High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan – Build Muscle and Tone Up!

High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan - Build Muscle and Tone Up! | hurrythefoodup.com

Let’s be honest, vegetarians have a harder time following a high protein diet than people who eat meat.

If you’re a male trying to build build muscle on a vegetarian diet, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself “how can I get enough protein?”

And if you’re a vegetarian female trying to lose weight and tone up with a high protein diet, I bet you’ve asked yourself the same question.

So, we’ve carefully created the “High Protein Veggie” meal plan – one version for females, one for males! The plan contain loads of quick and tasty recipes high in protein, ideal to support you with your fitness goals. See below for more details.

1. Our High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan

Version for females

The goal is to lose weight and tone up

The daily caloric intake is 1600 kcal – geared towards a 5’6’’ 160 lbs female.

  • 18% protein in a 1600 kcal diet equals 80g protein
  • You’ll get roughly 0.5g of protein/lb

Version for males

This meal plan is designed to build muscle.

The daily caloric intake is 2500 kcal – ideal for an avg. sized male (around 5’9”)

  • 20% protein in a 2500 kcal diet equals 125g protein
  • You’ll get roughly 0.75g of protein/lb

Note: We’ve created these meal plans in a way that most of you can use them. But of course you should be following your own needs. Luckily calories are super easy to adjust with our “meal add-on”.

Not hungry anymore? Stop eating or skip the snacks. Or is it just not enough? Support your dishes with another meal add-on or add some fruits, nuts, yogurt or hummus to the daily snacks.

You might think that the protein share in our meal plan is still not high enough. After all, it doesn’t reach the 1g protein/lb rule often promoted in the bodybuilding world – although that’s a very contested issue, as you’ll see further on down.

Of course it’s possible to amp up the daily protein intake as a vegetarian to that amount. But let’s do two things first: see what options we have and read up on how much protein we really need.

Let’s go.

2. Vegetarian Protein Sources

Dairy: If you eat a bowl of yogurt with oats as a snack and some cheese on a sandwich or in a salad then you already take in a very decent amount of dairy. If you overdo it, you might get problems with acne (back to age 16, yaay!) or your poop.

High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan - Build Muscle and Tone Up! | hurrythefoodup.com
Yogurt with cinnamon, grapes, walnuts and a Drizzle of maple syrup

Legumes: To eat 2-3 cups of cooked legumes you will probably need two meals. In my opinion that’s enough. Here’s why: first, the more beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils you eat the more of a fart festival you’ll be.

Second, even though legumes are considered to be super healthy in mainstream medicine, there is some controversy about the dangers of their high phytic acid content. Phytic acid makes it more difficult for your body to absorb nutrients like iron, zinc and calcium. BUT: if you cook legumes properly you reduce the phytic acid amount to a safe degree. Still, like with everything – better not to overdo it.

High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan - Build Muscle and Tone Up! | hurrythefoodup.com
Lentil Bean Salad

Soy: Obviously soy belongs to the family of legumes. But it deserves a separate paragraph as it’s used in so many meat replacement products. It has been stated it’s safe, but also I’m sure you’ve heard many people say soy can cause health problems (here’s an excellent piece on that issue). I’d aim for a soy yogurt, some soy milk or tofu every second day or so. Again, moderation is key.

Grains (Bread, Pasta, Rice, Oats, etc.): Grains are a great way to accompany almost any dish. Be it oats in your yogurt, brown rice with a veggie curry or a slice of bread for your soup. Plus they contain a decent amount of protein.

The drawbacks: Similar to legumes, they contain a high amount of phytic acid. And of course ramping up on grains also increases your calorie count a lot due to their high carb content. That again can lead to fat pads above your muscles 😉

High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan - Build Muscle and Tone Up! | hurrythefoodup.com
Toast with avocado, brie and cranberries

Nuts & Seeds: It’s great to have them in your diet, not only for protein but also for various other nutrients (iron for example; flax & chia seeds for omega-3). By increasing your protein intake through nuts, you’ll move up your overall calorie intake a lot. They are incredibly nutrient dense.

