Vegetarians Guide to Clean Bulking


You know that, to bulk up, you need protein. But, as a vegetarian, that can seem like a pretty daunting task. Of course, a properly constructed plant-based diet can provide plenty of protein for clean bulk, but it will take some work.


So, we’d like to help you get started. Here is a basic vegetarians’ guide to clean bulking, complete with some helpful principles to help you put on all that lean mass you’ve been working for.


But First…


Before you do anything else, though, you need to know your numbers. In order to bulk – or put on weight – you need to eat more calories than you need for fuel and the regular demands of daily life, like breathing.


This number is called your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. To calculate that, punch your numbers into the following formula:


Men BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5
Women BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) - 161




Of course, you are a highly dynamic and active athlete so these numbers – which do not account for any sort of physical activity won’t be accurate for you.


Instead, you need to take that BMR and convert into a Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE but multiplying your BMR by the appropriate activity factor from the chart below.


Amount of Exercise/Activity Description TDEE/ Maintenance
Sedentary Little or no exercise/ desk job  TDEE = 1.2 x BMR
Lightly active Light exercise/ sports 1 – 3 days/ week  TDEE = 1.375 x BMR
Moderately active Moderate exercise, sports 3 – 5 days/ week  TDEE = 1.55 x BMR
Very active Heavy exercise/ sports 6 – 7 days/ week  TDEE = 1.725 x BMR
Extremely active Very heavy exercise/ physical job/ training 2 x/ day  TDEE = 1.9 x BMR

 But we aren’t done yet. Your TDEE just tells you how many calories you need to maintain your current weight at your given activity level.


That’s not what you want, though; you want to gain weight. So, you’re going to want to add any between 10 and 20 percent to your TDEE. Finally, the math is over.


Graph showing the calorie expenditure of TDEE


The Next Step


But we’re specifically interested in clean bulking, meaning you’re not looking to add tons of body fat to your frame. You just want as much muscle as possible. To accomplish this, you’re going to need to balance your macronutrients like this:

Carbs – 50%

Protein – 30%

Fat – 20%


Those carbohydrates will support your bulk in a couple of different ways. First, you’ll be totally fuelled for the challenging workouts that you need to build significant muscle mass.


But the insulin response triggered by the carbs will also make sure that your protein gets to where it needs to be quickly and efficiently. To be sure that your bulk is as clean as possible, though, focus on slow, complex carbohydrates that will keep your blood sugar balanced.


This is not a free license to binge on cake. Limiting your fats will make sure that your body is properly using those carbs and will prevent fat from being tucked away.




Your proteins should come from complete sources – which can be a challenge on a plant-based diet. So, make sure that you are eating a wide variety of foods that contain all of the necessary amino acids; those acids do not all need to be taken in at one meal but can be spaced throughout the day.


Depending on your diet, make good use of whatever animal proteins you allow yourself. Eggs and dairy, for example, are both excellent, convenient sources of complete proteins.