Can you lose weight and build muscle as a vegan? The short answer to that question is ‘yes’, but achieving the feat can be a fairly tricky process.
Losing weight and building muscle at the same time is difficult, regardless of your dietary preferences, but it undoubtedly can be done.
The lack of meat and dairy in a vegan diet is often viewed as making it almost impossible for vegans to consume enough protein to build muscle.
However, this is not true. Before we assess how you can lose weight and build muscle as a vegan, let’s delve deeper into the challenges this presents.
Why is it difficult for vegans to lose weight and build muscle?
Generally speaking, for healthy individuals to reduce their body weight they must create a calorie deficit over a sustained period of time.
This means that the body must use more calories than it gets from daily nutrition each day. Rather than store calories as fat, this process forces the body to look for other stored energy to use.
Keeping track of calorie intake and staying below the fat burning line requires plenty of discipline and becomes complicated if you want to build muscle at the same time.
The body uses calories during the process of building muscle, so a deficit will make it much more difficult to build muscle quickly.
What deficiencies can a vegan diet cause?
Removing animal products from your daily food intake can create several differences. The key elements to be wary about are as follows:
- Iron: Can be obtained from numerous plant-based sources including beans, kale, lentils, raisins and fortified cereals.
- Calcium: Dark leafy greens, fortified breads, fortified soy/oat/nut milks and chia seeds are amongst the ways you can obtain calcium.
- Omega 3s – Plant-based sources include walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and edamame.
- Zinc–Lentils, tofu, beans, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews and quinoa can boost your zinc intake.
Always speak to a medical practitioner or qualified nutritionist before embarking on a vegan diet.
Can I get enough protein from a vegan diet?
A key part of the process of losing weight and building muscle as a vegan is understanding how to obtain protein alternatives with animal sources out of the equation.
Animal sources of protein are rich in essential amino acids, while plant-based sources have a limited quantity of one or more of them.
However, soy, quinoa and hemp contain all the essential amino acids you need, while rice and beans together are another excellent source.
A combination of grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds will help you obtain the protein you need to keep your health and fitness goals on track.
What if I struggle to get enough protein?
With the best will in the world, it can be difficult to fulfil all of your dietary requirements purely from food intake alone, particularly if your lifestyle is hectic.
That point will likely be accentuated if you are undertaking regular workouts, but using top quality supplements can help to compensate for this.
There are a vast array of vegan pre-workout alternatives available which have been proven to deliver fitness gains when used in conjunction with a nutritious diet.
When deciding which products to use, look for high protein content coupled with low fats and carbohydrates to ensure you obtain the best results.
What should my training regime look like?
Having established how best to manage your vegan diet, it is imperative to ensure that you undertake the correct type of training to help you lose weight and build muscle.
An excellent way of attempting to increase muscle while losing weight is performing regular bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges or press-ups.
Remember not to neglect the cardiovascular element of training to ensure you build the necessary stamina you need to cope with you increased activity.
Seeking advice from qualified fitness trainers or using fitness tracking apps are amongst the ways you can boost your chances of staying on track.
Lose weight and build muscle as a vegan – The final word
For the best results, include a variety of plant-based protein sources in your diet to ensure you are getting all of the essential amino acids you require.
Choose real foods over processed vegan foods wherever possible and plan your meals in advance to ensure your calorie intake is where you want it to be.
From there, commit fully to your training regime and you will gradually see the results of your attempt to lose weight and build muscle.