Vegan Meal Plan For Muscle Gain: From Greens To Gains!

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

NMD
Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

NMD
Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

vegan meal plan for muscle gain

Just because you choose a plant-based diet doesn't mean muscle building is out of reach. You just need to build the right vegan meal plan for muscle gain!

As long as you take in plenty of total calories, protein, and other essential nutrients, you'll maximize muscle gains just as well as non-vegan dieters.

You may even feel better and reduce chronic disease risks once you eliminate animal foods from your diet entirely.

In addition to eating a good balance of plant-based protein foods and getting plenty of sleep each night, completing muscle-building workouts regularly is the best way to pack on lean muscle mass.

Once you begin a vegan meal plan, check in with your doctor periodically to be sure you’re not deficient in any essential nutrients.

A simple blood test can determine this. If you are, additional nutritional supplements may be necessary.

Ready to get started? Keep reading and learn how to build your vegan meal plan for muscle gain!

Learn more about how to build muscle on a vegan diet with this in-depth guide!

What Exactly Is A Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet consists of only plant-based foods, such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Oils
  • Plant-based dairy alternatives

Vegan diets lack meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy foods, and any food products containing animal-based foods as ingredients.

This includes many types of broth and most gelatins.

Building muscle as a vegan isn't as difficult as it may seem if you have the right knowledge about diet planning, muscle-building exercises, and which dietary supplements to have on hand.

The Health Benefits Of Vegan Dieting

Switching to a plant-based vegan diet can add years to your life.

Based on numerous studies, the health benefits of following a vegan diet include:

  • A lower body mass index
  • A lower risk of overweight and obesity
  • Lower total cholesterol
  • Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Better blood glucose control
  • A reduced risk for heart disease death
  • A lower risk of cancer

Why does becoming a vegan dieter improve your health?

Eating processed meats and red meat (when eaten in excess) increases your risk for cancer.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reports that eating more than 18 ounces of red meat (such as beef, pork, and lamb) per week increases your risk of cancer.

The AICR also says that eating any amount of processed meat regularly boosts your risk of developing colorectal and stomach cancers.

Examples of processed meat include deli meats, ham, hot dogs, bacon, and other meats that have been cured, salted, smoked, or contain preservatives added during processing.

Protein-rich, high-fat meats and full-fat dairy foods are also high in saturated fat, which increases your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease when eaten in excess.

Vegan dieters also tend to weigh less than meat eaters, according to a review published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Red meat is an excellent source of protein, but believe it or not, you can fulfill all of your body’s protein requirements for muscle building with plant protein sources when following a vegan diet.

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The Complications Of A Vegan Diet And How To Overcome Them

Vegan dieting puts you at risk of developing nutrient deficiencies if your daily menus aren’t well-balanced and carefully planned.

According to a review in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vegan athletes may have a more difficult time meeting the following requirements for nutrients commonly found in animal foods:

  • Protein
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Iodine
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3s DHA and EPA

When following a plant-based diet, it’s important to consume all the essential amino acids needed for muscle building within the body.

Some plant-based foods contain all essential amino acids which are:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Most plant-based foods contain just some of the essential amino acids, which is why getting a good balance of protein from varied plant-based sources is important.

Mixing and matching different plant proteins, such as legumes with whole grains, ensures your body gets what it needs to stay healthy and strong.

Don't worry about getting just the right balance at each meal, as what you eat over the course of a day is most important.

The good news is that while meeting protein and other essential nutrient needs might be more challenging when following a vegan diet, it is possible to build muscle as a vegan dieter when using a carefully planned, well-balanced menu and taking dietary supplements as needed to ensure essential nutrient needs are met.

Nutrient Recommendations On A Vegan Diet

To maximize muscle strength and size when training for muscle building, make sure you get plenty of the following essential nutrients that are particularly important when following a vegan diet.

Protein Requirements

Make sure to get protein from a variety of plant-based sources to ensure you’re consuming all the essential amino acids your body requires for muscle building.

