Skip to content
How to build muscles with vegan, plant based diet

Vegan muscle building - How to get stronger with a plant-based diet

You've probably ended up here because you're interested in vegan muscle building interested! But is it even possible to become stronger and more muscular on a plant-based diet? For many people this seems unthinkable, as many Prejudices surrounding the vegan diet, the vegetable and so protein-rich diet exist. For example, the image of the pale, thin vegan, as a prominent cliché.

The answer is yes, of course! Even as a vegan, you generally consume enough protein to build muscle without meat, eggs and cow's milk.

But what do I need to consider when eating a plant-based diet to build muscle? Which nutrients are particularly important during intensive training? What do vegan athletes eat? Which foods or supplements contain the most important micronutrients for muscle building? Questions upon questions.

In this post you will find all the answers, as well as some living examples, the general benefits of vegan nutrition, information on muscle building nutrition with tips for micro and macronutrients and other advice that will help you build muscle vegan.

Here is a table of contents to give you an overview:

  1. Examples
  2. Advantages
  3. Macronutrients
  4. Micronutrients
  5. Other nutrients
  6. Foods
  7. Food supplements
  8. More tips
  9. Closing words

Living examples that vegans can also build muscle

Vegan Patrick Baboumian for PETA
Patrick Baboumian is a vegan and the strongest man in Germany © PETA Deutschland e.V

Good, prominent examples of muscular vegans are Bodybuilder such as Paul Unterleitner, Torre Washington and Nimai Delgado. The latter has actually never eaten meat in his life. Another vegan Power athlete is Patrick Baboumian, who won the competition in 2011. Germany's strongest man won. Also the current number 1 in the tennis world rankings Novak Djokovicbasketball player Chris Paul and former professional boxer David Haye are driven by plants to perform at their best.

Other examples of vegan athletes can be found in professional soccer, including Sergio Agüero, Hector Bellerin, Jermain Defoe and former national goalkeeper Timo Hildebrandt. With the right diet, vegan muscle building and top sporting performance are definitely possible.

Tip: In the article Vegan athletes you will find a whole list of well-known athletes who eat a purely plant-based diet.

Advantages of herbal muscle building

The fact that a plant-based diet is good for the Cardiovascular Health and protects against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis is now well known. However, healthy blood vessels also improve blood flow so that nutrients reach the cells better. This shortens the Regeneration timewhich is a great advantage of a plant-based diet for muscle building.

The better blood flow can supply your cells with oxygen better, which generally improves the Increased performance. A vegan diet also provides more phytochemicals and antioxidants, which protects your body from oxidative stress and free radicals. This is also beneficial for your regeneration. The phytochemicals also have an anti-cancer effect - and support the immune system. Incidentally, fewer illnesses mean more time for your training and vegan muscle building.

Macronutrients for muscle building

What needs to be considered in the diet for a more muscular body and which macronutrients are particularly important for muscle growth? What do vegan athletes eat to cover their additional calorie and nutrient requirements? We will now get to the bottom of these questions - and the answers are very simple. All three macronutrients - proteins, fats and carbohydrates - are important for plant-based muscle growth!

An essential condition to effectively build muscle is that you are in a Calorie surplus are. This means that you take in more calories with your food through macronutrients than you burn.


With regard to vegan muscle building Protein plays an important role in nutrition, as it contributes to the Muscle cell structure is used. However, there are many other important functions that protein fulfills in the body. These include transporting oxygen, building hormones and enzymes and supporting the immune system.

How much protein is needed for vegan muscle building? Generally speaking, athletes and sportspeople increased protein intake recommended. Amateur and recreational athletes are recommended with 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (g/kg bw) are well supplied. For strength athletes and targeted muscle building, quantities of 1.8 to 2.0 g/kg bw makes sense. Consequently, protein in the diet for plant-based muscle building should make up around 15 to 25 percent of the calories consumed. Incidentally, an appropriate calorie and protein intake is more important than the timing of meals. Good vegetable protein sources are, for example, nuts and seeds, soy products such as tofu or tempeh, Pulses and also some whole grain products.

Tip: If you are training seriously, you should also distinguish whether you are in a calorie surplus or deficit. In Calorie surplus about 1.8 g/kg body weight is recommended. However, if you are currently healthy slimming and you in the Calorie deficit the protein requirement increases. By consuming fewer calories than you need, the body begins to break down fat and muscle. With an increased protein intake of around 2 g/kg body weight, you can maintain your muscles in the best possible way.

