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Posted 2 years ago

But where do you get your protein from?

It’s almost become a running joke, but it’s surprising the number of people who think that you cannot possibly consume enough protein on a vegan diet!

A vegan or plant-based diet is one which does not include any animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy or honey. For most people, that eliminates 99% of their current diet, which often leaves them puzzled and wondering how on earth vegans do it or questioning whether it’s even possible to get “enough protein” on a vegan diet.

If you’re reading this and you’re vegan or veggie curious, the good news is that it is now easier than ever to get enough protein in, without compromising the rest of your macro split (because no, chickpeas do not have all that much protein relative to carbs!).

The difference is that if you’re vegan, you maybe just need to think a bit more out the box, be mindful about your choices, and be ready to get curious and look at every label in supermarkets to fact check your food!

As with any food plan that is designed to support muscle growth and recovery, many key fundamentals will not change when it comes to following a vegan diet. For example, you should still aim to distribute your protein semi-evenly across your meals in the day, and should aim to get your protein from a variety of sources. Below is an example of what you could eat in a day to get enough protein on a vegan diet.

Breakfast / Meal 1

Starting off your day with a high protein meal is perfect, especially as you’re breaking your overnight fast but also might not get a chance to get your next meal in for quite some time.

If you enjoy coffee or tea in the morning, I’d recommend choosing soymilk over other plant-based milks, as its protein content is a fair bit higher. An unsweetened soymilk contains just under 10g protein per 300ml, with trace fats and carbohydrates, so it’s perfect for that first hot drink of the day (you can distribute it across a few!).

For the actual main meal1, I love having a bowl of oats. Oats are primarily a carbohydrate, but do contain some trace protein too. If you then add a scoop of protein powder to your oats, it makes the perfect sweet breakfast, which could easily clock up around 30-35g protein for your first meal. Be sure to add in some fruit too!

Snack / Meal 2 / pre workout

Depending on the structure of your day, your second meal might be a snack or a pre-workout meal. One of my all-time favourites is to have plain soy yoghurt with some fruit and nut butter. Unsweetened soy yoghurt typically has zero carbs in it, but does contain a slightly higher % of fat. Therefore, if you are dieting you could maybe have ½ pot of soy yoghurt and add in a scoop of e.g. vanilla protein powder, with some more fruit and nut butter.

Lunch / Meal 3 / post workout

Whether your next meal is a sweet or savoury lunch/post workout, there are so many options out there you can go for! There are a lot of “fake meat” brands that are based on textured soya (which is a complete protein!), and the really are amazing (my personal favourites are the Naked Glory roast strips or the No Chick strips). One 140g serving of those plus your post workout carbs/lunch veggies will easily get you to circa 30g protein per meal. The plus side is that it’s incredibly satiating!

Snack / Meal 4 / post post workout

I suppose a lot of how you structure your meals can depend on what you enjoy. I have a major sweet tooth, and I’m not too bothered about having some processed food in my diet as for the most part I eat wholefoods / veggies / fruits / grains. This is why – as a mid-afternoon snack – I absolutely LOVE having a protein hot chocolate / mug cake with a protein bar. But of course, you don’t need to have three servings of protein powder a day! Some vegan ham (Quorn’s stuff is really good!) on some corn cakes with salsa and cucumbers is also a perfect savoury and macro-friendly snack.

Dinner / Meal 5

And for the final meal of the day, again, it really does depend on your preferences. I quite like changing this up and switching between veggie sausages (Linda McArtneys are the best), vegan steak/burger (vivera is the brand for this) or making a spag bol with veggie mince/meatballs and edamame or black bean spaghetti. I also like making different stir fries with tofu, tempeh or seitan – especially when I’m dieting, even just with veggies this makes a perfect meal!

I know this is a super rough guide, but if you are new to the vegan world or new to tracking macros I highly recommend you spend some time (a) walking around a supermarket comparing labels of vegan foods, and (b) ask a fellow vegan bodybuilder / gym-bunny (pun intended!) for their personal advice and preferences.

The key message is that there are so many incredible plant-based foods out there that you can now purchase from a supermarket, that you can’t limit your vegan diet to spongey tofu and broccoli. Get experimenting and enjoy the world of vegan bodybuilding!

If you want to learn more about meal planning, protein and being vegan, be sure to get in touch by clicking the button below and enquiring today.

Clara Swedlund MSc MBPsS