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Vegetarian foods and muscle building commonly don’t go hand in hand as protein is the base of muscle building. Some of the rich protein sources are non-vegetarian like fish, lean beef, and turkey. But it doesn’t mean that vegans and vegetarians can’t build muscles. Off-course they can build muscles. The best proof of the answer is some muscular and powerful animals such as oxen, gorillas, and horses. All these animals are herbivorous. An ideal muscle building diet is always calories surplus even when calories are burned through resistance training and exercise. Vegetarians and vegans can receive essential nutrients from seeds, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. In this article, I am going to share a list of top 10 high protein vegetarian foods for muscle building. Buts let’s start the vegetarian muscle building guide from the basic thee nutrients which are vital for muscle building.


Three Basic Nutrients for Muscle Building

Developing chiseled, a lean and muscular body needs a disciplined life, consistency, and commitment. It is truly a combination of well-planned diet and hard training. Here are three basic nutrients for muscle building.

Three Basic Nutrients for Muscle Building


An ideal muscle building food provides a constant supply of protein to promote muscle growth. Amino acids form protein and are the building blocks of muscles and tissues. If amino acids are missing, it is impossible to grow muscle and repair muscle tissues.

There are total 22 amino acids of which are 9 are important and 12 are non-important. Amino acids are taken in the body by the small intestine and then released into the bloodstream after being rearranged. The human body can’t produce the 9 essential amino acids and need to be supplemented with diet. Our body utilizes protein to produce energy and perform vital functions. It aids in muscle building and replacing old and damaged cells.


Carbohydrates are a critical energy source for the body. An ideal muscle building foods must be high in carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates such as pasta, cereals and whole grains are slowly digested to supply a consistent, slow release of energy for a long time period. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose and all body cell functions depend on glucose. Complex carbohydrate must make up at least 50 to 60% of daily calorie intake.


Most people misunderstood fats. Healthy fats contain many health benefits. Lipids (fats) are ideal energy source with two times more calorie per gram as compared to carbohydrates and proteins.

Unsaturated fats are present in plants and oils contain linoleic acid which is an important fatty acid for a human body. Fats provide energy, increase satiety, protect vital organs and balance hormonal functions. Ideal muscle building foods must contain fats and it should make up 30% of the daily calories.

Top 10 High Protein Vegetarian Foods for Muscle Building

There are many plant-based foods full of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein. One can build muscles using vegetarian diet simply. Here are top 10 vegetarian foods for muscle building.



Quinoa is one of the best foods for muscle growth full of all 9 essential amino acids which human body can’t produce. It is also rich in complex carbohydrates and proteins which work as a constant energy source through hard work out sessions. Quinoa can be cooked like rice but they are actually leafy plant seeds.

A single cup cooked quinoa contains 8 grams protein. Quinoa has the ability to promote the production of growth hormone factor-1 (IGF-1), which is vital for gaining muscle strength and mass. It is also loaded with calcium, magnesium, and iron that are important for regulation muscle tone.



These delicious and crunchy snacks are loaded with protein and healthy calories which highlights them amongst best bodybuilding foods. Nuts like cashews and almonds are rich in proteins, fibers, and fats that supply surplus calorie amount.

A cup of almonds has 30 grams of protein and 71 grams of healthy fats along with one ounce of cashew contains 150 calories. Nuts are extremely portable for health which makes them amongst most munching foods which can be easily enjoyed during the daytime.



The muscle building diet is always incomplete without seeds. Seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are packed with important fatty acids, fiber and proteins.

The seeds containing essential fatty acids reduce inflammation and promote recovery of tissues post workout. If are looking for ideal post-workout food a nourishing smoothie sprinkled with chia seeds or flax seeds can be the best option. Seeds can also be included in curries and salads.



This famous soy product is a healthy alternative source of quality protein other than meat. It has all essential nutrients needed for bodybuilding and is an ideal source of amino acids and isoflavones which promotes muscle growth.



Fruits are often neglected by fitness lovers as they are high in fructose content which may cause fat gain. But fruits like apples, cantaloupes, and bananas are very effective for muscle building. Such fruits are rich in fibers, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals which are essential for promoting lean muscle mass. Having an apple, banana or small bowl of cantaloupes in breakfast after a night fasting can keep you energetic throughout the day.

6.Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens

Most people concentrate on proteins to grow muscles but vegetables are equally essential for bodybuilding. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, squash, romaine lettuce along with beet and avocado are rich in folic acid, calcium and vitamins A, B, C, D and E all are important for reducing inflammation, enhancing muscle concentration and neutralizing the negative effects of oxidative stress. The antioxidants of vegetables boost up muscle and tissue recovery which is also an integral aspect of bodybuilding.

7.Full-Fat Cottage Cheese

Full-Fat Cottage Cheese

It is one of the top muscle building foods with tons of taste options. Such type of cheese has two-fold benefits in promoting lean muscle mass.

Full fat cottage cheese is full of casein which is slow digesting dairy protein that causes a steady and slow rise in amino acid level in the blood that continues for longtime in elevated level.

Such type of cheese is rich in live cultures and healthy bacteria that improve the absorption and breakdown of nutrients needed for stronger and bigger muscles.

8.Beans and Legumes

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes like chickpeas are popular as the most effective protein-rich food that can be used in a vegetarian diet for muscle building. A single cup of chickpeas has 121 gram of carbs, 40 grams of protein an 7.7 grams of unsaturated fats.

Beans like pinto beans, kidney beans are rich in proteins and fibers that improve bowel movement and also increase insulin response which is vital for muscle growth as it boosts up the nutrients absorption by the body. You can use beans with brown rice or a cup of rich chickpea hummus.

9.Protein Shakes

Protein Shakes

A healthy shake rich in protein and carbohydrates like whey protein shake is essential to increase the result of muscle building program. A decent protein shakes works as an efficient pre-workout food to promote effective muscle growth and optimal nutrient usage.

The combination of protein and carbohydrates in bodybuilding shakes decrease excessive muscle breakdown, increase protein synthesis in the body and boost up blood flow to the muscles.

10.Fermented Dairy Products

Such dairy products like kefir, buttermilk, and yogurt are famous as magic foods for muscle building. These dairy products work best than regular milk as they are rich in calories and the probiotic presence enhances digestion of other foods. It enables the body to absorb a maximum amount of calories and nutrients through an effective breakdown of foods. You can also enjoy a cup of yogurt or a glass of kefir or buttermilk as an ideal muscle building snack.