The Best Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements | Everything You Need
The three fundamental pillars of bodybuilding are training, recovery and nutrition. While training and recovery are just the same for all regardless of their lifestyle and dietary preferences, proper nutrition can get a little challenging for dedicated vegan bodybuilders. However, with the right vegan bodybuilding supplements, it is possible to fuel the body with the necessary nutrients to support muscle growth, recovery, and overall health.
Veganism is a lifestyle choice that excludes the consumption of animal products. As a result, vegans often have to search for alternative sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals to support their athletic endeavors. However, the good news is that there are many vegan bodybuilding supplements available that can help vegans achieve their fitness goals.
These supplements include plant-based protein powders, amino acids, creatine, and vitamins. Plant-based protein powders are an excellent source of protein and can be derived from sources such as peas, hemp seeds, and rice. Amino acids, essentially branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) supplements, are essential for muscle recovery and can be obtained from vegan sources such as soy and quinoa. Creatine, which is often used to increase muscle strength and power, can also be found in vegan-friendly forms.
Of course where there are plant-based protein powders, there ought to be vegan weight gain supplements as well. Finally, vitamins, such as vitamin B12, which is essential for energy production, can be supplemented through plant-derived formulations.
On this note, let’s explore the best vegan bodybuilding supplements on the market and discuss how they can support muscle growth, recovery, and overall health in plant-based fitness enthusiasts.
The Best Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements
1. Plant-Based Protein Powders
Plant-based protein powders are a popular choice among vegan bodybuilders as they provide a high-quality concentrated source of protein without the use of animal products. Pea protein is one of the most popular plant-based protein sources, as it is rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are essential for muscle recovery and growth.
Other common plant-based protein powders include hemp protein, rice protein, and soy protein. When maneuvering plant protein options, keeping their specific amino acid profiles in mind is one of the most important things to consider. You must always ensure that your protein powder has enough concentration of essential amino acids; more importantly BCAAs and they are linked to muscle growth.
To rephrase, each type of plant-based protein powder has its own unique amino acid profile, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your individual needs. This essentially means, certain vegan protein sources may be richer in certain EAAs but lack in others and vice versa. I’ve worked on a bunch of articles that discuss amino acid profiles of protein-rich vegan foods that you may refer to get a better understanding of this concept –
- Chickpea Amino Acid Profile
- Hemp Seed Amino Acid Profile
- Brown Rice Amino Acid Profile
- Spirulina Amino Acid Profile
- Quinoa Amino Acid Profile
- Pea Amino Acid Profile
- Seitan Amino Acid Profile
Additionally, plant-based protein powders often contain a variety of other nutrients, such as fiber and vitamins, which can further support overall health and wellness making them one of the most attractive vegan workout supplements to invest in.
When choosing a plant-based protein powder, you must consider factors such as taste, texture, and quality. As a general rule of thumb, you should look for protein powders that are minimally processed, have a good taste so you can stick to taking them long-term and fairly affordable when it comes to cost.
2. Vegan Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine monohydrate is arguably the most popular bodybuilding supplement and is widely used to increase muscle strength, power, and endurance. So much so, it is also sometimes jokingly referred to as a natural lifter’s steroid.
Creatine is a naturally occurring amino acid-like compound that is found in our bodies, mainly in our muscles and brain. It is involved in providing energy for muscle contractions during high-intensity exercise and other activities that require short bursts of energy.
While our bodies can produce creatine naturally from the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine, the amount of creatine produced may not be enough to meet the demands of high-intensity training. This is where creatine supplements come in, as they can increase the levels of creatine in the body thereby improving athletic performance.
Creatine is found in large quantities in red meat and fish, but can also be produced synthetically from non-animal sources. Synthetic creatine monohydrate is particularly effective for vegans and vegetarian lifters who may have lower natural levels of creatine in their bodies, and it has been extensively researched for its safety and efficacy.
This supplement works by increasing the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy source for labor intensive activities, which can improve overall athletic performance. Additionally, creatine monohydrate has been shown to help promote muscle growth, reduce muscle damage, and enhance post-workout recovery. If you’re currently researching into this magical bodybuilding supplement, please make use of my detailed guide on vegan creatine monohydrate supplements.
3. Vegan Mass Gainers
Now mass gainers are not for everyone. Many people irrespective of their dietary choices consume enough food to eliminate the need for any additional calories. I’m not a huge fan of mass gainers honestly. I feel like the money that someone would spend on them can find better use. You could instead get the same calories from whole foods while simultaneously avoiding intake of processed food with preservatives.
