How to Get Enough Protein as a Vegan Bodybuilder?

Quite recently I did a detailed video discussing the bioavailability and quality of vegan proteins, when compared to animal-based, as well as my research-based intake recommendations for vegan bodybuilders and strength athletes.

This video is sort of a follow-up, to clarify things one step further.  This is for those who are genuinely confused how to meet their protein needs AS a vegan lifter.

How to hit those higher-than-average targets based on bodyweight.

First off, I want to reinforce that my protein recommendation is based on LEAN body weight. Not total.

You will need to get your body fat percentage analyzed:  by DEXA, Bod Pod, or the relatively less accurate methods of bioelectrical impedance analysis or calipers.

Just to get a sense of where you’re at, so you can get good a start on properly assessing your needs.

To put this in perspective, let’s say a guy weighs 220 pounds, but he’s also 20% body fat.  It would be overkill and unnecessary for him to consume 220 grams of protein per day.

However, when this theoretical male takes his body fat percentage into account, and instead bases his daily protein intake on his lean body weight:  he ends up aiming for a more reasonable figure of 176 grams per day.

By shaving 44 grams off his original figure.

So, there’s my first tip:  eat for your lean weight, not your total.

Another issue I notice:  people not taking into account that protein is in pretty much ALL whole foods!

I think people get caught up in over-categorizing foods, for instance: tofu = protein source, fruit = carb source, nuts or seeds = fat source… they forget to view these foods as WHOLE foods, and as such, much more than just one, individual macronutrient.

And this certainly may be important for new vegans, or more specifically, new vegan bodybuilders to realize.

I get so many messages from newly minted vegans, who are also bodybuilders, that are genuinely afraid they’re not getting enough protein without consuming animal products.

If you keep track of everything you consume, as I do, and as my clients do, you will find you’re getting protein in places you may never have considered before.

For instance a cup of cooked spinach, or 180 grams, contains 5 grams of protein!

And cooked broccoli contains 2 grams of protein per half cooked cup, so 4 grams in a full cup.

Hell, even fruit has protein… 1 medium-sized banana contains 1 gram!

It all adds up over the course of a day.  I don’t think many people even consider this.

On an average day, currently, I consume 6 bananas, two cups of cooked broccoli AND two cups of cooked spinach.

This means I get 24 grams of protein from my fruit and veggie intake alone.  That’s equivalent to one scoop of your average protein powder.

As I said, it all adds up.

And let’s say you’re also eating popular starchy carbs like rice or oats a cup of cooked white rice, or 158 grams, contains 4 grams of protein!

And a cup of cooked oatmeal, or 234 grams, contains 6 grams of protein!

Better yet, a cup of cooked quinoa, or 185 grams, contains 8 grams of protein!

Really, everyone, keep this in mind!  You’re getting protein from all over the place.  Not just the foods commonly categorized as protein, like tofu.

Even a condiment like soy sauce contains 2 grams of protein in one tablespoon!

So, my second tip:  track your protein intake from ALL foods that you consume.  Even look at the labels of your condiments and sauces.  Keep a food log.

Beyond those sources of protein that you likely haven’t even considered, there are the heavy-hitters.  These will make up the lionshare of your protein needs as a vegan strength athlete.

Let’s start with some examples of flexible, lower carb sources first extra-firm tofu!  Featured here is my favorite brand, Wildwood.  Just 

3 oz. contains 9 fucking grams of protein, with zero non-fiber carbs!

I currently consume 15 1/2 oz. of this on some days, which provides me with just over 46 grams of high-quality protien!

Another option to consider is textured vegetable protein, like Bob’s Red Mill product, which 1 ounce of, or 28 grams, contains 14 grams of high-quality protein, with only 3 grams of non-fiber carbs.

Another example, for those without a gluten issue, would be Seitan.  Just 1 ounce of seitan contains 21 grams of protein!  That’s 7 times more protein, per ounce, than extra-firm tofu!

Now, if you have some carbohydrate wiggle room you can consume highly-protein-rich foods like tempeh, which contains 31 grams of high-quality protein per cup!

Or soybeans, which contain 29 grams of high-quality protein per boiled cup.

Or even black beans, which contain 15 grams of protein per boiled cup.

I could go on and on, but you can search Google if you need analysis of other foods.  However, I think you get the point.

It is not hard to meet athletic protein needs, even VERY cheaply, as a vegan.

You can even utilize mock meats, like Beyond Meat grilled strips, which contain 

60 grams of protein per package!

Protein that is sourced from pea and soy isolates, by the way.  Very high-quality sources of protein!

And don’t fear protein powders either.  They are a great tool for your arsenal to help you hit a target, especially if you have met your carb or fat quota for the day.

In fact, you can download this FREE PDF detailing my favorite custom vegan protein blends.  The soy, pea and rice mixture provides 26 grams of low-carb and low-fat protein per scoop!

I tend to consume 1 to 2 scoops of that blend post-workout, or in a smoothie during the day if I am on the fly.

And that’s really about it.  To rehash:

1.  Base protein needs on a goal, like bodybuilding, and your lean body weight.  Not total.

2.  Take note of the protein in ALL foods that you consume throughout the day.  You might be surprised what you’ve overlooked!

3.  Add any of the myriad of high-protein vegan food options to your bodybuilding diet, be it soy foods, seitan, a variety of beans, or even mock meats.

4.  Don’t fear the use of vegan protein powders, as needed.  Don’t base your diet on them, but no need to utterly avoid them either.

While on the topic of vegan nutrition, I’d like to take a moment to mention that we have a special offer running over at the Vegan Muscle Academy.  The Vegan Muscle Academy has been growing steadily over the last two months, and members have been achieving great results!

So, definitely check out that offer.

Anyhow, I hope you’ve all enjoyed this episode.  I feel it had to be addressed.  If you have, please like and share it so others may benefit.

Until we meet again!

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