet.
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?
A vegan diet is one of the healthiest diets for individuals who ensure they are meeting other macronutrient and micronutrient needs. Going vegan promotes healthy weight loss, lowers chances of certain types of cancer, and effectively manages diabetes. Vegan diets are rich in protein, iron, vitamins, and essential fatty acids that keep us healthy and active. Do you know the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has reported that a vegan diet is associated with lower heart diseases?
Not only a vegan diet is rich in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds, it also provides more fibre. These are also rich in magnesium, vitamins, folate, and potassium. One thing vegans have to be careful about is getting key nutrients. Vitamin B12, D, calcium, iodine, zinc, iron, and fatty acids should be consumed parallelly to make a vegan diet a full-fledged success.
Bodybuilders and athletes can enjoy a plant-based diet for muscle gain and strength. Whether the goal is to gain weight, become a bodybuilder, gain muscles, or simply stay fit, a vegan diet is perfect for you. Based on your caloric needs and macronutrient ratios that attune to your body goals, a vegan diet plan for athletes can be a game-changer. A well-planned vegan bodybuilder diet that meets the energy needs and contains plenty of protein can suffice for the protein needs of athletes. Without any extra need for supplements, plant-based foods, soy products, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains can assist muscular development.
Bodybuilders and athletes need to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day to ensure continuous muscle building. However, the major difference between a vegan & non-vegan diet is protein quality. Eggs and meat protein have a higher Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). It contains all nine essential amino acids in adequate amounts. On the other hand, plant-based protein doesn’t contain essential amino acids in proportion. Plant-based protein contains amino acid which typically contains less Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). If you’re sourcing your protein from plants, it is advised to consume a variety of protein foods throughout the day.
Vegan Athlete and Bodybuilder Diet
The Diet of a vegan athlete is much more flexible than a meat eating athlete. A vegan diet is your key to a reduced risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It also ensures a balanced blood pressure and lower LDL. For most bodybuilders and athletes, a well-planned vegan diet should provide sufficient energy to match their weight-lifting and aesthetic sport needs. It is imperative to achieve energy balance in the body. For athletes, managing energy balance is a challenge since insufficient energy in the body can deteriorate training and cause illness.
Protein plays a multifaceted role in the lives of athletes and bodybuilders. It not only serves as a builder of bones, muscles, and cartilage, but also oxygenates the body. Vegan athletes often appear to consume less protein than their meat-eating counterparts. To make up for protein intake, the key is to focus on the quantity and quality of protein consumed by vegans.
In a nutshell, the diet is all about including rich protein sources with every meal. To build muscles, athletes and bodybuilders should eat quality protein with every meal. The following are some diet tips for muscle building without eating meat.
- Introducing protein-rich legumes, beans, chickpeas, tree nuts, lentils, and soybeans in your diet is highly beneficial
- To maintain a sufficient amount of protein in your body, you should eat at least four to five meals per day
- Apart from a protein-rich diet, you should also consume fruits, whole grains, nuts, etc. Food can be prepared in vegetable or olive oil
- During workouts, fats are responsible for supplying energy to the muscles. Athletes and bodybuilders should include good vegan sources for fats such as walnuts, almonds, avocados, canola oil, and more.