But then again, I’m not negating the struggles of a vegan ectomorph who just can’t seem to build muscle no matter how hard they train. There are legit cases where individuals just can’t ingest enough calories to support weight gain. There could be a variety of reasons behind this including a tiny appetite or a hyper-active lifestyle. In such cases, it completely makes sense to lend some help from convenient vegan meal replacement shakes or even higher calorie plant-based weight gainer supplements.
They are essentially a balanced blend of macro and micronutrients, processed in a powder form that can be consumed directly out of the container, mixed with water or as part of a smoothie alongside other blended ingredients. I’ve personally used the Vega One Nutritional shake for a while and documented my experience with it in this article. For further ideas, you may want to head to my collection of vegan weight gain shake recipes. Those are super quick, can be made with readily available ingredients and fill you up quickly.
Related Read: Complete Blueprint to Gaining Weight as a Vegan
4. Vegan BCAA Supplements
BCAAs refer to three essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – that are necessary for muscle protein synthesis, muscle recovery, and muscle growth. Their branched-chain molecular structure sets them apart from other EAAs.
Typically, BCAAs are abundantly found in animal-based protein sources such as meat, fish, and eggs; but there are also vegan alternatives to source BCAAs. Vegan BCAA supplements, for instance, are derived and mass produced from plant sources such as soy, peas, and brown rice. However, if you wish to fulfil your BCAA requirements through diet alone, you could do so by thoughtfully incorporating plant-based foods rich in leucine, isoleucine and valine individually. Refer my dedicated guides for more on vegan food sources for each –
Vegan BCAAs are typically available in powder or capsule form and can be consumed before, during, or after a workout. They are commonly used to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, enhance muscle recovery, and improve endurance during exercise. However, it is important to note that BCAAs should not be relied upon as a sole source of protein and should be used in combination with a well-balanced bodybuilding diet to support muscle building goals.
Ever looked at the list of ingredients for vegan gym supplements? If so, you might have noticed that they always seem to have been designed and curated, keeping in mind male bodybuilders who wish to gain some quick muscles. The caffeine doses are exorbitantly high, though the ingredients encourage mass gain. It is frequently used in such supplements to increase an individual’s energy and focus.
Apart from proven increased energy results, caffeine also helps to improve mental health, memory, exercise, overall performance, and fat-burning processes. However, too much of anything is not good for health. Similarly, excessive caffeine intake can cause insomnia, increased blood pressure, and anxiety.
But what about women in need of some extra energy at the gym to be able to work harder and shed more kilos without triggering increased muscle size? Look for something with EnXTra as a powerful alternative to caffeine. This way, you also avoid the infamous jitters. Whenever you buy your pre-workout supplements make sure you are clear with what kind of results you want. Whether you want to build energy or aid fatigue.
Beta-alanine is one of the essential amino acids that are produced naturally in human bodies, before being turned into carnosine after our bodies digest it. This carnosine serves as a buffer for acid, assisting it in protecting our body from excess lactic acid that is produced while we exercise very intensely, resulting in us feeling weak and sore.
Beta-alanine levels help raise our intramuscular carnosine levels, in turn positively affecting our endurance during lifts. If you are a plant-based diet lover, you can expect less exercise-derived fatigue, noticeably enhanced anaerobic exercise capacity, and workload increment leading to muscle mass gains.
Note that you might be feeling a tingling or an itching sensation in your hands or similar parts of the body after taking beta-alanine supplements. This is called “paresthesia,” and it is harmless.
7. Citrulline Malate
Citrulline malate, a compound involving citrulline (a non-essential amino acid), stimulates arginine production upon ingestion, resulting in boosted levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide happens to be an effective vasodilator that widens our blood vessels. If our bloodstream contains this at high levels, it can lead to increased blood flow, assisting in the supply of blood in the muscles to keep them pumping.
Basically, this can help you look awesome at the gym, so they are usually a part of pre-workout formulae. But do not mistake it as a product solely made to serve vanity, because there are multiple records of positive effects on muscle endurance, soreness, and enhanced aerobic performance.
What Should You Expect From Vegan Supplements?
You can gain all the muscle you want through carefully crafted day-to-day diet strategies that offer ample nutrients and calories to match your goal. But, if you truly want to stack up on some large amounts of lean mass, a lot more than eating more is needed. This is where vegan muscle-building supplements come in!