Check out these guidelines from the International Society of Sports Nutrition:

  • Consume about 0.8 – 1 gram of protein per pound (up to 1.2 grams per pound for weight loss) of body weight daily
  • Consume about 20 – 40 grams of protein at each meal
  • Ensure a balanced array of essential amino acids
  • Ingest protein every 3 – 4 hours throughout the day
  • Use protein supplements as needed to meet daily protein needs
  • Ensure adequate leucine (an essential amino acid) consumption during each meal
  • Consume all essential amino acids to promote muscle building

Plant sources of leucine, a muscle-building amino acid, include:

  • Soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Legumes
  • Seitan

Numerous plant-based foods can help you reach daily protein needs for muscle building, such as:

  • 1 scoop of plant protein powder (soy, pea, brown rice, flaxseed, etc.): 25 grams
  • 3 ounces of seitan: 21 grams
  • 3 ounces of tempeh: 16 grams
  • 1/2 cup of cooked lentils or pinto, black, or other beans: 8 – 11 grams
  • 1 cup of protein-fortified almond milk: 10 grams
  • 1 vegan veggie burger: 9 – 10 grams
  • 3 ounces of tofu: 9 – 10 grams
  • 1/2 cup of cooked edamame: 8 – 9 grams
  • 1 cup of soy milk: 8 grams
  • 1 ounce of nuts or seeds: 6 – 9 grams
  • 1 meatless (vegan) sausage patty or sausage link: 5 – 8 grams
  • 2 tablespoons of nut butter: 7 grams
  • 1 container of plain soy yogurt: 6 grams
  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa: 4 – 6 grams
  • 1/2 cup cooked of green peas: 4 grams
  • 1 strip of meatless (vegan) bacon: 1 gram

Other Important Essential Nutrients For Vegan Dieters

In addition to getting plenty of protein from a variety of plant-based sources, it’s important to consume foods rich in the other essential nutrients vegan diets may be deficient in.

Here's a list of essential nutrients and how to get them from plant-based food sources:

  • ALA omega-3 fats – Walnuts, walnut oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, soybeans, soybean oil, canola oil, and pumpkin seeds
  • EPA omega-3s – Seaweed and algae oil
  • DHA omega-3s – Seaweed and algae oil
  • Vitamin B12 – Plant milk, fortified nutritional yeast, fermented soy, mushrooms, and some fortified grains
  • Iron – Grains, legumes, tofu, seeds, nuts, iron-fortified foods, quinoa, leaf green vegetables, and potatoes
  • Zinc – Beans, soy foods, seeds, nuts, nutritional yeast, oats, and wheat germ
  • Calcium – Tofu, plant milk, calcium-fortified juice, some fortified grains, broccoli, kale, sprouts, bok choi, and cauliflower
  • Iodine – Cranberries, potatoes, prunes, seaweed, navy beans, iodized salt, and enriched grains
  • Vitamin D – Plant milk, vitamin D-fortified orange juice, mushrooms, sunlight, some fortified grains, lichen-derived vitamin D3 supplements

See the program 38,000 guys over 40 are using to get results like these

Vegan Meal Plan For Muscle Gain

If you’re seeking weight gain during muscle building, you may need to add more calories to your diet.

When planning vegan menus, use the following meal planning guidelines provided by a review published in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology:

  • Fill half of each plate with fruits and vegetables
  • Eat 2 – 4 servings of fruit daily
  • Eat 2 – 3 servings of legumes each day
  • Eat at least 2 – 3 servings of leafy green vegetables daily
  • Eat 1 – 2 ounces of nuts each day
  • Eat 1 – 3 tablespoons of seeds daily
  • Drink 2 – 3 servings of fortified plant milks (or soy yogurt) each day
  • Eat 0.2 – 0.7 grams of fat per pound of body weight daily
  • Flavor foods with herbs and spices

Be sure to include a healthy fat at each meal, such as:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nut butter
  • Olives
  • Plant-based oils

