Top 10 Foods for Building Healthy Lean Muscle
There is nothing more aggravating than when you work your tail off in the gym and seemingly can’t build any muscle. But It’s not good enough to simply train hard and smart; you must also back your training with a wise nutritional plan. The human body operates much like any high-performance machine – it requires quality fuel sources to perform at it’s peak and rebuild itself.
To maximize the muscle building process, you must maximize your nutrition. This means you are going to have to be in an energetic surplus at the end of the day and eat plenty of high-quality protein to facilitate the muscle building process. Naturally then, it’s advised to emphasize foods that are calorically-dense and low in volume so you don’t get too full before meeting your necessary calorie/nutrient needs. With that in mind, read on as this article breaks down 10 foods that will surely help you pack on some solid muscle!
1) LEAN POULTRY
When you want a low-fat, high-protein option, lean poultry is a fantastic choice. Even just 4 ounces of chicken breast or turkey breast, which is about the size of a fist, packs more than 20 grams of protein to fuel the muscle building process and has less than 3 grams of fat.
2) LEAN RED MEAT
Lean red meat, which includes cuts such as top round steak and ground beef that is less than 7% fat, is about as good as it gets for a complete muscle-building food source. Red meat contains a solid amount of creatine, carnosine and taurine, three critical biomolecules that enhance cellular hydration, strength development and muscle building.
3) LOW-FAT & SKIM MILK
Low-fat and skim milk are great liquid options for wholesome nourishment that promotes muscle building. In fact, research suggests that even drinking a glass of milk after weight training is just as effective as taking a pure whey protein shake. Milk is, after all, where whey and casein proteins are derived from.
4) WHOLE EGGS
Eggs are the quintessential breakfast food and for good reason – they are a nutritional powerhouse! Many people fear eating whole eggs in favor of just the egg white because of the cholesterol content in whole eggs. However, when you ditch the yolk you’re getting rid of all of the egg’s micro-nutrients and essential fatty acids, which haven’t been shown to significantly affect cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation. If you want to get yoked,” eat a yolk for a change!
5) FRESHWATER FISH
The right fish can be an excellent protein source, and the best thing about most freshwater fish is that they’re a rich source essential omega-3 fatty acids (which have numerous health benefits). A 5 oz can of tuna packs a whopping 30 grams of muscle-building protein! Even 10 medium-sized shrimp pack upwards of 15-20 grams of protein.
They may be small, but raisins are a great source of antioxidants, specifically the estrogen inhibitor resveratrol, and the testosterone-boosting mineral boron. Since testosterone is one of the most anabolic hormones produced naturally in humans, eating raisins can promote muscle building and reduce muscle breakdown (since estrogen is reduced). 100 grams of raisins contain about 3 milligrams of boron, which is about on par with the amounts provided in studies.
7) NUTS & NUT BUTTERS
Nuts and nut butters include foods such as peanuts/peanut butter, almonds/almond butter, cashews/cashew butter, etc. These are outstanding sources of essential fatty acids, protein, and micro-nutrients like vitamin E, making them a great option when trying to build muscle. Research suggests that individuals who consume nuts and nut butters are at lower risk of development of type-2 diabetes. It appears that this is due to improved insulin and glucose sensitivity in individuals who consume essential fatty acids found in various nuts.
The first of several grains to make the cut is the oat. Oats are commonly served as a hot cereal for breakfast as they are packed full of fiber and complex carbohydrates to help fuel your day. Oats are also a great source of magnesium; magnesium deficiency can hinder the muscle-building process by depleting key electrolytes in the body. A great way to boost the protein in content of oats is to add milk or yogurt to them, making them a fantastic option for boosting muscle growth.
9) GREEK YOGURT
Greek yogurt is a specific type of yogurt product made by straining regular yogurt to remove the whey content. The resulting consistency is much thicker, lower in sugar and very high in protein.Even 8 ounces of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains more than 20 grams of protein and is loaded with calcium, making it a perfect muscle-building option.
10) COTTAGE CHEESE
Another dairy product to include on your list of high-protein food options is cottage cheese. Cottage cheese can be incorporated into many sweet and/or savory recipes, depending on the way you like it, and is rich with both whey and casein protein fractions (both of which significantly boost the muscle-building process). Cottage cheese is also a great source of calcium, much like the other dairy products mentioned in this article.
As alluded to in the beginning of this article, muscle building can be a daunting task if you simply don’t know what food choices to make in the kitchen. Moreover, it can be even more daunting if you don’t nourish yourself with the right quantities of the right foods. If your goal is to build muscle, make sure you are first and foremost eating enough protein as it is the main macro-nutrient that fuels the muscle-building process. Also be sure you’re eating plenty of calories (from both carbohydrates and fats) to support growth and repair of new muscle tissue. Rest assured, if you follow the food advice listed in this article and put in the effort in the gym, you’ll be well on your way to building some solid muscle!