Can you Build Muscle on an Entirely Plant-Based Diet?

Many people are under the impression that you need to eat lots of boiled chicken and broccoli to gain muscle. Luckily, that is absolutely not the case! You absolutely can eat healthily and gain muscle without sacrificing flavour, but can you do it without meat or dairy?


Gaining muscle is as easy as one, two, three – as in, you need to make sure you’re doing three things. First, you need to get your macros right: this means eating a lot of protein, maybe more than you’re used to. You should be aiming for about 40% of your calorie intake to be protein – or roughly 0.73 grams per pound (1.6 g/kg) of body weight per day.

When you put your muscles under stress by working out, you create micro-tears in the fibre that your body repairs as you rest. It does this by fusing muscle fibres together to generate new muscle protein strands – or myofibrils. Muscle hypertrophy is caused by the thickening and numbering of these repaired myofibrils, which is how you gain mass.

Amino acids are used to create and repair myofibrils, and your body gets those amino acids from the protein you eat. If you’re not hitting your protein goals, your muscles can’t properly repair themselves, and you won’t gain muscle.

So basically, the three things you need to do to gain muscle are: eat enough protein, put your muscles under progressive tension, and rest. Easy, right? Well, maybe not so much. Eating the amount of protein you need to put on mass requires a lot of protein-rich foods like chicken, fish, and other meats. People also often supplement with protein powders and protein bars that are made from whey, or milk-based protein. It seems like getting enough protein may be difficult for plant-based people, but that’s luckily not the case!


You may not think that plants pack a lot of protein, but they do! Legumes like edamame, lentils, or chickpeas pack tons of protein with relatively little caloric content, making them great high-protein options for people who enjoy meals with lots of volume. Tofu and tempeh are also loaded with protein and can be cooked in pretty much anything. You can even make high-protein desserts with silken tofu.

If you’re eating the right things, you can pack a lot of protein into your diet. The fact that there are successful vegan bodybuilders is all the proof in the world that gaining muscle on a plant-based diet is possible.

You can ABSOLUTELY gain muscle on a plant-based diet. As long as you’re hitting your macros, getting a lot of rest, and showing up consistently in the gym, the gains will follow.

For more fitness inspo, stop by your local Buzzfit and see why Buzzfitters are built different.