To effectively build muscle as a vegan, it is essential to consume more calories than you burn. To do this, it is necessary to determine your daily metabolic rate, which is made up of your basal metabolic rate and your performance metabolic rate.
To find your daily metabolic rate you can get it tested in a lab or use our online calculator.
We recommend a calorie surplus of 10% – 20% of your total needs. To get this number just multiply your BMR by 1.1 or 1.2.
The next step is to calculate your daily macronutrient requirements:
- Calculate the amount of protein you need: to increase your muscle mass it is recommended to eat a range of 1.3 – 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
- Divide the remaining calories equally between fats and carbohydrates.
How does plant-based protein differ from animal protein?
- Amino acid composition
- Animal protein is complete as the amino acid composition is the same as in our muscles.
- Grain has less lysine in relation and pulses less methionine, therefore animal proteins are considered to have a higher biological value. However, the combination of grain and pulses (e. g. humus and bread) leads to a complete amino acid composition, so it is irrelevant when used correctly.
- Anabolic protein
- Animal protein contains in contrast to plant protein particularly high levels of the amino acid leucine, which can lead to an excess anabolic metabolic environment, which is associated with a higher risk of cancer.
- Untreated plant foods have a lower digestibility than animal foods. However, with appropriate preparation (cooking, sprouting, soaking), the digestibility is equalized.
- Acidic versus Alkaline
- Vegetable proteins contain more potassium, less sodium, more magnesium, less calcium and methionine to cysteine ratio.
- This means that plant proteins are gentler on the kidneys, liver, and the entire organism. In addition, the acidic effect of animal protein can have negative effects on muscle building.
- Insulin response
- Animal foods are more likely to lead to increased insulin secretion. This is often associated with weight gain. Furthermore, insulin resistance increases and insulin sensitivity decreases. This can lead to a higher risk of diabetes.
- Cardiovascular system
- While plant-based protein has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels, animal protein can increase them. Therefore, the intake of plant-based protein can reduce the probability of cardiovascular diseases.
Methods to optimize plant protein intake
- Improve digestibility:
The most important thing is the preparation of the plant foods (grains, pulses, nuts or seeds:
- Soaking (the larger the seed the longer, usually a few hours are enough).
- Soaking + sprouting: You will additionally benefit from a very good nutrient profile of the sprouts.
- Cooking (Many of the substances are heat-sensitive, therefore some are broken down during cooking).
- Complete the amino acid profile by combining them.
- To optimize the correct ratio of lysine and methionine, it is recommended to combine the foods.
- Foods high in lysine but low in methionine: pulses, e.g. black beans, soya, lentils or peas.
- Foods high in methionine but low in lysine: Grain such as wheat, oats or maize.
- Note that, you do not need to combine them in one meal, it is sufficient to eat a sufficient variety of protein throughout the day.
- If you meet your daily protein requirements but do not pay attention to the composition, your body may not be getting enough protein, but you can counteract this by simply increasing your protein intake by 0.3 grams per kilogram of your body.
To get the best result you can combine all 3 methods.
Optimize your muscle growth.
- The amino acid leucine is particularly important for muscle growth. To optimize the anabolic body response, you should consume about 2.7g of it per meal.
- To keep the anabolic effects, you should consume a meal with optimal protein every 3-4 hours.
- It has been shown that a protein-rich meal before bedtime leads to an increase in muscle growth.
- When you base the majority of your diet on natural foods, you will benefit from a high nutrient density and high-quality protein.
We would like to emphasize that supplements only make up a very small part, especially for beginners. So, before considering taking them you should optimize your normal diet.
The most useful supplements:
It will help you to increase your daily protein intake without much effort. We recommend a mix of pea, rice and hemp protein, because the combination will provide you with a balanced amino acid profile.
Creatine is one of the few supplements whose effect has been sufficiently confirmed by studies. It increases your energy at high-intensity workouts, i.e. weight training, and can also contribute to better cognitive performance.
We recommend simple creatine monohydrate.
Consist of the important amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Has an effect especially when not enough protein is added through food gain. It is especially well suited for dieting.
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