Does Plant-Forward Protein build muscle as well as Meat?

There is a general misconception that meat is necessary for building muscles. But as most athletes are now finding out, Plant-forward meals can be as equally effective in developing muscles as well as stamina.


“It is wrong to suggest that people require animal protein to build muscle. There is also lots of confusion regarding the levels of protein required to maintain muscle mass, with people often over-estimating their protein needs. The evidence suggests a requirement of only 0.8 gram/kg/day for the average adult, with other research suggesting an intake of up to 1.8 grams/kg/day for athletes looking to achieve muscle growth (higher for energy restricted athletes),” said Dr. Nas Al-Jafari, Family Medicine Consultant, and a speaker at Sesame Restaurant’s Monthly Dinner-with-Doctor event. Every month a medical expert interact with diners on various health and wellbeing matters.

The key to building muscle is to understand how it increases in size, so it’s not necessarily about the kind of food one consumes. There are several factors responsible for building muscles. One’s activity level, stress, sleep, hormones are other aspects critical for muscle growth and repair; as well as of course diet and food choices. “Anyone thinking about transitioning to a plant-based diet and have concerns on how to build muscle would need to consider that everyone’s body is different. For some, it may be easier to put on muscle or weight; gender, age, and genetics also influence how one builds muscles,” explained Neha Jamani, Natural Chef and co-founder, Sesame Restaurant.

Amongst professional athletes and body builders, there has been a growing appreciation of eating Plant-forward meals to help in their muscle building training. In the past, many have been reliant on eating processed and refined foods as source of calories, but these come with unhealthy excess baggage such as fat, cholesterol, artificial colours, preservatives, and more.


“Depending on one’s fitness goals and training a plant-based diet can also be supplemented with a brown rice or pea protein. A well-rounded nutrient dense whole food plant-based diet can satisfy the nutrient, calorie and protein needs of athletes, and if the food choices are rich in micronutrients, minerals and antioxidants this would also lead to better muscle recovery after exercise and improved overall health,” said Irina Sharma, Sesame Restaurant’s co-founder and brand champion.

Plant-forward meals can provide the essential nutrients not just for muscle-building, but also for overall good health. Amino acids in fruits and vegetables, for instance, are great for building muscle, while the vitamins and minerals they contain are crucial to good health.


Protein can come from several foods including lentils, beans, tofu, edamame, as well as seeds such as chia, sunflower, sesame, flax and pumpkin. Nuts, wholegrains such as rice, oats, quinoa and buckwheat are also great sources of protein as well as sea vegetables/Seaweeds.


Plant-forward meals not only deliver the essential nutrients we need, but can also help us get in tip-top shape for that summer-ready look! #plantforwarddubai


For those keen on building muscles based on a largely Plant-forward meals, the following come highly recommended:

  • White Bean & Herb Spread
  • Seaweed and Lotus Root Salad
  • Mighty Green Bowl
  • Lentil Tabbouleh

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