Healthy fats

Build muscle with plant-based diet

Also Fat play an important role in plant-based muscle building nutrition, as they are important for many processes in the body. Because fats are a important energy supplier and therefore an essential part of your calorie intake. As already mentioned, you can only build vegan muscle if you are in a calorie surplus. In addition, fats optimize the Absorption of the fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K. The fat intake also affects the Testosterone production and therefore your testosterone level, which in turn is relevant for muscle building. If you consume enough fats, your testosterone levels will rise and you will be able to build muscle more efficiently vegan.

Special focus should be placed on the healthy Omega 3 fatty acids be laid. This improve blood lipid levels and heart healthprotect against infectious diseases and have an anti-inflammatory effect. The anti-inflammatory effect shortens the regeneration time.

I would also like to mention the Trans fatty acids which you should definitely avoid. This is because trans fatty acids increase the risk of lipometabolic disorders and the harmful LDL cholesterol level, while they reduce the health-promoting HDL cholesterol. Consequently, they increase the risk of nutrition-related diseasessuch as cardiovascular disease, overweight and obesity. Trans fatty acids are mainly found in processed convenience products, hydrogenated fats, as well as milk and meat from ruminants.

According to current knowledge, at least 15 percent, but preferably 20 to 30 percent, of your calorie intake should be covered by fats if you want to build muscle effectively vegan. To the Covering your fat needs Nuts, seeds, kernels, avocados, coconut meat and high-quality, cold-pressed oils are particularly suitable.


Carbohydrates are our most important energy supplier and therefore the basis for a good workout. During training, carbohydrates provide a Stable blood glucose concentration and provide energy from glycogen stores. They are also a building material for RNA, DNA, connective tissue and cell membranes. One hour of weight training consumes around 400 calories and carbohydrates are very suitable for covering this increased nutritional requirement.

The recommendations for carbohydrate intake are 5 to 10 g/kg bw/d or 50 percent or more of the calorie requirement should be covered by carbohydrates. Good carbohydrates are primarily those that are as unprocessed as possible, such as fruit, root vegetables, pulses, wholegrain products and pseudo-cereals.

Micronutrients for vegan muscle building

The need for various micronutrients increases during intensive training. This can happen, among other things, because nutrients are excreted through sweat or the body consumes more due to the additional exertion and the metabolic processes involved.

So what is important for vegan muscle building and what do vegan athletes eat to get the ideal supply of micronutrients?

  • Zinc is needed for the production of enzymes for protein biosynthesis, which is why a zinc deficiency inhibits muscle building. You can find plenty of zinc in pulses or oats and can supplement with Vitamin C-containing foods optimize the intake.
  • Calcium ensures muscle contraction and is therefore important for effective training. Sesame seeds, hazelnuts and kale are wonderful plant sources of this.
  • Magnesium also helps with the transmission of stimuli to the muscles, i.e. contraction, and the production of energy. Cocoa powder, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are rich sources of magnesium.
  • Chrome contributes to the fact that more glucose can be stored in the muscles instead of being converted into fat. A calorie surplus means that you build proportionally more muscle and store less fat. You can find the trace element in rice, wholemeal bread and wholemeal products.
  • B1 and B3 are important due to the increased energy requirement, as they influence the energy metabolism. You can find both vitamins in peanuts and sesame seeds.
  • B2 is important for energy and protein metabolism and is abundant in yeast flakes, almonds and mushrooms.
  • B6 also serves the protein metabolism and is contained in yeast flakes, pistachios or sunflower seeds.
  • Vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant and important for the metabolism of fats and proteins and therefore also an important factor for effective vegan muscle building. The vitamin can be found in hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and wholegrain products.

Other important nutrients

Drink water and other nutrient for vegan fitness food

What else is important if you want to get fitter and more muscular as a die-hard vegan? What other nutrients do you need for effective plant-based muscle building? One key food is Wateras your body needs it to synthesize and metabolize protein. By adequate drinking you can get closer to your training goal even faster.

The Amino acid leucine also activates protein synthesis. Protein biosynthesis is the process in which proteins are formed in cells, for example the formation of muscles. It is stimulated by high blood levels of glucose and essential amino acids, especially leucine, as well as training stimuli and a high energy status in the cells.

After training, you can either supplement leucine specifically in combination with protein or take essential amino acids, as these also contain leucine. In order to stimulate protein biosynthesis as well as possible, it makes sense to eat three to four meals a day, each containing About 30 grams of protein include.

What do vegan athletes eat to get stronger or stay muscular?

You have already read about some foods that help you with plant-based muscle growth. Here I will go into more detail about what you can eat for vegan muscle growth and recommend foods that I consider to be particularly effective.

An important basis for your diet are Fruit and vegetableswhich provide you with many macro and micronutrients as well as secondary plant substances.

Nuts like Walnuts, almonds, cashews or hazelnuts are very good sources of fat, protein, iron, calcium and magnesium and thus cover a large part of your micro- and macronutrient requirements, which are increased for muscle building.

Seeds and kernels such as Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds complement nuts very well by providing you with plenty of B vitamins, as well as protein, fat and zinc.

Legumes such as Chickpeas, red lentils, peas or beans ensure a balanced blood sugar level and provide you with important proteins and zinc. The high fiber content also increases intestinal health and reduces the risk of colon cancer.

Whole grain products like Oatmeal, millet flakes, whole grain bread or whole grain pasta. are good suppliers of carbohydrates, protein, B vitamins and the minerals zinc, magnesium, iron and Potassium.

Dietary supplements for muscle building

Which vegan food supplements are important for building muscle? Basically, fewer supplements are necessary than you might think, but there are some foods such as hemp protein, barley grass or maca powder that can boost your muscle mass. Improve regeneration and performance. Vegan muscle building can also be promoted with creatine or amino acids.

Hemp protein

Hemp protein is an ideal source of protein with a good amino acid ratio, high L-arginine content and has many other advantages. It is easy to digest, has a high bioavailability, is hypoallergenic and rich in vitamin B2, zinc, magnesium and iron. Daily 25 grams of hemp protein cover half of the daily requirement of iron and magnesium and a third of zinc and vitamin B6. Hand protein therefore not only provides protein, but also many micronutrients and is also an ecologically valuable food.

EAAS or leucine

Essential amino acids or leucine activate protein biosynthesis after training. You should take about 5 grams of essential amino acids together with hemp protein after training.


At Creatine is a very well-researched dietary supplement that many bodybuilders and strength athletes rely on. A regular intake of creatine increases performance, as the energy stores in the muscles increase. Creatine is also believed to stimulate protein biosynthesis. About 5 grams of creatine per day is recommended.


The root from South America contains many amino acids and minerals. Particularly valuable are the Maca root macamides, which increase testosterone levels. Vegan muscle building becomes a little more effective with maca!

Barley grass powder

Barley grass contains an incredible amount of nutrients and can therefore help to meet the increased nutritional requirements of muscle building. These include iron, calcium, chlorophyll, B vitamins, potassium and zinc. Barley grass also regulates the acid-base balance and thus has the following effects salutogenetic on your health.

Further tips for vegan muscle building

Gym rings and wall bars for vegan muscle building

What other tips are helpful in addition to the plant-based muscle-building diet to help you build muscle even more effectively? With a wholesome and healthy nutrition, as well as targeted selected food supplements you have already laid a good foundation for your plant-based muscle growth. In the area of nutrition, you can also Intermittent fasting which can also be very useful.

A very important factor that many people often neglect is the Relaxation. Muscles grow during the regeneration phase, which is why you should actively shape your relaxation. YogaBlack roll, meditation, a walk or sauna are just some of the ways you can improve your recovery and muscle growth.

For holistic training, I recommend a Combination of functional strength and endurance workouts. The more freely you can move, the more functional the training is, which is why I like to recommend training with gymnastic rings to build muscle. As the rings are not fixed, your muscles have to constantly provide stability, which has a great training effect. Vegan muscle building certainly works with the rings, a healthy diet and a little discipline!

Tip: You need No gymbut can also be used outside or train at home. With a yoga mat, gymnastic rings and a pull-up stand you are already well equipped and save yourself some money.

Vegan muscle building with plant power!

A stable musculature stabilizes your joints, strengthens your cardiovascular system and brings you closer to your feel-good weight. These are many good reasons to build muscle vegan. Fortunately, vegan muscle building can be achieved efficiently with the right diet, a little awareness of micro and macronutrients and consistent training.

You now know what vegan athletes eat to get the ideal amount of nutrients and how you can make your training functional and effective. Now it's all about putting the tips into practice. Have fun with your training!

All the best,

Julian from CareElite

P.S.: If you sustainably live healthier you will certainly also find our contributions to Vitamin B12 or More energy in everyday life interesting for you.

Coffee box Suggestions for improvement Newsletter

* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Julian Hölzer

Julian Hölzer

Hi, my name is Julian and I am a trained vegan nutritionist. In 2016 I started to get involved with veganism and quickly learned how big an impact our diet has on the environment and how diverse plant-based diets can be. That's why I want to inspire you to get involved with veganism too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *