What are The Best Muscle Building Vegan Foods?

For those following a vegan diet or a plant-based diet and interested in building muscle from their gym workouts, it can be challenging to know what vegan foods to eat to help maintain a healthy body mass and build lean muscle.

It is possible to maintain muscle strength when eating a vegan or a vegetarian diet.

It is somewhat easier for those on a plant-based diet to consume healthy fats and protein from animal products such as eggs and whey protein powder, which are superior sources of protein to consume post-workout.

It can be hard for those looking for alternative plant-based protein to find something quick and easy to eat or drink that contains all the essential amino acids that animal products provide.

However, there are some good quality vegan protein shakes and foods that you can choose to help boost the amount of protein you consume.

It can also help your training performance and muscle gain results if you spread out your intake of plant-based foods throughout the day for better muscle protein synthesis.

Let’s take a look at some of the top vegan or plant-based protein foods you should aim to include in your diet if you want to maintain and improve your muscle mass and strength.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great source of plant-based proteins and can also add a decent level of bone-fortifying calcium into your diet. Look at mixing it up and adding plenty of variety by eating peanuts, almonds, hemp seeds, and pistachios.

Although peanuts are technically legumes, combining them with nuts will give you a healthy dose of protein, fat, and fibre. They are easily transportable, too, so you can bag some up and take them to the gym to eat as a post-workout snack.

Peanut butter and seed butters are also excellent sources of fat and protein to help keep your energy levels up. Adding a couple of spoons of nut butter and some nutritional yeast to a protein shake makes an excellent post-workout protein drink.

Legumes

We tend to lump legumes and beans together, and while legumes are very similar to beans, they are different plant species. Legumes make an excellent addition to your meals and are one of the best protein sources for vegans and vegetarians.

Legumes are low in fat and contain no cholesterol. They are a very versatile source of protein as they can be cooked and consumed alone or added to soups and stews. Look at adding high-quality legumes to your diet for a protein boost, such as lentils, peas, chickpeas, edamame and soya beans.

Beans

Coming in as a good source of plant-based protein, the humble bean is actually the second-highest source of protein after meat. Although it is true that the protein in beans is not complete, you can combine beans with other sources of protein to get everything you need for muscle-building.

Cooked beans are also very versatile and can be eaten alone, combined with soup, casseroles and stir-fry dishes to help boost the protein level of your meals.

To add more interest to your meals, try to combine a few bean varieties, such as black, pinto, navy, kidney, etc. Beans are cheap and plentiful, so there will be no problem adding them to your diet at little cost.

Plant-based milk alternatives

For those following a plant-based diet, it will be much easier for you to get a good source of high-quality protein from using whey protein powder. However, for vegans, this isn’t an option.

Instead, you can look for calcium-fortified plant-based milk alternatives that provide you with a good dose of plant protein. Hemp seed milk, for example, has about 3g of protein per serving. Soya milk packs an even bigger punch with an average of 8g of protein per serving.

You can make a breakfast smoothie using good-quality plant-based milk, some fresh or frozen berries, some nutritional yeast and a spoon of peanut butter for a boost of protein before hitting the gym. Alternatively, you can use this protein shake as an excellent post-workout drink.

Plant-based protein powders

Plant-based protein powders have come a long way since their early days of gritty-tasting, clumpy, grey looking drinks. These days you can buy high-quality plant-based and vegan protein powders made from a wide range of plants, including pea protein, nuts and hemp seeds.

From a nutritional standpoint, pea protein powder is one of the best protein sources for anyone following a strict vegan diet. These plant-based protein powder formulations are engineered to be as close as possible to matching levels of animal protein.

Conclusion

For those looking to retain muscle mass or make lean muscle gains in the gym while following a plant-based diet, it is recommended to get a minimum of .5 – .7g of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.

A good time to consume protein is just before or just after your workout. It is also recommended to eat protein at every meal, so your body is supplied with protein throughout the day. It is also advised to take a good-quality multi-vitamin each day that includes iron, magnesium, vitamins D and B-12, and zinc.

If you want to learn more about nutrition, and how you can undergo a body transformation whilst on a vegan diet, get in touch with trainers at The Cut Gym today.

