Man taking vegan bodybuilding supplement

The Role of Supplements In Vegan Bodybuilding: An Essential Guide

11 min read


22 Apr 2024

Hack Beast Mode

  1. Understanding vegan bodybuilding
  2. Principles of bodybuilding while following a vegan diet
  3. The importance of choosing the right exercises
  4. Essential supplements for vegan bodybuilders
  5. Tips on how to add supplements to your diet
  6. Vegan bodybuilding success stories
  7. Final thoughts

Are you a fitness fanatic interested in vegan bodybuilding supplements? This comprehensive guide will teach you how to use natural and plant-based products to level up your muscle gains.

But, can vegans gain enough muscle for bodybuilding?

It might be to your surprise…but the answer is a big, YES. The truth is, the more informed you are about the right nutrition and supplements you need to build muscle as a vegan successfully, the more successful you’ll be. That’s where we come in.

Here, we’ll take a deep dive into the essential vegan supplements like BCAAs, creatine, omega-3s, vitamin B12, and iron that'll supercharge your workouts and recovery.

We'll also dive into supplements for overall vegan fitness and bodybuilding nutrition to keep you feeling energized and healthy.

With the right vegan supplements in your arsenal, you'll be sculpting that plant-powered physique in no time.

Let’s dive in.

Understanding vegan bodybuilding

Vegan bodybuilder

If you’re aiming to be a successful vegan bodybuilder, the first step is to understand what vegan bodybuilding is, what challenges you may face—and how you can overcome them.

Simply put, vegan bodybuilding involves building muscle and strength while adhering to a plant-based diet devoid of animal products.

Contrary to popular belief, plant-based diets CAN give your muscles the bodybuilding fuel they need to succeed. All you have to do is pay close attention to their macronutrient intake and incorporate supplements to fill potential nutritional gaps.

Great nutrition is essential for vegan bodybuilders. But it can be tricky if the plant-based foods you choose to eat do not provide what your body requires on this journey.

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and working out, vegan bodybuilders often use supplements to meet their nutritional needs.

Before we get into the essential nutrients your body needs to build muscle and function properly, it’s important we lay out the foundations of bodybuilding while following a vegan diet.

Principles of bodybuilding while following a vegan diet

Following the principles of bodybuilding while following a vegan diet involves focusing on key aspects such as nutrition, training, supplementation, rest, and recovery.

Let’s get straight into it…


Just like traditional bodybuilding, nutrition is a cornerstone of vegan bodybuilding. But, instead of relying on animal products for protein, vegans get their protein from plant-based sources like...

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Amaranth
  • Teff

Those who follow a vegan diet also consume plenty of fruits and vegetables for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Getting enough protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth, so vegan bodybuilders may also use protein supplements made from pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein, or blends of plant-based sources.

Vegan bodybuilders often plan their meals strategically to ensure they're meeting their nutritional needs.

This might involve prepping meals in advance and throwing a variety of plant-based foods into the mix while adjusting portion sizes based on their training goals.

Macronutrient balance

Vegan bodybuilders pay attention to their macronutrient intake, balancing carbohydrates, protein, and fats to fuel their workouts and support muscle growth.

Carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, starchy vegetables) provide energy for training, protein supports muscle repair and growth, and healthy fats are essential for hormone production and overall health.


In addition to protein supplements, vegan bodybuilders may also use other supplements like creatine, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), and vitamin B12, which can be challenging to obtain in sufficient amounts from plant-based sources alone.

Let’s dive deeper into supplements right now.

Essential supplements for vegan bodybuilders

There are numerous vegan supplements available on the market, offering options for budding bodybuilders looking to increase their nutrient intake while following a plant-based diet.

Depending on individual needs, goals and health status, the recommended intake of each supplement can vary.

Before starting any new supplement regime, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for advice tailored to your needs.

Now, let’s take a dive into essential vegan supplements to get you closer to your health and fitness goals.

Vegan protein supplements

Pea protein powder

To get their fill of protein, some vegan bodybuilders use vegan protein supplements like rice, pea, hemp, or soy protein powders.

The main differences between vegan protein and whey protein

  • While vegan protein powder is made from plant-based sources, whey protein derives from milk during the cheese-making process

  • While many plant-based proteins aren’t considered "complete" proteins on their own, whey protein is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis and muscle repair.

