Bulking On A Vegetarian Diet

First things first, what is bulking? This term refers to the process of gaining muscle, usually through conventional and unconventional strength training methods paired with a well-rounded diet. Speaking generally, this process happens when you consume more calories than you expend. These excess calories will either be used as energy or stored by your body as muscle or fat. Bulking is a tedious process that can be just as difficult as shedding pounds because of the timing and meal portions, and it can also be quite costly.

This process can be especially difficult for vegetarians, who usually consume less protein in their daily diet than their omnivorous counterparts. It is, however, still very possible to gain muscle mass on a vegetarian diet.

To start out, you’ll have to find out roughly how many calories you need to consume for a proper bulk. There are several sources for this information online. Personally, I’ve found this calculator especially useful, as it provides an excellent step-by-step system that calculates the number of calories and percentage of macros needed to consume for a proper bulk.

For vegetarians, finding the proper sources of these nutrients can be a bit of a struggle, especially with regards to protein. Although meat is one of the cheapest and most efficient sources of protein, it is still possible to get in all your macros without a single source of meat. There are a wide variety of natural foods that are great sources of protein-eggs, low-fat milk (or almond/coconut milk), non-fat plain Greek yogurt and nut butter are all convenient options that can be incorporated into meals throughout the day. Beans can form a complete protein when paired with rice and a banana or glass of low-fat milk as post-workout snack encourages muscle growth.

A convenient and commonly used source of protein is whey protein powder. The cleanest protein power for vegetarians is an isolated form of any protein. To identify an isolate protein powder, make sure the very first ingredient on the label lists “protein isolate” or something along those lines.

Soy can provide another great protein boost when consumed in moderation. There are plenty of frozen brands that major supermarkets carry and are easy to stock up on. These are extremely convenient options, but we recommend proceeding with a bit of caution. Soy is great in moderation, but studies have shown that consuming large amounts of soy can potentially cause hormone imbalances.

Getting protein can be tough, but manageable. At the same time, your fats and carbohydrates play an important role in a fit lifestyle. Make sure you’re choosing the right kinds of carbs and fats. Whole wheat carbs and low glycemic fruits and roots allow for slower digestion and a lower insulin spike. Turn to avocados, olive oil, and nuts as a source of healthy, beneficial fats.

With regards to the fitness routine that best suits your body, vegetarians and omnivores alike should seek out a certified personal trainer if they are just learning about proper weight lifting and strength training technique. The types of exercises you do, weight, reps, and sets will be just as important as your diet as you gain muscle.

Kevan Patel
Motion Genome Project Intern