As the vegan movement continues to grow in popularity, many athletes seek ways to increase strength and improve their body composition following a plant-based diet. Fortunately, several vegan supplements are now available to help you reach your goals of building muscle, losing fat and maintaining overall health.
Whether you are looking for a pre-workout supplement to fuel your workouts, a post-workout recovery product or just general muscle-building support, this guide will help you find the best vegan supplements for your needs.
Creatine is found in foods such as red meat and fish – obviously, being a vegan, you cannot eat these foods, so supplementing on creatine is a good idea. But what is creatine exactly?
Creatine is a substance found in the body (1) that helps to provide energy for short, intense bouts of exercise – such as lifting weights. It can be produced naturally in the body, but taking a creatine supplement can help to boost your levels and support muscle growth.
A study (2) investigated the influence of creatine supplementation on muscular performance during repetitive sets of high-intensity training. The subjects were split into two groups. One was supplementing on creatine, and the other was given a placebo.
The subjects were tasked with doing five sets of jump squats and bench presses. The group who supplemented creatine saw a significant improvement in peak power output during all five sets of jump squats. They also saw a significant improvement in all five sets of bench presses.
Moreover, creatine supplementation has been found to increase insulin-like growth factor (IGF) levels, a vital hormone involved in muscle growth (3). This is why creatine is regarded as one of the supplements for building muscle, for both vegans and carnivores.
There’s no denying that protein is the most important macronutrient for muscle building. High protein foods are normally animal products, leaving vegans must find alternative foods to help hit daily protein targets.
Protein quantities (per serving) are usually low in vegan food choices, so supplementing with protein powder is a great way to help hit daily protein targets. Opt for a protein supplement that is a complete protein source (i.e., contains all nine essential amino acids).
Essential amino acids are the amino acids that the body can't create and need to be eaten in our diet. Vegan protein powder can be made from peas, hemp, and brown rice and is an excellent supplement to promote muscle growth and fat loss.
A systematic review (4) on the effects of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass concluded that protein supplementation significantly enhanced changes in muscle strength and size during prolonged resistance training in healthy adults.
Caffeine is a popular pre-workout supplement for bodybuilders as it helps to improve energy, focus and performance. Vegan caffeine supplements can be made from plant sources such as coffee beans and green tea, meaning that it’s suitable for vegans to consume.
According to a study conducted in 2019 (6), eight Spanish National Team male athletes were enrolled in a research study to investigate the effects of caffeine supplementation on muscle performance. The participants were divided into two groups. One group supplemented on caffeine, and the other received a placebo without any caffeine.
The results showed that the group who supplemented caffeine had significantly higher peak power during the squat and bench press than those who received the placebo. From these results, it's clear to see that caffeine has great potential as an effective vegan supplement for bodybuilding.
Another study was conducted to examine the effects of caffeine on fatigue (7). The study found that participants who ingested caffeine before exercise had a significantly longer time to exhaustion (by as much as 12%), and subjective fatigue decreased drastically. If this allows us to push those extra reps in the gym, then caffeine is definitely worth considering as a supplement.
A good ole' cup of coffee!
Beta-Alanine is a natural amino acid that your body produces. It works to develop and store carnosine in the muscles, which promotes muscular strength when participating in intense physical activity by delaying fatigue. Adding Beta-Alanine supplementation into your daily routine can help increase muscle buffering power for longer-lasting performance (8).
Beta-alanine supplementation has been proven to reduce exercise fatigue and increase the work we can do during our workouts. A 2007 study (9) found that taking Beta-Alanine for ten weeks increased muscle carnosine levels by up to 80%.
Furthermore, after just four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation, there was a 13% rise in total work done, with an additional 3% gain noted at the ten-week mark!
In addition, recent studies have shown that higher carnosine levels can improve cognitive performance and increase stress resilience (10). It is believed that these benefits are derived from its antioxidant capacity.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for overall health and well-being. The vitamin is commonly found in animal-based products, and vegan diets are often low in B12, so supplements can be beneficial.
Vegan supplement formulas, however, can be created from microbial sources and fortified products such as nutritional yeast. Vegan B12 supplements come in various forms, such as supplements, tablets, or sprays.
Vitamin B12 will help you maintain a healthy nervous system, produce energy and form red blood cells.
Iron is an essential mineral for optimal health and energy levels. Vegan diets may be low in iron due to the lack of animal-based sources, so it is important to take an iron supplement as part of a Vegan diet.
Vegan iron supplements are usually made from plant-based sources such as spinach and kale, which can be just as effective in increasing iron levels as animal-based sources. Vegan iron supplements are available in tablets, drops, and liquid forms, which can be taken daily to ensure you meet your body's iron needs.
Maintaining an adequate zinc intake is essential for maintaining a healthy body, and vegan diets can come up short due to the lack of animal-based sources. To ensure your Vegan diet contains enough zinc, adding a plant-based supplement like kale or spinach in tablet or capsule form can be beneficial.
Calcium is indispensable for a robust skeleton and pearly whites. If you're vegan, acquiring enough of this crucial mineral from your diet cannot be easy since dairy-based foods are usually off the table.
Fortunately, vegans can access calcium supplements from plant sources such as vegetables, nuts, and legumes - these deliver just as much calcium as animal-derived equivalents! Supplements come in tablet form, drops, or liquid solutions, so getting your daily dose has never been more convenient.
Magnesium is an essential component in maintaining healthy bodily functions. Unfortunately, vegan diets lack animal-based sources of magnesium, requiring a supplement to compensate for the deficiency.
Luckily, vegan magnesium supplements are available and as effective at replenishing your body's levels as those sourced from animals! These tablets, liquids, or drops help keep your nervous system working properly while reducing tiredness and aiding muscle function and growth - without compromising ethical standards!
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps absorb calcium and support your immune system. Vegan diets may be low in Vitamin D, so it is important to use a supplement to ensure we’re hitting the recommended daily intake.
If you are a vegan who needs to ensure you consume enough Vitamin D, there is no need to worry. Vegan-friendly tablets and drops containing Vitamin D sourced from lichen and algae can be taken daily for maximum health benefits. Now vegans, too, can easily give their bodies the necessary nutrients!
These Vegan supplements can be incredibly beneficial for Vegan gym enthusiasts looking to get the most out of their workouts and reach their peak performance. With these Vegan supplements, you can ensure that you get the necessary nutrients and minerals your body needs to reach your fitness goals.
With veganism becoming a popular lifestyle choice, people increasingly seek the best vegan supplements to meet their nutritional and fitness goals. Thankfully, various vegan products are designed to help with muscle growth and recovery.
Creatine, caffeine and plant-based protein powder are the most important elements to support muscle building and fat loss. But don't forget about micronutrients, either. Vitamin B12, zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium are all essential components in any balanced vegan diet.
With the right combination of supplements and nutrition, you can ensure that you're fueling your body with what it needs to perform at its best so you can achieve the body you desire.
So there you have it: if you want to take your progress to the next level, incorporate these powerful supplements into your diet today.