Bodybuilders lift the vegan lifestyle as new way of life outside the gym

Surrounded by mirrors, dressed in form-fitting workout gear, an athlete heaves a bar covered with weights upward. With a harmonic grunt that fills the air, the athlete is successful and returns the bar to its original position. Leaping up from the bench, the muscular, Greek-like, chiseled body fist-bumps his spotter in appreciation. Welcome to the world of professional bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding has often been a refuge for many athletes as they build their muscles and endurance for their individual sport. After their playing days have been completed, many choose to continue bodybuilding, some even professionally. In order to maintain the competitive edge, many employ a myriad of tools in order to get to the top.

As the world of bodybuilding continues to grow, so does the arsenal of tools used to be the best. For many years, bodybuilders simply utilized low-carb/high-protein diets, in preparation for contests, hoping to add weight without adding fat. Today’s bodybuilders have taken the diet a bit further by following a strict vegan lifestyle.

When asked if vegan bodybuilders could get as “sculpted” as non-vegan bodybuilders, Dr. Jose Antonio, co-founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, offered some insight.

“If you mean ‘can they have as low a percentage of body fat as non-vegans,’ yes,” said Antonio in an email interview.

But challenges do exist for vegan bodybuilders. According to, bodybuilders attempt to deliver essential amino acids to their muscles soon after their workouts in order to feed muscles while their blood flow remains high.

In order to receive equivalent amounts of proteins found in meats, such as amino acids, the vegan would need to consume large amounts in one sitting. But, their results can be just as successful as non-vegans.

Kenneth Williams, a nine-year professional bodybuilder, is living proof. After winning his first competition, Williams shocked the crowd.

“When they announced me as the winner, people were very happy,” said Williams in a New York Times interview. “But once the announcer mentioned I was a vegan, the claps stopped and it got so quiet in that auditorium. Right on stage, it hit me: Nobody knows about this.”

Whether followed for the benefits to a bodybuilder’s form, the respect of animals or simply as a lifestyle change, a vegan diet can be very beneficial.

Even in the world of bodybuilding, where supplements and human growth hormones are as commonplace as gallon milk containers filled with water for hydration, many of the participants are being swayed to take on  the lifestyle.

“I’m no longer an athlete,” said Williams. “I’m a warrior now. There’s a big difference: The athletes are just out to get paid. Warriors stand for something.”