Also, too many of them might lead to digestion problems. There’s a reason you feel usually pretty stuffed after two handful of nuts or seeds.

High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan - Build Muscle and Tone Up! | hurrythefoodup.com
Various nuts and seeds

Eggs: Are healthy and among other nutrients are an awesome source of protein. I personally think two a day is enough though. I mean seriously. This literally means you have 2-3 chickens running (or standing) around somewhere producing eggs ONLY FOR YOU.

When I see high protein recipes calling for 6 egg whites I can only shake my head. It’s the epiphany of “I don’t care, I need to look good. Me”. At some point it’s got to go beyond me and my body.

High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan - Build Muscle and Tone Up! | hurrythefoodup.com
Banana Egg Pancake

Green Vegetables and Leaves: The more the merrier. We should try to get some greens on our plates every day, ideally twice. If you eat more greens to improve your protein intake, you probably won’t get health problems, nor will you put on weight.

The only downside is you’ll have to eat loads! I’d love to see you munch two bunches of broccoli a day for 18g of protein. Difficult task.

High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan - Build Muscle and Tone Up! | hurrythefoodup.com
Roasted green beans and broccoli

As vegetarians these are pretty much the options we have, when we’re looking for protein. As you can see many sources can have drawbacks, if you overdo them. Admittedly, some of them are less confirmed than others.

Either way, this is reason enough for me to put the first priority of our vegetarian high protein meal plan on a balance. If you put the focus first on adding as much protein as possible, it is likely to result in an unbalanced diet, which might lead to health problems.

3. How much protein do we actually need?

The RDA, recommended daily allowance, is at 0.36g of protein per pound of body weight (0.8g per kg). By percentage that would be roughly 10% of your daily caloric income. Note that is the minimum requirement for a non-active sedentary person to not get sick. That means a full-on couch potato would just get by on that daily intake.

But how much protein do we need to thrive?

Of course this depends on your goals. But in general you can say if you want to build muscle you need more protein than if you just want to maintain your weight. A higher protein intake is also likely to be beneficial for weight loss. Although the guys from Harvard aren’t as sure as some others about the impact.

So, if you’re hitting the gym – be it for building muscle or losing weight – a healthy recommendation would be to aim for 17 – 20% percent of calories in protein per day. That would translate into roughly 0.5g – 0.7g per pound – up to double the RDA.

The more protein the better?

In the bodybuilding world often times 1g of protein per pound is recommended in order to make sure you don’t lose any “gainz”. The validity of this rule has been doubted times over in the past. Various studies found that your body can take advantage of anything up to about 0.8g of protein per pound – given that you train like an athlete (check out this study of 23 power lifters for example).

There’s also some discussion, without a clear conclusion, about the dangers of high protein diets (around 30% of calories in protein), especially  in regards to kidney disease.

Whether it’s true or not – as with everything – moderation is key. Not to mention that you’d have a really tough time to reach such a high volume of protein on a vegetarian diet (well, on any diet actually) without using protein powder.

To sum things up

We have to admit that the question “where do you get your protein, bro?” is not such a bad one after all – especially if you’re pursuing fitness goals. But just filling up the meal plan with vegetarian high protein recipes and then just sending you off is not our style. This post has been prepared to give you as much information as possible as a vegetarian seeking a high protein diet.

For a vegetarian it is definitely possible to get in loads of protein in a healthy and this is what we’ve done with our meal plan. Though getting all the way up to the “bodybuilding rule” of 1g/lb is very tough. You can do it, but we have serious doubts that it’s very healthy and whether it’s actually necessary.

See you in the gym!

