The global sports supplements market was valued at a whopping $50 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase to more than $85 billion by 2023.1
Sports supplements are becoming increasingly popular among athletes, gym goers, and bodybuilders alike who are pursuing goals from improving performance and increasing muscle mass, to burning fat and suppressing appetite.
There are countless types of supplements such as pre-workout, protein powder, creatine, multivitamins among many more, readily available online, in health food stores, and even now in supermarkets.
The bodybuilding world specifically is probably the most renowned subsection of the fitness industry for use and promotion of supplements that are primarily designed to maximize muscle gains and shed fat.
Having a well thought out supplement stack is almost obligatory if you’re involved in the world of bodybuilding, though this becomes even more vital when you follow a vegan lifestyle.
It seems many of us underestimate the power of plants as more and more bodybuilders are switching to a plant-based diet, yet still smashing the stereotypes that suggest they wouldn’t be able to maintain and grow muscle mass!
Plant-based diets are becoming increasingly popular among much of the population, including athletes and bodybuilders, due to the emerging research and anecdotal claims based around the performance and recovery advantages.
While research has suggested there are no performance disadvantages to being plant-based, it’s no surprise that cutting out certain food groups results in a trickier dietary lifestyle.
To avoid potential nutrient deficiencies and optimize nutritional intake on a vegan diet, particularly if you’re a bodybuilder, the diet needs to be planned and well thought out in advance.
A reliable and effective supplement stack can play a big role in vegan bodybuilders getting all the nutrients they need, plus the additional performance advantages of taking certain supplements.
This article explores the best vegan bodybuilding supplements and why they should be a part of your supplement stack!
The Principles of a Healthy Vegan Diet
It’s important to note that many of the advantages of taking supplements stem from the fact that the foundations have been laid first.
This means that in order to optimize your performance and recovery through taking supplements, the principles of a healthy vegan diet and lifestyle must be dialled in.
As we know, supplements aren’t designed to replace a poor diet, they simply optimize an already healthy diet and lifestyle.
The key principles of a healthy vegan diet for bodybuilders include:
- Eating a diet rich in plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, pulses, nuts, and seeds
- Reducing intake of highly processed foods
- Paying close attention to intake of vitamin D, B12, and protein
- Ensuring adequate protein intake, particularly the amino acid leucine (essential amino acid for muscle building)
- Drinking plenty of fluids
Once these principles are practiced daily, a vegan body builder should then consider an effective supplement stack.
The Best Vegan Supplements for Bodybuilders
Protein is a vital nutrient for athletes, particularly bodybuilders whose main goal is gaining muscle mass.
It is often a concern among bodybuilders that a vegan diet will not provide adequate, good quality protein.
However, research has shown there to be little difference in the source of the protein, the more important factor is consuming enough overall protein to support your needs.
Two key protein considerations for vegan bodybuilders:
- Focus on Leucine - the key amino acid involved in switching on muscle protein synthesis - the process of repairing and rebuilding muscle. Sources include tofu, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
- Consume a variety of plant-based proteins throughout the day to ensure a balanced amino acid profile. Plant-based proteins typically fall short of certain amino acids, meaning a variety of sources must be consumed throughout the day to make up for these shortfalls.
However, one very easy and simple way to increase your daily protein intake is through taking a supplement, commonly in the form of a powder.
Protein supplements are quite simply a staple in any bodybuilders diet, and vegan protein powders are becoming an increasingly popular choice.
You often find they are made with pea, hemp, brown rice or soy, which are all great plant-based sources of protein.
A protein powder is a convenient and easy way to boost your overall daily protein, with additional benefits to consuming it around your training sessions.
Vegan protein powders such as Performance Lab Protein have been shown to be as effective as whey protein powders for increasing lean muscle mass.
Additionally, the Performance Lab Protein is a clean, organic and 100% plant-based protein made with brown rice grain that enhances muscle strength, power, endurance, and overall athletic performance - a must pick for vegan bodybuilders!
A multivitamin is a supplement that contains many essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
It is often taken to “cover all the bases”, like a form of insurance against any potential nutrient deficiencies.
While supplements are not made to replace a poor diet, a multivitamin can be very useful for many of us, particularly in certain populations where they are more at risk of nutrient deficiencies or have additional requirements - such as athletes and vegans.
Bodybuilders are known to put their body through a significant amount of stress through strict diets and brutal training, all while maintaining a lean physique.
On top of this, vegans are at risk of certain nutrient deficiencies, such as B12, Vitamin D, and Iron. This is due to cutting out food groups such as meat and dairy, which are found to be rich in these key nutrients.
A multivitamin should be an essential part of a vegan bodybuilders supplement stack. Though, the most common issue with this is finding an effective multivitamin that is actually suitable for vegans!
Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi provides just that - a clean, 100% plant-based multivitamin that offers foundational nutritional support for healthy whole-body biological performance.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) refer to the three amino acids that make up one-third of the protein found in muscles - leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
These 3 amino acids are key players in the muscle building process, especially leucine, as we have previously established.
BCAAs are present in high amounts in animal proteins such as meat and dairy, so it’s no surprise that vegans normally fall short.
