Can You Build Muscle On A Plant Based Diet?

If you’re interested in health and nutrition, it’s probably hard not to notice the current trend towards vegetarianism and veganism.

You may be thinking of going vegan but wondering, can you build muscle on a plant based diet?

What was previously labelled a fad seems to becoming mainstream, backed by both research and global brands who have started investing heavily in plant based protein products.

A fascinating statistic is that there has been a 600% rise in Americans who identify themselves as vegans over the past few years, a change from 1% in 2014 to 6% in 2017 according to research form GlobalData

This isn’t just a U.S trend, as huge increases have also been identified in the U.K, Europe and across Asia.

600% rise in people becoming vegans in U.S in 3 years!

This trend can be confusing as it conflicts with what many of us interested in health, fitness and building muscle have believed in for a long time.

That in order to grow muscles you need to consume more protein, meaning eating more animal meats, eggs and dairy.

This can lead to so many questions especially if you feel your meat based protein diet is working well and you’re seeing results.

You’re probably asking are your results healthy?  Is it sustainable?  Am I causing any long term damage to my internal organs such as heart, digestive system and arteries?

What benefits would I get with a plant based protein diet? Can you build muscle on a plant based diet?

We’re always sceptical of the origins of trends and how they come about.

Has the rise in veganism and plant based protein come about through research, changing attitudes and demand or are companies just trying to create demand to sell more products?  Let’s have a look at the research:

Plant Protein and Animal Protein Contribute To Muscle Growth Equally

A study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked into which is best for muscle growth, plant based protein or animal based protein.

They found that both assisted in muscle repair and growth equally!  Researchers compared the health records of 3000 men and women aged 19 to 72.

It looked at their protein intake, the type of protein they were consuming and from what sources.  It then looked at their bone mineral density, lean muscle mass and quadriceps strength.

There was a clear distinction between the amount of protein consumed and the indicators of strength, but where there was no distinction was the type of protein consumed!

So can you build muscle on a plant based diet?  It appears you can, but there are also many other benefits.

This is the difference in cardiovascular health between vegans and those with a heavy meat based diet.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and The Journal of The American College of Cardiology has undertaken a review into the leading causes of this.  The findings are startling!

Their evidence has found that those with a whole foods plant based diet have significantly better cardiovascular health.

It said that adopting this diet can prevent cardiovascular disease and help reverse any existing conditions!

No wonder veganism is on the rise.  With better heart and cardiovascular health, other benefits are said to include better energy levels, lower fatigue and better skin!

So the evidence is there that shows a plant based diet is healthier for you than a meat based diet.  But the question remains, can you build muscle on a plant based diet as effectively as using animal protein?

The Game Changers

Well according to a new documentary called ‘The Game Changers’, yes you can!

The documentary has been highly rated and called the best health documentary ever! It’s produced by James Cameron who was behind Titanic and Avatar, amongst others.

It looks to expose the truth behind the health benefits and drawbacks of a meat free diet and looks at how a number of elite athletes have made the switch to a plant based diet and manage to perform at a level they have never previously achieved.

One cast member may shock you, as it stars legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger who has transformed his diet to become more plant based.

He has said that he is unlikely to fully cut out meat entirely, but has reduced his intake to a couple of times a week leading to a predominantly plant based diet, he has never felt better!  Check out the video below from the ‘The Radical Revolution’.

What are the best sources of plant based proteins?

Whether you’re looking to go vegan or just want to a slightly better balanced diet in favour of plant based foods, you’ll want to know the best sources to get your protein.   Quality protein can be found in:

  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Spirulina
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Tofu

If you’re looking to supplement your diet to increase the level of plant based protein, whether for a healthy lifestyle or to aid in training and muscle building, you can find some quality products available from some big name brands.

This is another big sign it’s no longer a fad, as major brands have invested in producing a range of plant based protein products.

So, can you build muscle on a plant based diet?  The evidence says yes you can and there are a growing number of plant based protein supplements that many are finding effective.

As for cutting out meat, that’s a personal choice.  If you love meat then there are also clear benefits of eating meat and nutrients they include.  What many people are doing is increasing their portions of vegetables and plant based foods and reducing but not eliminating their meat intake.  The best of both worlds!