Skip Protein Shakes: 8 muscle-building foods you should eat instead

You don’t need to be a beginner bodybuilder to maintain muscle mass. In fact, maintaining a healthy muscle mass is one of the many ways to stay healthy and improve your overall well-being, especially as you age. Along with a balanced exercise and strength training regimen, our diet is a key factor in building and maintaining strong muscles.

Protein, in particular, plays a key role in supporting muscle growth. This collection of amino acids makes up a large proportion of our muscle tissues and organs. It’s an essential part of your diet, but that doesn’t mean you need to cut back on a daily basis protein shakes have enough. While this is certainly one way to increase your protein intake, it can be found in many delicious, complete food sources.

With a little effort, it’s easy to add plenty of foods high in protein and other muscle-building ingredients to your diet. In this article, we’ll look at how different foods help build muscle mass – and the best things to eat if you’re looking to increase your strength.

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How food helps build muscle

Although protein is essential for building muscleit is not the only important food ingredient in the process. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a good muscle-building diet must also be high in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. A balanced diet that includes all of these ingredients will provide the necessary ingredients to help your muscles regenerate and rebuild after training.

Overall, NASM recommends that most people consume at least 0.7 to 0.8 grams of protein and 1.8 to 3.2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight each day. Total caloric intake also plays a role in building muscle as it is difficult to build muscle if you burn more calories than you consume.

However, diet alone is not enough to stimulate muscle growth. Exercise – especially resistance training such as weightlifting – is essential to get the process started. When you break the fibers in your muscles, it stimulates cell growth and repair. Then your body can use the food you ate to rebuild and strengthen your muscle tissue. The effectiveness and efficiency of this process is also influenced by other factors, from food and the amount of rest you give your muscles between workouts, to hormonal and genetic makeup.

A carton of brown eggs on a blue background.

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8 foods that will optimize your weight gain

While there are many factors that go into building muscle, there is no doubt that your diet plays a crucial role. Here are eight muscle-building foods you can eat to optimize your training and increase your muscle mass.

1. Eggs

Eggs have long been considered energy food, and for good reason. They are extremely nutritious from fat and protein and contain a powerful blend of vitamins such as B12, B6 and thiamin. Their nutrient-rich profile makes them especially potent, but most importantly, they contain a powerful dose of leucine. This amino acid is known for its ability to build muscle.

2. Fish

If you already have enough fat in your diet, but need to increase your protein intake, look no further than fish. It is one of the best lean sources of protein you can eat and is packed with other vitamins and minerals. Addition? Fish is full of omega-3 fatty acids. While they’re known to have many other health benefits, omega-3s can also improve muscle performance and prevent muscle loss. Salmon and tuna are especially good muscle-building foods.

read more: Best Seafood Delivery Services for 2022

3. Nuts

Consumed in moderation, nuts are a great choice for building muscle. These tasty snacks offer the perfect blend of protein, fats, and fiber, making them one of the most balanced ways to supplement your workout. However, you have to be careful because many nuts (including peanuts, which are actually legumes) are high in calories. For the most nutrient-rich options, try almonds or walnuts.

4. Soybeans

If you’re trying to build muscle on a meatless diet, soy should be one of your closest friends. These are some of the most nutritious legumes you can eat, and they contain a powerful punch of protein to help build muscle. Soybeans contain all nine essential amino acids, making it one of the best sources of plant-based protein available.

Close-up on a pile of edamame beans.

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5. Greek yogurt

Dairy is a unique source of protein because it is a combination of quickly digestible whey protein and slowly digestible casein protein. When consumed together, these two types of protein can strengthen and prolong the protein synthesis process that your muscles pass through while you rebuild, helping you build lean mass. Greek yogurt is an especially great dairy choice as it contains twice as much protein as regular yogurt and offers additional probiotic health benefits that cannot be found in milk or cheese.

6. Cottage cheese

It doesn’t offer the same probiotic benefits as yogurt, but cottage cheese is an excellent second choice for milk-based protein. In fact, cottage cheese contains more protein than Greek yogurt, while offering the same combination that is fast and slow to digest. It is an especially excellent source of casein and provides a significant increase in calories if you need to make sure you are getting enough.

7. Olive oil

This may not sound like your typical bodybuilding food, but in recent years, extra virgin olive oil has become increasingly popular for its muscle benefits. Commonly known as a source of healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil also helps reduce inflammation and slow down muscle breakdown. Both of these traits can help with any muscle building regimen.

8. Quinoa

They call quinoa their food for a reason. This dynamic grain (it’s a grain, but classified as a whole grain) contains a bit of everything, including plenty of protein, fiber and carbohydrates, and a good dose of vitamins and minerals. This is the perfect food for building muscle mass and maximizing the benefits of training.

Boiled quinoa in a wooden bowl with green additions.

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A recipe for stronger muscles

Adding these muscle building foods to your diet will definitely help you on your way to gaining muscle mass and increasing strength. But remember, it takes time to gain muscle mass – and your diet is just one piece of the puzzle. Combining a balanced high-protein diet with healthy exercise and rest will speed up your journey and improve your overall health.

read more: Lose weight and gain lean muscles at the same time with body recomposition

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute health or medical advice. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions about your health condition or health goals.

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