The business of performance and bodybuilding supplements is a multi-billion-dollar industry that’s growing every year, and trying to make sense of what you should or shouldn’t take is getting increasingly more difficult.
And thanks to highly-effective advertising, it is perceived that in order to be a competitive athlete or bodybuilder, you need to take a ton of supplements in order to compete at higher levels.
Healthy skepticism aside, most plant-based diets can benefit from the right kind of supplementation, and some vegan bodybuilding supplements do have merit.
In this article, we discuss what to look for in vegan bodybuilding supplements and protein powders so you aren’t duped by flashy marketing campaigns.
What Performance and Bodybuilding Supplements Can Do for You
Whether you’re a vegan or not, every athlete and bodybuilder need a balance of protein, carbs, healthy fats, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins B, C, D, and E.
In addition to these nutrients, which you can obtain from food alone, there are some supplements that may give vegans an edge in the gym or on the field.
Vegan BCAA supplements (branched chain amino acids), the primary force behind muscle repair and building, can also help reduce muscle soreness after intense training sessions. This feature can help you build muscle with less downtime between workouts.
One of the other popular bodybuilding supplements on the market is creatine, which is an important one for vegans and vegetarians. The only food source of creatine happens to be meat, so vegans and vegetarians tend to have lower muscle creatine stores than their meat-eating counterparts.
Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements
The type of supplement that’s best for you depends on what your goals are… and how intensely you train. If you’re just aiming to tone up a little and get in shape, you may not even need to buy supplements. However, if you’re getting after it and training for competition it might be worth your hard-earned dollars to get a few items like Vegan BCAA and creatine.
When searching the aisles or browsing the web for vegan bodybuilding supplements, here are a few key things to look for:
- Natural and/or non-GMO ingredients and food sources
- Absence of dairy and egg ingredients
- Grams of supplement per serving
- Flexibility with how it can be used in your diet
To learn more on this topic, take some time to read through “Guide to Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements” resource (link provided in the signature of this article).
Vegan Protein Powders
As you have noticed, more and more athletes and bodybuilders are taking up plant-based fitness. As a result, more supplement companies are offering plant-based protein in their product lines. Here are some key components of vegan protein powders to look:
- Multi-sourced plant-based protein products, a blend of different proteins
- Yellow pea, and hemp protein (favorites among vegans)
- Organic sprouts like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and lentils
- Minimal processing
- Customer reviews about how the powder mixes and taste
Vegan Food vs. Supplements
That said, the truth is that you probably don’t need any bodybuilding supplement if you’re eating the right foods. But few of us can keep up with the “perfect diet,” and supplements can help pick up the slack.
For many vegan athletes and bodybuilders, they can make up for missed nutritional opportunities and make meal planning a little bit easier.
However, everyone’s digestive system and biochemistry processes supplements differently, so there’s some trial and error required.
Also, the placebo effect is live and well! So keep an honest assessment of your supplement regimen, workout plan, and overall gains in a journal to determine if supplements are really making a difference for you (observe over 6-12 months).
About the Author
Chris Willitts is the founder of VegetarianBodybuilding.com, creator of V3 Bodybuilding and Mindful Strength, and a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness, Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine, and Natural Muscle Magazine. If you’re interested in plant-based fitness, check out this resource: Guide to Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements.