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Can you build muscle mass as a vegetarian?

May 2, 2022 - By Sabrina Lamarre

Temps de lecture 3 minutes

We often hear that you must eat a lot of meat or protein if you want to build muscle mass. One might wonder if it is more difficult, if not impossible, for people who eat a vegetarian diet to build muscle mass. Some vegetarians will even go so far as to say that it is easier, or even better. But what is the truth?

Types of vegetarian food

There are several variations of vegetarianism. To begin with, there is the vegetarian diet or vegetarianism which excludes the consumption of animal flesh.

The strictest version is called veganism or total vegetarianism which excludes the consumption of all animal products and by-products. Thus, the exclusion of dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), eggs, honey, and other animal products.

Some variants include fish, pesco-vegetarian, others only eggs, ovo-vegetarian, or the addition of dairy products only, lacto-vegetarian. There really is something for everyone. Today, we will be talking about vegetarianism, the equivalent of lacto-ovo vegetarian.

Protein sources

Eating enough protein is easier than you think when you are a vegetarian. In fact, there are many foods rich in protein such as eggs, legumes, dairy products, soy products, nutritional yeast, and many others. Protein is also found in cereal products such as bread, pasta, quinoa, and other grains. These allow you to get 5 to 10 g of protein per meal.

Protein requirements for building muscle mass

The daily protein requirements for building muscle mass are higher than the basic requirements. To optimize this process, an intake of 1.2 to 2.0 g per kg of body weight is sufficient[1].

For example, a 70 kg woman can aim for 85 to 140 g per day. For an 85 kg man, these portions would range from 102 to 170 g per day.

Here is an example of a one-day menu for a person weighing 70 kg, including the amount of protein in each food:

Breakfast2 slices of whole grain bread (10 g)
50 g firm cheese (13 g)
15 mL almond butter (4 g)
1 banana (1 g)  
Snack 11 cup soy beverage (8 g)
1 cup of berries (1 g)  
LunchLegume salad
½ cup lentils (10 g)
1 egg (6 g)
30 g feta cheese (5 g)
1 cup of mixed vegetables (3 g)
30 ml sunflower seeds (6 g)
Homemade salad dressing (0 g)  
Snack 2¾ cup Greek yogurt (17 g)
¼ cup granola (3 g)  
DinnerVegetable and tofu stir fry
150 g tofu (26 g)
1 cup mixed vegetables (3 g)
¾ cup of rice (5 g)  
Snack 310 whole wheat crackers (2 g)
¼ cup hummus (4 g)  
Protein total127 g
Targeted proteins85 to 140 g

Factors influencing muscle development

Protein is important, but so are other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats). In addition, proper training is essential to see a progression in your muscle mass growth. Genetics, stress, and sleep will also influence your results.

If you want to start a program to gain muscle mass or for any other objective, you should know that there are several food plans available on the Ultime Fit platform. Moreover, the recipes and portions will be adapted to your needs.

However, for an even more personalized approach, guidance from a nutritionist would be optimal 😉

In short, you don’t need meat to build muscle mass, but you do need to know how to choose the right foods in addition to following a suitable training regimen and getting some professional advice!


[1] Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528.

Can you build muscle mass as a vegetarian? is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
Copyright © Nautilus Plus 2022

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