Health & Habits

The Calories You Need To Build Plant-Based Mass 

Posted March 01, 2021

Building mass on a plant-based diet can be a challenging notion for some. Most picture such a diet causing one to shrivel into a stringbean, eating only twigs, berries, and a spinach leaf or two each day. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Just like omnivorous diets - building mass essentially comes down to eating in a state of caloric surplus. What is a caloric surplus? Simply put, it’s when we consume a larger amount of calories than we burn. In a caloric surplus, our body mass increases. 

A calorie surplus of 500 calories is usually a good place to start to promote body mass. When paired with weight training, building muscle is almost inevitable. It’s important that we know our basal metabolic rate (BMR) to understand the amount of energy we expend while at rest. That rate can be calculated here, and once established, we can better measure the number of calories needed each day to reach our goals.

To “bulk up” on plant foods, we’ll need a surplus from healthy whole food sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. We’ll also need to create the demand for more muscle through adequate training and recovery. Last but not least, we’ll need to practice these habits long enough to see results.

It’s never been easier to track the amount of food we consume. Calorie counters like Cronometer and myfitnesspal are great tools to keep track of how much food we eat throughout the day. Eatthismuch even offers pre-set meals tailored to specific diets to ensure we remain in a caloric surplus.

We all know there are plenty of nutritious plant-based foods out there that can add the extra calories needed for weight gain. Of the three macronutrients, protein plays a vital role in building muscle mass. It’s important to note that all whole plant foods contain some amount of protein, so consuming enough calories throughout the day while enjoying a variety of foods will provide all of the essential amino acids we need.

It's also helpful to consume more protein-dense foods like beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to make it easier to create a calorie surplus. Supplementing with a protein powder centered around organic peas, pumpkin and sunflower seeds is quite easy with Vedge Plant Protein. It can easily be added to oatmeal, smoothies, or baked goods for an extra 25 grams of USDA Certified Organic plant protein per serving.

In addition to protein, consuming the right carbohydrates and fats are also imperative towards maintaining a healthy balance of macronutrients. Focusing on complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, fruit, oatmeal and brown rice will help fuel our training. Fats from avocados, nuts and seeds will promote satiation and aid in vitamin absorption.

The right proportion of macronutrients in any diet varies from person to person, so it’s important to tune in to our bodies and see how we feel with different ratios. Age, weight, gender, thyroid hormone, and testosterone/estrogen levels are all crucial variables to consider when finding our own macro ratios. Most mass-building diets tend to be high in carbs, moderate in protein, and low in fat. Plants are a rich and varied source of carbohydrates, so plant-based diets tend to be great for this.

Building mass on a plant-based diet can absolutely be done, need not to be difficult, and won’t necessarily leave us at any disadvantage. As the benefits of a plant-based diet are brought to light, the opportunity to thrive and reach our goals - without loading up on twigs and grass - is quite promising. 

Written by Brett Malaney

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