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Pull Ups

Ensure you can reach the pull up bar without jumping. If you’re unable to place a step underneath the pull up bar.

Grab the pull up bar with approximately 1.5x shoulder width.

This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Pull yourself towards the bar, once you’ve reached a position when you can pull no further, this is your end range.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start/end position.

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Y Raise

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Face Pull

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cable Lateral raise

Set the cable to its lowest setting using a D handle attachment, then choose the appropriate weight.

 Stand beside the cable station with an extended arm, feet close to the base whilst leaning away from the machine.

 This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Initiating the movement with your shoulders, pull the D handle from beside your leg diagonally to a position which is parallel with the floor.

 Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Dumbbell Lateral raise

Place your dumbbells at the end of the bench, before taking a seat.

Grab your dumbbells with your thumb facing the same direction as your biceps, sit nice and tall.

 This is your start and end position of every repetition.

 Keep your arm in a fixed flexed position throughout the set.

 Initiating the movement with your shoulders, bring the dumbbells to a position which is parallel with the floor.

 Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Set your bench at 90* (or 75* if you struggle to press vertically).

 Sit on the edge of the bench, feet approximately shoulder-width with the dumbbells resting on your thighs, bring the dumbbell in line with your shoulders and elbows facing the floor.  

 This is your start and end position of every repetition.

 Press towards the ceiling, aiming to bring your elbows towards one another without the dumbbells hitting.

 Pause for a moment whilst your arms are fully extended, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Single arm row

Your dumbbell should be roughly a step-in front of you.

Place one knee on the bench, then take a lateral step to create a wide base (approximately shoulder width).

Whichever knee is on the bench, place its corresponding arm on the bench which will place your torso parallel to the floor.

Pick up the dumbbell with your free hand, the dumbbell should be directly below your shoulder.

This is your start and end position of every repletion.

Initiating the movement with your middle back, pull the dumbbell towards your hip.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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What are The Best Muscle Building Vegan Foods?

Place your dumbbell vertically in the head position of your bench.

Grab the dumbbell at the handle with your hands overlapping one another, then create a hinge joint with your shoulder blades and the bench.

Extend your arms so the dumbbell is in line with your head.

Keeping your arms slightly flex (5-10*), allow the dumbbell to move overhead and towards the ground, stopping at a point in which the dumbbell can move no further.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start/end position.

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Straight arm pull down

 

Set the cable to its highest setting, then attach 2 ropes.

Grab the end of the ropes, then take 2 steps back away from the cable station.

Maintaining a neutral spine, push your hips back and pull your chest forward to create a 45* angle with the floor.

Keep your arms fully extended, pull the ropes towards your waist to a point in which you can’t pull back no further.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start/end position.

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Chest Supported Row

Set your bench at approximately a 30* angle, then place your dumbbells at the head of your bench.

Pull your chest into the bench, then grab each of your dumbbells.

This is your start and end position for each repetition.

Initiating the movement with your middle back, pull the dumbbells in a diagonal manner towards your waist till you can’t move no further.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start/end position.

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Leg Extension

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Seated Row

 

Sitting on the machine, make sure your feet are supported.

Reach forward and grip your cable attachment with your palms facing one another.

This would be your start and end position of every repetition.

Keep your torso upright, initiating the movement with your middle back pull your elbows back till you can’t move no further.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start/end position.

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Lat Pull Down

Set your thigh padding to a position that ensures the sole of your foot doesn’t move, whilst standing grab your attachment and secure yourself under the thigh padding.

This is your start and end position for every repetition.

Leaning back slightly and pull the attachment vertically towards your torso.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to your start/end position.

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Push ups

Starting in a prone position, set your hand just outside shoulder width at a 45 degree angle relative to your torso.

Bring your knees and your hips off the ground, so that your body is in neutral (this is your start and end position for every rep).

Press into the ground until your arms are fully extended, then lower your body in a controlled manner towards the floor.

*Your body should be moving in a synchronised manner.

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Cable Press

Pick the handles and take a seat on your bench, your arms should be in a neutral position.

Extend your arms, so your fist is approximately the same height as your armpit but now rotate so that you’re in a pronated grip (this is your start and end position for every rep).

