Top Vegetarian Foods For Lean Muscle Gain

An increasing number of athletes, bodybuilders and fitness fans are becoming vegetarian. A few years back, this might have been surprising. Today however, the ethical value in vegetarian and vegan diets is well known. It’s also well known that it’s possible – and in fact easy – to get all the protein you need while adhering to a vegetarian diet. Read on to find out some of the best sources.

After you’ve read through these, consider checking out our post on Luecine too. It’s a great little piece outlining some of the key facts about one of the lesser known amino acids.

Here’s our list of the top vegetarian foods for getting and staying lean:

Eggs and Dairy

Unlike vegans, vegetarians can find leucine rich foods in eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese. A single egg contains around 6 or 7 grams of protein. They also come with a good dose of omega-3 and calcium. If you want to reduce your exposure to cholesterol, though, making sure you don’t overdo it is important.

Beans and Lentils

The best staples you should always have in your kitchen as a store of lean vegetarian protein are beans. There’s plenty of choice and the protein content varies from bean to bean.

Kidney beans, for example, provide around 24 grams per 100 grams of serving. Having a range of dried and tinned beans in your cupboard means that you always have a ready source of protein to hand when you cook.

Other legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and common garden peas contain decent amounts of protein and are a vital part of any vegetarian diet, whether you’re looking to gain lean muscle or not.


This is another legume but it’s become synonymous with the vegan and vegetarian culture so worth considering on its own. Soya if found in a range of different products. You can get soy beans, tofu, soya milk and pre-prepared supermarket vegetarian meals. There could be as much as 36 grams per 100 grams in a serving of soya, which is why it is often a staple for athletes and bodybuilders.


With any vegetarian lean muscle diet, you’ll need plenty of variation. Grains such as pasta, rice and oats not only provide some important protein but a whole bunch of other nutrients. They are a good source of fibre and carbohydrates.

Nuts and Seeds

While nuts and seeds are reasonably high in protein, they’re also what are called nutrient dense foods and contain a lot more calories than other foods compared to their size. They also contain nutrients such as iron and omega-3 which should be part of any healthy diet.

Adding nuts and seeds to meals or as a snack can be good for the energy levels but overdoing it can also cause stomach problems. As with many foods, moderation is key.

Green Vegetables and Fruit

We all know the value of getting our five a day and including plenty of green veg in a lean muscle diet is important. While leafy greens and veg like broccoli contain smaller amounts of protein, the levels of iron and fibre is important for a healthy meal plan.

Fruit can be a problem because of the high levels of fructose but bananas and kiwis, for example, pack a punch in other ways including delivering carbs and vitamin C. While you may want to moderate your intake, you should be including at least some healthy fruits in your diet every day.

If you are on a vegetarian lean muscle diet, the key is making sure that you have a good menu for your daily intake. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of leucine rich sources out there to choose from and neither does your diet doesn’t have to be boring.