While a protein supplement, such as the above, can help an individual hit their daily protein target, BCAAs may provide slightly additional benefits.
Some of the benefits to BCAA supplementation include:
- Increased muscle growth
- Improved muscle recovery and athletic performance
- Preserving muscle mass
- Optimizing low protein meals
Bodybuilders are always on the lookout for strategies to increase fat burning to achieve that shredded look they need to place first in a competition. This is why fasted cardio is a popular training strategy for this population.
BCAAs have been shown to preserve muscle mass in a fasted state, making this a must-have supplement for bodybuilders!
Once again, a tricky part of BCAA supplementation is finding a vegan-friendly one.
Enter Performance Lab BCAA, containing 3000mg, a ratio of 2:1:1, of BCAAs.
This particular supplement supplies the cleanest, most versatile BCAAs on the market today, supporting all fitness and strength programs, particularly those partaking in bodybuilding.
Pre-workout supplements are probably the most commonly spoke about supplements among gym goers and bodybuilders.
They are multi-ingredient formulas designed to boost energy, power, and strength in order to optimize performance through a challenging workout.
Many pre workouts on the market are often overpriced and full of caffeine and other ingredients which potentially cause side effects.
Performance Lab Pre is one of the best stim-free, vegan-friendly pre-workouts on the market, which is safe and well-tolerated compared to what’s available.
Performance Lab Pre works to raise nitric oxide levels to support blood flow, as well as enhance anaerobic and aerobic performance, improving muscle strength and recovery, and hydrating hard-working muscles.
Some of the key ingredients in Pre include:
- Creatine - an organic compound that products ATP energy which powers muscle contractions
- Glutathione + L-Citrulline - responsible for boosting and sustaining nitric oxide levels in the blood, thus promoting muscle strength and power, as well as repair and recovery
- Beta alanine - works to raise carnosine, a molecule associated with increased muscle power during high-intensity exercise
- Himalayan pink salt - helps to maintain hydration by restoring electrolytes that are depleted though sweating, and also optimizes the absorption of amino acids
Pre-workouts should definitely be included in a bodybuilders supplement stack, particularly as bodybuilders require that extra 1% push during every workout to achieve the sought-after lean physique.
If pre-workouts are a vital part of a bodybuilder’s supplement stack, then post-workout formulas should be too!
With the intense training programs and sometimes restricted calorie diets bodybuilders put themselves through to achieve a low body fat percentage, muscle recovery can often be compromised.
It’s a known fact that resistance training damages muscles, depletes fluids, and stresses connective tissue, thus leading to slower recovery in between sessions.
A post-workout can counter these negative effects by:
- Stimulating muscle growth
- Supporting faster muscle recovery
- Efficiently rehydrating muscles
- Reloading depleted muscles, ensuring you are ready for your next session
Performance Lab Post does just this, and is a clean, vegan-friendly addition to your gym bag, promoting healthy gains, faster recovery and a strong return to action!
One of the most intense challenges a bodybuilder faces is the requirement to achieve a very low body fat percentage to present the leanest physique to a judging panel.
Calorie-restrictive diets often take first place on their list of priorities when it comes to achieving this lean physique, which can sometimes negatively impact a bodybuilders recovery and performance.
With such a lean physique goal, it’s ideal to have some support achieving this - this is why fat burners are popular among bodybuilders.
Though, many fat burners are loaded with mostly caffeine and marketed as a fat burner, which is the type of supplement you want to avoid!
You don’t just want a boost of energy, which doesn’t really burn fat, you want the wide array of benefits that a more reputable fat burner has to offer, such as Burn Lab Pro.
Burn Lab Pro doesn’t just boost your workout intensity, but also:
- Supports muscle growth and recovery
- Protects, preserves, and promotes lean muscle gains
- Helps burn more calories during a workout
- Stabilizes energy and controls appetite
- Breaks down fat cells for energy
These are all absolute essentials for a bodybuilder, who would ideally want to burn a significant amount of fat while ensuring performance, recovery, and lean muscle mass is not compromised.
If you’re a male bodybuilder, you may be aware of the importance of looking after your testosterone levels!
In order to maximize your performance and gains, you must consider the lifestyle and nutritional habits that you need to apply to be able to maintain healthy testosterone levels, as well as naturally boost them.
While we are able to maintain healthy testosterone levels at the best of times, it can be much trickier for a bodybuilder due to the amount of stress they put their body through.
An effective testosterone booster such as Testo Lab Pro can help burn more fat and increase muscle growth through several pathways, on top of it being a safe, clean and vegan-friendly alternative to many T-boosters currently available.
The Ultimate Stack: Best Vegan Bodybuilding Supplements
Every bodybuilder should consider a supplement stack to optimize their gains, maximise every workout, and boost their chances of achieving that sought-after lean physique!
Meat-eating bodybuilders require a stack just as much as vegan bodybuilders, though it definitely becomes more significant for the plant-based eaters among us.
Vegan bodybuilders have additional nutrient requirements to avoid risk of nutrient insufficiencies, and to optimize their health and recovery in, what is known to be, one of the most intense and challenging sports.
To recap, here is a list of the best vegan bodybuilding supplements:
- Vegan protein powder
- Fat burner
- Testosterone booster