In a slow controlled manner, you’re going to move your upper arm towards the bench. The upper arm should be in approximately a 45 degree relative to your torso. When you’ve reached a point when your upper arm can move no further, press the handles in the opposite direction of the bench until your arm are fully extended.

*Your bench should be central of the cable station.

*Your handles should be should height

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Cable Fly

Pick the handles and take a seat on your bench, your arms should be in a neutral position.

Extend your arms, so your fist is approximately the same height as your armpit. Your elbow should also be slightly bent (this is your start and end position for every rep).

In a slow controlled manner, you’re going to move your upper arm in a circular movement towards the pulley, before returning to your start/end position.

*Your bench should be central of the cable station.

*Your handles should be shoulder height

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Incline Machine

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Dumbbell Chest Press

Sit on the edge of the bench, feet approximately shoulder-width with the dumbbells resting on your thighs then lie back so that you’re in a supine position on your bench.

Your dumbbells should be above your elbows, whilst your upper arm should be approximately 45 degrees to your torso (this is your start and end position for every rep), palms in the same direction of your feet.

Press the dumbbells towards the ceiling, until your arms are fully extended then lower the dumbbells in a slow controlled manner to your start position.

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Change This to exorcise title

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BarBell Chest Press

Sit on the edge of the bench, feet approximately shoulder-width, lie back so you’re in a supine position. Your eyes should be directly underneath the barbell.

Place your hands on the barbell with an overhand grip, approximately 1.5x shoulder width.

Extend your arms to un rack the bar, slowly set the bar to a position perpendicular of your shoulders (this is your start and end position for every rep).

Lower the barbell in a controlled manner towards your chest, your arms should be approximately 45 degrees to your torso. When you’ve reached a point when the barbell can get no lower press the barbell towards the ceiling, until your arms fully extended.

*If you’re training in a facility where you can set the hooks to your preferred height, choose a height in which when you’re un-racking the bar you’re not protracting/over extending to remove the bar.

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Rfe split squat

Find yourself in a staggered stance approximately in front of a step which should be no greater than 6” high, place your toes on the step and your front foot should be flat. This would be your start and end position for every repetition.

You’re going to allow your rear knee to move towards the floor, whilst your front knee is moving in a motion forward towards your toes.

When your rear knee is close to touching the ground, pause then push through both legs to reverse the motion to the start position.

*If your front heel comes off the ground during your repetitions, adjust your stance.

Starting with bodyweight is appropriate for many on a RFE, or holding on to a squat stand to aid balance.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

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Split squat

Find yourself in a staggered stance approximately a step forward/back difference, the front foot should be flat and the rear foot should be on the toes (mobility permitting). This would be your start and end position for every repetition.

You’re going to allow your rear knee to move towards the floor, whilst your front knee is moving in a motion forward towards your toes.

When your rear knee is close to touching the ground, pause then push through both legs to reverse the motion to the start position.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

*If your front heel comes off the ground during your repetitions, adjust your stance.

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Cable crossover

Set the pulley station to above shoulder height on each side, removing any cable attachments.

Grab the left pulley with your right hand, right pulley with your left hand creating a X with the cables.

Retract your shoulder blades, keep your arms in a fixed position then extend your arms to a point they can’t extend no further.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Seated DB curl

Pick up your dumbbells and sit at the edge of your bench.

Pull your shoulder blades together, with your bicep facing the same direction as your knees and toes.

This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Keeping your upper arm in a fixed position, curl the dumbbell until you get to the point in which you’re unable to curl no more.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Cable Extension

Set the pulley station to its highest setting, attaching two rope attachments.

Hold the ropes with a neutral grip, in a flexed position.

This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Keeping your upper arms in a fixed position, extending your arm to a point they can’t extend no further.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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DUMBBELL TRICEP EXTENSION

Pick up your dumbbells with a neutral grips, sitting on the edge of the bench.

Lie back, and extending your arm so that its directly in line with your shoulder.

This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Keeping your upper arms in a fixed position, flex your arm allowing the dumbbells to travel towards the side of your head.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Reverse Curl

Load your barbell in your training area.

Pick up your barbell with a shoulder width grip, and palms facing your body.

Pull your shoulder blades together, with your bicep facing the same direction as your knees and toes.

