As discussed in a recent blog post, there is a science to muscle growth that is not difficult to understand once you break it down to basics. Within this previous blog post we touched briefly on the potential of plant-based proteins for building muscle and how this can be incredibly beneficial for those looking to enhance their health and fitness efforts.
So, let’s take a look at some particularly powerful plant-based sources of protein that can be the perfect dietary choice when you are looking to increase your muscle mass.
Lentils are simply bursting with protein as well as carbohydrates and ample fiber. One cup of cooked lentils provides an impressive 18g of protein. They are the perfect choice for adding to soups, curries or even just eating on their own!
Lentils are known to lower your cholesterol levels when consumed regularly. This is because they contain high levels of soluble fibre. Keeping your cholesterol levels low is a great way to protect against heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, lentils contain ample amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate is good for tackling the risk factors of heart disease and magnesium is super helpful for promoting the optimum flow of blood around the body.
As well as being an abundant source of protein, hemp seeds also contain beneficial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the health of your heart. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds will provide you with approximately 10g of protein, in fact, over 25% of the total calories from hemp seeds are made up of protein.
Hemp seeds, which are also sometimes referred to as hemp hearts, contain exciting amounts of vitamin E, as well as various minerals. The minerals found in abundance in hemp hearts are phosphorous, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, and zinc! You can easily sprinkle hemp seeds on the meals you are eating as well as in your smoothies!
These fantastic little seeds have been used since the days of the Mayans in order to increase stamina, strength and overall health. Two tablespoons of chia seeds will bring roughly 4g of protein into your day! The same serving will also provide you with 11g of fiber, and 5g of heart-healthy omega-3 fat.
Because they are so small and tasteless chia seeds are great for adding to practically anything. You can sprinkle them over any breakfast dish, into your soup, over a salad and even over your main meal in the evening.
This gluten free grain is a favourite source of plant-based protein amongst the health conscious. It is easy to cook, incredibly filling and has a unique flavour that many enjoy. Just half of a cup of cooked quinoa will contain between seven and nine grams of protein. This tasty grain is also high in fiber, as well as magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
Try using quinoa with your curries instead of rice, or alternatively you can use it as a base for soups to increase nutrition as well as provide more sustenance with your meal.
Including a wide range of raw, unsalted nuts in your diet every day is arguably one of the best things you can do to increase the amount of protein in your diet. In addition to being full of protein, nuts are also rich in vitamin E and heart healthy fats. With so many different types of nuts available it should not be difficult for you to find some that you like and include them regularly.
As you can see, it is incredibly simple to reach your daily protein quota with plant-based sources. The misconceptions surrounding a plant-based diet and protein are rapidly being rejected as our understanding of nutrition increases.
Now that you know which plant-based foods will support muscle growth, let’s take a loot at some of the best exercises for building your muscles!
Press ups are one of the easiest and most effective exercises for muscle growth. They are also great because you can do them absolutely anywhere and you never need to utilise any equipment. When you do press ups you are effectively building all aspects of your upper body strength as well as the strength of your core. When you do a press up it requires the muscles in your neck, back, triceps, shoulders, arms and chest. As well as helping to build your muscles, doing press ups regularly will also help to improve your posture.
Barbell Bench Press
Doing barbell bench presses allows you to safely lift a large amount of weight with optimum control. To get the maximum benefit of this exercise for muscle growth you should start with the barbell close to your chest and use heavy weights with lower rep ranges. As you progress with your efforts you can start to vary the position with which you grip the bar in order to mix up the muscle groups that you target.
Squats are a great way to increase your muscle mass and you can easily do this exercise without any equipment at all. All you have to do is stand with your feet hip-width apart and lower your body down as though you are taking a seat. It is important that you do not lock your legs as you do so. To add to the benefits of doing this exercise you can use light weights in both hands as you do the movement.
The plank is one of the best exercises for toning your muscles and overall conditioning of the body. When you enter the plank position you should make sure your back is flat, your toes are tucked under your body and that your abs are pulled in. As you continue to practice this exercise you should aim to hold the position for longer periods of time.