Will I Lose Muscle If I Go Vegan?
It’s a question we’re asked all the time, and with all the conflicting information out there, we asked registered dietitian Julieanna Hever to give us her take:
Muscle is built and sustained with resistance exercise. Placing strain on the muscle to enable it to break down and then rebuild stronger is how to grow and maintain tissue. Of course, proper nutrition helps support the rebuilding process. Most importantly, you need to make sure you are taking in adequate calories to supply the body with the energy required for these processes. Removing animal products from the diet does not change how the body responds to this physiologic process.
Animal flesh and secretions are often considered synonymous with protein and therefore emphasized as key ingredients to include in an athlete’s diet. Yes, we need protein as one of the many nutrients necessary in healthy muscle metabolism. But there are plenty of proteins found in plants, including legumes—beans, lentils, peas, and soy foods—nuts, and seeds, that not only meet your body’s needs but also come packaged together with health-promoting phytonutrients and fiber.
Further, plant foods are loaded with antioxidants, which are helpful in reducing the intensive load exercise imparts on the body. Thus, there are many reasons that a vegan diet is a wonderful way to maintain muscle as well as support fitness in general.
From nuts and beans to tofu and seitan, protein is abundant in plant foods. You don’t need meat for adequate protein. Say goodbye to animal products and try some of these healthy and compassionate foods instead!
Click here for 10 ways to eat more vegan protein without even trying.