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Top Vegan Foods That Build Lean Muscle


Looking to build some lean muscle but don’t want to resort to eating animal foods? Don’t worry – you don’t have to! I’ve studied nutrition and dietetics for over 10 years, and though I’ll admit that lean proteins from animal-based foods will help you build lean muscle, there’s no reason to give up being vegan just to get the body you want. I believe it’s more important to eat in a way that feels natural to you and your body and is made from a heartfelt decision – not a superficial one based off of physical appearance. Whatever you choose to eat, know that there are vegan foods that can help you build lean muscle and are some of the top foods many vegan athletes and vegan bodybuilders consume. With these options in your diet, you won’t only help build lean muscle mass, but you’ll also protect the planet, reduce inflammation, and enhance your heart health too.

No matter which of these foods you choose to eat, be sure to get a variety of veggies in your diet, which are some of the best foods for your muscles of all. Veggies help keep your body lean and they prevent inflammation while the foods below help preserve and build lean muscle. What’s your favorite source of vegan protein?

  1. Vegan Protein Powder

    Obviously, one of the best options is to use vegan protein powder, specifically one that contains hemp if possible since it’s incredibly easy to digest and full of protein. Sprouted brown rice protein is another popular choice as well. If you can find a blend of different vegan proteins in one powder, that’s even better. Opt for sugar-free varieties. Sugar is one of the worst foods to promote lean muscle mass and a healthy body weight of all. Vegan protein powders are specifically formulated to help athletes or everyday people preserve lean muscle mass and obtain enough essential amino acids.

  2. Oats

    Oats are one of the most unique grains out there. You’ll get five grams of protein in just one half cup of rolled oats along with a host of vitamins and minerals for your metabolism and muscles. Many bodybuilders start their day out with oats in some form or another because they help promote lean muscle mass, fight abdominal weight gain, and keep you full for a long time. They’re also lower on the glycemic index than brown rice or wheat, so they’re better for your blood sugar. Plus, oats are overall lower in starch than most other grains making them a leaner option.

  3. Quinoa

    Quinoa contains all essential amino acids, along with plenty of B vitamins and iron. It’s also a top source of magnesium and phosphorus, just like oats are. You can opt to have it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or even eat some as a snack since it’s a complete protein.

  4. Chia Seeds

    Chia seeds are full of iron and potassium, which your muscles need to function properly. They’re also a great source of omega-3 fats and are a complete protein. Omega-3 fats help prevent inflammation and aid in protein synthesis. They have also been linked to lower risks of heart disease and a healthy mood. Add some chia seeds to your morning oats, include them in a homemade energy bar, or toss some in your smoothie. I love to have them before and after a workout for the best effects.

  5. Leafy Greens

    Leafy greens don’t just keep your skin looking great; they also keep your muscles looking lean too! Leafy greens are packed with iron for optimal oxygen circulation during exercise and they contain a good amount of protein to help build muscle even further. Add them wherever you can and rotate them to get the best variety. Spinach and kale have a higher protein content than most other greens, but all of them are great options to include in your plan.

  6. Tofu

    If you like tofu, it’s a great lean muscle food. Tofu is packed with protein, is low in fat, and contains no saturated fat at all. It can be grilled, added to salads, made into vegan tacos, or you can even add the silken varieties to a protein shake since it’s tasteless.

  7. Lentils

    Lentils are a fantastic source of nutrients. They’re packed with fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium,  iron, and one cup contains eight grams of protein. They’re also fat-free and a great way to get antioxidants into your diet. Plus, they make a mean stand-in for meat in vegan chili or tacos!

  8. Green Peas

    The humble green pea is also bursting with protein to help sculpt lean muscles. Though all legumes and beans are great sources of protein, green peas contain the specific amino acid known as leucine. Leucine is rarely found in vegan protein sources in such high amounts outside of protein powders. It’s extremely critical to help build lean muscle mass and help preserve it once it’s formed. Add one half cup green peas to your diet each day or at least four times a week for the best effects.

  9. Almonds

    Almonds are one of the best nuts to consume for their protein content and their influence over lean body mass. Almonds are high in magnesium which lowers your cortisol. They contain B vitamins for you metabolism, and they’re a rich source of potassium to prevent inflammation. They contain seven grams of protein per serving, making them a fantastic source of amino acids. Use them raw and unsalted for the healthiest options and remember to keep portions in check if you’re trying to lean out.

  10. Peanuts

    Peanuts are one of the best foods to eat for their protein content and one of the most delicious! Per serving of roasted peanuts, you’ll get 12 grams of protein plus plenty of iron, B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. Peanut butter is also a great option, but be sure to choose an unsweetened variety and limit your portions since it is high in fat.

  11. Hemp Seeds

    Hemp seeds are packed with protein, with 13 grams in just two tablespoons. These little seeds are also packed with iron, magnesium, chlorophyll, fiber, and Vitamin E. Add them to your oatmeal, salads, or make energy bars with them. They’re also amazing in smoothies and dips too so feel free to get your fill however you like.

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132 comments on “Top Vegan Foods That Build Lean Muscle”

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Maxwell Smith
3 Years Ago


I am using a herbal formula testosterone booster containing ashwagandha, mucuna pruriens, gokshura, Chlorophytum borivilianum. I find fascinating the idea of herbs working together in synergy, my mood is better and I have great stamina and energy to get my work done and to make my wife happy

Ray Legans
3 Years Ago

Very excellent article. I look forward to reading more by you.