Disclosure

We would like to take a moment to note that this post is for information purposes only. It does not claim to provide medical advice or to be able to treat any medical condition. It makes no claims in respect to weight loss or building muscle, either in terms of the amount or rate at which said could be achieved. If you have any concerns regarding your health please contact your medical practitioner before making changes.

35 comments

  1. Tons of ways to get all the nutrition we need! Great guide!

  2. Meal plans are such an awesome gift to your readers! I have done a few and they are very time consuming, especially with a shopping list, but so amazing! Love your version of high protein!

  3. It seems like there’s no danger in getting a high percentage of plant-based protein.
    it definitely helps with muscle recovery, in my experience.

  4. my boyfriend needs to read this! we are constantly arguing about plant-based protein not being ideal 🙁

  5. Great meal plan! to be honest, I’m vegan and I never worry about how much protein I’m eating throughout the day. If anything, I usually consume more than the daily recommended allowance. It’s all about eating a variety of whole foods.

  6. Great post! enjoyed till the end 🙂 My family became vegan since month, we are not at all worried about our protein consumption…

  7. That’s a great meal plan and I do try to include lots of different source of vegetarian protein. I feel the day I have a protein rich diet, I feel most energetic 🙂

  8. I’m looking for a diet plan but I’m getting confused and unsure what plan to go with. Is their anyone on here following any of these plans ? If so how’s your results ?

    • Haha, Dipak. Your post sounds like you’re the last person on the internet 😉
      But no worries, I’m around as well!
      I used this plan to build muscle and it works, absolutely (I’m 184cm tall, now at 77kg, formerly at 73kg). Here’s the gist, when it comes to building muscle for “amateurs”: Go to the gym regularly (at least 2x a week). Eat 4 times a day, 5 times with a snack. At the end of the day the tricky thing for most people is to eat enough calories in general, not just to eat enough proteins. Don’t focus too much on the proteins, just make sure you don’t skip any meals. Then you’ll see results.

  9. Hey, I think it’s kind of weird to assume that females goals are only to lose weight/tone up, I’m a female who actually wants to build muscle and I know many others do too. It’s not just something for men 😉

    • Fair shout and I think your right! I would also agree that it’s wrong to assume all men only want to build muscle. Unfortunately there’s just not enough space to be entirely politically correct. 🙂

  10. Some really useful info here, thanks… For those of us heading in to our 50s 2500 cals sounds a lot but at the same time maintaining muscle mass is important. Is there a way to maximise a vegie diet to this end whilst reducing the cals..?

    • Glad you found the content helpful, Mike!
      I understand you’re considering adding more protein to your diet while keeping the calories low? I’d say the simplest way would be a high quality protein powder. That would give you the biggest bang per gram. Otherwise I find it relatively tough to increase the protein intake further than in this meal plan without “overeating” on eggs, lean dairy products or soy products. Adding a significant amount with leafy greens or broccoli is quite tough too.
      My questions would be: what’s your current protein intake ratio? And are you worried it’s not enough to maintain muscle mass?

      • Thanks for the reply Hauke, I’m realistic about the changes lay ahead as I get older, muscle loss being a factor. There’s much info around some suggesting protein is hard for the body to deal with as we get older, I’ve also heard veggie protein is good for women but not so good for men, soya especially. I never made a decision to go veggie yet it seems to have happened naturally over the last 5 years. I could go on and on, anyway my goal is to maximise overall nutrition at lower calorie intake and am hoping that can be done on a vegetarian diet. I’m no expert but what you’ve written here rings true with me. Thanks

        • Sure thing, Mike! It really sounds like you are eating pretty well and are now trying to further optimize. That would require some testing and more research from your side to see what works for you and what doesn’t. There are some vegetarian/vegans out there that focus more on (maintaining) high performance on a vegetarian diet. Check out Brandan Brazier, Rich Roll or Mat Frazier from nomeatathlete.com. I also like content from Ben Greenfield, he’s not plant based though. Would be cool to hear back from you at some point in time to see how things are going, if you find the time. All the best 🙂

  11. We are always being vegetarian since childhood and my brother is bodybuilding they don’t consume meat and eggs still won the competition. Plant based diet is best, don’t kill animal love it.

