Vegetarians and Sports

Vegan bodybuilding

Par Nicolas Aubineau - 5 minutes de lecture

Vegan bodybuildingThe body, when the practice of bodybuilding is regular and fairly intense, has fairly high protein requirements. The protein intake is generally between 14 and 20% of the total energy intake, assuring an intake of approximately 1.5 (0.05 oz) to 2g (0.07 oz) of protein per kg (1 kg = 2.2 lb) of body weight per day. For a man of 70kg (154 lb), this represents 105 (3.7 oz) to 140g (4.9 oz) of protein per day (more important for vegan bodybuilding).


A vegetarian will have the same chance of muscle gain as an omnivore, provided that you bring all the essential amino acids (AAE) in his daily ration in quality and quantity. This second notion is directly dependent on the characteristics of the athlete. I mean by AAE the amino acids not synthesizable by the organism and which must be necessarily brought by the food. Thus, protein sources are animal ( living in water and on earth ) by-products, animal by-products such as milk, cheese, eggs … and contain all the AAE. At the vegetal level, we find legumes, fruits and proteolytic seeds (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, soya, …), algae and cereals. In the latter group, four PPAs are weakly present (except for soya, algae, buckwheat, quinoa). To cover daily needs, it is necessary to intelligently combine different sources of vegetable proteins so as to bring these eight AAEs during a meal.


Thus, to optimize your bodybuilding programs, protein supplementation is generally achieved by combining two protein foods with different limiting AAEs. I give you for this several types of association allowing to obtain correctly a good balance between the proteins, lipids and carbohydrates:

  • Cereals (limiting AAE: lysine) + legumes (AAE limiting: AA sulfur, but rich in lysine);
  • Cereals + oilseeds (absence of 2 sulfur-containing AAE);
  • Cereals and / or legumes + algae (presence of 8 AAEs);
  • Cereals + vegetables rich in lysine such as peas, cabbages, mushrooms, green beans …;
  • Cereals and / or oilseeds + soybeans (presence of 8 PPAs).

Meals will be supplemented with vegetables, fruits and vegetable oils of good quality (rapeseed, olive, walnut …) as well as vegetable desserts (based on soya juice, almond, hazelnut, oats …).


5 Advice to gain muscles without animal protein

  • Do not skip meals; muscles don’t not like fasting!
  • Try to bring in 30 to 40 grams (1.05 – 1.41 oz) of protein per meal in the morning, midday and evening, and provide morning and / or afternoon and / or evening snacks with 10 to 20 grams (0.35 – 0.70 oz) of protein to muscle building process; for 100g (3.50 oz) of food: raw cereals provide 10 to 18g (0.35 – 0.63 oz) of protein, cooked cereals 2 to 6g (0.07 – 0.21 oz), raw soya about 40g (1.41 oz), cooked about 15g (0.52), algae 10 to 20g (0.35 – 0.70 oz), raw legumes 20 to 30g (0.70 – 1.05 oz), cooked 6 to 10g (0.21 – 0.35 oz), proteolytic fruits between 5 and 12g (0.17 – 0.42 oz).
  • Respect the associations of plant protein sources at each meal;
  • Take a protein intake (10 to 20g / 0.35 – 0.70 oz) after each strength session, the optimum being to take advantage of the metabolic window within 30 minutes after stopping exercise;
  • Do not forget the intake of carbohydrates and lipids, because to build up, the muscle cell needs these essential nutrients! Do not just resonate « Protein ». For this, vary your meals as often as you can.


Example of menu for a vegan bodybuilding

These menus are adapted to the weight gain in quality and not quantity, to be individualized according to the weight training program.


Breakfast: 8 am-8.30 am

Green tea
Rye bread
Almond puree
Soy milk with strawberry syrup
Orange juice


Snack: 11 am

Rice cracker
Sesame puree


Lunch 12.30 pm-1 pm
Chickpea salad with tomatoes in olive oil
Seaweed tartare with spices, Thai rice with chilli
Whole wheat bread
Fruit Cocktail


Snack 4 p.m
Millet with pistachio cream
Smoothie kiwi-banana


Diner 7.30 pm-8 pm

Chestnut soup and turmeric squash
Crushed with split peas, celery, olive carrots
Unleavened bread
Sweetened Citrus Tabbouleh


Snack 10.30 pm

Almond pastrie
Oat juice in agave syrup


Example of a vegan menu made for « drying »

Breakfast: 8 am-8.30 am
Mate Green
Oat flakes and dried fruits and soy yogurt
Maple syrup and rapeseed oil
Grapefruit juice


Snack 11 am
Dried lemon


Lunch 12.30 pm-1 pm
Corn and Red Bean Salad with Rapeseed Oil
Sesame bread
Hazelnut rice croquettes with carrot puree
Yoghurt with brown cream
Apple with cinnamon


Snack 4 pm
Almond dessert cream


Dinner 7.30 pm-8 pm
Miso Soup
Wakame Pasta
Curled with walnuts with garlic croutons
Silky tofu and pear, pistachio chips


As a conclusion

In the long term, strength training is not dangerous for vegetarians, provided that the diet is not too extreme in quality and quantity, adapted correctly to the inherent needs of the sportsman. If it is not suitable, a protein deficiency may be created, a lower than normal protidemia (protein levels in the blood) may lead to edema, and above all, the fact that it does not eat its proteins create hunger, cravings, and therefore nibbling … You can grow even by being vegetarian!


Finally, keep in mind that each athlete is unique and that his needs are never the same as his training partner.


Sports Dietitian Nutritionist

© Pixabay / markusspiske


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