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How to Gain Muscle as a Vegan

True Protein Blogger 1 by Ruby Blackhall reviewed by our Nutrition Team 13 December 2021

Can you gain muscle as a vegan? The answer is yes! Read this blog to find out how.

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How to Gain Muscle as a Vegan

The vegan diet has grown in popularity in recent years, however, the stereotype remains that you can’t gain muscle as a vegan. It has been ingrained into our minds that to be big and strong, you must consume animal and meat products, however, in actual fact, there is no reason that consuming a vegan diet should pose a barrier to gaining muscle. In conjunction with weight training, there are two major things to focus on if you want to gain muscle as a vegan: 

  • Eating in a calorie surplus 
  • Eating enough protein 


What is a Calorie Surplus? 

A calorie surplus is when we consume more calories than we burn. In order to build muscle, you need to ensure you are providing your body with enough energy to do so. When you consume less energy than you burn, your body turns to existing muscle as a source of energy, breaking it down and stunting your muscle growth. The number of calories your body needs depends on a variety of factors such as weight, activity level and gender. 

When we think of a vegan diet, our mind often goes to salads and fruits which are not particularly calorie dense. As a vegan wanting to build muscle, you must ensure you are eating calorie-dense foods in order to reach the calorie surplus. To do this, we need to make sure there are large amounts of grains, beans, tofu, meat alternatives, healthy fats, fruit and vegetables in our snacks and meals.  

Here are some examples of high calorie vegan-friendly foods: 



Avocado (½ medium) 


Quinoa (1 cup) 


Sweet potato (1 medium) 


Soy Milk (1 cup) 


Potato (1 medium) 


Olive oil (1 tablespoon) 



Protein for Muscle Growth 

Protein is vital for gaining muscle. This is because protein contains amino acids which are the building blocks for muscle growth. Engaging in resistance training tears your muscle fibers which are then rebuilt larger and stronger (with the help of protein). Again, your protein requirements will differ depending on your activity level, muscle mass, gender, weight, and fitness goals. To find out how much protein you should consume per day, check out our blog. [How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day?] 

When we think of protein we tend to think of chicken, red meat, eggs and fish, which are all animal products. However, animals are certainly not the only sources of protein available - there are still a variety of protein rich foods in the plant kingdom. An important thing to note is that many plant-based protein sources do not contain a full amino acid profile. Therefore, it is important to eat a wider variety of vegan protein sources to meet one's needs.  

Some examples of high protein vegan foods are: 



Tofu (100g) 


Beans (1 cup) 


Soy Milk (1 cup) 


Lentils (1 cup) 


Chickpeas (1 cup) 


True Protein Vegan85 



Vegan protein powders are a convenient way to maximise your protein intake by providing you with a concentrated and convenient source of protein. True Protein’s Vegan85 is a blend of pea, pumpkin and brown rice protein to achieve a full spectrum amino acid profile and provides 23g in one serving.  

Vegan85 comes in 6 delicious flavours and can be used in a smoothie, baking or just mixed into water or milk (dairy-free if you’re vegan). If using your protein alongside an exercise regime we recommend enjoying a protein shake post-workout, within an hour of exercising, to enhance recovery. Protein shakes can also be consumed at any time throughout the day, depending on your individual needs. Although it is a great source of protein and can be filling, it should not be used as a meal replacement and should be used in conjunction with a whole-food diet consisting of carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients. This will best support your muscle growth goals and help optimise your results.  

Key takeaways: 

  • When engaging in a suitable exercise regime and eating the right foods, it is possible to gain muscle as a vegan 
  • In order to build muscle, you must ensure you are providing your body with enough energy to do so, and therefore should eat in a calorie surplus 
  • Protein is another important step in gaining muscle, there are many high protein foods suitable for a plant-based diet, including vegan protein powder 


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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: all content provided here is of a general nature only and is not a substitute for individualised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and reliance should not be placed on it. For personalised medical or nutrition advice, please make an appointment with your doctor, dietitian or qualified health care professional.


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