9 Tips on How to Build Muscle on a Vegetarian Diet

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If you’re a regular at the gym, you might’ve heard people discussing the high quantities of chicken they consume to boast rock hard pecs, bulging biceps and a well-defined pack of abs. As a vegetarian, you might feel discouraged and may lose hope of gaining muscle even after putting maximum effort into your workout.

This is one of the biggest myths people believe in the field of bodybuilding. Moreover, this is propagated by highly experienced trainers and fitness enthusiasts.

Building muscle on a vegetarian diet is certainly more difficult as compared to one consisting of meat products, but it isn’t impossible. To do so, it is essential to understand the science behind the growth of muscles in the body.

The first lesson in nutrition tells us that proteins are the building blocks of our body. The same goes for increasing your muscle mass. It is a known fact that meat products contain a higher quantity of protein per serving as compared to lentils.

However, if you adopt a more comprehensive approach to the contents of your diet, achieving your goal of a leaner body frame with increased muscle mass. Read on for 9 tips that will help you do so.

See Also: How to Build Muscle Fast

1.)  Determine Your Protein Needs

Having a goal without a proper strategy is like aiming shots in the dark. Thus you need to lay out the various aspects of building muscle, the first and foremost one being the determination of your protein needs.

Every individual needs to consume different amounts of protein, which varies depending on their weight and the level of physical activity they perform.

For example, a person who does an hour of training at the gym requires around 0.7 – 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight, while an athlete who trains almost the entire day requires 1.5 – 2.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Laying out such a plan will help you greatly in accomplishing your goals.

2.)  Use Complementary Proteins

Amino acids are the primary component of protein, and our body can synthesize some of these amino acids.

However, there are nine amino acids known as ‘essential amino acids’ which cannot be produced by the body.

Foods which contain the nine of them are known as complete protein foods. However, plant proteins are usually not complete. Thus, pairing foods like beans with rice, oats with almonds, and lentil with barley will provide you with a complete protein meal.

Additional Reading: BCAAs and Glutamine

3.)  Eat Enough Carbs During the Day

A majority of bodybuilders and strength trainers tend to shy away from carbohydrates as they feel it leads to increase in body fat. However, this is not true at all. Carbs provide energy to your body to perform all sorts of tasks, from running to lifting heavy weights.

You should target to have at least 40 percent of your diet to consist of carbs to build muscle efficiently.

Moreover, you should add carbs to your post-workout meal to aid the recovery process of your whole body.

Read More: Complex Carbs for Bodybuilding

4.)  Maintain a Slight Caloric Surplus

A caloric surplus is an increase in your daily calorie consumption. The average male requires around 2400 calories a day, and women need almost 2000 calories each day. To build muscle, you need to maintain about 5-10 percent of a caloric surplus.

If you keep a caloric deficit, you’ll start losing muscle, and if you do not maintain either of them, you’ll not see any progress.

5.)  Understand the Process Comprehensively

The human body hosts a myriad of processes, and muscle growth is one of them. To understand how you can increase muscle size, you need to understand the different types of muscles in the body.

Muscles in the human body are classified into three categories: cardiac muscle, smooth muscle, and skeletal muscle. Cardiac and smooth muscles majorly make up the hollow organs like the heart, stomach, liver, etc. These are involuntary.

Skeletal muscles are the ones which are directly attached to your skeleton via fibers known as tendons. Your skin covers these muscles and provides structure and shape to your overall look. When you talk about muscle growth, it is skeletal muscle growth which you are talking about. These muscles are composed of muscle fibers, which in turn are formed when several muscle cells connect. The growth of these fibers promotes an increase in the size of your muscles and a better figure.

6.)  Aim for Muscle Hypertrophy

(via PNAS)

According to the Oxford Dictionary, hypertrophy is the enlargement of an organ or tissue from the increase in the size of its cells. As in the discussed previous point, you need to increase the size of your muscle cells to promote muscle growth.

This can be done in a whole lot of ways, physically or chemically. Chemical methods can have various side effects, hence aren’t advisable.

In the gym, you can aim for strength training by lifting heavier weights. Lifting heavy weights will lead to a mechanical tear of your muscles. When this happens, your body will initiate a repair response.

The damaged muscle fibers along with muscle proteins cause the cells to expand, leading to an increase in overall muscle size.

7.) Add Variety in Your Daily Diet

Consumption of a variety of protein sources in your meals will add high nutritional value to your daily diet.

For example, you can whip up a cottage cheese sandwich for breakfast along with a glass of milk, have a bowl of lentils and rice for lunch, and end the day with some tofu and a quinoa salad to get almost 80-90 grams of protein in the whole day.

Moreover, you’d get many other nutrients like carbs, vitamins, and fat, along with essential fibers to aid in digestion.

Additional Reading: Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits

8.) Use Supplements if Needed

If you have a busy schedule throughout the day, you might not be able to consume the amount of protein you need to build muscle. In such a case, you can opt for protein supplements to reach the desired level of consumption. You should opt for high-quality whey protein, which is sugar-free and has low carb content.

A standard scoop (30 grams) should contain about 23-27 grams of whey protein for it to be considered high quality. You can add these supplements to your milkshakes, smoothies, and even in the bowl of oatmeal which you have for breakfast.

While most experts recommend using these as post-workout supplements, you can use them at any point of the day.

See More: When to Take Whey Protein

9.) Anabolic Steroids (The Absolute Last Option)

If you feel you’re not making any progress despite following tons of tips and techniques available out there, you might want to consider steroidal treatment for the same. The male growth hormone, i.e., testosterone is responsible for enhancing the growth of any of your body parts. Its deficiency may be the cause of your lack of progress.

You can consult a doctor and opt for anabolic steroids like the ones available on steroids Canada website to boost testosterone levels in your body.

Read Also: Legal Steroids Review

Concluding Thoughts

Muscle growth can be challenging on a vegetarian diet, but with these tips handy, you can certainly meet your fitness goals if you’re consistent enough.

Adam Kemp

Hello! My name is Adam Kemp, and I am a professional basketball player with a wealth of worldly knowledge about health and fitness! Check out my website to find a variety of fitness tips and health advice that I have learned throughout my basketball career. I have just begun my 6th year of playing professional basketball, and I have played in many countries throughout Europe and Eur-Asia. Along with my career as a professional basketball player, I graduated from Marist College in 2014 with a B.A. in Sports Communications and a Minor in Psychology. My areas of expertise pertaining to health and fitness include helping people lose weight, gain muscle mass, and become a better athlete. If you would like to learn more about my life, please take a moment to follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

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