If you are just starting out with bodybuilding and have already spent a couple of weeks in the gym, it’s very likely you’re training intensely maybe 4 or 5 times a week, you’re super-focused and use the 8-12 hypertrophy rep range. And you think you’ve done enough. But, not so fast. Surely you’ve heard about the importance of proper diet when it comes to bodybuilding and how failing to adhere to a solid diet plan will make or break your success.
Training for an hour at the gym is when you stimulate the body to respond to the stress you’re putting it through, but it’s the other 23 hours in the day that also matter equally, if not more. Showing up and training for 4-5 times a week, plus sipping on a protein shake as a post-workout meal doesn’t mean that you will achieve a spectacular physique. Basically, if what you eat throughout the day is not up to par then it quite probable that you’ll fail to achieve any muscle gains after passing the initial so-called “noob-gains” phase.
Besides optimizing muscle growth, eating the proper foods will make you recover much faster from your workouts and will make you feel more energized throughout the day. If you aren’t exactly sure on where to start when it comes to choosing the proper foods, this article will help you do just that by selecting the top 10 foods for building muscle. When you incorporate them into your diet you’ll be building a solid nutrition foundation for building as much muscle as possible.
1. Chicken breast
Chicken breast has always been a staple food for bodybuilders. Even beginners know this. The reason it’s so popular is that it’s filled with high-quality protein while having a minimal amount of fat and no carbs. Besides helping you increase the rate at which you’ll build muscle, eating chicken will also aid you in building stronger bones while avoiding unnecessary fat gain. One of the biggest benefits of eating chicken is that there are literally hundreds of different recipes you can try which will help you make it delicious every time and not get bored with it.
2. Vegetables and fruits
Despite being incredibly tasty and delicious and an excellent addition to your protein shake, veggies and fruits have a high content of antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential nutrients for your body which help improve the immune system. Plus, fruits and veggies have a high content of fiber which eases digestion, optimizes the absorption of nutrients and increases satiety.
3. Lean beef
Similar to chicken breast, lean beef is one of the most popular protein sources and a bodybuilder’s staple food. In addition to its high protein content, beef is also rich in zinc, iron and other micronutrients which stimulate testosterone production in the body, thus stimulating faster muscle growth. Beef can also help with your weight loss goals since it’s filled with protein and lots of healthy fats but without the carbs.
4. Cottage cheese
The majority of people have heard about whey protein isolate and how it’s absorbed very quickly by our body making it an ideal part of a post-workout meal. But what isn’t known by the majority is that cottage cheese contains casein protein which is the opposite of whey protein and is absorbed very slowly. Now, you may ask why you’d need a slow-absorbing protein since you’ve been told time and time again that muscles need to feed as soon as possible?
The reason why you would need casein is to supply the body with a steady, constant nutrient intake in periods of prolonged fastings, like an 8-hour sleep. That’s why many bodybuilders consume casein protein before going to bed, in order to stop muscle tissue breakdown and feed the muscles during this period. Additionally, another benefit of cottage cheese and the other forms of casein protein is that it can provide a feeling of satiety for longer periods, which can also help you with fat loss.
5. Whey protein isolate
As previously mentioned, whey protein isolate is the best fast-absorbing protein source on the market, as well as one of the most popular bodybuilding supplements. Many people think that buying whey protein is very expensive in comparison to eating whole foods rich in protein. But, when you calculate the cost per serving and how much protein you get in that serving you’ll find it’s actually very economical. The best times to take whey protein are when you get up in the morning with your breakfast and in your post-workout meal.
Everybody knows that eggs are an excellent protein source. Besides protein, they also rich in vitamin D. Despite what the majority of people believe, the cholesterol found in eggs isn’t bad for you, quite the opposite actually, it is known to significantly boost your testosterone levels. Plus, when it comes to saving some money, eggs are the best option, yet the most effective at the same time.
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7. Whole grains
In comparison to processed grains, whole grains are digested more efficiently by our digestive systems and have a lot more nutrients. They will keep your energy levels even and steady throughout the day and will help you feel full for longer periods of time, in comparison to refined grains which will only give you energy for a short period and then crash your energy levels.
8. Healthy fats
Dietary fat has gotten a lot of bad rap over the years and quite undeservedly. When you mention fat, people already relate it to the jelly that covers your midsection. But, healthy fats have actually been proven to significantly increase testosterone production and speed up your metabolism and keep it elevated for longer periods. Always opt for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, plus the omega-3 fatty acids.
Oatmeal is the best choice you can make when it comes to consuming quality carbs, considering it’s not made of processed carbs and it has a low glycemic index. This results in decreased levels of hunger, keeps you satiated and aids in weight loss.
Another bodybuilding staple, tuna is cheap, very easy to cook and has no carbs and fats. The only thing to look out for is that you don’t eat too much of it too often as some types have been shown to have a high mercury content.
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Thank you for the article is very ensuring even though I know some of these things but it pinpoints the very thing that we do need in our body know enough to keep us strong healthy and vibrant during I lives thank you…
Thanking you at 70 years young, I feel my life has indeed just begun , I weight train 4 days per week , and play football “ touch “ rugby two days , the comments are all positive your information kindly supplied justify my endeavours.!
Thanking you ,
Jus tneed this points to ponder. Thank you so much. Did learn a lot.
Information is not much useful to those who are vegetarian or vegan.
Hello Jim, this might help you
Glad to see you list a number of animal based foods but you are off base when it comes to fats, whole grains and oatmeal. Polyunsaturated fats are extremely unhealthy – if you want to understand this better check out the Peak Human podcast and Fundamental Health podcast for starters and search for the podcasts on seed oils, and also zeroacre.com where the research on this is well summarized. Do not let yourself be fooled by the seed oil industry. Butter and Beef tallow are excellent fats – fatty cuts of red meat (fully grass fed is best but even grain fed is fine if you can’t get or afford grass fed) are among the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, with beef organs being at the top of nutrient dense foods. Chicken is sub par but still better than oatmeal and whole grains which contain high levels of substances such as phytic acid which can chelate minerals and prevent their absorption thus leading to nutrient deficiencies and gluten and gliadon (in wheat) which damage your gut. Do not be fooled by the bad research on whole grains which tries to claim they are good for you – I urge you to start with the above podcasts to understand this topic better. You also completely ignored creatine which has been highly studied and is massively effective at muscle building, particularly when taken within an hour of working out and together with some fluid, animal based protein and a good carbohydrate such as a whole fruit. Creatine is found in red meat and certain fish. You can also buy a good quality creatine monohydrate. For the vegan / vegetarians out there I’m sorry to tell you that plant based proteins are terrible and are potentially harmful in large doses and there is a reason why they aren’t high ranking in the above list. Vegetables also contain many defense chemicals (this is undisputed) and eating lots of them, especially at the expense of animal proteins will eventually do you harm. Antioxidants from plants are overrated. For the vegetarians at least you can eat eggs and drink milk / eat cheese which will be helpful but vegans will ultimately experience ill health. Plants are survival foods and not an evolutionarily consistent diet for humans.