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Attain Fitness, Strength, and Muscle on a Plant-Based Diet

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Fitness Coach Steve Pilot breaks down what a Vegan diet is and how to make the most of it while attaining your fitness goals.

Steve Pilot is a fully functional, well-traveled, and learned fitness coach who has helped many celebrities to reach their fitness goals.

When you talk about fitness, strength, and muscle, the next thing is diet.
When you talk about a plant-based diet, most people start to wonder how you will build muscles.

Concerns sprout often querying whether plant-based diets are sufficient to provide enough protein, micronutrients, or calories.

A 2017 Nielsen Homescan survey indicated that 39 percent of Americans were turning to plant-based foods, which foods saw their sales grow significantly.

A diet plan deriving all of its energy and nutrients from plants will keep you healthy while helping you attain fitness and strength, and build muscle, as long as you plan your meals with an emphasis on nutritious options.

So, what is a Plant-Based Diet?

Commonly known as a vegan diet, a plant-based diet revolves around eating plant foods as opposed to animal foods.

Foods like meat, fish, seafood, eggs, or dairy products are not part of a plant-based diet.

Vegan diets comprise a wide array of whole foods, including grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, potatoes, fats, minerals, carbs, and proteins opposed to the stereotype that vegan diets are all entirely carrots and salad or lettuce.

Define Your Goals: Fitness, Strength, or Muscle?

A great meal plan must align with your goals, be it fitness, strength, or muscle.

A plant-based diet plan should include calculating the number of calories you need each day to keep on track with your goal.

Your type of diet will not alter your daily calorie requirements.

Your calorie intake needs will depend on your choice of fitness activity as the amount of energy required for a given workout may vary from that required for another.

It is advantageous to determine your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

The TDEE calculates the amount of energy your body needs to perform daily functions and fuel your physical workouts.

As you choose your activity level, remember to cater to the extent of physical activity you will be taking on and for how long such as weightlifting, intense exercise, and slow jogging all require different amounts of energy.

Note that your TDEE will only show your maintenance calories, so take a surplus of calories according to your intended activity.

On average, 200 to 500 calories should be sufficient for a physical workout so, keep that in mind adjusting it according to the exercise, intensity, and duration.

Micronutrients, Macronutrients, and Your Goals

Micronutrients are required by your body in varying quantities.

Micronutrients are essentially vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins are necessary for energy production, immune function, blood clotting, and other functions.

On the other hand, minerals play a role in growth, bone health, fluid balance, and other processes.

Macronutrients are required by your body in larger quantities to function right. Macros nutrients provide your body with energy.

The three types of macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Eating smart is about paying attention to your balance of micro and macronutrients and not just calories.

If you seek to build muscle effectively, a diet based on too much plant-based fat or too little plant-based protein will not cut it.

Typically muscle-building macronutrients contain 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat.

They may vary slightly even then this ratio embraces sufficient protein to stimulate muscle growth, enough carbohydrates to fuel your body, and enough fat to aid your body's nutrient absorption before a workout and repair itself afterward.

Consider using a macro tracking app.

Effective fitness or muscle-building diets should revolve around whole foods.

No processed or junk foods should be a part of your fitness or muscle-building endeavor.

Eat plenty of leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables, potatoes and other tubers, beans, peas, lentils, fruits (fresh, sun-dried, or frozen), and whole grains like oats and brown rice.
Nuts like almonds, peanuts, and cashews are also great choices. Also consider plant-based oils, avocados, coconut, soy, tempeh, and tofu.

Avoid refined sugars and sweets, artificial sweeteners, refined starches, and alternative vegan foods laced with fillers and empty calories.

Even though these foods might increase your calorie count, they lack the nutrients your body needs for muscle-building or fitness-related activity.

Plan Your Meals and Snacks Ahead of time.

Eat at predetermined times throughout the day to keep your body fueled and not yearning so that you are all set by the time you go for your workout.

For starters, fully embracing a plant-based diet can be challenging as you may still be getting familiar with the concept.

It is of utmost importance to plan.

Planning will minimize your chances of relapsing back to animal-based fats and proteins.

Knowing what you have lined up for a given day or week will make it easier for you to assign meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as snacks.

Plan your meals well ahead of time to minimize sliding back and prepare adequately for the activities you have lined up. You could also try a reputable diet app or information source to get nutritious recipes.

Endeavor to eat balanced vegan meals with macronutrients for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It is okay to eat a light snack about two hours before you exercise and about 30 minutes after your workout.

Have a bit more carbs, protein, and less fat.

Carbs come in handy for energy and protein for muscle building or your routine workout.

Note that fat could slow you down and affect your fitness workout or gym session.
Consider calories and nutrients in regard to your pre and post-workout snacks, and be sure to relate them to your entire day’s intake.

Track Your Fitness Goals

When tracking your fitness goals, you must be committed.

Yes, you will start to realize your plant-based diet is fueling and revitalizing your body nevertheless you will have to plan adequately, schedule, and track your progress.

Plan for functional and interval training, cardio, and muscle-building sessions as per your goals at least four times a week exercising, each muscle group at least once a week.

It will take time, patience, commitment, consistent exercising, and a properly planned plant-based diet before you eventually start to notice yourself attaining fitness, strength, or growth of your muscles.

A wrist fitness tracker can be worn during your workouts to help you track the calories you consume versus burn.

Key things to note are: you must create a great workout routine, count your macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), and plan your diet well if you are to achieve your specific fitness goal of either fitness, strength, or build muscle or even a combination.

Learning about a plant-based diet or formulating the ideal vegan fitness or muscle-building plan may need one to enlist the services of a dietician and or experienced vegan fitness coach.

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