The Best Muscle Building Foods
The best muscle building foods contain a large variety of nutrients that support muscle growth and recovery.
You probably know that you need to eat plenty of protein in order to support muscle growth.
However, as important as protein is for muscle building, protein by itself can not help you to achieve muscle growth.
In order to maximize your muscle gains, you'll have to focus on consuming a range of meals which contain all of the necessary nutrients required for muscle growth and recovery.
This consists of eating ample complex carbohydrates as well as fats. Carbohydrates will support high levels of energy throughout your training sessions and fats will assist with natural testosterone production, which is without question crucial for muscle growth.
Of course, protein is extremely important for building muscle mass, primarily because without enough amino acids from protein, your muscles won't grow larger and more powerful regardless how hard or often you workout.
Simply put, protein is the foundation of muscle tissue and there aren't any other nutrients which can substitute protein in your diet for muscle growth.
To put on muscle mass, a good general guideline is to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight per day. This can seem like a lot of protein, especially if you're not used to eating a lot of protein food on a daily basis.
But if you consume your protein over the course of 5 or 7 small to medium sized meals everyday, instead of a few larger meals, this won't be hard.
Even though I recommend that you consume an ample amount of protein through primarily whole foods such as the ones that I've outlined below, supplementing with protein bars and shakes in-between meals will make it a little easier to meet your daily protein needs.
Below are some of the best muscle building foods that are high in protein:
The Best Muscle Building Foods (Protein)
Eggs: Eggs are an outstanding source of protein and contain plenty of vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health.
Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese is full off protein and contains plenty of bone strengthening calcium. Cottage cheese contains mostly casein, which is a slow digesting protein and is ideal to eat before bed.
Fish & Seafood: Most fish and seafood contains plenty of protein for muscle building. Make sure you choose fish that also contain a decent amount of Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna and halibut.
Chicken: Chicken is an excellent source of protein and very low in fat. Go with the white meat as it contains more protein and less fat than dark meat and be sure to remove the skin.
Red Meat: When you're talking about the best muscle building foods, lean ground beef, sirloin steak, top round steak, London broil as well as bison and venison are the best of the best as they are all loaded with high-quality muscle building protein and contain very little fat.
Milk: Unless you have a very hard time building muscle and gaining weight, choose 1% or 2% milk over whole milk as low fat milk has less fat and calories. Just one 8 ounce cup of milk provides you with 8 grams of slow-digesting protein.
Turkey: Turkey is a lean meat and has plenty of protein that contains all of the essential amino acids your muscles require for growth and recovery.
Every one of your 6 to 7 daily meals should contain plenty of protein. If you have a hard time eating enough protein form food alone, consider supplementing with protein bars and shakes during these times:
First thing in the morning: After a long nights sleep, your body is in a catabolic state. That means your body is burning your muscle for energy since your glycogen stores are depleted during sleep. Consume fast digesting protein such as whey the first thing in the morning to prevent your body form using your muscle tissue for energy.
Between your meals: To keep protein flowing in your bloodstream and to feed your muscles continuously throughout the day, take casein protein in between your meals. Casein protein is slow to digest and will slowly release protein into your bloodstream to feed your muscles in between your meals.
Before & After a workout: Consuming fast digesting protein such as whey protein before your workout will supply your muscles with amino acids while you?re training.
Take whey protein again after your workout along with some carbohydrates to repair your muscle cells after you have damaged them during your workout.
Before bed Since you'll be going without food for many hours when you sleep, you?ll want to make sure you supply your muscles with plenty of amino acids by eating casein protein before you sleep.
As casein protein tends to form "clump" in your stomach and it will continuously feed your muscles up to seven hours when you sleep, thus preventing muscle tissue breakdown.
Now that you know what the best muscle building foods are that contain protein and when to consume them, lets look at carbohydrates and the best times to eat them.
The Best Muscle Building Foods (Carbohydrates)
Unlike protein, carbohydrates do not increase muscle mass directly, but rather, carbohydrates help to preserve muscle and provide energy to muscle tissue since they are stored in your body as glycogen.
Eating enough carbohydrates is essential for building muscle mass because most carbohydrate foods contain plenty of calories that your body digests easily.
Make sure to opt for slow digesting or "complex" carbohydrates instead of "simple" carbs as slow-digesting carbohydrates contain a lot more dietary fiber along with minerals and vitamins and they also maintain your energy levels over several hours compared to fast-digesting carbohydrates.
Some of the best slow-digesting carbohydrate sources include:
Brown Rice: Brown rice contains a good amount of fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. One cooked cup of brown rice will supply you with approximately 40 grams of slow-digesting carbohydrates.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is an excellent source of slow digesting carbohydrates. Choose the slow-cooked oatmeal instead of the instant variety as it has more nutrients and fiber.
Sweet Potatoes: Are a great source of vitamins A, B and C. Sweet potatoes are 100% complex carbohydrates and supply your muscles with long-term energy.
Whole Wheat Bread: Is high in fiber and contains slow-digesting carbohydrates.
Whole Wheat Pasta: Has plenty of fiber and other nutrients that provide your body sustained energy levels.
Carbohydrates are best consumed:
About an hour before your workout: Eating a high-carbohydrate meal about an hour and a half before you train with weights will ensure that you have plenty of energy during your entire workout.
For breakfast: When you wake up in the morning, your carbohydrate or glycogen levels are empty or depleted because you've gone without food for 7 to 9 hours. This is the perfect time to load up on carbohydrates, both slow digesting and fast digesting.
After your workout: Other than breakfast, this is the only time that you should consume fast digesting carbohydrates. As soon as you finish your last set at the gym, drink a whey protein shake along with fast digesting carbohydrates from dextrose, sucrose (table sugar), fruit juice or maltodextrin.
These are all high-glycemic carbohydrates that will help deliver protein into muscle tissue after an intense workout and re-store your carbohydrate stores, which will kick-start the recovery process.
Be sure to consume plenty of carbohydrates at every other meal as well. Eating plenty of carbohydrates throughout the day will provide your muscles with plenty of calories that are essential for muscle growth.
The Best Muscle Building Foods (Fats)
And last but not least, let's look at the best sources of dietary fat.
Fat, especially the healthy omega-3 kind, will help reduce muscle inflammation that's caused by intense weight training. Dietary fat also plays an important role in hormone production in your body and contains plenty of calories needed for muscle growth.
Some of the best muscle building foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are:
Salmon: Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals that are essential for proper nerve function. Make sure to eat the skin as well as this is where most of the omega-3 fatty acids are found.
Olive Oil: Olive oil contains plenty of healthy fats that promote good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol levels in the body. Cook your foods with olive oil and use small amounts in your salad.
Eggs: You can not talk about the best muscle building foods without mentioning eggs, as they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein. If it's within your budget, buy cage free or organic eggs as the hens are fed a diet higher in flaxseeds, thus their eggs are naturally higher in omega-3 fats.
Flaxseed oil: Flaxseed oil is another great source of omega 3's. Flaxseed oil is not ideal for cooking but it can be put into other foods such as baked bread and salads.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans and peanuts all contain excellent amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Be sure to take in plenty of healthy fats with each one of your 6 meals every day. Fat is a very dense source of calories and will help keep you full in-between meals.
When you're in mass gain mode, the only time you should limit your fat consumption is before your workouts.
Avoid eating more than 10 to 15 grams of fat with your pre-workout meal as you might feel sluggish, bloated and nauseous during your workouts because fat empty's out of your digestive system very slowly.
Now that you know what some of the best muscle building foods are, go stock up your pantry and refrigerator with these top muscle building foods.
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