The Power of Plants: Muscle Myths Busted

In recent years, the fitness world has seen a surge in the popularity of plant-based diets among bodybuilders and athletes. Despite this trend, numerous myths persist regarding the efficacy of plant-based protein in muscle building and athletic performance. This article aims to dispel these myths and present factual insights based on scientific studies. 

Before I dispel the myths, let's first take a look at how to get a complete protein from a plant based source. 

To obtain a complete protein from plant sources, it's important to combine different types of plants that together provide all the essential amino acids. A complete protein contains an adequate proportion of all nine essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans. Here's a combination of plant-based foods that, when eaten together, can provide a complete protein profile:

Combinations to create a Complete Protein

Rice and Beans: This is a classic combination that provides a complete protein. Beans are low in methionine and high in lysine, while rice is low in lysine and high in methionine. Together, they complement each other perfectly.

Hummus and Whole Wheat Pita: Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are rich in lysine but low in methionine. Whole wheat, on the other hand, has a complementary amino acid profile, making this combination a complete protein source.

Peanut Butter on Whole Wheat Bread: Peanuts have high levels of methionine but are lower in lysine, while whole wheat bread provides the lysine that peanuts lack.

Quinoa: Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that is a complete protein on its own. It contains all nine essential amino acids in a healthy balance.

Soy Products: Soybeans and most soy products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are complete proteins. They can be combined with other foods or enjoyed on their own.

Buckwheat: Like quinoa, buckwheat is also a complete protein. Buckwheat noodles or pancakes can be a good way to incorporate this into your diet.

Spirulina with Grains or Nuts: Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, is a complete protein. When added to grains or nuts, it can boost the protein quality and quantity.

Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds: Both chia and hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids. They can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt to create a complete protein meal.

Remember, it's not necessary to eat these combinations at every meal. The body can store different amino acids over the course of a day and combine them as needed. The key is to eat a varied diet throughout the day to ensure you get all the essential amino acids.


Myth 1: Inadequate Protein Quality

Reality: Plant-based diets can provide high-quality protein necessary for muscle growth. Studies have shown that plant proteins, when consumed in a variety of forms, can meet the amino acid requirements for athletes. For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that soy protein is equivalent to whey protein in promoting muscle protein synthesis.

Myth 2: Insufficient Muscle Gain

Reality: Research indicates that bodybuilders on plant-based diets can achieve muscle mass comparable to their meat-eating counterparts. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition demonstrated that plant-based protein supplements were just as effective as whey protein in building muscle mass during resistance training.

Myth 3: Lack of Strength and Endurance

Reality: Contrary to popular belief, plant-based athletes can maintain high levels of strength and endurance. Research published in Nutrients showed that a vegan diet did not impair endurance and muscle strength in athletes, compared to an omnivorous diet.

Myth 4: Incomplete Nutrition

Reality: A well-planned plant-based diet can provide all the necessary nutrients for bodybuilding. According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, such diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

Myth 5: Slow Recovery

Reality: Plant-based diets can aid in faster recovery due to their high antioxidant content. A study in Sports Medicine found that plant-based diets can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to quicker recovery times post-exercise.

Plant Based Diets Can Muscle

The myths surrounding plant-based diets and bodybuilding are largely unfounded. Scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of plant-based protein in building muscle, enhancing performance, and ensuring quick recovery. As the popularity of plant-based diets continues to grow in the athletic community, it's essential to base dietary choices on factual information and personal health needs.

It may take a little more effort to put together a plant based diet to obtain a complete protein. I like that you don't have to put each combo into a single meal. Spread it ou over a day. 

 The myth I found most inightful was the capability to recover faster. What was your favorite?

May the gains be ever in your favor!