Does plant-based protein suck?
I mean think about it… the amino acid profiles of plant protein isn’t as complete as animal based protein.
Does that mean plant-based protein is inferior?
Not at all!
As long as you’re mixing and matching your plant-based protein up throughout the day, you’ll get all the amino acids you need to build some lean muscle mass!
But that begs to ask the question, how much protein do you need to build muscle as a vegan?
More Protein = More Gains
Not exactly, let’s take a look at the science behind building muscle!
How Much Protein Does The Average Person/Non-Lifter Need?
Studies show that as a general rule of thumb, normal and every day healthy individuals should consume around .36g of protein per pound of body weight. For you individuals in the metric system, this rounds out to .8g per kilogram of bodyweight.
This goes for any diet: Vegan, Pescatarian, Keto, Paleo…
It doesn’t matter, make sure you get your daily protein in.
So for someone who weighs 195 pounds like myself, I should consume just around 70 grams of protein a day.
Keep in mind this is for people who don’t wish to build any muscle mass, and just want to live an everyday healthy lifestyle.
But what about individuals who are athletes, lifters, or are just trying to put on some muscle mass? This surely won’t cut it!
How Much Protein Should You Consume For Gains?
Ah yes, building muscle requires more protein.
If you consume the DRI (Daily Reference Intake) at .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, accompany that with weight training, you’ll have a hard time putting on lean muscle mass and gaining strength.
.36g of protein per pound of bodyweight is not enough protein for athletes. You’ll never see great results…
If your body is straining itself through movement and activity. It’s going to require more nutrients.
This comes out to roughly around .55-.75 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
For a 195 pound male this means consuming between 107 and 145 grams of protein a day.
This is around double the amount of protein most sedentary individuals should consume, but hey… amping up your protein is a must if you wish to pack on some lean muscle mass.
What Does This Mean For Vegans?
Do you need to consume more above this threshold because you’re a vegan?
Plant-based foods have fantastic sources of protein and will provide excellent muscle growth, just as well as animal based foods.
Even as a vegan, consuming between around .6-.75 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is perfect to achieve maximum muscle gain. Anything more is not necessary and provides no real benefit.
Just be sure to consume plenty of different plant-based sources rather than sticking to same one throughout the entire day.
This will ensure you get plenty of quality amino acids that help refuel and repair your muscles.
What Kind Of Plant-Based Foods Are High In Protein So I Can Reach My Macros?
I made an entire article on all the one you should incorporate into your diet.
If you’re too lazy to read the whole article, here’s a list of some of the top plant-based sources of protein.
Soy: Foods like tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk are all super high in protein. They’re also complete proteins and contain all the essential amino acids you need! And don’t worry, soy/phytoestrogens don’t lower your testosterone or boost estrogen levels like many anti-soy companies lead you to believe.
Seitan: Made from vital wheat gluten, this plant-based protein packs a whopping 46g of protein per ¼ cup! Makes a great meat substitute! Turn it into a patty, cutlet, or cut it up into small bite size pieces.
Quinoa: Another complete protein source, quinoa is one of the worlds healthiest and most nutrient dense foods. High in betaine, this foods helps promote muscle growth and strength and packs 8 grams of protein per cup (cooked)
Lentils: 1 cup of lentils contains 20 gram of protein.
Beans: There are a ton of beans out there for you to choose from. Chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, white beans… as long as you incorporate some beans into your diet, you’ll reap the benefits. It depends on the beans, but usually 1 cup contains around 14g of protein.
Dark Leafy Greens: I’m talking spinach, kale, swiss chard, and arugula. Don’t skip out on these amazing superfoods. Dark leafy greens contain a ton of essential vitamins and minerals and many have shown to carry cancer-fighting properties.
Seeds and Nuts: Hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds are both super high protein. Hemp seeds contain 10g of protein per 3 tablespoons! (That’s insane!) And pumpkin seeds contain 9g of protein per ¼ cup! Both of these superfoods have also shown to increase testosterone levels to maximize muscle gain!
So If I Consume Enough Protein, I’ll Gain A Ton Of Muscle. Right?
Not so fast…
Even if you are consuming enough protein (.6-.75g/lb) to hit your daily macros, there are still a ton of factors that will determine your body’s ability to build muscle mass.
First and foremost, if you truly want to build muscle, you must be eating enough calories to be in a ‘caloric surplus.’
A caloric surplus is where your body is taking in more calories than what your body is burning. When trying to build muscle, you should be aiming for around a 300-500 caloric surplus every day.
If you don’t eat enough calories and are in a ‘caloric deficit,’ it will almost be impossible to build some real size.
Another factor that affects muscle growth is the quality of sleep you get every night.
If you sleep poorly or get only a few hours of sleep every night, you can kiss those gains goodbye…
Sleep allows your muscles to recover. And without proper recovery, your muscles won’t fix themselves up when you’re counting sheep.
For bodybuilders and strength athletes, it’s recommended to get 8 hours of quality sleep every night. (Sometimes 9 hours!)
Lastly, another huge factor that affects your muscle growth is your stress levels. If you’re stressing, worrying, or freaking out about something every day, you’re going to scare your muscles away.
When you stress, your body increases it’s cortisol levels, which are triggered as a response to danger. In nature, it helps keep you safe. But the bad thing about cortisol is that it tells your body to stop worrying about repairing muscle mass, and just focus on that stressor!
Cortisol also lowers testosterone levels significantly, the main hormone responsible for muscle growth!
Building muscle as a vegan is not as hard as many people make it out to be!
There are a ton of vegan bodybuilders and strength athletes all over the world who have utilized the benefits of plant protein to maximize their potential.
You don’t need to consume protein 24/7 like most people make it out to be.
As long as you’re consuming between .6-75g protein/lb of bodyweight a day, you’ll have no problem making some nice gains.