Training for muscle mass requires more than just hard work in the gym. It requires protein as much as 1 gram per pound bodyweight per day. Obtaining this much protein without adding too much fat is often a problem, which is why the number one best food to eat to build muscle has always been the humble egg. (without Yolk)
Still, it’s not all about protein. There are two other macronutrients that are vital to building muscle
1. Carbohydrates, fuel for energy, are composed of a variety of less complex or more complex sugar and starch molecules
2. Fats, the nutrient that contains the most densely packed molecules
If you want to stay lean and muscular, learning about nutrition is a must. Knowing what kind of food to eat and what vitamins and minerals you need not only helps you get bigger and stronger, it will keep you healthy and support your immune system.
To help you get the most from your diet, we’ve compiled a compressive list of the 15 best foods essential to building a strong, healthy, great-looking body.
Best Foods To Eat To Build Muscle
Because of the balance of amino acids in an egg, 94% of it can be used by your body. That’s 20% more than fish or lean beef and 40% more than other proteins.
The Egg scores an almost perfect 100 for quality of protein. Eggs are such a good source of quality protein that they are used as a basic comparison in rating the protein quality of other foods.
If you feel the need to limit your fat intake, it’s best to leave out the yolk, as this part of the Egg contains some fat. The white doesn’t.
However, the yolk contains a ton of vitamins, the majority of minerals, and as much protein as the egg white. It might be a good idea to cut your fat elsewhere in your diet to reap all the health benefits of the Egg Yolk.
2. Lean Beef
Beef is packed full of skeletal muscle proteins like actin, myosin, troponins, collagen, and other connective tissue proteins. These are proteins you can’t get from a plant-based protein source.
Animal meat is around 70% protein on a dry weight basis, and if you choose the leaner cuts like the loin, you’ll easily be rivaling the protein content of fish which is around 6g per ounce.
Another excellent nutritional benefit of beef is the amount of creatine it can serve up, creatine is essential for muscle growth, and beef is one of the only high condensed sources where you’ll find it. The other is herring. Beef contains 1g of creatine per 8oz of beef.
Beef is also rich in micronutrients, including vitamin B12 and the minerals phosphorous, iron, and zinc.
Salmon is an excellent source of body-enhancing protein. A 6oz serving of salmon contains a whopping 32 grams of protein. Salmon is also one of the best natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, and boost brain function.
Salmon is full of vitamin B12 and bursting in potassium and other essential nutrients such as Vitamin D.
Although Almonds are not a complete protein, they lack the essential amino acid lysine. However thy are one of the highest quality plant proteins you’ll find. They contain 6 grams per oz – or 21 grams of protein per 100 grams. That’s a hefty amount.
Almonds also pack a mighty punch when it comes to healthy fats containing mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Excellent for overall health. And most importantly, great for the heart.
The health benefits keep coming with these nuts. They also boast high amounts of iron, calcium, arginine, zink, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, arginine, quercetin, and vitamin E. These compounds will help build muscle and help you recover faster after your workout.
It’s best to avoid the roasted kinds of Almond as the protein is less absorbable. Still, if you want to get the most out of your almonds? Soaking them overnight will make them more bio-absorbable.
Milk is the perfect post-workout drink because its protein is high quality and easily absorbable, plus its full of carbohydrates and micronutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and B vitamins.
A ton of research showed that drinking milk after workouts will quicken recovery and lead to more favorable body composition changes. It’s cheaper than most post recovery drinks and outperforms many of them.
6. Brown Rice
Rice has always been a popular choice for bodybuilders. Still, there’s quite a difference between white and brown rice. Both have their benefits, and both are a great source of carbs, but white rice is known to cause more of an insulin spike because it has a low fat and fiber content.
Brown rice will cause a slight spike in insulin release, but due to the higher fiber and fat content, the release is slower and significantly reduced. “The reason this is important is the times or days you’re not training, the carbs from brown rice are much less likely to go to body fat storage than those of white rice,” says Steve Fissel From MuscleandFitness.com
Bodybuilders include a shocking amount of chicken in their diet because just like eggs chicken is packed full of protein. Each 3 oz serving contains about 26 grams of high-quality protein.
Chicken is low in fat, low in carbs, and doesn’t contain any nasties. Always best to opt for the breast rather than the leg as the white meat has fewer calories and much less fat.
Turkey is another favorite of Bodybuilders as it too is an excellent source of low-fat, high-quality protein. Turkey has an even lower fat content than chicken and fewer calories, but it’s more expensive.
