Protein… protein… protein!
It’s no secret that protein is vital for muscle growth. And if you want those lean muscle gains, you’ll need around 1.2-1.6g of protein/kg of body weight.
That’s a lot more protein than what most healthy individuals need to consume (around .8g of protein/kg of bodyweight.)
Most omnivores consume animal-based foods as their main sources of protein, like chicken, turkey, beef, and pork.
But if you’re vegan or even vegetarian, those options are completely off your menu.
That begs us to ask the question.
What do vegan bodybuilders eat when trying to build muscle on a plant-based diet?
Tofu, which is popular in many forms of Asian cuisine is a delicious source of plant-based protein that essentially takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. You can literally add tofu to almost any dish you make.
But just hear it from me! Vegan bodybuilders like Nimai Delgado, Jon Venus, Derek Simnett, and many others praise tofu for its fantastic muscle building effects.
Let’s take a dive into the world of tofu and it’s muscle building properties!
The Myth About Tofu (That’s Totally False)
Sadly, tofu has been given a bad name.
It’s faced a lot of controversy and stereotypes over it’s rise into American culture and cuisine.
But it’s not just tofu.
For years I’ve heard how people scrutinize soy-based foods.
Many claim it lowers testosterone levels and increases estrogen levels. Too much will turn you into a “soy boy” and you’ll be left weak, skinny, with a big pair of man boobs, and changing your political views.
That’s a bunch of bullsh*t…
While it’s true that soy protein including tofu, contains phytoestrogens, they will have no effect on your hormonal levels.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen but are far less powerful than the estrogen hormone we find in our own bodies. So in order for phytoestrogens to have any effect on your hormone levels, you’d literally need to consume endless amounts of soy.
If you don’t believe me, take it from the multiple studies saying so!
“Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men.”
So happily munch on all the soy protein and tofu you want. Just be sure to consume plenty of fruits, veggies, and other whole foods to incorporate other health benefits in your diet.
Remember, protein is important, but it’s not everything!
So Is Tofu Good For Building Muscle?
Tofu is a fantastic food for building muscle. Even if you’re not vegan, consuming tofu is a great way to get another source of quality protein in your diet.
Studies show that “soy protein promotes fat loss while preserving muscle mass and supports lean body mass gains”
But what makes tofu so great is that it’s a “complete protein source” meaning it contains all the essential amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The more variety of amino acids a food has, the better it is for building muscle.
Many plant-based foods are considered “incomplete” meaning they are lacking in 1 or 2 amino acids. This can easily be fixed by combining multiple different protein sources (like beans and rice) to offset the lacking amino acids.
Fortunately, tofu doesn’t have this problem, as it contains all the Essential Amino Acids!
Tofu has around 8g of protein per 100g. So when you go to a grocery store and purchase a block of tofu, you’ll get at least 40g of protein per block.
But depending on where you shop and the brand you buy, I’ve been able to purchase blocks of tofu with up to 75g of protein!
Best High Protein Tofu Brands You Should Buy
So while tofu is a fantastic source of protein, not all tofu is created equal!
Different stores will have different types and brands of tofu. Vegan-friendly stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are always a great place to get started but even large brand supermarkets like Stop n Shop are coming around to the vegan lifestyle.
Here’s a list of my top tofu brands and where you can purchase them.
Wild Wood High Protein Tofu – Whole Foods – 75g of protein per block
Super Firm Organic Tofu – Trader Joe’s – 70g of protein per block
Extra Firm Organic Tofu – Trader Joe’s – 60g of protein per block
Pick up a few blocks and you’ll have a quality source of protein that’ll last you a few weeks.
The best part is tofu is relatively cheap especially if you buy it raw!
What Are The Benefits Of Tofu And Other Soy Protein
We know that tofu is both high in protein, contains an abundance of amino acids, and helps build muscle; but what else does it have to offer?
Turns out tofu has a ton of fantastic health benefits that can improve your overall health!
Regular consumption of tofu has shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This is due to soy proteins ability to lower LDL cholesterol, which is the harmful cholesterol known to increase fat buildup in your arteries.
It’s also even been shown to prevent the risks of certain types of cancers. Just eating soy-based foods at least once per week has been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer by 56%, stomach cancer by 61%, and prostate cancer by 51%!
It also increases and strengthens bone health thanks to it’s high coo of calcium.
Other nutrients that may be of benefit include…
- High in Calcium and Manganese
- Low in Sodium
- Low in Carbohydrates
- Contains Essential Vitamins (Folate, Thiamin, B6)
Funny how after so much research and incredible benefits shown by eating tofu, people still love to demonize it!
Remember to always do your own research instead of just alluding to the stereotypes and misconceptions about food!
No matter who you are, if your goal is to build muscle and put on some lean muscle mass, tofu needs to be a part of your diet.
The high concentration of protein in tofu gives you an added boost of energy and will add to your daily protein totals!
If you’re not a fan of tofu, try other sources of soy protein like:
- Soy Milk
- TVP – Textured Vegetable Protein
- Miso Soup
- Mock Meat (Moderate Consumption)
Not only are they delicious, but they are also extremely nutritious!
Remember, tofu is not the enemy…
Keep calm and soy on!