Building muscle is 99.9% nutrition and 0.1% working out.
No actually, I think it’s meant to be 80% nutrition and 20% working out. Or was it another figure? I was never any good at math and you have probably heard about 3 different variations to that equation anyway. Sleep is meant to factor in there too somewhere I think, but that’s another story for another time.
The main point is though, nutrition is a huge part of building muscle and if you don’t get it right, the best workouts in the world aren’t going to mean diddly. You need to consume foods that help build muscle if you want to see results. Period.
More Than Just Protein
Now we have all heard that protein specifically, plays a big role in building muscle and that the story goes a little something like this:
– We workout with a resistance that our muscles are not accustomed to and this in turn causes them to work overtime and create small tears in the fibers.
– This damage prompts our bodies to start a special repair process that makes our muscle cells grow, but in order to grow they require amino acids (aka the building blocks of life) which are found in protein and then bingo bango bongo, you’re ripped.
Sounds easy. A little too easy. The process of muscle growth requires more than just protein I’m afraid. You’re going to need a whole bunch of essential vitamins and minerals to support that protein synthesis, so you need to find good sources of those.
Also, best not to forget that lifting weights or combating any form of resistance training also requires energy, specifically in the form of muscle glycogen.
This means that any muscle building diet needs to have a healthy portion of carbs in there too. This will top up the muscle glycogen stores as well as raise your insulin level, which is needed to get those amino acids into your muscles.
So, which foods give you the best bulk for your buck?
Top Foods That Help Build Muscle
This just in: not everyone eats meat! So how do these people get that magic protein? One great meatless option for protein is quinoa, a protein-rich grain that has been a staple in South America for over 5,000 years.
Although it’s a grain, quinoa is completely gluten free. So whether you can’t actually tolerate gluten, or just avoid it because it’s cool, quinoa fits the bill.
The protein in quinoa is also complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids you body needs to build muscle. It’s got lots of fiber, magnesium and iron in it too.
Okay, that last was surely a one off; there couldn’t possible be another meatless source of protein, could there? You better believe it – Almonds are absolutely jammed packed full of protein. Just 1/4 cup of these bad boys has nearly 8 grams of protein. Most eggs only have 6 grams.
But it doesn’t stop there. Almonds are full of monounsaturated fat (the good fat) to help with keeping your ticker healthy and your cholesterol levels in the right range.
They’ve also got plenty of magnesium, which is an essential mineral that’s used in biochemical reactions throughout the body, including the one we were most interested in in the first place – protein synthesis.
Not only do they help with nudge nudge wink wink, say no more, but oysters are another secret weapon of bodybuilders. Just 100 grams of cooked oysters can have up to 20 grams of protein with only 5 grams of fat.
Oysters have super high levels of zinc, which is essential for repairing muscles and making them stronger. If you don’t like the smell, get over it; it’s for a good cause.
They weren’t in the Rocky movies for nothing you know, but don’t feel compelled to crack them over your mouth and eat them raw – Fry them, pouch them or scramble them; there is lots of options for eating eggs. And why wouldn’t you with all the benefits they deliver.
Eggs have about 6 grams of protein, but not just any protein, its considered one of the most biologically available protein. This means your body is able to utilize it better than any other type of protein and needs less of it to give the same muscle building result. That’s value.
Lift weights and drink milk! A bodybuilding mantra from yesteryear but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have some truth to it.
Milk provides good quantities of all the essential amino acids for protein synthesis. It’s pretty low in fat too, especially if you opt for the skim variety.
Mothers around the world gasped after it was shown that chocolate milk might be one of the best choices for a post workout recovery drink. Not only does it provide excellent muscle building protein, but chocolate milk also supplies the carbs need to replenish muscle glycogen stores.
You probably thought you would see this one at the top of the list, but I decided to mix it up on you a bit. Chicken is an impressive source of protein and has long been a go-to food for anyone looking to pack on lean muscle.
A 100 gram piece chicken will deliver you approx. 30 grams of sweet protein and if it’s a nice lean piece, there should only be about 3-4 grams of fat in it.
Those are pretty awesome numbers and when combined with the bonus of it being just so versatile, there is really no reason you shouldn’t be making chicken a staple of your muscle building diet (providing you eat meat of course).
If I were listing these in order (which I’m not) then fish would be right up there with chicken and battling for the number one spot. Some fish, such as salmon and tuna, provide a similar level of protein to chicken, at approx. 25 grams per 100 gram serving.
What could possibly tilt the scales slightly in favour of fish are all the extra goodies that come along with it. Fish such as salmon and tuna, is packed with healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, plus it’s a great source of vitamins D, B2 (riboflavin) and the minerals iron, iodine, zinc, potassium and magnesium. All essential muscle building stuff.
Cut The Crap
So hopefully you can see that coke and fries are just not going to cut it when it comes to a muscle building diet. If you want to get serious results, you have got to get serious with what you’re putting in your body.
These protein and nutrient rich foods that help build muscle are the best place to start. Not just because of the extremely high levels of protein and nutrients they contain, but because of how versatile these foods are, allowing them to be consumed in so many different ways each and every day. So either crack out your cookbooks or ask your mom nicely.