The first food I want to start with is eggs. Without protein your muscles won’t grow. Eggs provide a high-quality, cheap source of protein with 6 grams in a single egg. Eggs are one of the most bioavailable sources of protein that there is. That means that the body will very effectively digest, absorb and assimilate the protein in eggs.
But it’s not just the protein that makes eggs the perfect foods for gaining muscle. The cholesterol in the yolk has positive benefits as well. It maintains muscle cell membrane and keeps high levels of testosterone.
Research shows that eating whole eggs provides a boost in both lean mass and strength (1).
Beef is a great muscle building food because of its high protein, cholesterol and saturated fat count, all of which help increase testosterone levels (2). It also has a high biological value which makes it easy to digest and absorb into the muscle cells.
Beef also contains creatine, which can help you to push out those crucial last couple of reps in the gym. A little bit of saturated fat found in beef will help to boost testosterone but, to make sure that your gains are solid mass and not fat, look for ‘select’ cuts, which are the leanest available.
Another fantastic source of protein is shrimp. In fact, shrimp are almost completely protein. A 3-ounce serving will provide you with 18 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs and zero grams of fat.
It’s also high in leucine which studies have shown is important for muscle growth. Shrimp is very nutrient-dense while being relatively low in calories, making it ideal for lean muscle growth (3).
Chicken breast is another great source of protein, with a 3-ounce serving providing 27 grams of protein. Chicken breast also has a low-fat content, with a 3-ounce serving providing just one gram of fat. Just like eggs and beef, chicken breast has high protein bioavailability.
It also contains some important vitamins and minerals that promote muscle growth (4). These include: Vitamin B6, which helps to convert stored carbs into energy; selenium, to repair damaged muscle cells; and zinc, which supports the release of muscle building hormones.
The fact that salmon is loaded with relatively quick-digesting protein makes it a great muscle food. A three-ounce serving will give you 17 grams of protein.
Salmon is also a rich source of the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. This will result in greater muscle strength and better insulin sensitivity, which leads to greater protein uptake by the muscle cells (5).
These fats are also easily burned for fuel. Omega-3 fatty acids also promote muscle and joint recovery, which helps to keep you injury-free in the gym.
All pork will provide you with plenty of protein, but tenderloin gives you the most protein with the least amount of fat. A 100-gram serving will give you 21 grams of protein and just 4 grams of fat.
The tenderloin comes from the loins of a pig, which runs from the hip to the shoulder. A serving of tenderloin will also give you a third of your daily requirement of Vitamin B2, which helps to digest protein (6).
While you should be relying on whole foods for most of your protein sources, a protein shake right after your workout will replenish your muscles and get amino acids directly into the cells to start the rebuilding process straight away (7).
Protein powders are also a convenient way to get your protein in when you’re in a hurry. The best protein powders are whey isolate based. These have a protein volume by weight of at least 90 percent. They also have fewer carbs and fat than whey concentrate.
Tuna is another excellent source of protein, with a 3-ounce serving giving you 20 grams of protein, along with high levels of Vitamins A, B3, B6, and B12. These vitamins will help to boost your workout energy.
Another advantage of tuna is that it contains omega-3 fatty acids. Research has found that omega-3 promotes leanness, improves heart health and slows down the loss of muscle that naturally happens as we grow older (8).
Let’s now turn to the best carbohydrate muscle-building foods. You need carbs for energy to power through your workouts. Carbs also help you to make better use of protein and they assist in the muscle repair process.
One of the best carb foods is the sweet potato. A medium sized sweet potato will give you 24 grams of carbs, 4 grams of which are fiber. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals (9).
Another great thing about sweet potatoes is that they are easy to prepare. Just pop a medium sized one into the microwave for five minutes and you’ve got a ready-made snack.
Another excellent form of carbs is quinoa. Quinoa is superior to most other whole grains because it contains lysine. This is one of the nine essential amino acids you must get from your diet.
Quinoa has enough lysine in it to be considered a complete protein. Research has also shown that eating quinoa will increase levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, which is critical for muscle growth (10).
Oatmeal is a complex, slow-release carb once ingested that will provide you with a long-lasting source of energy (11). A cup of dry oatmeal will give you 56 grams of carbs, 11 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.
There are three types of rolled oats – steel cut, whole rolled and quick oats. Steel cut is the best for muscle gain because it’s the least processed, the slowest burning and has the lowest insulin rising effect.
Apples will not only “keep the doctor away”, they will also keep the fat away while making you bigger and stronger. Apples contain polyphenols which increase muscle strength and endurance (12).
