The number one question I get asked almost every day: how can you build muscle without eating protein? We have been told that we need a high protein diet in order to build muscle. I believed that myth for a long time, until I became the proof that it wasn’t true. Yes, protein is very important for our bodies, it’s what we need to repair muscle. What we really need from the protein is the complex strings of amino acids, which act as building blocks in between our muscles – we will go into a little bit more depth about this later.
There are many sources of protein from plants and these are what gives the body what it needs. The thing I would like to bring awareness to is the myth that we need extra protein to build muscle – that is not true! I am living proof of this. I have been living a plant-based lifestyle for 7 years now and I can say that as long as you get enough calories in your diet, it’s impossible to not build muscle on a plant-based diet. When we eat a wholesome plant-based diet, we will get it all.
What I Eat in an Average Day and What it Does for Me
I usually train very early in the morning, and because of this I always train fasted. My first drink will be at 12:00pm and this is always green with lots of spirulina, moringa, hemp, sprouts, kale, spinach, lemon, ginger and frozen banana. Two hours later I often have a big bowl of fruit, then one hour after that a large green salad with some carbohydrates, sweet potato or lentils. In between this I try to get at least 30 minutes of rest in my day – I love taking naps, it’s my best source of nutrition. Two hours after my salad I have a snack, which is always dates, and for supper I have a large raw salad with a few carbohydrates. For a late-night snack, I have four frozen
bananas and some dates.
Since beginning on this path, I have accelerated on all levels. My business, my marriage, my relationship with God, my relationship with my children – everything began to thrive. My entire perspective changed and I started envisioning how my life would unfold. That vision has guided me on this path.
I call this a journey because it is a lifelong journey. Of course, I get my days where I feel temptation, but it is not on the same level I used to in the past. Now I ask the questions: what is still to unfold and what do I still need to let go of to grow deeper into my full purpose? Then, I simply just surrender. I think the best part of this lifestyle is that I don’t FEAR anything.
You haven’t “lived” if you have not yet experienced the bliss of being completely embodied. Completely connected to spirit, completely unattached to the flesh and ultimately connected to your source. I can honestly say that I have become a better version of myself through these dietary and lifestyle changes and I am going to be the best version of myself before I rest in peace.
Let’s Talk Nutrition and Amino Acids
Your body is the House of God and nutrition comes down to basic vibration and the body’s ability to assimilate and decode the information that it is fed. Everything is energy in motion, including diet. We’re currently in a time where most have been misled to believe that animal and dairy products are the sole source of protein. Protein is an essential aspect of any diet, particularly for athletes, but it’s important to explore what it actually is, how much we really need, why we need it,
and where it comes from. When broken down we can see that, in essence, what the body really
requires is amino acids.
It’s all about the Fundamentals
So, what happens when we eat protein? Well, the truth is that we don’t actually absorb that protein. That protein gets broken down into amino acids and our bodies first assemble them and then absorb them in the way that is needed. I think that this is where everyone gets it wrong – believing that animal protein is the best source of protein. Yes, animal protein might contain all the essential proteins that our bodies need, but it does not mean that we cannot find it in plants. Protein that comes from plants puts a lot less strain on our digestive system.
So now, let’s talk about amino acids. These are small molecules with unique attributes. When strung together and folded up in a long chain they create what is called a Protein. Your body is able to synthesize eleven of these amino acids, but the remaining nine are considered ‘essential amino acids’ and these include:
These individual amino acids are broken down during digestion and each is absorbed through the intestines and is then transported to the body’s cells via the bloodstream. Cells use these amino acids to create all the needed molecules, ensuring optimal well being of the physical body. Your body makes thousands of protein molecules, which it utilizes for a multitude of different functions. Proteins are required for cellular growth and repair, transportation of other molecules, balancing the body’s fluids, creating hormones and enzymes, balancing one’s electrolytes and also providing energy!
Plant-Based Eating – It’s all about Releasing your Inner Vibrancy?
You may have heard of plant sources being referred to as ‘incomplete proteins’. This is because they contain varying amounts of these amino acids and not all plants contain all essential amino acids – this is where balance comes in. Plant-based eating is all about vibrancy, it’s about variety, it’s about colour. Adding colour to your plate opens up a space for your soul to reveal the complete palette of its own colours. It’s about letting your body and soul shine.
Plant-based eating is all about eating a variety of vegetables and grains, which ensures that you’re including all 9 of the aforementioned essential amino acids. There are two essential amino acids that are lower in some plant-based sources of protein: legumes are low in methionine and many other plant-based sources are lower in lysine. Most of the time you’ll find your methionine is available at high enough quantities in your varied intake. However, more care should be taken when considering your lysine intake. The easiest way of doing so is incorporating more legumes into your diet, within balance of course.
Fun fact! To get the most out of your legumes, sprout them first! Sprouting legumes may not seem like the most appetizing of endeavors; but the burst of flavour and crunch in your sprouted lentils will surprise you! By reducing the number of lectins in your legumes, your body is able to more readily absorb the protein and nutrients.
Plant-based Is Healthier for Your Cells!
I could talk for hours about the radical benefits of consuming a plant-based diet. Although containing all the essential nutrients, the impediments caused by meat are important to understand. Meat consumption puts one at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, bowel cancer, and the list can go on. Not only this, but eating less meat has been linked to vitality and living longer.
Most plants are naturally considered alkaline, unlike animal products which are acidic and contribute to the disruption of your body’s acid-base balance. This in turn can lead to chronic metabolic acidosis and a long list of other dis-eases and ailments that one may be predisposed to. Many people decide to steer clear from foods that cause more acidity in the body, the main goal being to remain within acceptable limits of their ‘potential renal acid load’ (PRAL), which is how much acid your body produces when eating particular foods.
So, it’s pretty simple then?
Taking into consideration all the amazing plant-based foods one has the potential of consuming, which can only benefit the body, it can be said that it is without a doubt possible to build muscle, break your training benchmarks and achieve every physical goal you set for yourself. I have shown this for years on end and continue to expand and transform on a daily basis. My body is continuously pushing the boundaries of what is known – this is where true growth lies.
Understanding the fundamentals of what your body needs and how it is utilized is the first step on an incredibly rewarding journey of nourishment, strength and fulfillment. Knowing your physical goals, and sustainably working on your essential amino acid intake will ensure that anyone following a plant-based diet can build strength and muscle and feel incredible while doing it too!