Soon I will have a specific Performance guide that will detail step by step how to achieve lean muscle gain while eating a vegan/plant-based diet and exercising routinely. As per all Plant Proof online information, this will be absolutely free of charge and I know it’s going to be hugely beneficial. However, before then I wanted to summarise the key principles of a plant-based diet for lean muscle gain.
1 – Eat whole foods – More often than not, when someone tells me they want lean muscle and I ask what their diet is, they come back with all sorts of processed foods, including things like Cheerios and, long shelf life protein bars and fake meats. The more whole foods you eat, the greater nutrition your body will get and the less junk it has to eliminate/store.
2 – Don’t ‘Yo-yo’ – Treats are fine in moderation (I have dark chocolate, berries and coconut yogurt 3-4x a week for dessert) but there is no point eating great across your main meals each day to then shove in ice cream and raw vegan treats every night. They are super calorie dense and will hold back lean muscle gain. If your aim is to just gain size and you are not worried about being lean, then having them in moderation is less of a concern. Either way though, the majority of vegan desserts are loaded in fats (often saturated) and sugars, so for long term health you wouldn’t want to be consuming them too regularly.
3 – Fasting Windows – Our society eats too regularly. It is a myth to think that limiting your eating window will result in the break down of muscle. If you can stick to a daily window of 6-8 hours eating and get enough calories in to fall just below the amount of calories you are burning (my guides will show you how to roughly calculate this if you are unsure) you will stay lean. You don’t want to be too far below your calorie requirement or you will lose size. Usually by ‘test and learn’ you can get a good idea for the size and number of meals you need to get in your eating window to stay in a slight calorie deficit.
4- Train hard and do not become complacent – Every 4 weeks change your program. Keep your body guessing. Don’t discount the role of stretching and yoga for mobility…as you get older it gets even more important and will 100% help you get more out of your strength sessions in the gym. For example, often big guys that lack shoulder mobility can not get into the right positions to work their deltoids correctly. I train for 45-60 minutes most days and then I regularly go for a dedicated walk as well at some point.
5- Understand how to respond to a slip up – If you have a day where for some reason or another you are in a huge calorie surplus, you need to understand what to do. The guys and girls that stay lean all year round 100% have days where they consume too many calories. However, they know how to adjust. Typically, the next day I restrict my eating window a tiny bit further (maybe 4-6 hours) and consume a lot of high fiber vegetables which provide bulk but are relatively low calorie like broccoli (1 cup is 39 calories), sweet potato (300g serve is 258 calories), loads of green leafy vegetables and then get your protein from high protein, high fibre foods like fermented tempeh and hemp seeds. It’s days like this where I don’t go near nut butters or coconut yogurt, etc. which are super calorie dense and provide little bulk on your plate. And of course, obviously no alcohol if you are trying to make up for a huge calorie surplus from the day or days before.
6 – Understand how much protein you really need – It is guaranteed to be less than you think and any more is just holding you back.
7 – Make friends with Hemp/Pea Protein, Hemp Seeds, Oats & Lupin – Using these ingredients you can create a very simple & cheap high fibre, high protein and clean carbohydrate meal. Absolutely anyone can make this. 99% of people I get to have this meal become addicted – it won’t be long before it’s a must have meal to fuel your workouts. See one variation of this type of bowl here
The Organic Village Tempeh is available at many Woolworths stores in Australia (Vic, NSW & Qld) and can be purchased online too via various health food shops like Door Step Organics.
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