What you eat has a direct impact on muscle growth and repair. A high-protein diet can help you add mass without sacrificing taste or causing hunger. Ideally, your calories should come from poultry, turkey breast, lean beef, veggies and other nutritious foods that support optimal health. Dietary supplements, such as whey protein and creatine, can lead to faster gains in muscle size and strength. However, good nutrition is the foundation of a perfect body.
Stock your kitchen with these six foods to build lean muscle:
Rich in protein and amino acids, eggs are considered the perfect food. One large egg boasts over six grams of protein, 14 vitamins and minerals, five grams of fat, zero carbs, and only 71 calories. It also provides 14 percent of the RDA of riboflavin, four percent of the RDA of vitamin D, and five percent of the RDA of vitamin A. The protein in eggs supports fat loss and lean muscle growth, suppresses hunger, and improves health.
2. Wild Salmon
This fatty fish is a great source of protein and omega-3s. One serving (154 grams) provides more than 39 grams of protein and large amounts of vitamin A vitamin B12, niacin, folate, and monounsaturated fatty acids. The latest research indicates that salmon contains bio-active peptides that help reduce inflammation, improve insulin response, and strengthens the joints. To reap the benefits, eat at least two servings of fish a week.
3. Lean Beef
With over 25 grams of protein per serving, lean beef is a staple in any bodybuilder’s diet. This type of meat has no carbs at all and provides only 164 calories per serving. It’s also an excellent source of micronutrients, such as choline, vitamin B12, vitamin K, iron, and calcium. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), one of the key nutrients in lean beef, promotes muscle growth and accelerates fat loss.
If your goal is to build muscle, add complex carbs to your diet. Good carbs, such as those in quinoa and sweet potatoes, provide lasting energy and support muscle repair. Quinoa is one of the few vegetable sources of complete protein. There are over five grams of fiber, 39 grams of carbs, and eight grams of protein in one cup. When consumed regularly, this grain increases insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels, which leads to greater muscle and strength gains.
Packed with protein and essential fats, nuts are the perfect choice for any athlete struggling to put on muscle. These nutrient-dense foods contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, magnesium, zinc, iron, and antioxidants. Almonds are the lowest in calories. Walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, and natural peanut butter are a great choice too.
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6. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is low in calories and contains casein, a slow digesting protein that fuels your muscles over several hours. Many athletes eat it before bedtime to reduce muscle loss. It’s the perfect nighttime snack and can help prevent muscle cramps due to its high electrolyte levels. Compared to other types of cheese, it contains less lactose and fewer carbs, so it’s ideal for those with milk allergy or lactose intolerance.