Vegan living is known for its significant benefits in one’s long-term health. While more and more health-conscious people are now into plant-based nutrition, other fitness enthusiasts seemed to be wary of whether this kind of diet can sustain the amount of workout they’ll do, especially when it comes to building lean muscles.
The thing is, animal products are not even a factor in building muscles. One’s muscle size increases only in two conditions: adequate calorie intake consisting of amino acids to support muscle growth and repair, and growth stimulation resulted from resistance training that focuses on muscle fibers.
Believing that meat is the only source to gain muscle mass is a misconception. To all soon-to-be vegans or vegetarians out there, it’s not hard to build leaner muscles while on a plant-based diet. By simply knowing a few plant-based foods that support muscle growth and recovery, you can start this kind of diet right away.
Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, which is an excellent energy source. Also, it’s full of antioxidants that are helpful for muscle recovery. You need to keep track of your caloric needs for muscle growth and recovery, and eating potatoes is one way to do this. What’s more, if you have a sweet tooth, potatoes would be in your liking since it’s naturally sweet yet healthy.
You can have potatoes in different ways. For instance, you can have a loaded potato together with corn, beans, and salsa. The most common one is to have a bowl of potato salad with other vegetables, but eat it with mustard instead of mayo. Regardless of the kind, it’s suggested to eat potatoes before working out for energy, and after exercising for muscle recovery.
Legumes are one of the foods with high fiber content, which improves nutrient absorption. Fibers are known to maintain healthy gut bacteria and promote optimal digestion. Eating legumes would typically maximize the nutritional value of all the food you eat.
Besides, legumes are a good source of protein and iron. Consuming a meal with it after a workout would replenish carbohydrates and provide protein for muscle growth. You can either have a bean burrito or a red lentil soup paired in your meal after exercising.
Whole plants like whole grains are packed with protein, antioxidants, and heart-healthy carbohydrates. There is no doubt that it would help you gain muscle mass and energy to work out. Not only that, it can promote fast recovery of your muscles.
Grab a whole-grain toast with a few slices of avocados or whole-grain oats with some blueberries before exercising for an excellent source of energy. Eating them after a workout is also a better idea for muscle recovery.
Nuts and seeds
Having a palm full of nuts or seeds is an easy way to add calories in your diet. The best thing is that both are calorically dense and are also high in protein. Not to mention the fats in seeds and nuts can boost nutrient absorption of a few fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K, and E. Spread almond butter on whole-grain toast or toss pistachios in a salad.
Further, half a cup of blanched almonds contains 16 grams of protein and a large amount of phosphorus. Phosphorus aids your body to use fats and carbohydrates for energy during exercise and at rest. However, more than half a cup of blanched almonds (more than 172 grams) would contain 400 calories already, so be sure to consume it in moderation.
Another source of extra calories and nutrients is peanuts. Half a cup of peanuts can also contain 16 grams of carbohydrates and 17 grams of protein. But like almonds, count your calorie intake and make sure you do not eat many peanuts as they have high-calorie content.
Soy proteins are one of the highest-quality plant-based proteins. These are beneficial for people who are aiming for weight loss and bodybuilding since these plant-based protein are low in cholesterol and fat. You can also turn it into soy protein powders —a kind of vegan protein powder.
Tofu is made from soy milk that is commonly taken as a vegan or vegetarian way of substituting meat. Half a cup of raw tofu contains 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fat. As it is originally made from milk, tofu also contains calcium that promotes bone health and proper muscle function.
These five foods are just a few among many nutrient-packed foods that allow muscle growth and recovery after being active. There are still many foods that you may add on your list. Include foods containing fats and carbohydrates that’ll serve as fuel when you do a physical activity, and minerals and vitamins for your body to function at its best.