As a society, we tend to associate building mass with eating a lot of meat. The two have become synonymous. It is why so many workout enthusiasts end up gorging on steaks, chicken, and other meat-based protein sources when they are attempting to bulk up.
However, there is no reason to look to animal by products for protein while trying to build lean muscle mass. There are some great options within the vegan diet for building lean muscle mass. In fact, these options are a lot healthier for the body in the short and long-term.
Those who are apprehensive about gaining lean muscle on a vegan diet should read on.
Great Foods for Building Muscle Mass
The first rule for building lean muscle mass on a vegan diet is to eat real and not processed foods. The issue with processed items is they contain a lot of unnecessary additives that will inhibit the attempts to gain lean muscle mass. There are too many hidden sugars and unhealthy fats in processed foods, even if they are labeled as “vegan alternatives” to animal-based food items.
Eating protein-rich meals on a vegan diet is no issue. People assume that a lack of meat means there is no protein in a dish. However, it is not true. For instance, vegans can enjoy foods such as lentils, tofu, black beans, and quinoa if they are hoping to bulk up on lean muscle mass.
Lentils are an excellent source of protein, delivering 9g per half cup. Moreover, they have 15 grams of fiber in the same serving, which is excellent for digestive health. Tofu contains 10g of protein per cup. It is so easy to add to meals, as it goes well with salads, stir fry dishes and sandwiches. It has such a neutral flavor that it can easily absorb the flavors of other ingredients and spices!
Not only are black beans full of protein (8g per half cup), but they are also a wonderful source of antioxidants. They also contain less starch compared to other beans, which is helpful for those who do not digest beans so easily.
The final change to make to a vegan diet while building lean muscle mass is to substitute quinoa for other carbs. While rice can be a useful part of a vegan diet, it is not very nutritious. Quinoa contains 8g of protein per cup, along with good amounts of iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Exercises to Build Lean Muscle Mass
When building lean muscle mass, it is important to stay moving at the gym. Many people are used to working out at a more leisurely pace, where they take a few minutes break between each set of repetitions. However, the goal of building lean muscle mass is to improve muscle size and definition, but not lead to over-bulking. Moving around and staying active helps with that.
It is a good idea to split up exercises into different muscle groups, which allows each part of the body to get adequate rest. For instance, working on the chest and biceps the first day, legs the second day, shoulders and triceps the third day, and the back on the final day is a good base workout plan. Of course, it is possible to add a couple of rest days into that schedule, so it extends to the whole week.
Exercises such as the bench press, push-ups, bicep and tricep curls, barbell squats, calf raises, lunges, overhead press and deadlifts are very useful when trying to build lean muscle mass. With these exercises, it is important to focus on proper form and getting a decent amount of reps completed. Shoot for three sets of 8 to 10 reps, instead of fewer reps at a heavier weight.