  • Some people find vegan protein supplements easier to digest compared to whey protein—especially those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.

  • Vegan protein supplements often contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from plant-based ingredients. But whey protein typically has a higher protein content per serving compared to most vegan protein supplements.

  • Plant-based protein supplements are generally more sustainable and environmentally friendly compared to animal-based protein sources like whey protein.

BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)

BCCA powder

BCAAs, including leucine, isoleucine, and valine, play a significant role in promoting muscle protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown.

Vegan bodybuilders can benefit from supplementing with BCAAs to support their training performance and muscle recovery.


Creatine powder

Widely recognized for its ability to enhance strength, power, and muscle mass, creatine is a popular supplement among bodybuilders.

While creatine is naturally found in animal products, vegan-friendly creatine supplements derived from non-animal sources provide vegan bodybuilders with an effective means of increasing their creatine stores.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 capsules

Essential for overall health and inflammation regulation, omega-3 fatty acids are typically obtained from fish oil.

Vegan bodybuilders can meet their omega-3 needs by consuming algae-based supplements, which provide an excellent plant-based source of these beneficial fatty acids.

Alternatively, vegans eat more ALA-rich foods like flax, chia, and walnuts. Omega 3 is essential for great heart, eye, brain and joint health.

Vitamins and minerals

Vegan bodybuilder taking vitamins

As a vegan bodybuilder, you'll want to monitor these essential vitamins and nutrients to ensure you're fueling your gains without missing out on the key nutrients you need to succeed.

Here’s a solid list of key vitamins and minerals for tip-top health…

Vitamin B12

  • Given that vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, vegans must actively seek out fortified foods or supplements to prevent deficiency.
  • Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in red blood cell formation, neurological function, protein metabolism and nervous system health, making it crucial for optimal athletic performance.
  • Recommended intake: 2 to 100 mcg per day or 2,000 mcg weekly to prevent deficiency

Vitamin D

  • Supports calcium absorption, immune function, mood, and muscle recovery.
  • Few natural food sources, so you may need to supplement with vitamin D2 or D3.
  • Recommended intake: 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day.


  • While iron is readily available in plant-based sources such as lentils, chickpeas, and spinach, the non-heme iron found in these foods is not as easily absorbed as heme iron from animal products.
  • Vegan bodybuilders should consider incorporating iron supplements, especially if they have increased iron needs due to intense training.


  • Most vegans don't get enough calcium from diet alone for bone, teeth, muscle, and heart health.
  • Supplementation may be necessary to ensure adequate intake.


  • Vegans may need 1.5 times the recommended daily amount of zinc due to lower absorption from plant foods.
  • Techniques like soaking can help maximize zinc absorption.
  • Vegan athletes often fall short on zinc intake.


  • Vegans can struggle with iodine deficiency, which can impact thyroid function and metabolism.
  • Supplement with iodine or regularly consume seaweed to meet their iodine needs.

By choosing the right vegan foods, and dishing out generous portions, you will be able to replenish your body with enough nutrients to get you in good stead for building muscle. And supplements will help you fill in any nutritional gaps while getting the epic gains you deserve.

Remember: When choosing supplements, it's important to select products from reputable brands that undergo third-party testing for quality, purity, and potency.

The importance of choosing the right exercises

In addition to proper nutrition, vegan bodybuilders can benefit from a well-rounded workout that includes strength and resistance training to build muscle mass.

This could involve weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, or other forms of strength training targeting different major muscle groups.

Here are some of the best exercises you can add to your vegan bodybuilder workout…

  • Compound exercises: Squats, deadlifts, bench press and pull-ups or chin-ups.
  • Isolation exercises: Leg press, lunges, dumbbell rows, dumbbell lateral exercises and tricep dips.
  • Core exercises: Planks, Russian twists,s and hanging leg raises.
  • Cardiovascular exercises: Running, cycling, and rowing.
  • Functional exercises: Kettlebell swings, medicine ball slams, and box jump
  • Flexibility and mobility exercises: Yoga and foam rolling.

Tip: Getting enough rest and recovery are crucial for muscle growth and overall performance. Ensure you get good quality sleep, manage stress levels, and weave rest days into your routine.