Toby Deveson
3 Years Ago

Rebecca Lori :)

Sergio Arturo Cervantes
3 Years Ago


Aleydis Nuñez Rodriguez
3 Years Ago

Keny Sanchez para nuestros musculos

Keny Sanchez
21 Oct 2014

woooooooooooooo me encantaa

Steven John Styles
3 Years Ago

what has vegan foods got to do with making opur planet green?

Ray Legans
26 Oct 2014

Hi Steven, if your question was showing genuine curiosity, here\'s a basic rundown of how eating plants will green the planet. (Taken from several reliably sourced articles I\'ve condensed into one reply. All had footnotes I\'ve left out, just ask if you want to follow up on studies, reports, and statistics, and check the reliability yourself.)

A 2006 report from the Food and Agricultural Federation of the United Nations (FAO) says livestock production is one of the major causes of the world\'s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Using a methodology that considers the entire commodity chain, it estimates that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport.
Based on the most recent data available at that time, livestock\'s long shadow takes into account the livestock sector\'s direct impacts, plus the environmental effects of related land use changes and production of the feed crops animals consume. It finds that expanding population and incomes worldwide, along with changing food preferences, are stimulating a rapid increase in demand for meat, milk and eggs, while globalization is boosting trade in both boosting trade in both inputs and outputs.
In the process, the livestock sector is undergoing a complex process of technical and geographical change. Production is shifting from the countryside to urban and suburban areas, and towards sources of animal feed, whether feed crop areas or transport and trade hubs where feed is distributed. There is also a shift in species, with accelerating growth in production of pigs and poultry (mostly in industrial units) and a slow-down in that of cattle, sheep and goats, which are often raised extensively. Today, an estimated 80 percent of growth in the livestock sector comes from industrial production systems. Owing to those shifts, the report says, livestock are entering into direct competition for scarce land, water and other natural resources.
Deforestation, greenhouse gases. The livestock sector is by far the single most human impacted use of land. Grazing occupies 26 percent of the Earth\'s terrestrial surface, while feed crop production requires about a THIRD of all arable land, which could be used to grow many times more plant based protein rich food for direct human consumption. Tracking food animal production from the feed trough to the dinner table, broiler chickens to be the most efficient use of fossil energy in the forms of fertilizer, transportation etc. and beef, the least. Chicken meat production consumes energy in a 4:1 ratio to protein output, which is super wasteful and inefficient, even more awful, beef cattle production requires an energy input to protein output ratio of 54:1, lamb meat production is nearly as inefficient at 50:1, according to the ecologist\'s analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Other ratios range from 13:1 for turkey meat and 14:1 for milk protein to 17:1 for pork and 26:1 for eggs. All these numbers clearly show that animal product consumption has a devastating impact on the planet. It gets worse.
Expansion of grazing land for livestock is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America, where U.S. companies have some of their biggest production and imports from: some 70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon is used as pasture, and feed crops cover a large part of the remainder. About 70 percent of all grazing land in dry areas is considered degraded, mostly because of overgrazing, compaction and erosion attributable to livestock activity.
At the same time, the livestock sector has assumed an often unrecognized role in global warming. Using a methodology that considered the entire commodity chain, FAO estimated that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport. It accounts for nine percent of human impact carbon dioxide emissions, most of it due to expansion of pastures and arable land for feed crops. It generates even bigger shares of emissions of other gases with greater potential to warm the atmosphere: as much as 37 percent of anthropogenic methane, mostly from intestinal fermentation by cows, sheep and goats, and 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide, mostly from manure.
Scientists usually tie their estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming to sources such as land use changes, agriculture (including livestock) and transportation. The authors of this 2006 FAO report took a different approach, aggregating emissions throughout the livestock commodity chain - from feed production (which includes chemical fertilizer production, deforestation for pasture and feed crops, and pasture degradation), through animal production (including intestinal fermentation and nitrous oxide emissions from manure) to the carbon dioxide emitted during processing and transportation of animal products.
Livestock production also impacts heavily the world\'s water supply, accounting for more than 8 percent of global human water use, mainly for the irrigation of feed crops. Evidence suggests it is the largest sectoral source of water pollutants, principally animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures. While global figures are unavailable, it is estimated that in the USA livestock and feed crop agriculture are responsible for 37 percent of pesticide use, 50 percent of antibiotic use, and a third of the nitrogen and phosphorus loads in freshwater resources. The sector also generates almost two-thirds of anthropogenic ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.
The sheer quantity of animals being raised for human consumption also poses a threat of the Earth\'s biodiversity. Livestock account for about 20 percent of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the land area they now occupy was once habitat for wildlife. In 306 of the 825 terrestrial eco-regions identified by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, livestock are identified as "a current threat", while 23 of Conservation International\'s 35 "global hotspots for biodiversity" - characterized by serious levels of habitat loss - are affected by livestock production.
So basically, it\'s an extremely complex equation of why eating animals, and eggs & dairy are horrible ecologically, but a very simple solution is to eat a healthy plant based diet. It will HELP the greening of the planet because it\'s a much vaster problem than most people realize, but eating a salad won\'t address all the other problems caused by industrialization based on fossil fuel.
Short questions seldom have short answers.

Shannon Fisher
3 Years Ago

Brannon Dawsyn Arms

Barbara Bernier
3 Years Ago


Gabriela Tenorio Vara
3 Years Ago

Gerardo Alcala

Gerardo Alcala
21 Oct 2014

veamos la bebe ñovia...

Keturah Tarantino
3 Years Ago



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