Muscle Sport Magazine

How a vegan bodybuilding diet plan can help boost athletic performance

With the increasing interest in plant-based diets, new and experienced bodybuilders are turning to veganism for its health and performance benefits.

For years, it has been thought the best diet for fitness should include plenty of meat and dairy to provide quality protein and essential nutrients for performance. But is it also possible to maximize your output, gain muscle and stay on track by only eating plants?

Some studies suggest that not only is complete nutrition on a plant-based diet attainable but that a well-planned vegan diet may have health benefits and help improve performance. And with more and more athletes going vegan, and shouting about the benefits, it is something to seriously consider.

What is a vegan bodybuilding diet?

The vegan bodybuilding diet plan is high in fruits, vegetables, and plant-based protein. It excludes all animal-based products and is usually higher in protein than a traditional vegan diet.

Bodybuilders strive to develop their musculature through intensive resistance training for aesthetic purposes.

Nutrition plays a key role in the process of muscular development. It’s generally accepted that for optimal muscle growth to occur, protein intake should be rather high at around 0.7–1.0 grams per pound (1.6–2.2 grams per kg) of body weight per day.

A calorie surplus of 10–20% is also beneficial for gaining muscle mass, especially for those who are not brand new to training. Traditional bodybuilding diets include a lot of animal source foods due to their high protein and calorie content.

The vegan bodybuilding diet is devoid of all animal products and higher in protein than traditional vegan diets.

This presents a challenge for bodybuilders following a vegan diet, as plant-based proteins tend to be of lower quality than their animal-based counterparts, which can affect muscle gain.

Therefore, it takes careful planning to ensure a sufficient intake of protein, calories, and several micronutrients that a vegan diet may lack. The vegan bodybuilding diet also changes during different stages of a bodybuilder’s life, such as whether they’re in their off-season or undergoing contest preparation when fat loss is common.

Potential benefits of the vegan bodybuilding diet

The vegan diet has been associated with several potential health benefits.

Reduces heart disease risk

People following vegan diets seem to be at a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease.

This may be partly attributed to a reduced intake of saturated fats and cholesterol and a higher intake of fiber and various plant compounds.

Can promote a healthy body weight

Those following a vegan diet typically have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those following a traditional Western diet, which reduces the risk of several disease factors.

One 16–week study looked at the effects of the vegan diet on 75 people with excess weight. It found the vegan diet to be more effective at improving body weight, fat mass, and insulin resistance markers than a control diet.

Therefore, if you’re starting on your bodybuilding journey with a bit of weight to lose, the vegan diet may be beneficial in that regard.

May protect against certain cancers

Following a vegan diet has been associated with a reduced risk of various types of cancer, compared with a traditional Western diet. This effect is likely due to the increased legume, fruit, and vegetable intakes associated with the vegan diet, which leads to a higher fiber, micronutrient, and phytonutrient intakes.

The vegan diet has also been linked to a reduction in BMI. A high BMI is another risk factor for certain types of cancer.


The rising popularity of the vegan diet has attracted attention from many individuals, including those in the bodybuilding community. While traditional bodybuilding diets include large amounts of animal protein, the vegan bodybuilding diet eliminates all animal-derived products and is higher in protein than a traditional vegan diet.

Following a vegan diet can provide several health benefits, although it comes with some drawbacks for bodybuilding, which should be taken into consideration.

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