Building muscle as a vegan isn’t hard – you just have to know where to look for potent protein sources. Not only are some veggies packed with protein, but beans and seeds are powerful muscle boosters as well. Supplying vast amounts of protein with relatively small servings, beans and seeds are essentially the secret weapons for vegans who want to bulk up. Learn more about the six beans and six seeds that are must-haves for vegan athletes.
What is a Bean?
You’ve probably eaten some form of beans throughout your whole life, but what exactly are these edible, protein and fiber rich foods? Essentially, beans are seeds that provide nutritional value when eaten by humans or animals. Known as a vital and plentiful food since ancient times, beans are eaten in nearly every culture on the planet.
6 Crucial Bean Products for Building Muscle
Beans are ripe with ingredients that are useful to athletes, including protein and fiber. With dozens of beans available, it can take awhile to try them all and find your favorites. If you’re interested in gaining muscle, these six beans will help you accomplish your goal.
The underestimated all-star of the powerful bean family, tempeh is fermented soybean from Indonesia. The unique source and method of preparation of Tempeh gives it its own distinct nutritional properties. Most importantly, tempeh has the highest amount of protein of any food on the vegan diet. With a consistency similar to a cake, tempeh can be enjoyed with veggies, on a sandwich, or on its own with your favorite seasoning.
- Tempeh has 10g fat per 100g serving.
- Tempeh has 20g protein per 100g serving.
- Tempeh is rich in B Vitamins and minerals like Manganese.
Prevalent throughout the world, soybeans are an extremely versatile and nutritious food product. America grows over 30% of the world’s soybeans, and they’re used for everything from soy oils to vegan substitutes for meat. A remarkably adaptable food product, you can find soy in the form of milk, hot dogs, tofu, and numerous other food products. Check out the nutritional highlights that make soybeans a legitimate superfood:
- 100g of soybeans contain an impressive 36g of protein!
- 100g of soybeans contain 20 grams of fats, with 11g polyunsaturated fats.
- 100g of soybeans has 30g of carbohydrates and 9 grams of fiber.
Hummus is a nutritious way to replicate the creamy consistency of dairy-based dips without eating animal products. Made from mashed chickpeas and tahini, hummus is often topped with pine nuts, red peppers, olive oil, herbs, and spices. Most commonly eaten as a dip with pita bread or veggies, hummus also works well as a spread on sandwiches and other foods. See why it’s excellent for those who are packing on muscle:
- Hummus nutrition facts vary greatly due to the numerous ways it’s made.
- Hummus is an excellent source of fiber, manganese, and B vitamins.
- Hummus typically has 10% protein per serving – chickpeas are high in protein.
4. Black Beans (AKA – Black Turtle Beans)
If you eat Mexican food on a regular basis, odds are that you’ve tried black beans. Extremely prevalent in Cuban, Creole, and Latin American cuisines, the black bean has a flavor and texture that make it useful in a variety of dishes. It’s dense, meaty consistency makes the black bean a favorite for vegans and vegetarians who need a plant-based food that will keep them full. In addition to their popular taste, the nutritional advantages of black beans make them worthy of a spot on your plate:
- Black beans are significantly high in protein with 9g per 100g serving.
- Black beans are low in fat, but pack 23g of carbohydrates.
- Black beans are high in folate, fiber, phosphate, and magnesium.
5. Kidney Beans (ADA – Red Beans)
Kidney beans are named after their resemblance to the all-important organ in our bodies by the same name. A staple in dishes like Chile con Carne, kidney beans are commonly used in Creole and Indian cuisine. Kidney beans are easy to find at most supermarkets, and many creative recipes exist that make full use of them. For vegans trying to grow muscle, don’t skip out on protein-rich kidney beans.
- Kidney beans contain almost 9g of protein per 100g serving size.
- Kidney beans are rich in fiber with 7g per 100g serving.
- For vegans who need more carbs, kidney beans have 23g of them per 100g serving.
As one of the most highly versatile foods on the planet, tofu is bean curd that can be made into many forms. Pressed into soft, firm, or extra firm blocks, tofu plays a vital role in the diets of most vegans. Aside from excellent nutritional benefits, the main advantage of tofu is that it takes the flavor of whatever sauce and seasoning are added. This means tofu can fit in with any cuisine you can make. Rich in protein and low in carbs and fat, there are a lot of reasons for active vegans to consume tofu.
- 100g of tofu contains 8g of protein.
- 100g of tofu only has 1.5g of carbs and 3.5g of fat.
- Many variations of tofu exist, so try different types to find your favorites!
How are Seeds Different from Beans?
While beans are extra parts produced from plants similar to a fruit, seeds are the baby plant itself. Essentially an embryonic plant enclosed in a hard protective shell, seeds are the earliest stage of plant reproduction. They’re also ripe with nutrients including protein, so fit vegans should make seeds a part of their life whenever possible. Find out more about the most powerful tiny foods in the vegan diet.
