Top 21 Foods To Build Muscle

Amritha K

Muscle building, improving muscle mass and muscle toning are perhaps the most elusive aspects of bodybuilding. While fitness experts recommend that proteins are the key, it isn't just proteins that make up for 'foods that build muscle mass'.

The first thing that comes to your mind when you think of gaining muscle is the gym. You think that working out for a countless number of hours in the gym would give the required result. But, as seen from a number of examples, not many people benefit from this idea. People tend to forget that along with the gym, diet also plays a major role in gaining muscle mass.

Also Read: Foods You Must Never Eat Before A Workout

A combination of foods when consumed in proportionate quantities work to build muscle and improve muscle strength. In this article, we will look at foods to build muscle mass. These foods to improve muscle mass can also be looked upon as foods to improve muscle strength, for their ability to enhance muscular abilities are relevant to both muscle mass and muscle strength.

From vegetarian to non-vegetarian to vegan - we have got it all covered.

Also Read: Foods To Eat Before A Workout

1. Whole Eggs

One of the best sources of protein, eggs also contain important vitamins that make them excellent foods to build muscle [1]. Do not be of the impression that eggs should be avoided in order to prevent cholesterol intake. They contain good fat that helps in digestion and boosting muscle mass.

Eating whole eggs after your workouts can improve the muscle growth by 40 per cent, in comparison to white eggs [2].

2. Lean Beef

A rich source of zinc, iron and B vitamins, high-quality protein and amino acid, lean beef is one of the best foods for building muscles [3]. Having 170g of lean beef is considered the best [4].

3. Salmon

Salmon has scores of health benefits. They are a rich source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The high protein content in salmon undoubtedly makes it one of the most beneficial foods to build muscles [5].

4. Tofu

Tofu is a high-quality protein source and is a popular soy product [6]. A rich source of isoflavones and amino acids that are known to boost muscle growth, tofu also contains essential nutrients that are required for bodybuilding [7].

5. Full-Fat Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese helps in improving the lean muscle mass [8]. It is also loaded with live cultures and healthy bacteria that boost the breakdown and absorption of nutrients that are necessary for building a stronger muscle mass [9].

6. Fermented Dairy Products

Fermented dairy products like yoghurt (Greek), buttermilk and kefir contain a high amount of healthy calories that can be absorbed by the body through the breakdown of foods [10]. It is considered as healthy muscle-building food and one of the best vegetarian foods for muscle growth [11].

7. Low Fat Milk

Milk contains about 20 per cent of whey protein and 80 per cent of casein protein [12]. Casein has a slow digestibility rate that balances the whey's digestibility rate. It also gives you the strength to survive through your workouts and is considered as one of the best high-protein vegetarian foods for body-building [13].

8. Soybeans

Soybeans are packed with all nine essential amino acids, which makes them the perfect vegan muscle building food [14]. Containing about 20 gm of protein per cup, these legumes can be boiled and consumed.

9. Quinoa

High in protein and fibre quinoa helps to promote protein synthesis [15]. Like soybeans, quinoa too contains all nine amino acids essential for building muscle and is gluten-free [16].

Quinoa is also rich in proteins and complex carbohydrates. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, making it one of the best foods for muscle growth.

10. Oats

Oats are a good source of healthy carbohydrates and dietary fibres that help in boosting the metabolic rate and also enhance the performance during the training session [17]. Oats contain high levels of vitamin E, folic acid, thiamine, biotin, zinc and iron that can enhance the muscle-boosting rate after a workout [18][19]. Oats can be eaten as a pre-workout snack.

Foods You Should Never Eat After Your Workout

11. Brown Rice

Brown rice contains complex carbohydrates that have a slow digestibility rate [20]. This ensures the slow release of energy over a period of time. About 50-60 per cent of your daily calorie intake should happen through the consumption of complex carbohydrates, making brown rice one of the best foods for muscle growth [21].

12. Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes contain low calorie 'powerhouse' carbohydrates that can keep your energy levels high even after a heavy workout session [22]. They are also a rich source of dietary fibres that are necessary for burning fat, controlling appetite and also to promote muscle gain [23].

13. Spinach

This healthy leafy green contains phytoecdysteroids, which aid in increasing muscle growth up to 20 per cent [24]. The antioxidants present in leafy greens help speed up the muscle and tissue recovery, which is an integral part of muscle growth [25].

14. Asparagus

This green vegetable contains high levels of asparagine that help promote the absorption of excess water and salt in the body, which plays a central role in boosting healthy muscle growth [26].

15. Avocado

Studies have pointed out that regular and controlled consumption of avocados can help promote muscle building [27]. Because, consuming healthy fats like the ones found in avocados boosts the production of testosterone and growth hormone, which in turn help promote muscle growth [28].

16. Apples

This fruit contains polyphenols that help build muscles and also prevent muscle fatigue [29]. The polyphenols in apples also help with the fat-burning process and aid in building the right muscle mass.

17. Dates

Dates are a rich source of protein. They contain absolutely no fat as well, making them wonderful fruits for muscle building [30]. Likewise, the potassium content in this dry fruit helps to build muscle and proteins in the body [31].

18. Prunes

Prunes contain boron, a mineral which helps build strong muscles and improve muscle coordination [32]. Prunes contain dietary fibres that aid in burning fat quickly and promoting muscle growth.

19. Seitan

Seitan is a plant food (made from hydrated gluten in wheat) that can be used as a substitute for non-vegetarian food products. It provides more than 25 per cent protein in one serving and is a good source of plant protein for building muscles [33].

Best Foods To Eat After A Workout

20. Nuts

Peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios are considered as the most healthy nuts that can aid in muscle growth [34]. These crunchy nuts are packed with protein, making them the best body-building foods. Nuts like almonds and cashews are enriched with protein, fats and fibres, giving you surplus calories even after a heavy workout in the gym [35][36].

21. Seeds

Seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are filled with essential fatty acids, protein and fibre [37]. These essential fatty acids help in promoting the recovery of tissues post-workout and also reduce inflammation and help build muscles [38].

On A Final Note…

Apart from the ones mentioned above, blueberries, beetroot, bok choy, onion and garlic, and olive oil are considered healthy foods that help promote muscle growth. Before developing a meal plan with the purpose of muscle building, discuss with your dietician or your gym trainer to avoid any mistakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.Are bananas good for building muscle?

A. Yes, bananas are high in the good kinds of carbs that one deed after a workout. These fast-acting carbs help restore the body's levels of glycogen, which is known to help rebuilt damaged muscles.

Q.When should I eat to build muscle?

A. According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you should have both carbs and protein pre-workout to build muscle, and you should ideally eat one to three hours before exercising.


Also Read:

10 Best Quadriceps Exercises To Strengthen Your Thighs

7 Different Ways To Eat Honey For Weight Loss

13 Foods You Should Never Eat After Your Workout