5 Best Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements (2024 Review Upd.)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: November 28, 2023
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A lot of people are wondering how it is possible for a vegan to buff up and have muscles. Well, with the help of my nutritionist, we will help you understand how this is possible. You don't have to change your vegan diet in order to gain muscles.

There are vegan supplements that have been tried, tested, and proven to be effective in helping vegans attain muscles. These supplements inject the body with essential nutrients needed to change the structure of your body.

When combined with effective exercises and a vegan diet, you will get your desired results within no time.

Quick Summary

  • The best vegan supplements for bodybuilding include vegan protein powders, pre-workout supplements, mass gainers, fat burners, and vitamins and minerals.
  • A high-calorie, high-protein diet and rigorous training are key for vegans to gain muscle.
  • Renowned vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian exemplifies the success of vegan bodybuilding.
  • In my opinion, vegan supplements offer a unique advantage due to their plant-based composition, making them beneficial for both vegans and meat-eaters.

 

How Do Vegans Gain Muscle?

From my experience, vegan muscle gain is achievable with a high-calorie, high-protein diet and rigorous training.

Success hinges on a balanced diet and effective training, a straightforward yet challenging endeavor.

While embracing a vegan lifestyle offers numerous health benefits, vegan bodybuilders often face unique nutritional challenges, such as ensuring adequate protein intake and balancing essential vitamins and minerals. To address these, incorporating a variety of plant-based protein sources and considering fortified foods or supplements can be crucial for optimal performance and health.

Now, if you’re on a plant-based diet, then you need to make sure that you focus more on high carb plant sources, as well as a good blend of different protein supplements (more on this shortly).

Is Vegan Bodybuilding Even Possible?

Man working out

Vegan bodybuilding is not only feasible but also successful, as demonstrated by numerous athletes like Patrik Baboumian, a renowned vegan strongman. As a coach, I've witnessed the success of vegan bodybuilding firsthand, proving it's not just possible but highly effective.

Achieving muscle growth as a vegan involves a diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, similar to traditional bodybuilding diets but sourced from plant-based foods.

Key nutrients like essential amino acids are found in foods such as quinoa, tofu, and beans, while healthy fats come from sources like avocados and nuts.

Carbohydrates are obtained from whole grains and legumes. Effective vegan bodybuilding requires careful meal planning to ensure a balanced intake of these macronutrients.

With the right diet, vegan athletes can build muscle effectively, proving that a plant-based lifestyle can be both healthy and conducive to bodybuilding goals.

You can achieve a lot of your vital nutrition intake by getting some great fortified foods, or through supplements. Which leads us to the next question.

Are You Better Off Without Supplements?

Man working out

It is entirely possible to gain muscle through carefully planned day-to-day diets that provide enough calories and nutrients for your goals.

However, if you really want to gain some larger amount of lean mass, then you will be a lot more successful by using some vegan bodybuilding supplements.

Based on my coaching experience, while you can gain muscle with a well-planned diet, supplements can provide a significant edge.

Taking a vegan protein powder shake after a heavy training session will beat digging into a few chicken breasts washed down with a raw egg shake.

Believe me, I have tried it!

But, the reason supplements are important is that they can trigger processes in your body that boost strength, increase blood flow through nitric oxide, and make your recovery times more effective.

So, let’s dive into the different types of supplements that vegans should consider.

The 5 Most Important Supplement Categories For Vegans

First, let me say that you absolutely don’t need to take all of these supplements as a vegan bodybuilder unless you are training for a professional competition. I have ordered these in a way that I prioritize for clients, with a bonus one at the end.

1. Vegan Protein

Transparent Labs Organic Vegan CTA

Many mistakenly prioritize endurance training to build muscle, overlooking the fundamental need for proper nutrition.

Intense workouts are crucial, but without the right nutrients, particularly a diverse range of amino acids, muscle growth can be hindered rather than enhanced.

Effective muscle building hinges on a diet rich in various amino acids, essential for new muscle fiber development.

Unfortunately, there are very few plant-based proteins that actually offer the full range, with the exception of hemp protein, according to the Healthline [1]. The good news is that you can get hemp protein supplements which are highly efficient.

Alternatively, you can stack vegan protein powders, and I generally recommend taking a pea and rice protein. They are relatively cheap, even in organic versions, and combined, they provide all the protein you need.

If there is only one of these supplement you choose, then make sure it’s a post-workout vegan protein powder.

2. Pre-Workout

My second favorite supplement is a good pre-workout that can help to stimulate your mind and body. The most simple ones are creatine supplements which have been shown to work wonders for both strength and endurance.

But in recent years, there have been a lot more products that can give you a healthy boost to get the absolute most out of your time at the gym.

For example, L-Citrulline is an increasingly popular ingredient that has been shown to increase nitric oxide levels in the blood [2].  But why is that important?

Basically, with a higher level of nitric oxide, you will naturally increase your blood flow, which means that oxygen and nutrients will get to your muscles faster.

Even the intake of just 1 to 2 grams of L-Citrulline can have a significant effect on your performance at the gym, especially during high-intensity periods.

"Creatine used in this manner is regarded as a high-energy phosphate, and its role in energy production cannot be overstated. Whenever the body uses energy, a molecule called ATP (an adenosine with a tail of three phosphate groups, hence its name Adenosine Tri Phosphate) is used as an energy source - as a fundamental energy donor."

- David Robson, Personal Trainer

See some of the best vegan pre-workout supplements.

3. Mass Gainers

Person with a lot of muscle

Not everyone is a fan of mass gainers, and a lot of people will be able to consume enough food during the day not to need additional calories.

