Bulking up on a vegan diet can be challenging. Honestly, bulking up on a diet that includes animal products can also be challenging. However, vegan weight gain is very much possible, and in this article we give you a list of proven tips and techniques that will help you bulk up.
Also, before we get started remember to visit our blog home page for the most recent and popular articles.
So without further ado, let’s start gaining some muscle my fellow vegans!
The Vegan Bodybuilder’s Vegan Weight Gain Hit List
There are a lot of muscle gain articles on the web. We are aware of this, but our list of vegan weight gain tips was created with those on a vegan diet in mind. It is meant for vegan males that want to pack on some serious muscle. It is also for females asking “how do I gain weight as a vegan woman.”
With that being said if you are not vegan mostly all of these tips are still applicable and helpful so please read on!
The Basic Requirements For Bulking Up
It should be noted this list serves to provide you with basic best practices. These items are the basic building blocks for vegan weight gain. We don’t go into super deep detail on each in this article as it is meant to provide an outline of the requirements only. We do, however, give you resources to investigate many of them further.
1. Eat a surplus of calories
The first one goes without saying: make sure you are eating more calories than your body is using in order to gain muscle.
There are several calculators online to help with this. One calorie calculator you can use is from calculator.net.
In order to reach your caloric intake goals you will have to eat
You will need to go beyond just fruits and vegetables and eat some vegan, high calorie foods for weight gain. Some examples of these include legumes, tahini, quinoa, and healthy fats, such as nut butters and avocado.
2. Eat Enough Vegan Protein
You have to eat enough protein as protein is what builds muscle. The good news is that there are plenty of vegan protein sources to consume the required amount of protein each day.
Opinions on how much you need to consume each day vary widely. A general rule of thumb is to consume 0.7 – 1 g of protein per lb. of body weight. However, Men’s Health, amongst other sources argue that protein consumption should be based on pounds of lean body mass vs. overall body weight. This limits taking in more protein than is necessary. Unless you measure your body fat percentage you might have to take a guess.
In turn, the 0.7 – 1 g of protein per lean body mass rule is a good one to use. That same Men’s Health article states that research shows that “consuming more than 2.2g of protein per kg [~1 g per lb.] of lean body mass” shows “little benefit”.
3. Eat complete vegan protein
As a vegan you have to make sure that you are eating complete proteins, either from one source, such as soy, or from a combination of plant-based products. Complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids, and these amino acids are critical in building muscles. Most plant-based proteins are deficient in one or more of these 9 essential amino acids. Outside of soy most plant-based complete proteins are grains, seeds, etc. which don’t pack a high protein punch. A good way to get a complete protein is to combine incomplete vegan protein sources that combine to create complete proteins.
4. Eating enough carbs is important for vegan weight gain
In order to bulk up you need carbs. Plain and simple. They provide the fuel you need to not only have amazing workouts but also are crucial transport amino acids to your muscles and to recover from said amazing workouts by restoring .
If you are new to bulking up and cautious of eating more carbs you will have to change your mindset. If your goal is to gain weight then you have to understand that 1. you need carbs in your diet and 2. you should expect to gain a little extra fat along with your muscle gains.
Like with protein intake the required amount of carbs varies based on who you ask. Gazelle Nutrition recommends about 1.8 – 3 g per pound. Bodybuilding.com offers a carbohydrate calculator to give you an idea.
5. Increase the weight and adjust the reps
In order to gain muscle you have to increase the weight you are lifting as well as the intensity you are lifting at. As a general rule of thumb select a weight for each set that you can do for 6-12 reps while keeping good form.
The lower end of the rep range is better suited for strength gain where the upper rep range helps with muscle growth. Focusing on both will ensure you are able to grow further.
Varying the reps per set in a pyramid is a good way to build some serious muscle. Start out with a weight you can do for 12 reps while keeping good form. On the next set pick a weight you can do for 8 reps while keeping good form. You guessed it, on the next set(s) pick a weight you can do for 6 reps while keeping good form.
Using a weight you can do for a certain number of reps isn’t an excuse to go light to ensure you can hit the rep number. Make sure you are pushing yourself. You want your sets to be intense and you want to be pushing your body to its limits.
6. Focus on compound movements and body splits or full body workouts
If you want to build some serious muscle mass and strength focus on compound exercises.
Compound exercises are those that work multiple muscles at the same time. Think of squats, incline bench press, deadlifts, etc.
They allow you to lift heavier as you are using multiple muscles together to support each other. They are also highly efficient in building muscle because they use multiple muscles at once.
MiraFit has a great article on the benefits of compound exercises for maximum muscle gain. If you want to learn more about these exercises to help with your goal of vegan weight gain its worth a read.
Yeah, doing exercises that isolate specific muscles, such as bicep curls for biceps and calf raises for calves, have their place in bodybuilding. However, doing compound exercises
7. Focus on Rest and Make Sleep a Priority
Proper nutrition and training get the most attention, but rest and sleep are equally critical for vegan weight gain. You want to make sure your body has the time to recover.
Some basic pointers to make sure you are adequately resting your body for optimal weight gain are below.
- Training sessions should be intense and kept to under an hour.
- You should take at least 2 rest days every week. The specific days you take off should be determined by the signals your body is sending. A good rule of thumb is to take rest days after your most intense workouts. Taking a rest day after 2 workouts is a good strategy for beginners.
- Get 8+ hours of sleep per night. According to the National Sleep Foundation sleep is critical in building muscle and body recovery. This means that sleep is absolutely critical for weight gain. The body naturally produces human growth hormone (HGH) while sleeping, blood flow to the muscles increases and tissue growth and repair happens.
In a nutshell make sure you eat a diet that produces a caloric surplus with plenty of high quality vegan protein sources and sufficient carbs. Make sure you are lifting heavy, focusing on compound exercises and resting/sleeping enough.
Following the tips above will ensure that you accomplish your goal of bulking up on a vegan diet.