FOR MY FITNESS PEOPLE: I find it very, very frustrating when I talk to people about going vegan and they tell me “Oh yeah I want to, but I need my gains!” Okay, first of all, look who you are fucking talking to. ME. Do you know me? Go through my instagram right now if you don’t. You wanna talk to me about gains? Does it look like I struggle in that department? No, it doesn’t. I’ll proudly say that, I don’t want to sound full of myself but clearly, I do a lot of research and know what I am doing in the gym and the kitchen. Now before I sound too bitchy, I understand where you are coming from. That was my biggest fear going vegan, my protein. But like I have said before, DO YOUR RESEARCH. I have done mine over the years and I have already known for a long time, before becoming vegan, that protein does not build your muscles, it repairs them. I became a successful personal trainer not by luck, but by educating myself. You need CARBOHYDRATES to build your muscles. Here is a very, very simplified version of how it works so everyone can understand:
I want you to think about when you gain weight. When you gain too much weight (like you get fat), what’s the problem? I’ll tell you, so I can save you some thinking. You are more than likely eating too many carbohydrates. Cheeseburgers, chips, ice cream, waffles, candy, fries, doughnuts, etc…these are all carbohydrates, and yes, they have fats in them too, but just keep reading. Have you ever in your life eaten too much chicken, pork, tuna, or any other kind of animal protein and got fat? If you answer yes, I want you to relook at your diet and tell me what you ate with those proteins. Was that chicken deep fried? Was that tuna surrounded by rice, fake crab meat, tempura shrimp and lathered in spicy mayo? Probably. It’s definitely not the proteins that made you fat. When I cut weight for the NPC, guess what macro I take out of my diet first? Carbohydrates. The day I start taking out carbohydrates from my diet is the day I start dropping weight like crazy.
Your body prefers to run off of carbohydrates more than any other macro. It will always go to carbohydrates first (glycogen), if it’s not there, it will go to your fat cells and pull energy from there….and that is why you cut carbohydrates first, and that is how you lose weight (this is why the keto diet is a popular “quick fix” diet, but usually this diet is not sustainable and very unhealthy….I know because I’ve done it in the past. I’ve gone through every diet you can think of.)
Carbohydrates feed your muscle or fat cells (there is a common misconception that only fat macros feed your fat cells, this is not true). This is why when you cut weight, you take carbohydrates out first. Your body will never use protein as an energy source, unless your fucking starving, but don’t get to this point…it’d be really hard to get to this point. Let’s go back to ‘before vegan Sara’. When I was “bulking” to gain more muscle, I never, ever changed my protein content. Ever. I always kept it at about 60 – 70 grams (notice how low that is for my body weight, you need less protein than you think you do). I increased my carbohydrates like crazy though. Look at protein powders that are labeled as “mass gainers.” What’s the difference between that protein and ‘lean’ proteins? The carbohydrate content, I guarantee it. When people tell me they are afraid to go vegan because of “their gains or muscle mass,” that statement alone tells me they are not educated enough about how to gain muscle. A vegan diet is the highest carbohydrate diet you can possibly be on. I have not lost a single bit of muscle going vegan, if anything, I am more muscular, lean and cut. I repeat, in all caps this time, CARBOHYDRATES FEED YOUR FAT CELLS AND MUSCLE CELLS. I even put that in the bold font and italicized it because I want to stress to you how important it is. If you want to gain muscle, eat carbohydrates. Don’t believe me? Do your research. Look up ANY athlete, body builder or fitness guru. Carbohydrates provide the energy and build your body. And please don’t just google this and read the first ad that pops up. Read a book or something backed up by research.
When you workout you can think of the process as your muscles opening up, they’re hungry and they want to be fed. When you consume carbohydrates right after your workout, your muscles are open and ready “to eat” so that macro goes straight to your muscles. (Very simplified version of looking at this, by the way). Carbohydrates want to feed either your fat cells or your muscle cells….when you workout hard enough and deplete yourself of glycogen, the body chooses to use those carbohydrates (simple or complex) to replenish your muscle cells because those carbohydrates are desperately needed there (rather than going to your fat cells.) This is how you grow. End of story. Protein is still very important though. It is the building blocks of your muscle, skin, hair and nails. You absolutely need protein to maintain healthy muscle and a healthy body overall. But my point is, if you are trying to gain muscle, a vegan diet is actually a great lifestyle to choose, as it is basically a 90% carbohydrate diet. The best news is, a vegan diet still provides you with adequate protein, I fucking guarantee it.
Protein Sources for Vegans (plant based)
Beans – 15 grams P/1 cup
Rice & Beans – 7 grams P/1 cup
Lentils – 18 grams P/1 cup
Spinach – 10 grams P/340 grams (cooked)
Broccoli – 6 grams P/1 cup
Wheat berries – 20 grams/ 1 cup
These are just a few examples. Mind you, not all of these are complete proteins. But if you eat a varied diet, you WILL get more than enough complete proteins. Not to mention, you are eating so many clean carbohydrates, getting in vital nutrients, minerals and vitamins more than you would from a typical chicken and rice diet. Also, did you know that your body is not meant to eat animal proteins and carbohydrates together? If messes up your digestive tract.
Please, please do not fear losing your muscle mass by going vegan. I also want you to consider that this problem of consuming animal products is bigger than your muscle growth. Our planet is suffering terribly. If you are putting yourself selfishly before the environment, I want you to rethink your ethics. Every decision you make from here on out, every dollar you spend, and your daily choices effect the world we live in either positively, or negatively. Be the positive change. Get uncomfortable and really learn what these companies (the dairy and meat industries) don’t want you to know.
Do you want to know more about protein sources from a vegan diet? I’d be happy to list more foods, send me a message or leave a comment below!