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Paleo, Keto, Dukan, Vegan… Which Diet Plan is Best for Building Muscle?

Building muscle consistently relies on two things: great workouts and great diets. Lots of people, however, want to lose weight while building muscle simultaneously. So they often look for weight loss diets they can follow while they bulk up.

But before choosing a diet, it pays to do your research. Here, we ranked some of the most popular diet plans for their muscle-building capabilities, and the results are surprising to say the least.

Let’s take a look at the Paleo, Keto, Dukan, and Vegan diets in detail to determine which diet plan is the best for building muscle:


The Paleo Diet

MUSCLE-BUILDING SCORE: 1/10

This one was a bit of a shock! Would you believe that the Paleo diet is actually the worst choice for building muscle, hands-down? That’s because most Paleo diets will have you eating meals that are almost entirely made of protein.

At first, that sounds great; don’t you need protein to build muscle in the first place?  That’s true, but you also need CARBS. 

Carbohydrates are used not only to shuttle nutrients to your cells but also to generate energy for your workouts. Without carbs, your body will break down the protein you consume and convert it into glucose and fatty acids. That means less of the protein will be used to build muscle fibers.

The Keto Diet

MUSCLE-BUILDING SCORE: 3/10

The Keto diet is actually better than the paleo diet for one big reason: it does allow you to eat carbs, albeit in very limited amounts. The keto diet revolves around inducing a state of ketosis for your body, so you only need carbs once in a while.

To make this diet work with your muscle-building goals, eat carbs right before you work out so your body has that fuel on hand to lift weights. Then you can eat protein after your workout and your body won't dissolve the protein for other purposes. It'll use the protein to rebuild torn muscle fibers.

The Dukan Diet

MUSCLE-BUILDING SCORE: 7/10

The Dukan diet might be the least understood of the entire bunch, but it’s actually been around since the 1970s. Developed by the French physician Dr. Pierre Dukan, this diet emphasizes eating foods in distinct phases and prioritizes low carbohydrate and high protein intake.

However, it’s important to remember that it was originally a weight loss program. As a result, it’s not the best when it comes to packing on muscle fast. This diet does include plenty of lean protein, but the lack of carbohydrates can impact your workout performance and the gains you get from each set of reps. All in all, those looking to build muscle should consider a diet other than Dukan’s.

The Vegan Diet

MUSCLE-BUILDING SCORE: 9.5/10

It should be no surprise to serious workout enthusiasts that vegan diets can work when it comes to building muscle. However, you have to choose your foods very carefully to make sure you get enough protein to rebuild muscle torn during your workout sessions.

Luckily, plenty of vegan diets include high-protein foods as staples of their food roundups. Examples include tofu, legumes, quinoa, and seitan, each of which is a great source of protein your body can use to pack on muscle quickly.

Additionally, there are lots of tasty vegan protein supplements to choose from if you want some concentrated protein after your workout session. Bottom line: vegan diets can work for building muscle provided you follow them carefully.

There you have it! As you see, there are diet options available to build muscle if you don’t want to follow a traditional plan. Consider your options carefully, however, and think about speaking with a nutritionist before settling on a single diet. Everyone’s body is different, so certain dietary regimens might be better for your physiology than others!

Thanks for reading,  

Justin | MME Wellness Contributor

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