5 Great Vegan Foods for Muscle Development
The vegan diet has grown in popularity over the past decade, due to its health benefits and environmental friendliness. However, many people still wonder how vegans can get enough protein without any meat or dairy products. Especially for those who are looking to gain muscle, it may be more challenging to source protein from a plant-based diet rather than an omnivore or carnivore diet.
If you’re trying to build muscle, then you need to have a high-intake of protein, as protein is the building block of muscle. If your goal is to put on lean mass, you should aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day (but consult with a nutritionist before making sudden dietary changes). That may seem like a lot of protein… but don’t worry! The good news is that there are several sources of high-protein vegan foods to choose from for muscle development. From tofu to legumes, here are five plant-based sources of protein that will help you put on muscle, stay full for longer, and get the nutrition you need.
Tofu is a soy based vegan protein source and can be served with breakfast, lunch, or dinner! This is a truly versatile ingredient, making it easy to cook with and eat regularly. Tofu can be used as a replacement for scrambled egg, teriyaki chicken, or even as a pizza topping! It’s low in calories, fat, and cholesterol and is a significant source of iron and calcium! Similar to animal-based sources of protein, tofu contains amino acids that are essential to protein synthesis. On average, one block of tofu contains 50 grams of protein – making this an excellent choice for vegans who need a high protein diet. You can find tofu in the refrigerated section at most grocery stores.
Pea protein is a great addition to smoothies, baked items, or breakfast items. It’s a complete protein that provides all nine essential amino acids, a good source of fiber, and iron. Some pea protein can contain up to 27 grams of protein per serving! This makes pea protein an excellent source of plant-based nutrition for vegans who are looking to gain weight or put on healthy muscle. Because some vegans try to avoid a high amount of soy intake, pea protein is ideal for vegans who avoid soy or have soy allergies.
Oats are one of the best sources of plant-based protein, with a cup of dry oats containing 7 grams. They’re also packed with fiber, which helps keep you full and satisfied longer. To get even more protein in your oatmeal, add walnuts or pecans to the bowl before adding hot water. You can also add dried fruits like dates or raisins for an extra boost of sweetness! If you’re looking for some variety in your vegan breakfast routine, try using oats as your base.
Legumes are a great source of protein. Some legumes, such as fava beans, lentils, split peas, kidney beans, and chickpeas, have more protein than others (so pick your beans wisely!) They’re a tasty source of fiber, iron and potassium which are essential to a vegan diet. Legumes contain plenty of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Legumes are a good source of B vitamins, especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate!
Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. It’s high in protein, making it an excellent source of protein and meat replacement for vegans and vegetarians alike. On average, a 3oz serving of seitan contains 15g to 20g of protein. Seitan can be used in many recipes—it tastes delicious on its own or sliced thin for sandwiches and salads, but when combined with spices like paprika and sage or baked into lasagna sheets with marinara sauce (this recipe is amazing!), it becomes even more versatile!
Seitan substitutes nicely for meat when cooking up stir fry dishes too; just toss some sliced mushrooms and bell peppers into the pan along with your choice of seasonings such as garlic powder or chili powder.
To be sure your vegan diet is as healthy as possible while in the gym, it’s important to ensure you’re including plenty of nutrient-dense sources of protein in your meals. We hope this article has given you some ideas for high-protein vegan meals! If you’re looking for information on the best protein sources within an animal-based diet, check out our other article “5 Foods you Should Eat for Optimal Hypertrophy.”