They also increase the amount of fat the body burns. Add them to your muscle building nutrition plan as an in between meal snack.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that will damage muscle cells and side-track your lifting progress (12.5). They need to be destroyed, and no fruit or vegetable is better at doing that than blueberries. They are loaded with anthocyanidin – a potent antioxidant phytochemical that zaps free radicals while also boosting brain function.
Research also shows that blueberries help to increase post workout recovery (13). Adding blueberries to your oatmeal is a delicious way to start the day.
For our next muscle building food, we turn to the world of nuts. Nuts are packed with nutritional goodness that promote muscle gain and leanness. My favorite nut to build muscle is almonds. They’re packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help to control blood sugar increases after a meal.
Almonds are a great source of monounsaturated fats, essential to maintain a healthy heart. In terms of promoting muscle growth, almonds are an excellent source of protein, with a handful of them giving you more protein than an egg.
They’ll also boost your energy levels thanks to their levels of manganese and copper, which fight against free radical damage to the mitochondria, which are parts of your cells that create energy (14).
Get into the habit of eating a handful of raw almonds once a day or add them as a side to your main meal.
Beetroot may not come readily to mind when you think of muscle food. Yet it contains two compounds, betaine and nitrates, which make it a smart choice. Betaine has been shown to bolster muscular strength and endurance (15).
Nitrates contribute to the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels to help wide them and allow more blood to flow through. This allows more amino acids to get into the muscle cell.
Add beetroot to your nutritional plan by serving it on the side with your dinner meal.
#16 Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt will provide you with a combination of fast-digesting whey and slow digesting casein protein in a single food. Research done at Baylor University shows that a combination of whey and casein is the best combination to increase lean muscle mass (16).
Greek yogurt also contains Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. Calcium helps your muscles to contract more forcefully while phosphorus helps to make ATP, also known as adenosine triphosphate, which is the body’s main energy source for heavy lifting.
For a long time, avocados were a “no-no” for bodybuilders because of their high fat content. But we now know that the type of fat that it contains is extremely good for us. It’s called is monounsaturated fat. The average avocado contains 15 grams of it. Studies have shown that a medium to high monounsaturated fat intake can lead to weight loss that is similar to low fat diets.
But avocados can also help boost muscle growth. Studies have shown that eating healthy fats like those in avocados can boost your levels of testosterone and human growth hormone, both of which are prime muscle building hormones (17).
An avocado will also provide you with 60 percent more potassium than a banana. Potassium assists with proper cell and muscle functioning. As a bonus, avocados are also packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Well, that’s it – the top 17 best foods to eat for best results in the gym and a better physique. Now on a final note, if you’re looking for the fastest way to build muscle and get stronger at the bench press as well as all the other key compound lifts, and you want to do that without having to go through years of trial and error check out my 6 week challenge.
Clients of mine that complete this challenge are increasing their lean body mass by 5 percent in only 6 weeks. With this challenge you’ll get a recipe book, a customized diet plan, a full workout plan, and an accountability coach to mentor and guide you through the whole process.
(1) Research shows that eating whole eggs provides a boost in both lean mass and strength
(2) Beef is a great muscle building food because of its high protein, cholesterol and saturated fat count, all of which help increase testosterone levels
(3) Shrimp is very nutrient dense while being relatively low in calories, making it ideal for lean muscle growth
(4) It also contains some important vitamins and minerals that promote muscle growth
(5) This will result in greater muscle strength and better insulin sensitivity, which leads to greater protein uptake by the muscle cells
(6) A serving of tenderloin will also give you a third of your daily requirement of Vitamin B2, which helps to digest protein
(7) a protein shake right after your workout will replenish your muscles and get amino acids directly into the cells to start the rebuilding process straight away
(8) Research has found that omega-3 promotes leanness, improves heart health and slows down the loss of muscle that naturally happens as we grow older
(9) A medium sized sweet potato will give you 24 grams of carbs, 4 grams of which are fiber. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals
(10) Research has also shown that eating quinoa will increase levels of insulin like growth factor-1, which is critical for muscle growth
(11) Oatmeal is a complex, slow release carb that will provide you with a long-lasting source of energy
(12) Apples contain polyphenols which increase muscle strength and endurance
(12.5) Free radicals may cause damage to muscle cells
(13) Research also shows that blueberries help to increase post workout recovery
(14) They’ll also boost your energy levels thanks to their levels of manganese and copper, which fight against free radicals damage to the mitochondria, which is the part of your cells that creates energy
(15) Betaine has been shown to bolster muscular strength and endurance
(16) Research done at Baylor University shows that a combination of whey and casein is the best combination to increase lean muscle mass
(17) Studies have shown that eating healthy fats like those in avocados can boost your levels of testosterone and human growth hormone, both of which are prime muscle building hormones.