Max out your muscle-building power by adding these 14 nutrient-dense foods to your diet. Pick your favorites, or follow our one-week muscle-building plan, and make your calories work harder for you.
BEEF (FROM GRASS-FED CATTLE)
Beef is important for building lean muscle due to its protein content, cholesterol, zinc, B vitamins and iron content.
Beef from grass-fed cattle have much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventionally raised cattle, which gives you a boost in shedding body fat and building lean muscle.
A good source of betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, this nutrient not only supports liver and joint health, but also has been shown in clinical research to increase muscle strength and power.
Beets also provide an NO boost which can enhance energy and aid recovery.
A slow-digesting whole grain that provides longer-lasting energy throughout the day and during workouts.
Another good fruit that can actually help to boost muscle growth, strength and endurance, especially when eaten before workouts.
Due to its relatively low fructose content, this melon is one of the few fruits that is actually a fast-digesting carb. That makes it a good carb to have first thing in the morning after a long night of fasting and one of the few good fruits to eat after workouts.
Rich in casein protein, cottage cheese is a great go-to protein source, especially before bed.Casein protein is the slowest-digesting protein you can eat, so it prevents catabolism during the night when you fast.
Eggs are known as the perfect protein, but their ability to boost lean muscle and strength gains isn’t due to just the protein alone. It gets a lot of help from the yolks, where the cholesterol is found.
Milk contains both whey and casein and is rich in the amino acid glutamine. Organic milk has about 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.
A complete protein in addition to being a slow-digesting carb, quinoa has been linked with an increase in insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels, an important factor associated with lean muscle and strength gains.
Spinach is a good source of glutamine, the amino acid that is important for lean muscle growth.
The specific polyphenols in apples help to increase muscle strength and prevent muscle fatigue, allowing you to train harder for longer.
Other research also shows that these polyphenols can increase fat burning as well. That’s why it’s a good idea to make apples a pre-workout carb source.
Like plain yogurt, Greek yogurt starts from the same source: milk. Greek yogurt, however, has more protein (a whopping 20 grams per cup) and fewer carbs (9 grams per cup) than regular yogurt (16 grams protein and 16 grams carbs per cup). It’s also a good source of casein protein.
EZEKIEL 4:9 BREAD
Ezekiel bread is made from organic sprouted whole grains. Because it contains grains and legumes, the bread is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the amino acids your body can’t produce on its own—the ones needed for lean muscle growth.
Wheat germ is rich in zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, and B vitamins, high in fiber and protein, with a good amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), arginine and glutamine.
This makes wheat germ a great source of slow-digesting carbohydrates and a quality protein that’s a perfect food before workouts.
So if you’re looking to add some lean muscle, you should be trying to consume as much of these foods as possible!