Does Going Vegan Make You Lose Muscle Mass?
Possibly the biggest fear that prevents people from transitioning to a plant-based diet…
The fear that you won’t get the proper nutrients.
If you’re a vegan, you’ve been asked the question “where do you get your protein from?”
Many people think that a plant-based diet is unsustainable, and once you transition, you’ll end up feeling weak and losing muscle mass.
But how much of it is true?
Does all that work in the gym just wither away after a few months of eating nothing but plants?
Do You Get All The Necessary Nutrients As A Vegan?
Some people eat meat and are deficient in many nutrients.
Some people only eat plants and are deficient in many nutrients.
So what’s the issue?
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that I’m a big believer in “it’s not the diet, but the quality of the diet” that counts.
If you’re an omnivore who eats meat but don’t retain a balanced diet, you can become deficient in vitamins, minerals, and yes… even protein.
If you’re a vegan who eats a lot of vegan junk food, you can become deficient in a lot of things as well.
Any style or kind of diet can work well, it’s just about getting the proper nutrients… period.
To get the necessary nutrients as a vegan you just need to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Fruits and Berries
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Beans and Lentils
By combining multiple different foods, you’ll reap the benefits of a colorful plant-based diet.
Will You Lose Muscle Mass As A Vegan?
It’s not that complicated…
No. You will not lose muscle mass on a plant-based diet (as long as you do it correctly).
And yes, you can continue to make fantastic muscle gains after switching to a plant-based diet.
I’m strongest I’ve ever been, and I’ve been vegan for 3+ years.
Veganism stands for “abstaining from animal products” not “losing muscles overnight.”
If you’re consuming enough calories and protein every day, you will not magically lose muscle mass, even if that protein is coming from plants.
But If You Do It Wrong…
If you do not eat a properly balanced plant-based diet, then yes, you can lose muscle mass.
If you eat nothing but salad all day (which I highly doubt most vegans do) then yes you can become protein and nutrient deficient and face health issues…
Salad is great for you, but it can’t be the only thing you eat!
“I’ve Lost Muscle Mass When Turning Vegan, What Should I Do?”
If you have felt a decrease in your strength gains or lean muscle mass, it might not necessarily be the vegan diet.
Consider talking with your MD. They may run some blood tests on you…
But on the chance that it is your vegan diet, try incorporating higher protein foods in your diet like:
- Nuts and Seeds
It’s also recommended to try a protein powder supplement. For most brands, just one serving of protein powder has roughly 20+ grams of protein and around 150 calories.
Just by adding one scoop of protein powder a day should help you reach your goals.
That being said, try getting your protein from real whole food sources before you start buying and investing in protein powders.
You should also try amping up your caloric intake. Calories are what keeps your body functioning. If you’re not eating enough, your body will start to burn body fat and muscles in order to compensate.
Eating high caloric foods like the ones below will help you maintain mass.
- Peanut Butter
- Nuts and Seeds
- Dried Fruit
- Coconut/Olive Oil
How Much Protein Do I Need To Maintain The Muscle Mass?
This is a good question.
The average healthy adult human will need around .36g of protein per pound of bodyweight or around .8g of protein per kg in their diet every day.
For someone with bodybuilding goals (and building muscle as fast as possible), you’re going to need more protein, around .6-75g of protein per lb of bodyweight.
For someone who just wishes to maintain muscle, our research says somewhere in the middle. Around .5g grams of protein/per lb of bodyweight every day, should be a perfect amount to maintain muscle mass.
Maintaining muscle mass is not as difficult as one may seem.
As long as you regularly exercise, your muscles are going to be getting worked. Your diet will help repair those muscles and keep them strong and prevent them from deteriorating.
So there you have it…
As long as you eat a quality plant-based diet with a variety of real whole foods, you will not lose muscle mass.
Don’t forget to exercise, get that heart pumping, and live an overall healthy lifestyle.
Don’t try to overcomplicate things.
Mother Nature made things very simple…
- Eat well
- Sleep Well
- Love Life
And you’re body will give back to you!