Read: 5 Myths About Bulking That You Need To Stop Believing

Tips on how to add supplements to your diet

Vegan diet

Adding vegan supplements to your diet can be done in several ways to ensure you meet your nutritional needs while following a plant-based lifestyle.

Here are a few tips on how to effectively level up your nutrient intake with the use of supplements…

1. Consult a healthcare professional

Before adding any supplements to your diet, it's essential to talk to a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to assess your nutritional needs and determine which supplements may be beneficial for you.

    2. Identify any nutritional gaps

    Identify any potential nutrient gaps in your diet by assessing your intake of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

    As we previously mentioned, nutrients that may be lacking in a vegan diet include vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, zinc, and iodine.

      3. Choose high-quality supplements

      Select high-quality vegan supplements from reputable brands that have undergone third-party testing for purity, potency, and safety. Checking out customer reviews will help you, too.

      Look for supplements that are free from animal-derived ingredients and unnecessary additives.

        4. Pick the right dosages

        Determine the appropriate dosages for the supplements you plan to take based on your individual needs, age, sex, health status, and dietary habits. Avoid exceeding recommended dosages unless advised by a healthcare professional.

          5. Be strategic

          Incorporate supplements strategically into your daily routine based on your specific nutrient needs.

          Consider factors such as meal timing, nutrient absorption, and interactions with other supplements or medications.

            6. Combine supplements with food

            Take supplements with food whenever possible, as this can enhance nutrient absorption and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort.

            Some nutrients are better absorbed when consumed with dietary fats or certain foods.

              7. Stay consistent

              Consistency is key when it comes to supplementing nutrients that may be lacking in your diet.

              Make taking supplements part of your daily routine to ensure you consistently get the recommended nutrients.

              8. Continue eating a balanced vegan bodybuilding diet

              Remember that supplements are meant to complement, not replace, a balanced diet rich in whole plant foods. Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds to support overall health and wellbeing.

              Related: 8 Great Habits To Improve Your Relationship With Working Out

              Vegan bodybuilding success stories

              Man doing barbell squats

              There are many successful bodybuilders and athletes who follow a vegan diet and incorporate vegan supplements into their regimen.

              Take Nimai Delgado. This epic athlete, who happens to be a professional bodybuilder, has been following a vegan diet for his entire life.

              He has competed in various bodybuilding competitions, including the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) competitions, and has won titles such as Mr. Universe. Delgado attributes his success to his plant-based diet and regularly shares his journey and insights on social media platforms.

              Oh, and IFBB professional bodybuilder and personal trainer Torre Washington has been vegan since 1998.

              He’s achieved success in bodybuilding competitions worldwide and advocates for the benefits of consuming vegan food for building muscle, strength, and overall health.

              My commitment to being vegan is to share with the world how human beings can exist holistically with all beings and not only survive, but thrive as a vegan, Washington says.

              To add to the star-studded vegan bodybuilder roster, Bianca Taylor transitioned to a plant-based diet to improve her health and athletic performance.

              She’s competed in various bodybuilding competitions and has won titles, including the National Physique Committee (NPC) Bikini Champion.

              Taylor shares her vegan bodybuilding journey and success stories on social media to inspire and educate others about the benefits of plant-based living.

              This is living proof that if they can do it, you can do it too! All vegan bodybuilders start from somewhere, but having consistency, the right information and the determination to chase your goals will allow you to reach them.

              Final thoughts…

              As the interest in vegan bodybuilding continues to soar, understanding the vital role of supplements in supporting muscular development, performance, and overall health becomes increasingly important.

              With strategic planning and the use of high-quality vegan supplements, the potential for substantial gains and athletic success on a plant-based diet is well within reach for vegan bodybuilders.

              By leveraging the power of vegan supplements and embracing a holistic approach to nutrition and training, you can thrive in the world of vegan bodybuilding and achieve your fitness aspirations.

              Always remember that great nutrition, training, quality sleep, rest and recovery will give your body all it needs to thrive as a vegan bodybuilder.

              If you want to take your training to the next level and hack Beast Mode, we’ve got you covered. Our legendary library of training and recovery guides will give you all of the tools you need to grab the epic gains you deserve. It’s time to make it happen.

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