Top 10 Muscle Building Foods
By Bob Kupnieski
When it comes to gaining muscle, nothing trumps a caloric surplus. It takes time, training, and consistency to build the type of muscles you want. While working out is half the battle, the food you eat is just as important. What I can tell you is that to gain more muscle mass you will need to be consistent on eating big and plenty of quality foods. Everyone can train hard day in and day out, but when it comes to your nutrition, that will be the key indication of muscle growth. Hardgainers will continue to preach they eat enough food, but when it comes down to it, they really don’t. Most individuals who do not track their intake will vastly underestimate the amount of calories they consume. We need to utilize our nutrition to support our fitness and strength gains. Below are the ten food sources, which will pack on quality muscle while also keeping it cheap on your grocery store bill.
#1) Eggs –Eggs are nutrient rich in vitamin B12, B6, D, and E. They also contain plenty of iron, phosphorus, and zinc. The protein in eggs also serves a massive ½ gram of leucine which is a significant amount. The best thing about eggs is they have a large biological value. Eggs are a very cheap source of protein and can be bought by the dozens.
#2) Milk – A source high in casein, vitamin D, calcium, and provides a slow release of dairy protein. Milk has been noted over the years as a reliable source of quick calories. Casein protein (since milk is 80% casein and 20% whey) provides steady amino acid levels for prolonged periods of time. Dairy also provides healthy cultures, which are good bacteria that help breakdown of nutrients in your digestive tract. Lastly, the amount of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A & B makes it a quality staple for the price.
#3) Banana’s – This may raise an eyebrow, but banana’s are a fantastic source to help build muscle, providing good amount of potassium, calories, and vitamins. Not only are they cheap, they are easily digested and compliment other sources on the list. Plenty of fiber, vitamin C, and B6 support heart health. The additional aid to sodium and potassium balance will also prevent cramping during exercise. Increasing your sodium and potassium balance can reduce cardiovascular disease, risk of stroke, bone mineral density, and formation of kidney stones.
#4) Peanut Butter – Healthy fats such as peanut butter can play an essential role in hormone production. Nut Butters are often overlooked, but provide massive calories in a heartbeat. Increasing ones fat intake (an essential macronutrient) can elevate your metabolic rate, and balance the amount of mono/poly saturated fats you intake. Fats also help slow down digestion, so when paired with a protein source it helps prolong muscle breakdown. Each serving of peanut butter provides a solid 7g of protein.
#5) Potatoes – A vegetable that contains a compound known as ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid) which helps the body convert glucose into energy. Blood glucose helps control and improves vasodilation towards brain and nerve tissue. Potatoes are loaded with calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and provide a great boost of potassium. Sweet Potatoes on the other hand are very rich in Vitamin A. Potatoes also offer vitamin C, fiber, and Vitamin B6. What is often overlooked is the Choline as a versatile nutrient that helps sleep, and muscle recovery.
#6) Rice – A source that digests very easy on the stomach, and is very cheap in bulk. Rice is one of the staples in the bodybuilding industry that is a gluten-free alternative. Being gluten free helps prevents taking important nutrients away from the food source and increasing powerful antioxidants. Rice is a good source of fiber, iron, as well as types of Vitamin B & D. Rice contains a lot of carbohydrates which will aid our bodies glucose for optimal performance when working out and restoring lost calories from training.
#7) Beef – One of the best protein sources for muscle building over the decades for the amount of amino acids packed into each serving. Beef also provides B-Vitamins, creatine, and a mixture of saturated and monounsaturated fat. These sources of protein and fat help enhance testosterone levels, heart health, and decrease stress & anxiety. In each 3oz serving of beef you get a whopping 150+ calories and, over ten essential nutrients including zinc, iron, and magnesium. For quality protein, quality fat, and quality calories per serving this is one hard to top.
#8) Oatmeal – A low GI (glycemic index) carb source that is very minimally processed. Low GI Carbs offer a great control of appetite, slower release of insulin levels,, decreased hunger, increased satiety, and can aid in fatloss over high GI Carb sources. Per serving oatmeal offers a good chunk of fiber (3g), protein (5g), fat (2.5g), and calories (150). Oatmeal also provides quality amounts of Vitamin B3, Folic Acid, Vitamin E, Iron, and niacin to help transport oxygen into the bloodstream to aid muscle building inside the cells.
#9) Nuts – Nuts should be a staple for a hardgainer looking to put on weight. Grab a handful and you are pushing down hundreds of calories in a few bites. One ounce of nuts alone will surpass 150+ calories in the blink of an eye. As a quality source of protein, fat, and fiber per serving you are getting the calories you need to add muscle to your frame. Best part about nuts is they are extremely portable and filled with micronutrients. Fat is an important macronutrient for muscle building, hormone production, and testosterone production for mass.
#10) Whey Protein – This supplement is the key to supporting a healthy diet in reaching optimal protein levels during a daily basis. When one cannot get protein from whole food in a day this supplement is the holy grail to reaching protein minimums. Even though Whey is very heavily processed it’s very affordable. Whey protein is a very fast digesting source making it a quick and convenient way to support muscle protein synthesis around your workout. Constantly on the go? Whey protein will quickly jack up protein synthesis, restore muscle energy stores, and increase blood flow to your muscles. Whey protein will also aid creatine transportation, which is vital for ATP inside the cells for muscle building.
Proper Nutrition is the key to muscle growth. Without getting adequate calories you will never see the results you want in the gym. Muscle growth is more than just protein, you need to supply your body with ample amounts of carbohydrates and fat to ensure a caloric surplus. Weight lifting will aid muscle growth and energy in the form of muscle glycogen. When one works out and breaks down muscle fibers, we need to restore what we lost with adequate calories. This signifies we need proper protein in our diets to jump-start the muscle building process. Pack on enough carbohydrates and fat with proper food choices and you will set yourself up for future gains.