26.10.17 Learn Blog SumoSalad

The flexitarian movement has well and truly taken over Australia with more people than ever before discovering the health benefits of this flexible approach to food. In a nutshell, the flexitarian diet includes reducing meat consumption, increasing the amount of natural whole foods in your diet and allowing yourself the occasional treat or indulgence without being wracked with guilt!

As the number of people embracing the flexitarian diet or (or even just considering it) increases every day, the one question we keep hearing time and time again – “If I minimise my meat consumption, where will I get all my protein from?!”.

As per usual, Mother Nature has a potent and all-natural response to that question and today our resident dietician Rebecca Gawthorne talks us through How To Build Muscle On A Plant-Based Diet.

It’s a common misconception that you need to be eating meat, and lots of it, to build muscle. Muscle growth relies on a number of factors, and while protein is definitely key to this, it doesn’t need to come from eating meat.

You can easily achieve muscle growth on a plant-based diet by following these steps:

Follow a good training program
Muscles need stimulation to grow. You need to consistently engage your muscles in resistance-based strength training to stress your muscles fibres and create micro-tears in order for them to grow. You can seek the help of an expert to develop a program tailored to you & ensure it is adjusted as your strength improves. You then need to support this training program with a sufficient calorie intake.

Provide your body with adequate plant protein
To build muscle, you need to be consuming a minimum of 1.2-2g of protein per kilogram of body mass to ensure your protein needs are met. When following a plant-based diet, protein can come from a number of foods including lentils, beans (e.g. black beans, lima beans, kidney beans etc), tempeh, tofu, edamame, soy products (e.g. soy milk, soy yoghurt etc), seeds (e.g. chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax, pumpkin etc), wholegrain rice/oats/quinoa etc & nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews etc). Plant-based protein supplements can be used if needed, such as a brown rice or pea protein powder.

Time your meals & snacks properly
Eating frequent meals and snacks is key to building muscle mass on a plant-based diet. Frequent eating will help you maintain a positive energy balance and fuel your muscles accordingly. There is a limit to how much protein your muscles can absorb at one time, so you need to spread your protein intake out across all your meals and snacks during the day. Trying to cram all your protein into one meal for example, won’t work. And skipping meals and snacks will lead to muscle breakdown

Ensure a positive energy balance
To build muscle mass effectively, you need a positive energy balance, which means sufficient calorie intake. This often calls for a general increase in your daily dietary intake of food. Most of us are aware that protein is important for building muscle, but did you know that carbohydrates are essential too?! Carbs are required for building muscles for a number of reasons and should be the first nutrient you focus on!



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