Top 10 Muscle Building Foods
1. Whey Protein
Whey protein is a by product of cheese making that we can find in milk. Whey protein has a series of unique properties and is well known to be quickly and efficiently absorbed in the body, compared to other more slowly releasing proteins such as casein. Milk contains a ratio of casein to whey protein of 80:20, therefore to get a good efficient source of whey protein it is advised to consume a whey protein powder supplement.
But what are the benefits?
Whey protein is known to be the number one supplement for muscle gain and fat loss for all gym goers. During intense exercise our muscle tissues become torn, Whey protein has an impressive profile of amino acids that when consumed after a workout can act fast in the body to aid repair and the maintenance and growth of lean muscle mass.
Not only this, but protein is known to be the most filling macronutrient- much more so than carbohydrates and fat. Therefore consuming whey protein can help reduce hunger and stop you snacking!
2. Skinless Chicken
Chicken is probably my favourite food- cold, hot, on the bone, off the bone and on its own- I love it. But why should you be eating more chicken?
Chicken is a great source of low fat lean protein that is great for weight loss and around 100g can provide over 20g of protein. This protein can help contribute to the growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass, prevent bone loss and boost heart health! High levels of phosphorus and selenium found in chicken can also act to support your teeth, bones, kidney, liver and immune and nervous system. Adding a chicken breast to your main meal can help fill you up more quickly and leave you less likely to snack!
3. Lean Beef
In the US we all love big cuts of red meat- but lately red meat seems to have gotten itself a bit of a reputation, with its high cholesterol and high saturated fat, scientific studies have shown convincing evidence that consuming large amounts of red meat daily can increase the risks of certain types of cancer.
Some people take that as a message to stop eating red meat completely but lean beef and other lean sources of red meat are valuable to our health and the growth of muscle mass. Apart from providing a good strong source of protein, red meat also contains a valuable source of heme Iron. There are two different types of iron that can be consumed in the diet heme iron and non-heme iron. These two types of iron have different properties whereby non-heme iron absorption in the body can be affected by nutritional factors and other food components consumed in the diet.
A 3-oz serving of lean beef can provide around 2.4mg of iron which is needed in the diet to transport of oxygen to all other parts of the body. A lack of iron in the diet can lead to iron deficiency anemia and low energy levels.
Lean red meat is also a good source of zinc and vitamin B complexes which can help build muscle mass whilst supporting our body’s immune system and energy levels!
Fish is a food that is often really underrated. There are so many different types of fish with a range of different benefits. By eating lean fish such as cod and haddock you can get a large serving of muscle gaining protein without any added fat!
Fatty oily fish such as salmon and sardines are even more important. Not only do they provide a protein, but these fish also contain large sources of omega 3, the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA! These acids are essential in the body- meaning we need to consume them through the diet for normal bodily function!
Fatty acids found in fish are known as healthy fats that can act to increase metabolism and fat loss whilst providing added benefits to the immune and cardiovascular system. In the US the consumption of fatty fish is pretty low so why not try consuming at least one portion of fish such as salmon a week and help boost your fat loss.
What came first… the chicken… or the egg?
Who knows- but what we do know is that both contain amazing sources of protein!
Eggs are so good for our health and like red meat have also gained a bad reputation due to the high cholesterol level found in the yolks. Did you know however, this cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol (HDL) and does not actually affect our blood cholesterol levels!
Eggs are so nutritious! They contain a range of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, folate, B5 B12, B2, E, D, K, phosphorus and selenium!
What’s more each egg only contains 75-80 calories and are packed full of healthy omega 3 and full of hunger stopping and muscle building protein! If you’re a super strict dieter, you can even just consume egg whites- with just 17 calories and no fat per egg white!
6. Dairy Products
Dairy products such as Low fat milk, low fat cottage cheese, quark and Greek yogurt are great sources of protein to build muscle! The main protein found in dairy products is casein, which is a more slowly releasing protein. This means consuming dairy products can help keep you fuller for longer whilst providing your muscles with a long lasting supply of repairing protein. Many people chose to consume protein from dairy at night to avoid muscle breakdown as we sleep!
Beans, peas and lentils are all pulses we call legumes! This food group is particularly important for vegan and vegetarians providing an excellent source of fiber, protein, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B! Ideally we should consume a portion of beans and legumes a day including black beans, chick peas, soy beans and lentils to provide a good source of complex carbohydrates and muscle building protein.
8. Whole Grains and Cereals
If there’s another thing we don’t get enough of in the US its fiber! Fiber is so important in the diet and has been shown in tons of scientific experiments to increase weight loss and reduce hunger and the risk of colon cancer. By providing a more full feeling, fiber can stop harmful snacking habits and help to increase muscle gain! Not only this, but carbohydrates found in whole grains can provide a good source of long lasting slow releasing energy – optimising your training and energy levels.
9. Healthy Fats
Fats… Healthy?… WHAT? Yep- that’s right; in order to lose fat and gain muscle sometimes you need to eat more fat! This doesn’t mean head down and raid your nearest taco bell or Mc Donald’s- but consuming small amounts of nuts, seeds, peanut butter, fatty fish and avocado can help leave you feeling full and increase your fat loss and muscle gain! Healthy fats have also been linked to a reduction in several chronic diseases including Cardio Vascular Disease.
10.Fruits and Vegetables
When we exercise and endure intense weight training sessions- our demands for energy, water and vitamins and minerals is greatly increased- to help meet these needs you should aim to consume around 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day- which can help boost your immune system and supply your muscles with the required levels of vitamins and minerals needed to promote muscle gain.
A Take Home Message
If you want to gain muscle, lose weight or fat or even just improve your diet in general, try incorporating all of these foods into your diet! Bin the refined sugar, added salt and saturated fat- trust me you won’t regret it.
Fuel Your Ambition with good nutrition.