Muscle is built by using the building blocks (Amino Acids) and nutrients found in proteins. Therefore, maintaining a protein rich diet is essential for optimal muscle growth.
In addition to a protein rich diet, your body will also need a healthy dose of carbohydrates and fats to maintain a steady supply of energy to fuel your body.
These are 8 of my personal favorite muscle building foods:
1) Lean Meats
From beef to chicken, lean meat is a must have food for anyone wanting to build muscle. A single serving (around 4oz typically) of lean meat ranges from 20-30g of protein and has a ton of essential nutrients.
Chicken breast has been a staple in the bodybuilding world for decades, and for good reason. With zero carbs, virtually no fats and usually found for around $2-$4 per pound, it is one of the best and cheapest lean muscle building foods you can find. Lean beef and turkey are also fantastic choices if you can’t stand chicken!
Building muscle isn’t all about protein. You can’t function on protein alone and without sufficient fats and carbohydrates your body will break down.
Nuts such as peanuts, almonds and walnuts provide your body with essential fats and nutrients which can reduce cholesterol, improve heart-health and boost strength and stamina. 100g of almonds will have over 500 calories, so be careful not to overindulge yourself.
3) Leafy Greens
While not particularly high in any macro-nutrients, leafy green vegetables are extremely high in micro-nutrients. People will often overlook vegetables in favor of more protein rich foods, but vegetables are vital for maintaining a lean healthy body.
Leafy greens are also rich in dietary fiber and phytochemicals which are both essential to proper functioning of the body. By eating more leafy green vegetables you will feel stronger, healthier and more energetic!
4) Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is preferable over regular yogurt for the simple fact that it has fewer sugars and a lot more protein. Greek yogurt also contains a mixture of both slow-digesting (casein) and fast-digesting proteins (whey). Because of this, yogurt is a fantastic option for muscle growth. The fast-digesting proteins will go to work right away. Replenishing already torn muscle tissue while the slow-digesting proteins will go to work over the course of a few hours, creating a steady supply of muscle building nutrients to the body.
Coming in many different varieties, beans are a staple in the muscle building world. The most popular variety, black beans, has up to 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per 100g. Beans are also a great source of B vitamins and minerals such as Iron and magnesium.
In addition to all the health benefits, beans are also incredibly cheap. They are available in canned or dried varieties all of which start as low as $1 per pound and can be found anywhere.
People used to be scared of eating too many eggs because of the high cholesterol, but over time research has shown that dietary cholesterol has very little to do with the levels of blood cholesterol in your body. As it turns out, the cholesterol found in eggs and the large amount of the amino acid, Leucine, are incredible at building strong lean muscle.
In addition, eggs are also an excellent source high-quality protein, essential fats and vital nutrients such as B vitamins, choline, and vitamin D. In other words. Eat more eggs!
7) Brown Rice
Your body requires carbohydrates to fuel and supply energy to the muscles. Brown rice didn’t go through a processing plant and therefore maintains a lot more of its fiber, minerals and vitamins (almost twice as much!) compared to white rice.
Brown rice is also digested a lot slower in the body and therefore supplies a steady rate of energy to the body. This steady flow of energy allows for better workout when consumed in the hours leading up to exercise.
Salmon is a fantastic choice for building muscle. Salmon contains essential nutrients such as B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids which improve heart health, inhibit muscle breakdown and boosts brain functioning. Additionally, salmon has over 20g of protein per 100g. The only downside to salmon is the price which can range from $12-$30 per pound.
Fortunately, there are a variety of other fish such as tuna and tilapia which provide similar benefits for a cheaper price!
Your body is 60% water, and your cells require water to function properly. It is recommended that the average adult man drinks about 3.7L or about 1 gallon of water per day.
This recommendation however, does not consider the liquids lost through exercise. During exercise you will want to consume 4-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes, and about 50 ounces of water for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) lost post-exercise. Proper hydration is essential to a healthy body and ideal for building lean muscle.
There are a ton more awesome muscle building foods, but these are my personal favorites! What is your favorite muscle building food? Let me know in the comments!
If you are ready to start building muscle, head over to my Fitness Calculators and find out what your starting daily calorie intake should be. Remember, start at your TDEE and add at least 250 calories per day to start building muscle!