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If you want your gym time to produce real results then vegan bodybuilding supplements are an essential part of your arsenal.
Whatever your reason for deciding to go vegan; the reality is that in many cases it’s not the most conducive diet for making gains.
From a health standpoint there’s a lot to be said for eating more veggies and legumes but in many cases the diet can leave you deficient in calories and protein which are the building blocks of muscle gain.
It’s for this reason that many vegan bodybuilders turn to supplementation to plug the holes in their game plan and ensure that their grind in the weights room gives them the results they deserve.
Let’s take a look at the 7 essential supplements you should be adding to your nutritional plan to maximize your progress in the gym:
#1: Vegan Protein Powder
Without meat it can be hard to eat a sufficient amount of protein. With low end recommendations of 1g per lb, a 170lb guy can struggle to eat that much from whole food sources.
Tempah can be helpful but you’d have to eat a lot of it every day to get close to 1g per lb. Many of the other protein sources are carb-heavy which can throw you over your macro targets and ruin a cutting plan so it’s a tough one to overcome.
The solution is a good vegan protein powder which can plug the gaps and help you hit your targets every day. As they say, success in the muscle game is about stringing together days where you meet your macro targets and a protein powder will help you do that.
As a vegan go for a rice and pea based powder which score highly on the digestibility ratio – after all it’s not what you consume but what you digest that your body can use.
Maintaining strength is essential to keep making gains in the gym. One of the most important chemicals for that in the body is creating which the body naturally produces and stores in your muscles.
During intense lifting the creatine stores become depleted as the body uses them to give you more energy. When the stores become depleted they need to be refilled. Whilst the body produces creatine it’s usually not enough and so dietary creatine is important.
As animal meat (specifically red meat) is the best source of creatine, vegans are often deficient and need a supplement to refill their stores.
There are many types of creatine which fancy abbreviations and names like Creatine HCL but the truth is good old fashioned Creatine Monohydrate is the best and it’s the cheapest.
You can either take 5 grams per day for 28 days to build up your creatine reserves (the long way) or supercharge the loading period by taking 20 grams per day (4 x 5g servings through the day) for the first 5 days and then moving to 5 grams per day thereafter.
#3: Iron Supplement
You might be hitting the iron in the gym but it’s the iron in your body that you need to pay attention to. Most vegans are iron deficient because they don’t eat red meat which is the best source of iron available.
Iron is how your body develops red blood cells and therefore maintaining a steady level is vitally important. Without iron you’ll fatigue faster which means you can’t maintain those tough workouts which are a vital ingredient in your progress.
Branch chain amino acids are important for vegans because they safeguard against muscle loss.
As a vegan your body will find it harder to retain your muscle and as you’ve had to work so hard to make the gains you have, you don’t want to see them disappear quicker than they came!
A good quality BCAA supplement taken before and after workouts will help to preserve the gains you do have and keep you building upon what you already have rather than going backwards and starting over.
You should be getting a lot of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from the fruit and vegetables you’ve eating but sometimes when cutting you might have to limit the amount you can eat and there can be gaps in your nutritional profile.
A good multivitamin which gives your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of each vitamin and mineral will be a lifesaver. They’re cheap and one pill a day will be enough so you can start your day from a solid base and go from there.
Even if your multivitamin includes calcium you may want a specific supplement as vegans are often calcium deficient. Whilst you can get calcium from other sources (e.g. vegetables) it can be hard to get sufficient quantities to support your goals.
Without dairy in the diet the body doesn’t have enough calcium so instead tries to create it “in-house”. It does this by leaching the calcium in your bones – that’s right it literally sucks the calcium out.
We know the role of calcium for healthy teeth and bones and your muscle can’t hold what the skeleton can’t support so strong bones are essential if you want to make gains.
Add a calcium supplement to your daily routine and keep lifting knowing you’re being supported under all that muscle.
Make sure to take some type of essential fatty acid supplement, calcium, and a multivitamin to make up for any other vitamins and minerals that might be lacking from a vegetarian diet.
With these six supplements in your toolkit you’ll plug the gaps and keep on the road to solid gains. You can maintain your vegan lifestyle AND make gains in the gym; the two are no longer mutually exclusive!
This “Super Six” will give you the platform to grow from and will underpin all of your other efforts in the gym and in the kitchen so take note of which ones you’re currently not taking and make sure you don’t go another day without these powerful plant-friendly supplements behind you!