No-Meat Muscle: 5 Rules for Building Lean Mass on a Vegetarian Diet

Not quite as restricting as veganism, and not quite as cruel as your average meat diet, the vegetarian approach to nutrition is the perfect balance between health and optimal muscle-building potential. Much like any diet approach out there, vegetarianism gives you the opportunity to build muscle efficiently and effectively, all without getting your protein in from a carcass or contributing to the global nightmare that is the meat industry. Without further ado, here is how you can build muscle like a pro on a vegetarian diet.

Getting the protein in without the meat

It’s quite simple really – just don’t eat meat. You might be afraid you won’t be able to get enough quality protein in throughout the day without it, and while it is true that it’s full of the stuff, you should know that eggs, dairy, and the right kinds of plants can give you all the macronutrients you need.

If you’re not lactose intolerant, you can enjoy all kinds of dairy products that are jam-packed with protein and all of the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for lean muscle growth, recovery, and top performance. The same can be said of eggs – one of the rare superfoods – and certain kinds of plants such as nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, and of course, legumes.

Complementing your workout routine with nutrition

Nutrition is one part of the muscle-building puzzle, with the other one being exercise. Nutrition should have a supportive role in your quest for muscle gains, and your vegetarian diet should be tailor-made to compliment you vigorous workout routine.

Along with utilising weights and other exercise equipment to stimulate muscle breakdown and repair, you should also make sure you’re consuming the right amount of calories on a daily basis in order to maximize your muscle-building potential. Remember, all the protein in the world won’t be able to make your body grow if you’re not meeting your daily caloric requirements.

Learn the not-so-ancient art of meal-prepping

Out of all the ways to build muscle without eating meat, structuring your meals is by far the most powerful one. You see, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re eating meat or not, what matters is whether or not you’re getting clean, wholesome foods in your system daily, and if you’re taking the time to schedule your meals properly.

To do this, simply cook at home instead of eating out, and make sure you’re using the right cookware to preserve the precious nutrients in the food during the cooking process. By devoting a lazy Sunday afternoon to prepping the majority of your meals for the upcoming week, you will be able to stay consistent with your eating schedule and fuel your body for maximum lean muscle growth.

Don’t forget about supplementation

From professional athletes to novice gym-goers, everyone has their own opinion about workout supplements. Do they work, and are they worth your money in the long run? The answer, as always, lies somewhere in the middle, as not all supplements were created equal and some will definitely help you more than others.

When it comes to building lean muscle, your go-to supplement should definitely be protein powder. There are plenty of types to choose from, and as a vegetarian, you want to stay away from animal protein and instead choose the healthier whey protein option. Whey protein is the richest form of protein out there, made out of whey, which is a by-product of cheese production.

If you don’t like or can’t handle dairy derivatives, then you can consider plant-based protein supplements such as soy protein, pea protein, and hemp protein. Another popular option among athletes is egg protein.

Watch out for deficiencies

You might not want to hear it, but health-wise, meat is not the evilest thing in the world. Meats of various kinds are rich in crucial minerals and vitamins that vegetarians and vegans are missing out on. This is not a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that you should go back to being a meat-eater, it just means that you should monitor your micronutrient intake and adjust accordingly.

Firstly, watch out for iron deficiency, which is common in people that don’t eat red meat, so you want to use iron supplements in order to meet your daily requirements. Keep in mind that plant-based iron is insufficient to beat iron-deficiency anemia, so all the more reason to supplement accordingly.

Next up is vitamin B12. Given the fact that plant-based B12 is not absorbed as efficiently as meat-based, you should supplement here as well. Be sure to keep track of your zinc and calcium levels too, as non-meat-eaters tend to suffer from deficiencies in these areas to boot.

Final thoughts

Carnivores tend to argue that you can never maximize muscle growth without meat in your diet, which is simply not true and has been disproved by the scientific community many a time throughout the years. So be sure to tune out the negative noise and stick to your healthy vegetarian diet that, when tweaked properly, is bound to help you achieve your muscle-building goals


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