Seeds are the perfect choice for a snack as they’re full of protein and a good source of plant-based healthy fats, minerals, and fiber.
They’re loaded with iron, which helps you make proteins that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body, and calcium, critical for bone health.
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are typically the most popular seeds Bodybuilders choose as the fat in sunflower seeds is necessary for some vitamin absorption, proper growth, maintaining cell membranes, and help with muscle gains. Also, just a 1/4 of a cup of pumpkin seeds provides 20% of your daily iron and omega 3 needs, as well as zinc and magnesium.
Bread is one of the most convenient ways to source the carbs you need to power your workouts. Wholegrain bread is a bread rich in fiber and can often have as much as 2 grams per slice as well as vitamins and minerals, which makes it an excellent choice for training aimed at building muscle.
It’s always better to avoid white loaves of bread and go for bread darker in color as dark bread offers more nutritional value. The optimum bodybuilding diet would include whole-grain rather than refined flour products. Refining removes all the good stuff from the bread, like nutrients and fiber. Look at the bread ingredients before purchase and look for the term 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain at the top of the ingredients list.
The protein content of soya beans is 35%-50% dry weight which makes soya an excellent source of plant-based protein. Native to Asia, these protein-packed beans have become a staple in many bodybuilders’ diets. High amounts of amino acids, particularly arginine and glutamine, make soybeans a great alternative to whey. However, many athletes, including bodybuilders, like to incorporate both soy and whey protein into their nutritional regimens benefiting from the different rates of digestion and amino acid absorption.
11. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt includes all the essential amino acids, and it doesn’t sit around for long either. Because of its liquid properties, it can be digested much faster than most foods which is great for muscle growth.
Greek yogurt is rich in calcium and protein, which may improve your bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In addition all of that protein will make you feel fuller for longer preventing you from snacking throughout the day.
Best of all, Greek yogurt contains probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help keep the gut healthy and functioning properly.
There are many ways to enjoy greek yogurt; you don’t have to eat it straight out of the pot as I do. Some people love to add it to their breakfast cereal with bananas and blueberries.
It can also be used as a topping for soups instead of cream or as an addition to past for extra creaminess.
A tin of tuna is an inexpensive protein source and a convenient way to increase the amount of protein in your snacks, such as sandwhiches and salads. Each 3oz serving of tuna has around 18grams of protein, putting tuna high up on the list of the protein sources rivaling the animal meats. Canned tuna in water is the best choice to minimize fat intake.
While tuna isn’t as rich in omega 3 as salmon, it’s still one of the best sources with 0.17 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per 3-ounce serving. Omega 3 is excellent for heart health and protecting your joints.
Tuna is also a good source of potassium essential for lowering blood pressure. And when combined with the omega 3 fat brings an ant-imflamortory effect on the cardio system.
Peanuts aren’t actually nuts. They are classified as Legumes along with soya beans and green peas. Peanuts might be the most affordable of nuts, and Americans consume 6 thousand tons of them a year, but they’re a surprisingly healthy food. And great for building muscle because they are packed with protein and contain 257 mg of magnesium per cup, which can enhance your performance in the gym.
Apart from protein and magnesium, the humble peanut has many other health benefits, such as preventing heart disease by lowering cholesterol. They reduce inflammation as they’re a very good source of fiber, and peanuts are a low-glycemic food, which means that eating them won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
They’re also an excellent source of vitamin E, Copper, and Arginine
Tofu is a popular food derived from soya. It is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block, and then cooling it. Tofu is an excellent alternative to meat for vegan or vegetation bodybuilders. Tofu contains generous amounts of protein, around 10%, and contains a good amount of calcium.
Tofu boasts a few other health healing properties as it also contains isoflavones; these are potent antioxidants that help minimize the damage done by free radicals.
15. Sweet Potato
This highly nutritious starchy root vegetable is a fav amongst bodybuilders, and there’s a good reason why? It’s one of cleanest sources of carbohydrates available. High in fiber and carbs, these vibrant potatoes have a low low-glycemic index, meaning they’ll release energy slowly throughout the day. Great for recovering your stores of glycogen after a workout.
In addition, sweet potatoes, especially the orange variety, are rich in antioxidants, yet another food source to protect your body from those nasty free radicals.
Sweet potatoes contain two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble, soo they’re great for your gut. Fiber-rich diets are known to reduce the risk of colon cancer and other gut diseases.