muscle mass as vegan

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vitalwheatgluten
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muscle mass as vegan

#1 Postby vitalwheatgluten » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:26 pm

I'm not much of a fitness buff myself, yet as a vegan I often find myself discussing the topic with skeptics. Specifically, I'm asked whether vegans can maintain muscle mass. I point people to this website, but I really don't know.

I recently read an article by the P90x guy, Tony Horton. I was pleased to hear that he was a vegan for a while, but he said this: "Yes, I was a vegan for years -- and I felt great doing it. But the problem was that I couldn’t keep weight on, eating just veggies, fruit, beans, and nuts, so I had to rethink my strategy."

Recently, I've heard this complaint echo'd by a close vegan fitness-oriented friend of mine. He claims to eat 80g of protein a day, but still has lost some muscle mass.

I want to know the honest answer. It seems like, if we are all being completely honest, you won't be able to maintain as much muscle compared with a diet that includes animal protein...and the muscle you do have takes constant work to maintain. Does that sound right?

Thanks.

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FormicaLinoleum
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Re: muscle mass as vegan

#2 Postby FormicaLinoleum » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:20 am

vitalwheatgluten wrote:It seems like, if we are all being completely honest, you won't be able to maintain as much muscle compared with a diet that includes animal protein...and the muscle you do have takes constant work to maintain. Does that sound right?

I don't aim to increase my muscle mass (just my strength) so I might not be the right person to answer. But surely, maintaining a lot of muscle mass takes constant work regardless of whether you're vegan or eat loads of meat? Non-vegans have to be sure to eat a lot and work hard in the gym in order to gain and maintain muscle mass, and it'll be the same for a vegan.

I do think that if you want to have a lot of muscle mass, it's going to be hard to do that while eating really cleanly. It's easier to get lots of calories and protein if you are less discerning about where those calories come from and are happy to have protein shakes and veggie burgers and stuff like that. But bulking up with lots of muscle isn't really a healthy enterprise to start with.

If you want to have a really clean, whole foods diet, bulking will probably be harder, but you'll probably be healthier.
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The PhytoAthlete
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Re: muscle mass as vegan

#3 Postby The PhytoAthlete » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:43 am

I have no problem maintaining muscle mass. I actually put on some muscle year or so back and wasn't even trying and my protein intake is on the low side at only 1 gram per kg of body weight.

Your friend who was eating 80g protein a day, how much does he weigh?

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VeganEssentials
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Re: muscle mass as vegan

#4 Postby VeganEssentials » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:17 pm

I've been up to over 280 lbs. when I competed in strongman while vegan, so to answer the question, if you eat enough, it's no problem maintaining muscle mass while vegan. Most often, it seems that people are typically under-eating for their needs after changing their diet, then they lose size/strength and believe it's the fault of the diet rather than that they simply need more calories. Fix the problem with lack of food, and the issue with weight/muscle loss is easily resolved!
"A 'hardgainer' is merely someone who hasn't bothered to try enough different training methods to learn what is actually right for their own damned body." - anonymous

MattSxvx
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Re: muscle mass as vegan

#5 Postby MattSxvx » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:22 pm

VeganEssentials wrote:I've been up to over 280 lbs. when I competed in strongman while vegan, so to answer the question, if you eat enough, it's no problem maintaining muscle mass while vegan. Most often, it seems that people are typically under-eating for their needs after changing their diet, then they lose size/strength and believe it's the fault of the diet rather than that they simply need more calories. Fix the problem with lack of food, and the issue with weight/muscle loss is easily resolved!


Seconded. It's not hard to maintain or even gain. Consistency is key.

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jaguar
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Re: muscle mass as vegan

#6 Postby jaguar » Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:31 am

This is a concept I'm starting to believe...

Food at the end of the day is simple. It's just protein, fat and carbohydrates. Everything else is in tiny amounts and as long as you're eating (preferably organic) fruit + veg you will have enough. (Optimally, you can supplement or eat flax oil but I don't believe this is 100% necessary)

If you eat enough protein fat and carbohydrates you will gain. It doesn't matter where they come from.

Yes it can be harder to do when eating a diet that you aren't 100% used to (ie, grew up eating) - that is, a vegan diet for most people. Hell it can be hard to get the right balance nutrients on any diet, witness the obesity epidemic - meat eaters and veg*ans alike suffer from overeating issues due to the wrong food.

The answer, IF you are having problems gaining/losing (if not, then no problem!) is to not 'trust your instincts' because you may not be getting enough, or even getting too much of something. In short, you have to track your food at least for a while until you learn what the diet is that is optimal for you and your goals.

I'm working on a simplified way to track macros (I don't bother with calories any more) which means I can do it all in my head and keep tabs on myself all day without needing to carry around a notepad or computer.

But, due to my lucky status as life long vegan and the fact I've been experimenting for a while, I'm very close to the point where I know how much to eat to suit the type of day I'm having without needing to add figures up in my head. This is obviously my goal. Its taken a lot of hard work to get there though and (I'll stop rambling now!) this is my point: in order to make any kind of changes, bulk or cut or whatever, you need to put some effort into figuring out your optimal targets and how you can stick to them. This goes for anybody, vegan or not but there is less conventional wisdom around for veganism, so it can definitely be harder! Just take a clinical look at every kind of food - and work out how much of it you need! That's my long-winded advice anyway, and good luck - its a constant experiment!


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