  12. Dear HurryTheFoodUp,

    As a vegetarian, I just started researching a way to grow more muscle and I really want to give this a try. Thank you for the meal plan!

    I have one question: on page 6 of the meal plan, you write “Banana Egg Pancakes with 1
    tbsp flax seeds, 1 tbsp peanut butter | 100g yogurt with oats and 1 tsp maple syrup (500 kcal, 23g protein, A)”.
    Does this mean that if I mix all this together, I get 500 kcal with 23g of protein?
    OR does this mean that there are two versions of which I can choose: (1) a pancake with flax seeds and peanut butter, and (2) a pancake with yoghurt, oats and maple syrup ? It is just that the vertical line | gets me confused 🙂

    A similar thing happens to me with the snack proposal. When you talk of “fruits , like banana, apple”, does it mean I can eat as much of banana / apple that I want?

    Sorry for these questions, I really believe your meal plan is very helpful, and I simply want to do it as good as possible 🙂

    Thank you once again and greetings from Belgium,

    Wim

    • Hi Wim! Great questions. Yes, the 500 cal is the pancake with the ingredients, and then a yoghurt with oats and maple syrup on the side. So 500 cal is everything (the pancake is about 400, and the yoghurt+extras is 100). With the snacks, we generally class one fruit (like a banana or apple) as suitable for a snack. I hope that clears things up, good luck with the meal plan! 🙂

      • Super, so you mean a “pancake with peanut butter and flax seeds” with a topping of yoghurt and maple syrup?

        I just started this morning, breakfast was a great start 🙂

  13. Thanks for the amazing High Protein Meal plan. Completed the full week and feeling good…digestion is still getting used to all of the fibre 🙂

    A question about the Nutritional Information and quantities.

    On the meal plan the Chickpea Spinach Salad is stated as having 22.5g protein and the leftovers are for the next day.

    The website recipe page states the recipe as being 2 servings however it says that the protein is a total of 22.5g for the 1 salad of 2 servings.

    Does this mean that a full salad (2 servings) is consumed per day to get the 22.5g protein?

    If the salad is split it would actually be around 12g protein for half the salad.

    Thank you in advance for any clarification.

    • Hi Nick, that’s great to hear! Really pleased to hear how well you’re feeling. Yes, fiber can take a while to adjust to 🙂

      Very good question – and the answer is that it’s 22.5g per serving. If you make the complete batch it’s 45g, and so you can eat half each day to intake 22.5g protein each time. The 2 servings part should be ‘changeable’ – there’s a slider you can use to make the ingredients for 1 serving or 10, (it’s default is set to 2) but the nutritional value of the card at the bottom should stay the same. Does that make sense? Let me know if it doesn’t 🙂 Thanks again for your question!

      • Thank you for the clarification. Yes that does make sense.

        Been on this meal plan strictly for 3 weeks. Feeling high vitality. Lots of energy to workout harder in the gym. Losing substantial body fat too. Too early to gage muscle growth but it’s looking positive.

        Are you considering creating any additional High Protein Meal Plans?

        I’d be happy to pay a decent amount for another 2 or 3 week meal plans for a bit more variety. Many others may do too.
        It’s so easy with you meal plans, it has grocery list and recipes. That way we don’t need to waste time planning out our meals.

        • Hi Nick,

          Hauke here! Sorry for the late reply, it’s been a bit busy around here the last couple of days. Kat and Dave gut their second baby just a couple of days ago, wohoooo! About the meal plan: first of all it’s so cool to hear that it’s working for you and that you feel the recipes support your workouts. I made the very same experience btw.

