When most people think about vegans, they think about skinny people with absolutely no muscles mass. The image is probably pale and sickly. Thankfully, that doesn’t have to be the case. A weight lifter who is concerned about their impact on the world around them can get all of their protein needs while eating a vegan diet.
For someone that is trying to build muscle, protein is the key. People, in the general population, need between one half and three fourths of a gram of protein per pound of body weight. Most athletes need around one gram of protein per pound. Extremely competitive or elite athletes need two to three grams per pound. That can add up fast. Thankfully, today there are many animal free protein sources the vegan weightlifter can use.
When it comes to vegan protein sources, there are many to choose from. Quinoa, nuts, beans, grains and soy are all great. However, very few of these contain complete protein. Nuts, beans and legumes tend to be low in methionine and tryptophan while grains tend to be low in lysine. Quinoa, soy and a few others are exceptions to this rule. Because of that, it is essential to choose a variety of protein foods.
Much like nonvegan athletes, vegan athletes often require supplements to get enough protein. Several vegan protein products are on the market today. Some of them are even made without soy. When consuming these products, it is also important to ensure fluid intake is increased to eliminate added stress on the kidneys.
For a 200-pound vegan weight lifter, a vegan diet might look like this. Upon waking, and before a morning workout, a protein shake made with two scoop of protein powder, 1 cup of almond milk and a handful of berries would provide 60 grams. A breakfast of two slices of sprouted grain bread toast with two tablespoons peanut butter, a bowl of oatmeal and fruit salad will provide another 25 grams. A snack midmorning of a handful of almonds provides ten grams. Before noon, the vegan athlete has already consumed 95 grams.
For lunch, a black bean and quinoa salad with roasted vegetables, salsa and avocado plus a whole grain tortilla and a glass of almond milk will provide another 30 grams. A mid afternoon snack of a protein bar with a piece of fruit and a glass of water gives the athlete another 25 grams. A dinner of soba noodles with broccoli, tofu and mushrooms in a ginger sauce plus a vegan spring roll and a salad plus 1 cup of coconut milk ice cream, topped with chopped peanuts, for dessert provides another 32 grams. A small protein shake with 1 scoop of protein powder, mixed in whatever beverage is desired before bed will finish the day. This provides a total of 212 grams of protein.