6 Powerful Seeds that are Vital for Fit Vegans
Most plants have seeds, but not all plants are edible. Fortunately, the seeds of some plants make protein-packed snacks for vegans throughout the world. Keep these seeds on hand for a potent topping or a quick snack if you need extra protein.
1. Pumpkin Seeds (AKA: Pepitas)
While pumpkins get the most attention around Halloween, their seeds are an excellent snack for any month of the year. Typically served marinated and roasted, pumpkin seeds are eaten alone or used in various Mexican dishes. A few handfuls of pumpkin seeds go a long way, as you’ll see from their remarkable nutritional benefits.
- 100g of pumpkin seeds has 30g of protein.
- 100g of pumpkin seeds have 49g of fat.
- Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, niacin, phosphorus, and magnesium as well.
2. Flax Seeds
Interestingly, flax is used to make textiles known as linens. However, the seeds are edible and extremely nutritious. To integrate flax seeds into your cooking, get creative. They’re excellent as toppings for adding a boost of protein to smoothies, salads, and cereals. However you use flaxseed in your diet, its ample amounts of protein make it worth the effort.
- 100g of flaxseed contains 18g of protein.
- Flaxseed is rich in fiber with 27g per 100g serving.
- Flaxseed is extremely potent in magnesium with 110% of your daily value in a 100g serving.
3. Chia Seeds
Few people realize the digestive benefits to the chia seed. When chia seeds enter our digestive system, they form a gel that helps control blood-sugar levels in the body. With a tiny, dark appearance that resembles coffee grounds, chia seeds make an excellent topping for salads or fruit smoothies. Chia seeds have become a staple in numerous health foods, including protein bars, bread, tortillas, and granola.
- 100g of Chia Seeds contains 16.5g of protein; a tablespoon has 5g of fiber.
- Chia seeds are high in “good fats” with 30g per 100g serving.
- Chia seeds have high levels of niacin, B vitamins, manganese, and phosphorus.
4. Hemp Seeds (AKA: Hemp Hearts)
Bringing an interesting flavor that sets them apart from other seeds, hemp is known as a nutritious and versatile seed. Hemp is used to make everything from clothing to backpacks, but the seeds are little superfoods packed with healthy fats and protein. Vegans can try hemp seeds as a topping on their favorite fruit salads, soups, oatmeal, and smoothies.
- Hemp seeds are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and other minerals.
- Excellent for building muscle – A 100g serving of hemp seeds contains 31g of protein.
- Hemp seeds are a great source of healthy fats – one serving has 48g.
5. Sesame Seeds
A popular seed used as a topping for buns, crackers, and bagels, sesame seeds are a highly nutritious food. A staple in Asian cuisine, sesame seeds pack a punch for those wanting to build muscle. A common part of Indian cooking, sesame seeds are often used as a topping in baked desserts. While sesame seeds are found in a massive variety of food products, you can also use them as other seeds to top smoothies, soups, and salads. If you need a protein and fiber boost, don’t underestimate the power of a handful of sesame seeds.
- A 100g serving of sesame seeds contains 17g of protein and 11g of fiber.
- Sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium, providing 98% of your daily dose per 100g.
- Sesame seeds provide 23g of carbs and 49g of fat per 100g serving.
6. Sunflower Seeds
A favorite of anyone who’s played baseball, sunflower seeds have earned a distinct place in American culture. Sunflower seeds are one of the few seed foods that are available as a legitimate snack in most convenient stores. Often flavored in BBQ, ranch, lightly-salted, and other varieties, sunflower seeds have a flavorful shell surrounding their actual seed. Best known for high amounts of vitamin E, sunflower seeds also make excellent toppings for dips, soups, and salads.
- Sunflower seeds provide 18g of protein per 100g serving.
- Half of sunflower seeds is fat content – 50g per 100g serving.
- Sunflower seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, B-6, and minerals like phosphorus.
How Do You Eat Your Seeds?
So you went vegan and got a few bags of seeds to try. Chia, flax, hemp, and others all offer unique benefits that are optimal for fit vegans, but how do you prepare these tiny superfoods? Here are some ideas for how to get the most out of your seeds on the vegan diet:
- Search for new recipes that involve your favorite seeds.
- Use seeds as a topping for soups, salads, smoothies, oatmeal, and fruit cups.
- Take a small container so you can have a handful of seeds on the go or after a workout.
- Mix seeds into a vegan dip or hummus that you’re using.
- Consider making a fruit jam, jelly, or marmalade that has seeds in it.
- Experiment with baking seeds into your own vegan protein bars.
- Try adding seeds to your favorite vegan pasta.
Use Beans and Seeds to Build Serious Muscle as a Vegan
A major misnomer of the vegan diet is that it’s hard to get enough protein. With a variety of beans and seeds in your pantry, this will never be a problem again. Even if it takes a while to get used to eating beans and seeds as part of your daily diet, it’s worth the effort due to their status as superfoods. Next time you’re in need of a protein or fiber boost, pull out the bag of seeds or cook up some beans – they’re the undeniable secrets to building muscle on the vegan diet.