Body Building Resources

Top 8 Best Muscle Building Foods
By Jean Lam

If you're doing weight training or body weight exercises to
gain lean muscle mass, nutrition is very important. Not supplying your body with enough calories and nutrients won't promote muscle growth. But this does not mean you can take any type of calorie. You can easily pile up loads of calories from fatty foods and as a result, this will impede your muscle building goals. What you need are foods which will give you quality protein and complex carbohydrates but not huge amount of calories. Here is a list of the top 8 best muscle building foods:

(1) Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of nature's most nourishing foods and is also easily used by people active in weight training and exercising. Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate and will fuel your body with good amounts of energy for your workouts. It also contains protein(about 11 grams per 100 g oats) and fiber and can also reduce cholesterol levels. When you buy oatmeal, go for 100% whole grain oats like rolled oats and steel-cut oats and avoid those that have been processed. Protein alone won't make you get muscle mass like you should. You also need carbohydrates notably complex carbs, if not, your muscles can look flat and not full.

(2) Eggs

If you are not eating eggs for your training, you're missing out on a lot of good things. A whole egg contains about 6-7 grams of protein and all the nine essential amino acids plus it has lots of vitamins and minerals. Eggs are relatively cheap but they will make you get great muscle gains. Apart from being nutritional, eggs are delicious. You can easily eat 1-2 whole eggs everyday without worrying about cholesterol levels because actually dietary cholesterol has nothing to do with blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are the culprit in raising blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are found in the egg yolk and one egg yolk has only 1.5 grams of saturated fats. So it's pretty minimal if you eat like 1-2 eggs per day but if you eat like 5-10 whole eggs everyday, it's not too healthy because the saturated fats will add up fast. Some people throw away the yolks but in fact, you have all the good vitamins and minerals in the egg yolk. Just limit the egg yolks to 1-2 per day. Also you can vary your nutrition, it does not mean you have to eat eggs everyday.

(3) Chicken

Chicken is a staple food for many athletes. Go for the skinless chicken breast as it's rich in protein, definitely a great muscle building food. A substitute for chicken is turkey. 5 oz of chicken breast can easily give you 35 grams of quality protein. Also contains zinc, iron, magnesium and vitamins B6 and B12. If you want to bypass chicken breast from time to time, you can opt for the drumsticks. As it contains less protein, you need to eat several of them. You might want to avoid deep frying your chicken as it will add up useless calories due to the oil. Consider grilling, boiling or baking as healthier options.

(4) Red Meat / Beef

Using beef in your nutrition is a good choice provided you choose the leanest cuts of beef, that is with as less fat as possible such as top sirloin, top round, bottom round, ground round, eye round and tenderloin. If red meat is too expensive, you might consider lean ground beef as cheaper alternatives. Beef contains creatine, a natural compound which will give you more stamina and endurance and boost your performance. Simply put, it will enhance your workout and you will be able to lift the weights aggressively. The only problem is for you to get your daily dosage of creatine, you need to eat lots of red meat. For example, with 12 oz of beef(340 grams), you get only around 1.5 grams of creatine. So if you were to take 6 grams of creatine daily, you will need to eat 48 oz(1,360 grams or 1.36 kg) of beef daily which might be too much. But creatine is also found in other meats like chicken, fish, pork although in lesser amounts. So by eating different meats per day, you can get your creatine dosage or taking creatine directly in supplements can give you your creatine intake without the need to eat too many meats.

Red meat is also packed with good amounts of protein for muscle mass ie for 5 oz of beef, you can get 35 grams of protein. In addition, it's an excellent source of iron, zinc and contains the 5 important B-Complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and B12. Vitamin B12 in particular is known for making good use of dietary fat and certain amino acids to build muscle mass.

(5) Fish

Have you heard about people getting lean eating fish? It's true and even when you're training, fish is a highly recommended food. As compared to other protein foods, fish does not have these type of saturated fats but still gives you good protein. Instead, the fats from fish are healthy and rich in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids known to be healthy for the heart, brain and even help in having better moods and prevent mood swings. Oily fishes like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, tilapia, herring, trout and cod are some of the healthiest choices and they are rich in healthy polyunsaturated fats. Fresh fish or even frozen fish might not be too affordable but no need to worry as you can still get access to canned fishes like canned salmon, canned tuna. It's recommended to eat in moderation as canned fishes contain a good amount of sodium and you don't want too much sodium in your diet. A tip is to drain the sodium water or oil from the can first. 5 oz of fish can contain 35 grams of protein and a small can of tuna or salmon can give between 25-35 grams of protein.

(6) Milk

Milk is a good choice to build muscle mass. Opt for skim or low fat milk. Milk contains casein, a slow digestible protein so it helps sustain muscle growth and prolongs muscle anabolism for a long period of time. Drinking milk pre-bed is also recommended because your body will be without food for several long hours. 100 grams of low fat milk can easily give you 32 grams of high quality protein. So drink your milk either in protein shakes, oatmeal or by itself. Excellent source of calcium, vitamins and minerals and milk has been proven to aid sleep.

(7) Sweet Potatoes

As stated earlier, if you want to make muscle gains, you can't rely on protein alone. You also need carbohydrates. Apart oats, sweet potatoes are also top muscle building foods and complex carbs as well. Will keep you highly energized throughout the day and in your training. Some time after your training, eating sweet potatoes will make your depleted muscles look fuller. Sweet potatoes are also rich in dietary fiber and if eaten with the skin has even more fiber than oats. Fiber is important for effective bowel functioning.

(8) Whey

Whey is a high quality fast digestible protein naturally found in milk but in milk, whey is 20% and casein is 80%. During the process of converting milk to cheese, whey is extracted and collected. This is why nowadays you have supplement companies selling whey protein powders. Whey has become a product alone without any casein coming along like in milk, so if you want to get your whey protein intake in decent amounts, the best way is to consume whey protein alone. Whey protein is highly effective for post workout nutrition whereby your muscles are depleted from nutrients such as amino acids and you need a fast acting protein like whey to repair and rebuild muscle tissues just after your intensive training. A liquid meal like a whey protein shake is highly recommended just at this point in time. But apart that, consuming whole foods during the day is advisable.

Here you go with some of the best muscle building foods you can get. Creating a nutrition revolving around these foods will make you get the greatest muscle gains in your life guaranteed.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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