After a particularly intense training session, a vegan protein powder shake beats digging into some chicken breasts washed down with a terrible-tasting raw egg shake. Vegan workout supplements are essential because they trigger processes in the human body that can boost strength, lessen recovery times, and enhance blood flow through nitric oxide.
Now it is also important to manage your expectations and not anticipate magical results. Supplements, true to their name, are meant to “supplement” your normal diet and won’t compensate for an inadequate diet. Vegan bodybuilding supplements, if coupled with a well-tailored plant-based diet plan, will bridge the gap of nutritional inadequacies that a vegan diet is associated with.
Are There Other Supplements That Vegan Bodybuilders Should Take?
Apart from the aforementioned list of necessary vegan pre-workout supplements, there are a few more that you can consider based on your nutritional diet and body requirements. Let’s take a quick glance at them.
Being a vegan, if you’re wondering about whether or not to opt for vegan multivitamins supplements, this article should help you. The vegan multivitamin is usually formulated especially for vegans following a plant-based diet, and it supplies essential vitamins such as Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Although multivitamin supplements won’t be necessary if you follow through with a well-balanced vegan diet, it is important to know the benefits and uses of multivitamins for your body. Many vegans opt for multivitamins to secure a good and daily source of iodine and zinc.
However, you must remember to avoid buying a multivitamin that contains iron until your doctor recommends do. It is because, with supplements, it is usually easier to push your iron intake past the recommended levels, which can result in hazardous health problems.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 supplements are extremely vital, and more so for vegans since vegan diets hardly contain any reliable B12 sources. We need vitamins for good health and increased energy, so make sure you do not miss out.
The lack of B12 in regular vegan diets means they are to be consumed artificially, be it in a form of foods fortified with vitamins or a vitamin itself. You can also consume it as an oral or a sublingual pill every few days.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is famous for its hormone-esque qualities. Known as “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is naturally produced by those who get more sun exposure all the time. But the more bioactive form, known as D3, are found in many plant sources but unfortunately the amount of D3 obtained is less.
That’s when you include vitamin D supplements into your diet. If you want as much vitamin D as possible without either having sunbath or consuming meat, consider a 2000 IU vegan vitamin D3 supplement once every day.The benefits associated with vitamin D are numerous, including reduced mortality, the ultimate goal!
The amount of calcium you need daily depends on your sex and weight, though it is generally agreed that US adult men require no more than 1,000 mg per day, and surprisingly, an adult woman requires 1,000 mg a day too. But once women are 50 years of age, their calcium intake should be around 1,200 mg each day, and the same amount should be followed by men who are 70 years and above.
Look for the presence of vitamin D in your calcium supplement, the perfect serving size for you, additional vitamins suggested by your doctor, and possible side effects of the product. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption in our body, so double-check its quality.
Probiotics are nothing short of organisms that are not visible without a microscope. If you are considering consuming probiotic supplements, search for products containing upwards of 6 strains of live bacteria and at least 20 billion microorganisms in each dose. However, keep in mind that probiotics take around 1-4 weeks to show results.
Almond milk, soy, and coconut-based yogurts have probiotics and are becoming widely available in the marketplace. Purchasing ready-made foods with probiotics can be great for a busy lifestyle since making them fresh is time-consuming. Here’s the kicker- fresh probiotic-rich foods consist of more beneficial bacteria that helps you achieve the benefits sooner.
Iodine might have always seemed like a thing to fool around with in science classes, but it happens to be an essential part of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, vegans often overlook it since there isn’t much hype about iodine supplements. They are crucial for healthy thyroid functioning that could lead to hypothyroidism, if not consumed enough.
If you are on a plant-based diet, there are plant-based sources of iodine but they are very limited. You have to rely either on plain old iodized salt or consume vegan iodine supplements to get your necessary fix. The former might not be the best idea if you are trying to cut down on salt due to health concerns. If you thought seaweed is a great vegan iodine source, don’t be mistaken. The levels of iodine in seaweed are borderline toxic if not eaten in limited quantity.
Before buying any supplement, ensure you have a proper exercise and diet strategy. Note that supplements cannot serve as food substitutes. No magic pills or truncated shortcuts will help you achieve your health goal, get stronger, or simply build an impressive physique.
Make sure you are consistently consuming nutrient-dense whole foods, hitting your macros and calorie intake every day, and feeding the necessary essential amino acids and micronutrients to assist you in averting any type of deficiency. Lastly, be laser-focused in following a workout program that helps you reach your aesthetic and health-related goals of the near future.
Thanks for an interesting read.