Plant based muscle building – A beginner’s guide

The words ‘plant based’ and ‘muscle building’ don’t often go hand in hand, but there’s no reason why you can’t build muscle on a plant based diet. ‘Plant Based’ is a word that has been thrown around a lot throughout 2019, and there have been many speculations about its health benefits. One thing that many people in the fitness industry have been discussing is whether this choice of lifestyle has any benefits or drawbacks when it comes to muscle building.

There has been uproar since a recent documentary has promoted the benefits of a plant based diet when building strength and muscle, with many people believing it to be biased. That’s why we’re here at supplement devil to give you a totally unbiased review about a plant based diet, and how you can incorporate it into your life and still reach those muscle building goals at the same time.

What does plant based mean?

First things first, we need to clear up exactly what plant based means. Different people have different definitions of what it means to be plant based. Some people think of it as a strict vegan diet, with absolutely no animal products. Whereas other define it as a diet mainly made up of plant based products, with the odd animal product thrown in such as eggs, dairy, meat and fish.

A food defined as plant based is a whole food source such as fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses. If you choose to have a plant based diet, your meals will primarily come from these foods, with the option to add meat and fish occasionally if you decide.

Limitations to a plant based diet

When it comes to building muscle, there are several potential drawbacks to a plant based diet that could get in your way, some of these problems include:

Eating enough food

Often, plant based foods are lower in calorie than those derived from animal products, this is usually because they contain a lot less fat. As a result, in-order to get the right calorie intake to build muscle, you will find that you are having to consume more. Although this might not be a problem for those that love food, some people may find it difficult consuming larger portions or more meals throughout the day.

Less protein in plant based foods

Protein is vital when it comes to building muscle. Without a sufficient amount of protein, our muscles cannot repair and grow adequately which means muscle fatigue and depletion. On top of this, protein has several other roles in the body such as building hair and nails, making enzymes and it is also the build block of bones.

Gram for gram, there is usually less protein in plant based foods, so you may find that you have to supplement with protein powders to give your body the amount it needs.

Lower levels of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that can only be found in animal based products such as red meat and poultry, this means that people leading a mainly plant based diet could be deficient in the vitamin. However, this is especially important for people that visit the gym regularly as a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue and anaemia, which can eventually cause nerve damage. If you’re trying to build muscle, it could be made a lot more difficult if you’re constantly tired and lacking energy, so B12 supplementation might be needed.

Benefits of a plant based diet

That being said, a plant based diet holds a whole host of benefits for the body, whether you’re looking to build muscle or not. Many people opt for a more plant based diet to live a healthier lifestyle.

May help with weight loss

Usually, if you’re looking to build muscle you want to get rid of excess fat to give you that lean and defined look and a plant based diet may help. Like we said earlier, animal based products are often higher in fat content and more calorific than plant based foods. Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to bring yourself into a calorie deficit and burn fat, a plant based diet might be an easy way to do so by eradicating the high calorie foods.

Health benefits

Many studies over recent years have given proof to the large amounts of benefits a plant based diet can have on your health. Benefits include a reduced risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, to name a few. With benefits such as these it’s hard to argue that a plant based diet might be a good idea.

Eradicates junk food

Having a plant based diet means eating natural wholefoods which means largely removing processed foods from the diet. It is processed foods such as sweets, chocolate, crisps and fast food that consist of animal products. When you eradicate these foods from your diet it’s like giving your body a detox and you’re reducing the risk of storing visceral fat (stomach fat). This in turn means it’ll be easier to build muscle whilst losing fat.

Plant based muscle building

Best plant based muscle building foods

Now you know that it is possible to follow a plant based diet whilst building muscle, it’s time to look at the foods that you should be consuming to get as much muscle on as possible.


-Kidney beans

-Black eyed peas



Vegan protein powder

-Butter beans








-Olive oil

-Sunflower oil

-Nut butters

-ground flaxseed









-Sweet potato



In-order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and maintain muscle growth, it is essential that you get enough of all three macronutrients, carbohydrates, fats and protein. If you do decide to opt for a plant based diet, it might be a good idea to transition from a few animal based products down to none whilst you get to grips with ensuring you can get the right amount of protein from plant based foods.

Now you’ve got to grips with the ins and outs of a plant based diet, it’s time to incorporate it into your strength training programme and start to make big gains over winter.

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