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Why all the concern about GAINING muscle on a vegan diet?


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I hear a lot of comments about people being concerned about not being able to gain muscle on a vegan diet. This really confuses me - to gain, all you need to do is eat at or above maintenance level, according to the traditional bodybuilding mentality, anyway. Generally that means keeping protein and fat intake the same and raising carbs. But it's really easy to get a gram of protein per lb of body weight when your carbs are high - generally, the good carb sources have a reasonable percentage of protein as well.

 

What I'm more concerned with is maintaining a low body fat on a vegan diet - which is, oddly, the thing people associate with vegans: being skinny. Walking around at single digit body fat year-round is not easy, and much more desirable, in my opinion, than packing on a lot of weight quickly. However, generally, a high protein, moderate fat, low carb diet(often with carb cycling) tends to be the way people pull it off. That is precisely the thing I find hard to maintain while eating vegan, without relying too much on protein powder. Many vegan protein sources contain a much higher amount of carbs/fats than, say, chicken breast - and that's the thing that makes life difficult.

 

So, could someone clear this up for me? It seems to be that people should be saying "it must be difficult to be muscular yet very clean on a vegan diet" rather than "it must be hard to gain muscle."

 

Also, while I'm on the subject, those of you that maintain a low body fat year-round - what does your nutrition generally look like? Personally, at 150lbs, I tend to eat around 50-70g fat, 130-150g protein, 80-300g carbs(depending on how much exercise is involved). That seems to work well for me, however, I'm eating yoghurt and fish right now. That makes 150g protein/80g carbs (without supplements) VERY easy - but I was vegan for some time and am looking into returning to that soon.

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Also, while I'm on the subject, those of you that maintain a low body fat year-round - what does your nutrition generally look like? Personally, at 150lbs, I tend to eat around 50-70g fat, 130-150g protein, 80-300g carbs(depending on how much exercise is involved).

I don't count my macros so I've really not much idea of what I'm eating. I just like the concept of eating when I am hungry and making sure I am constantly consuming high quality, clean calories. Emphasising plant based foods, fruits & veges obviously, lentils, quinoa, legumes, TVP, refried beans, nuts, sushi avocados... they wuold probably be my staples.

 

I'm pretty low bodyfat, normally around 6-8% without trying and I weigh about 140lb. I have no issues adding muscle but I struggle more to add overall size and bulk. The reason for that though is clearly that I simply don't consume enough overall calories; until my strength starts to suffer though that isn't a concern to me.

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I find it very difficult to gain muscle. Before going vegan I was vegetarian, and I managed to gain 10kg up to 77kg, but I also bounced up to around 20% body fat while I was at it.

Since going vegan I have dropped the 10kg down to 67kg, and I'm not down to around 13% body fat, but I still seem to struggle to put on weight that isn't fat.

 

It's pretty bloomin infuriating!!

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Mine is taken with a pinch of salt. I use my bathroom scales. Generally they seem to be pretty consistent, whether they're accurate or not I'm not sure, but at least I have a monitor of whether it's generally going up or down.

 

Generally the most accurate way I think is a caliper test, taken by somebody trained in taking the measurements.

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Miniforklift - I'm actually surprised to hear you struggle to add size. Then again, I'm not sure what you mean by gaining strength is not a problem but size is. They are usually highly correlated - and why would one want size without strength?

 

I'm at about the same bf% as you, judging by the pictures, maybe a bit less - but I'd like to be leaner, ideally. That's my issue with a vegan diet, really. I've looked at the diets of vegan bodybuilders during contest prep, and it often looks similar to a standard one - the same high protein/moderate fat/low carbs thing you see anywhere else. Except so much of the protein comes from powders it's a bit concerning.

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What I mean is that I can continue to gain strength but my bodyweight either stays the same or drops.

Over the 10wk cycle I used for my last powerlifting meet I added well over 100lb to my 3 lifts and I dropped from 143 to 139lb.

 

That could allow you to compete in a lower weight class though, yes? So that could really be good instead?

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That could allow you to compete in a lower weight class though, yes? So that could really be good instead?

Exactly. It's a real advantage. It allows me to get up to around 66-68kg for training, then I can just drop down for the meet with no loss of strength. I have only ever competed in the 59-66kg class

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In one word, PROPAGANDA. It is easy for the meat, egg and dairy industries to say, "our product has tons of protein, and muscles are made of protein. You do the math!" And thus, this biggest farce in bodybuilding history was born. We call it the protein myth.

 

As for the second part, I stay around 10-13% all year. Not having a car helps lol. Also when i did have a car it did not matter, nor did i count carbs. How is this possible? Raw veganism. You would have to down loads of virgin oils to get fat as a raw vegan. And that is so much oil that you would throw it up. People like to try to find ways to cheat around having a raw vegan diet, yet it is the simplest way.

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13% is not very good. I mean, personally I don't like the way I look at 13 - some other people look pretty good at that level, but I prefer to stay in the single digit area. Also, I wouldn't have trouble staying at 13% without much effort, so that doesn't really mean much to me.

 

I'd really like to hear from somebody who keeps track of their macros. Tracking has really proven to be very effective for me with regard to maintaining a certain appearance, and it's also quite difficult to compare what you eat without knowing exactly what's going into your body. Note that I'm not focusing on the source of the macronutrients, but this is a bodybuilding forum and I'm assuming we're all getting our nutrients from clean, mostly whole food sources already.

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