This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Keeping your upper arm in a fixed position, curl the barbell until you get to the point in which you’re unable to curl no more.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Zotttman Curl

Pick up your dumbbells and sit at the edge of your bench.

Pull your shoulder blades together, with your bicep facing the same direction as your knees and toes.

This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Keeping your upper arm in a fixed position, curl the dumbbell until you get to the point in which you’re unable to curl no more.

Pause for a moment, then rotating your forearm so that your thumbs are facing one another and reverse the movement to the start position.

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Hammer Curl

 

Pick up your dumbbells and sit at the edge of your bench.

Pull your shoulder blades together, with your bicep facing the same direction as your knees and toes.

Rotate your forearm so that your thumbs are facing forward.

This is your start and end position of every repetition.

Keeping your upper arm in a fixed position, curl the dumbbell until you get to the point in which you’re unable to curl no more.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Cable Curl

Set the pulley station to the lowest setting, attaching a cambered bar.

Hold the cambered bar with your palms facing you, then take 3 steps back.

This is your start and end position for each repetition.

Pull your shoulder blades together, with your biceps facing forward.

Keeping your upper arm in a fixed position, curl the bar until you get to the point in which you’re unable to curl no more.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Preacher Curl

Place a dumbbell at the head of your bench, then set your bench at approximately 75* angle.

Pick up your dumbbell then place your upper arm-armpit at the head of the bench, with your palm facing you.

This is your start and end position for each repetition.

Keeping your upper arm in a fixed position, curl the dumbbell until you get to the point in which you’re unable to curl no more.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Spider curl

Place your dumbbells at the head of your bench, then set your bench at approximately a 30* angle

Pull your chest into the bench, then grab each of your dumbbells.

This is your start and end positon for each repetition.

Pull your shoulder blades together, with your biceps facing forward.

Keeping your upper arm in a fixed position, curl the dumbbell until you get to the point in which you’re unable to curl no more.

Pause for a moment, before reversing the movement to the start position.

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Ham curl

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back Squat

Have the bar behind your neck, resting on your shoulders.

Your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart. This will be your start and end position for every repetition.

Start the movement by allowing your knees to move in the same direction of your toes, whilst your hip is moving towards the platform in a synchronised manner. Once you’ve reach the bottom, pause then push through your legs to return to your starting position.

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Step Ups

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glute bridge

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Hip Bridge

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45 Back Extension

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RDL

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Trap bar deadlift

Stand in the middle of the hex/trap bar with your feet in approximately a shoulder width stance.

Maintaining a neutral spine, in a synchronised manner bring your hips towards your calves, whilst also allowing your knees to move in the same direction as your toes. You should be able to grab the handles of the bar, if you’re unable to, raise the bar by placing blocks underneath the plates. This is your start and end position

Take a tight grip of the handles and stand, reverse the movement by allowing your knees to move forward and hips down.

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Alternating lunges

With the dumbbell in your hands and to your sides, find yourself in a position where feet are approximately hip width apart

You’re going to take approximately a dynamic step forward, allowing your front knee to move forward whilst the rear knee moves towards the floor. Without pausing in the bottom position, push through the ground to return to a standing position. This is the start and end of every repetition.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

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Goblet squat

Hold the Dumbbell in a vertical manner just below your chin, your feet should be approximately shoulder width apart. This will be your start and end position for every repetition.

Start the movement by allowing your knees to move in the same direction of your toes, whilst your hip is moving towards the platform in a synchronised manner. Once you’ve reach the bottom, pause then push through your legs to return to your starting position.

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Hack Squat

Load the weight plates on to the machine, then place your shoulders underneath the pads whilst setting your feet on the platform approximately shoulder-width apart (this is your start and end position for every rep).

Your feet should be a in position which allows you to push through the centre of your feet.

Extend your knees, and take the hack squat off the lock setting. Start the movement by allowing your knees to move in the same direction of your toes, whilst your hip is moving towards the platform in a synchronised manner. Once you’ve reached the bottom, pause then press through the platform to return to your starting/end position.

Repeat for the stated reps in your program before switching sides.

*Focus on keeping your lower back on the back pad, if your back comes of the pad you’ve reached your end range-of-motion.

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