          We haven’t considered making new high protein meal plans yet, but you certainly brought it to our attention! Can I ask you briefly what you like best about our meal plan and what you think we could improve (recipes, snacks, etc.). Also, for how many weeks would you think a meal plan is worthwhile?
          Thanks a lot and best regards!
          Hauke

          • Hi Hauke, thanks for the reply and congrats to Kat & Dave on the new arrival.

            Liking the following about the meal plan :
            – it’s simplicity – very easy to follow;
            – time friendly – quick to prepare recipes;
            – its versatility – its’ winter here in oz so cooking all of the salads which works great;
            – well thought out – for example how recipes use similar ingredients to limit the shop spend and wastage.
            – oh and the grocery list 😉

            All the recipes, snacks and meal-addons in the first plan are great.

            The suggestion for an additional meal plan/s is more around variety. Don’t have much time to sit and plan adjustments to the existing meal plan. Having at least one or two additional meal plans would help with this. Presuming this would also provide greater variety in consumption of nutrients (eg minerals/vitamins).

            I’d be happy to pay a decent amount for this. Do you feel that others would find value in this too?

            Have posted the link to this meal plan on the online gym training platform I follow as a few vegetarians on there were asking for meal plan tips. Hopefully there are other streams available for you to promote something like this to make your time investment to create it worthwhile.

          • Ah cool, that’s really good to hear it’s noticeable that we put some thought into the meal plan and recipes. Of course, if there’s something to improve let us know. It won’t hurt our feelings 😉 (probably). Also thanks a ton for forwarding our meal plan, we really appreciate that!

            I’ve been thinking about your idea yesterday. The thing is creating a well thought out 7 day meal plan takes us 2-3 hours, Dave and I working together – given we have all the recipes we need in place. So, for another 3 meal plans we’d need one work day. Without having had a closer look into our recipe arsenal (incl. the unpublished ones), I’m sure we’d need to develop/find and test around 10 – 15 more recipes to create enough variety. That would make it pretty much a 4 day job, at least.

            All in all I guess that would be too expensive for one person and mean for us quite the focus shift. But it makes sense to publish it as an addition to our “Veggie Protein Power” eBook making it available for everybody. Though I see that only possible in the next 3 months or so. We’ve put it on our task list (- eBook extension: focus on high protein recipes, create 3 more meal plans).

            Of course, if you really would like the meal plans now, then I’d say contact me via email (hauke [at] hurrythefoodup.com) and we see what we can do 🙂
            Thanks again, Nick!

  14. HI guys.. great post ! I did go through all the comments.. could you guys please a list of things which are replacement for red box for vegetarians please. I did search things in web.. but I would love if you can list some specific things. FIY : I do not eat egg.. but I am good with tofu. Thank you so much.

  15. I agree with the earlier comments by Nick. I think it would be nice to have 4 week meal plan as there are 4 weeks in a month with a few days left over and it does get boring eating this every week. If I was eating this every week i would go crazy. So definetly having more meal plans would make it more interesting and versatile.

    I too have just started with this meal plan and go to gym 4 days per week on a muscle building programme. But I started going back in September and haven’t seen much gains. Because my diet was quite bad in the sense it was always difficult to find enough protein meals so I would be short on protein. Hopefully following your meal plan will do wonders!

    I would recommend a forum on this website where people can ask questions with regards to meals, diets, training programmes etc. You can be the moderators! It would be nice to compare tips with other veggie lifters out there and even if we could post our pictures of our gains this would be beneficial not only to us but to you aswell. As people would see the results and believe your meal plans work which would contribute to more people visitng your website. After all seeing is believing

    • Thanks for your comment, Niraj! Good to hear that Nick’s recommendations are getting support. Puts the 4 week meal plan back to our minds. You know what, I’ll talk to Dave and see if we can carve out some time for more cool high protein recipes and meal plans.
      Very interesting ideas in regards to a community platform too, thanks!!
      If you find the time, would be awesome to hear how you liked the meal plan once you’re through with it 🙂

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