Sample Healthy Vegan Menus For Muscle Building

The following is a sample healthy menu for vegan dieters seeking lean muscle gains:

Breakfast

  • ¼ plate of meatless bacon, meatless sausage, seitan, or scrambled tofu
  • ½ plate of fruit
  • ¼ plate of oatmeal topped with sliced almonds or walnuts
  • 1 cup of protein fortified almond milk or soy milk

Morning Snack

A protein shake made with:

  • Plant-based protein powder
  • Plant-based milk
  • A banana or other fruit
  • Nut butter
  • Ice

Lunch

  • ¼ plate of leafy green vegetables with an oil-based dressing
  • ¼ plate of peas or cooked legumes
  • ¼ plate of quinoa or corn
  • ¼ plate of seasoned seitan with olive oil

OR

  • A veggie burger topped with tomatoes and avocados on whole-grain bread
  • ¼ plate of leafy greens with an oil-based dressing
  • ¼ plate of lentils or other legumes

Afternoon Snack

Bananas or apples with nut butter

OR

Fruit, nuts, and popcorn or pretzels

OR

Hummus with pita bread or pita chips

Dinner

Stir fry containing:

  • ¼ plate of tofu or seitan strips
  • ¼ plate of grilled vegetables in vegetable oil
  • ¼ plate of black beans
  • ¼ plate of brown rice
  • Seasonings

OR

Vegan chili made with seitan crumbles, olives, black beans, pinto beans, and other vegetables

OR

Seitan crumbles with pinto beans, grilled bell peppers, avocado, and salsa or tomatoes on a whole-grain tortilla

Bedtime Snack

A protein shake made with:

  • Plant-based protein powder
  • Plant-based milk
  • A banana or other fruit
  • Nut butter
  • Ice

The most important part about planning vegan menus is to switch up the veggies, grains, and proteins you eat regularly to get a good mix of the essential amino acids your body requires for muscle building.

See the programs 38,000 guys over 40 are using to get results like these

Choosing The Right Dietary Supplements

When following a vegan diet, take dietary supplements to help prevent nutrient deficiencies and maximize muscle building.

Take the following supplements to meet daily nutritional needs and enhance workouts when muscle building is your goal:

  • Soy, pea, hemp, or rice protein powder (or plant protein powder blends)
  • Vegan algae DHA/EPA supplements
  • Iron supplements
  • Zinc supplements
  • Vitamin B12 supplements
  • Calcium supplements
  • Iodine supplements
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Vegan creatine monohydrate supplements
  • Vegan BCAA (branched-chain amino acid) supplements
  • Vegan leucine supplements
  • Vegan L-glutamine supplements
  • Vegan DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) supplements

When mixing supplements, be sure the supplements you choose are indeed vegan, as many protein, amino acid, and creatine monohydrate supplements contain ingredients from animal sources.

Check the product label and ingredient list to know for sure.

Instead of taking individual vitamin and mineral supplements, look for multivitamin supplements for men containing the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium, iodine, and vitamin D.

Meet SuperFuel Vegan. The Super Delicious 100% Plant-Based Protein Shake Packed With 40+ Energy Boosting Vitamins & Superfoods

Meet SuperFuel Vegan.
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Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, NMD
Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Founder Fit Father Project, Founder Fit Mother Project

After watching his own Dad lose his health and pass away at the young age of 42, Dr. Balduzzi founded The Fit Father Project and Fit Mother Project to help busy dads and moms get and stay healthy for their families.

Dr. Anthony Balduzzi holds dual degrees in Psychology & Nutrition from the University of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, and is also a former national champion bodybuilder. He’s is most proud of the fact that he’s helped over 40,000 families in over 100 countries lose weight and get healthy for life.

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*Please know that weight loss results and health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on a vegan meal plan for muscle gain.

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Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

NMD
Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

GET STARTED FOR FREE

Join the #1 Health & Fitness Program
for Busy Women 40+
Trusted by over 50,972 Busy Dads 40+

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