Power on Your Plate: 10 of the Best Muscle-Building Foods to Add to Your Diet

Power on Your Plate: 10 of the Best Muscle-Building Foods to Add to Your Diet

Wondering what to eat to gain muscle? Look no further.

Embarking on a journey to build muscle requires more than just dedication to a workout routine; you'll also need to adopt a strategic approach to your diet. In this article, we'll explore 10 of the best muscle-building foods, each backed by scientific data, to help you sculpt a stronger, more muscular physique, boost your energy levels and feel like the best version of yourself. Additionally, we'll discuss other lifestyle factors like sleep, hydration, and exercise and the key role they play in muscle development.

Without further ado, let's empower ourselves with the knowledge we need to get those gains!

Foods to Add to Your Diet to Gain Muscle

1. Whey Protein

When exploring muscle-building foods, it would be remiss not to mention whey protein, a byproduct of cheese production. Whey is a high-quality protein, rich in essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth. A study published in the journal Sports Medicine has shown that whey protein enhances muscle protein synthesis, making it a go-to for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.

Incorporating whey protein into your diet in various forms, from whey protein powders to desserts like mousse or jelly and snack bars, can significantly boost your muscle-building efforts.

2. Eggs

Whole eggs and egg whites are a nutritional powerhouse, providing both high-quality protein and healthy fats. The protein content in an egg can vary slightly based on its size, but on average, a large egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein. Eggs also contain all nine essential amino acids, vital for muscle growth and recovery.

And don't just take it from us—research by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that the leucine found in eggs is particularly effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Whether you like them sunny side up or hard-boiled in your salad—it's time to get cracking and boost your protein intake with this powerful muscle-boosting food.

3. Chicken Breast

Lean meats like chicken breast are staples in the realm of muscle-building foods. High in protein and low in fat, studies published in the Journal of Sports Sciences have shown that chicken breast aids muscle repair and maintenance—without loading up your diet with unnecessary extra calories. Its high protein content, packing in approximately 31 grams of protein per 100 grams, also helps in reducing muscle loss during weight loss phases.

4. Greek Yoghurt

Greek yoghurt stands out as an excellent muscle-building food due to its unique combination of fast-digesting whey protein and slow-digesting casein—an excellent combination for lean muscle gain. In a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine aiming to determine which kinds of high-protein foods for muscle-building are optimal, this combination was shown to be ideal for prolonged muscle synthesis and beneficial for growth and recovery, especially when consumed post-workout or before bed.

Dairy products are also high in calcium, which is essential for bone health—paramount when you're carrying out high-impact training sessions in the gym to support your gains.

5. Salmon

Salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, not only supports muscle health but also reduces inflammation, which is crucial for recovery and muscle growth. Endorsed by a study in Biochemical Society Transactions, the high-quality protein in salmon further assists in muscle repair and building. Whether in sushi, a salad, or air-fried over brown rice—this flavourful, fatty fish can be a game-changer for those looking to incorporate more muscle building-foods into their diet and alter their body composition.

6. Quinoa

According to Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, quinoa is a complete plant-based protein source, making it an excellent muscle-building food option for vegetarians and vegans. It's packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals, aiding muscle growth and boosting overall health. Plus, it's great for meal prep—why not batch cook at the beginning of the week and make muscle growth amidst a busy lifestyle that little bit easier.?

7. Lean Beef

A great lean source of protein, lean beef typically contains about 27 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat. Additionally, it's packed with iron and vitamins, which are essential for muscle growth. Plus, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, its significant zinc content also plays a vital role in muscle development and strength. Get a lean cut of steak or some ground beef on your plate and kickstart your journey to increased muscle mass today!

8. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is predominantly made up of slow-digesting casein protein, making it an ideal food for muscle-building and maintenance, especially during periods of fasting or before sleep. For a turbo hit of protein and a nutritious dessert in one, try mixing full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese with a serving of your favourite protein powder and a low-calorie sweetener of your choosing. Who says a balanced diet that aligns with your goals has to be dull and bland?

9. Almonds

Backed by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, almonds are an excellent plant-based muscle building food. Almonds contain plenty of protein and are a great source of healthy fats, which are essential for muscle-building. They also contain a significant amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help prevent free-radical damage after heavy workouts.

10. Spinach

Another great option for vegans or individuals who can't consume meat and/or dairy products, spinach is rich in vitamins and minerals and has endless health benefits. It has even been shown to improve muscle strength and efficiency due to its high nitrate content. Can't stand the green stuff straight up? A great option is an essential nutrient-packed greens powder containing spinach that masks its taste and texture.

Muscle building

Beyond Muscle-Building Foods: Other Lifestyle Factors That Will Help Your Gains

Regular Exercise

In addition to a diet packed with muscle-building foods, exercise, particularly strength and resistance training, is fundamental for muscle growth. It creates micro-tears in the muscle fibres, which, when repaired, lead to muscle hypertrophy (growth). Consistent training, progressively increasing intensity, and varying workouts are essential for continued muscle development. Combining compound and isolation exercises can effectively target different muscle groups for balanced growth.

Experts recommend that to increase muscle mass, in combination with physical activity, that an active person who lifts weights regularly eats a range of 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. Incorporating the protein-packed, muscle-building foods we've recommended above and a strength training program into your weekly routine will have you on the way to a more defined, muscular physique.

Staying Hydrated

Staying well-hydrated is key for optimal muscle function and growth. Water is vital in transporting nutrients to the muscles and removing waste products. Dehydration can decrease strength, endurance, and recovery rate, negatively impacting your muscle-building efforts. Ensure consistent hydration throughout the day, especially before, during, and after workouts.

Plus, you can support your fitness journey with muscle-building foods and drinks! With nutrient-dense, hydrating beverages like collagen protein water now on the market, you can come at muscle growth and recovery from two angles at once!

Getting Enough Sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial for muscle recovery and growth. During sleep, the body undergoes repair and recovery processes that are essential for muscle-building. Growth hormone, which plays a significant role in muscle development, is predominantly released during deep sleep stages. Lack of sleep can also lead to increased cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can hinder muscle growth and recovery. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support your muscle-building goals.

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Power Up Your Plate with Muscle-Building Foods and Thrive

Incorporating these 10 muscle-building foods into your diet, along with proper sleep, hydration, and exercise, can significantly enhance your muscle growth efforts. Remember, consistency in diet and training is key to achieving your fitness goals. So arm yourself with a great meal plan, workout plan and self-care routine, and you'll be on the right track to achieving those muscle-gain goals before you know it.

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