When you’re just starting out with some modest goals, then an extra 200 to 300 calories is going to be easily achieved through carb-rich greens.

However, if you’re getting a bit more serious about it, then you will need to eat a lot more food. And whether you’re a vegan or meat-eater, that can be a struggle to achieve.

 

Fortunately, there are products called mass gainers, which basically load you up with extra calories through a highly concentrated shake.

Now, unless you’re training hard at the gym, these shakes will actually not be all that healthy because they can result in some fat being stored.

So, be careful that you work out exactly how much extra calories you need, ideally with the help of a dietitian.

Some of these will also combine some pre-workout properties, meaning they can also boost nitric oxide levels for increased blood flow, and vegan creatine supplements for additional strength.

Typical vegan-friendly ingredients to look out for are quinoa flour, flax seeds, as well as pea and brown rice protein powder.

It’s certainly something to look into as a way of saving some money by combining two products into one.

 

4. Fat Burners

Phen Q CTA

Fat burners can be beneficial during both bulking and cutting phases in bodybuilding. It's important to distinguish these from questionable weight loss pills advertised online.

Effective fat burners contain natural, organic plant-based ingredients that enhance metabolism.

When paired with diligent gym workouts and a balanced diet, these supplements can aid in further fat reduction.

Some of the vegan ingredients you want to look for are cayenne pepper, caffeine, garcinia cambogia, and conjugated linoleic acid.

These are the most effective ingredients that have been proven to boost fat burning through clinical studies and trials, according to the Healthline [3].

Here are some of our favorite vegan fat burners.

 

5. Vitamins And Minerals

Performance Lab NutriGenesis for Men CTA

When it comes to training and eating for a seriously toned appearance, so many people completely forget about the absolutely critical vitamins and minerals that the body needs.

And I’m not just talking about the usual vitamin b12 or natural vitamin D from some regular sun exposure.

Yes, they are important for vegans in general, but you will need a good few other things.

From a mineral perspective, you’ll need some extra magnesium. This plays a significant role in muscle contractions, as well as in the recovery and relaxation phase after you’ve hit the gym.

 

Vegans often overlook the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, as many supplements are derived from fish oil, which is unsuitable for a plant-based diet.

Instead, vegans should seek supplements with omega-3 sourced from chia seeds or algae, which are excellent plant-based alternatives and even superior to fish oil in some aspects.

Additionally, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is crucial for muscle formation and is increasingly available in vegan supplements.

Here are some of the best vegan multivitamins out on the market today. Make sure to check out the available multivitamins recommended for men.

 

What Are The Most Common Non-Vegan Ingredients To Look Out For?

Fish oil

So, here’s the thing. You might not always see a vegan certified label on all products. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t suitable for people on a plant-based diet.

In my years of coaching, I've learned it's crucial to scrutinize labels for non-vegan ingredients, even if they're not explicitly marked.

On the flip side, you can also find product descriptions that loosely make reference to veganism, but at closer inspection, there are a few things that really aren’t that suitable.

This means you may need to do some detective work before you commit to buying vegan bodybuilding supplements.

 

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Gelatin derived ingredients
  • Omega 3 from fish oil
  • Hidden casein in protein supplements

After researching the best vegan supplements devoid of these products, you can now determine whether the brands are legitimate. Check out their reviews to ensure you're only dealing with reputable products.

 

Do Vegan Supplements Have Advantages For Meat Eaters?

Yes, I firmly believe that vegan bodybuilding supplements (and vegetarian) that are completely free of meat and dairy-related ingredients have an advantage for all athletes.

The reason for this is that even if you don’t have any significant food allergies or intolerances, digesting plant-based supplements is often a lot easier for your body. It also diversifies the sources of nutrients like protein, which can make for a more effective and healthy digestive system.

Comparing vegan and non-vegan bodybuilding diets reveals distinct differences and advantages. While animal-based diets are traditionally favored for their high protein content, a well-planned vegan diet can offer not only sufficient protein but also a broader spectrum of nutrients, leading to improved overall health and reduced risk of chronic diseases.

So, even if you’re not on a strict plant-based diet, try some of these supplements for yourself. You could be surprised by the results.

 

 

 

FAQs

Can you get big on a vegan diet?

Yes, you absolutely can get big on a vegan diet, as your body will not discriminate where the vital nutrients are coming from. As long as you get the right balance of macros and calories, and stick to a tough training regime, you’ll be able to bulk up significantly.

 

Do vegans lose muscle mass?

No, vegans don’t lose muscle mass just because they avoid all animal products. The only way you would lose lean mass on any diet is by not training hard enough and having a calorie deficiency. As long as you maintain all these healthy habits, you're not liable to lose your precious muscle mass.

 

Are there any vegan bodybuilders?

Yes, there are vegan bodybuilders, and quite a few famous ones. One of my favorite plant-eating athletes is Patrik Baboumian. Just check out his physique and achievements and then tell me you wouldn’t want to trade places with him.

 

What proteins can vegans eat?

Vegans can eat loads of different proteins, but in most cases, they will need to blend a few different ones. With hemp being the only vegan protein that covers the full range of essential amino acids, you sometimes need to combine different sources to achieve the same.

 


References:

  1. Erica Julson, MS, RDN, CLT, Hemp Protein Powder: The Best Plant-Based Protein?, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/hemp-protein-powder
  2. WebMD, L-citrulline, retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/l-citrulline-uses-and-risks#1
  3. Natalie Butler, RD, LD, Can Cayenne Pepper Help You Lose Weight?, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/cayenne-pepper-for-weight-loss

 

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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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