When it comes to powering muscles, vegan diets don’t have the best reputation, but that is basically a load of … meatloaf. Let’s just say one doesn’t need meat to have sweet muscles. In fact, it doesn’t take any extra planning or an abundance of supplements to get ripped on plants.

First and foremost, of course, some exercise will be required to get those biceps bigger, but as any gym, muscle mag or meathead (I used to be a competitive lifter, so I can say that) will tell you: What you put in your body is as important as what you do with your body.

Unfortunately, for far too long, this line of advice has quickly spiraled into chicken breasts and canned tuna in water, the idea being to pack in as much protein as possible with the least amount of fat. Well, that’s just wrong. In fact, we need lots of things much more than we need skinless chicken.

If you want to power your muscles with plants, then you need only choose the right ones and, voila, the results are every bit as — better even — good as those of canned tuna on brown rice. So, you are undoubtedly asking yourself, which plant foods exactly are we talking about. Here are some suggestions:

1. Eat for energy.

It’s no good to head to the gym and fall flat on your face after ten minutes. Eat the correct foods to keep you going.

Oatmeal — Start the day off right, with a slow-release, complex carb. The B-vitamins also help convert carbs into energy instead of fat. And, you can’t workout well without energy.

Lucky for you, One Green Planet has a plethora of oatmeal recipes from which to choose. And, we aren’t just talking breakfast: How ‘bout Mushroom Steel Cut Oatmeal Risotto?

Whole Grains — Muscle-building often falls completely to the pro-protein doldrums, and we forget how important it is to fuel ourselves. Just make sure to use the least processed grains possible.

Educate yourself on the difference between what’s refined versus nutritious. Then, incorporate these necessary, highly beneficial “carbs” into your meal plans.

2. Load up on protein.

Samuel L. said it best for all vegans: “Yes, I’m vegan. Ask me again if a get enough protein. I dare you, I double dare you.”

Beans — There are loads of varieties, nearly all of which carry mucho protein, complex carbs (good for after workouts), and dietary fiber, which is integral to muscle growth.

Try these high protein bean recipes to add some pizzazz to the norm. If you’ve not been eating beans all along, for shame! They are magical (for more than just muscle growth).

Almonds — Lots of protein and fiber (good for quelling cravings), plus the high levels of vitamin E helps muscles recover more quickly.

Eat by the handful, of course, but here are a few other ways to work almonds into your diet: 25 Mega Amazing Vegan Recipes for Almond Lovers.

3. Recover well with food.

You need energy to workout. You need protein to build mass. And, you need vitamins and minerals to aid your body with recovery.

Spinach — Popeye had it right all along. Spinach indeed has a nice portion of protein, but it also has phytoecdysteroids, which aids in muscle growth, and is alkaline, which helps with balancing a high protein diet. Let’s not forget all those vitamins and minerals either.

Raw is the best way, but check out The 6 Healthiest Ways to Eat Spinach for more suggestions. Note: One Green Planet has a whole slew of spinach recipes.

Vegetables — That’s right. The healthy rainbow of vegetables is important to muscle building as well. They neutralize free-radicals and keep the muscle moving in the right direction.

Raw veggies provide many more nutrients, so check out these smoothie recipes for a formidable, all-natural vitamin booster for good recovery.

Don’t doubt it for a second. Plant-based can be powerful and the whole protein-deficient myth is just that. Plants build muscles. Powerful muscles. It’s just that simple.

Image source: Pascal / Flickr