Note – We’ve created this article in collaboration with Peak Nutritionals The article has been curated with the help of their team to provide precise information on the topic.
Building muscles is not an easy task, but with the right food and exercise, one can easily build up the muscles. However, it is still not clear to many of us regarding the best foods for building muscle that are nutrition rich.
Some of the best food to build muscles are eggs, chicken breasts, tuna, fish, shrimp, and turkey breasts. You also have a wide variety of vegetarian food items like soybean, greek yogurt, chickpeas, quinoa, milk, cottage cheese, beans, and peanuts.
Having said that, you should make sure to add some carbohydrates and good fat to the diet so that your body is fully nourished. You also need to exercise with a good diet, and a proper diet will help you achieve the same.
Now, if you are still not clear about the right diet and desperately want your muscles to build up, then stick with me till the end. I am sure your search will end here.
What's In The Post
What Foods Build Muscle Faster?
Consuming the right food will definitely help you to gain muscles. However, many of us are looking for instant results. You should consume more calories along with protein and have other nutrients as well.
Some great protein source foods are eggs and chicken breasts. Milk, cheese, and yogurt provide protein as well as calcium. When it comes to fish, along with protein, they are good for omega fatty acids.
In the following conversation, we will cover all the best food items you can consume and get your desired muscles.
49 Best Food For Building Muscle That Are Nutrition Rich
When building muscles one must be sure to intake great amount of protein. Other than protein it is also important to have a balanced diet. So make sure that your meal is fully enriched with nutrition.
Chickpeas are my favorite food item simply because it is so versatile in flavors and obviously super healthy. Chickpeas are a great source of carbohydrates and proteins.
Cooked, soaked, or dried chickpeas can be consumed if you want to grow your muscles. Hummus, a crushed chickpea, can also be a regular choice for your diet scheme. They are obviously delicious and can be paired with almost every other dish.
2. Greek yogurt
Although Greek yogurt lacks the calcium and vitamin D found in ordinary yogurt, it is high in protein. Did you know one cup of plain Greek yogurt contains around 24 grams of protein?
Greek yogurt dairy combines fast-digesting whey protein, slow-digesting casein protein, and high-quality protein. This combination of fast- and slow-digesting dairy proteins helps increase lean mass.
Simply garnish Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or nuts and seeds and enjoy a healthy snack before exercise. You can also do garnishing at the top with fresh fruit or nuts to add taste to plain Greek yogurt while keeping the calorie count low.
3. Chicken Breast
There is a reason chicken breasts are considered a muscle-building staple. Chicken breast is some of the great sources of protein. They are also high in the B vitamins niacin and B6. Furthermore, some studies suggest that higher-protein chicken-based diets may help with fat loss.
It is always suggested to get chicken breast from a verified vendor. Get some organic chicken breast and not from the farm. You can roast and pair the chicken breast with some salad.
Cooked soybeans include 14 grams of protein, healthy unsaturated fats, and various vitamins and minerals in half a cup. There is much iron in soybean, which is needed to store and transfer oxygen in the blood and muscles of the human body.
Simply make some soya bean curry or add the boiled soya beans to a salad. They are super healthy; you can pair them with almost every dish.
5. Cottage cheese
Who doesn’t love cheese? Eating cottage cheese as a bedtime snack helps to gain better muscle quality and higher metabolism. The most significant type of cottage cheese to choose depends only on how many calories you want to add to your diet.
It is a beautiful muscle-building snack regardless of which variety you choose. You can simply add the cottage dish to your meal as well and enjoy the creamy textured and delicious food.
Skimmed milk is so healthy when you want to strengthen your muscles and bones. Milk is also a great source of hydration after burning calories. Milk also is a source of calcium which strengthens your bones. Daily milk intake in a measured proportion helps keep your body fit and flexible.
Another reason to drink milk is as it has a perfect balance of nutrition to support muscle growth. Furthermore, drinking milk also replenishes depleted glycogen stores after an intense workout.
You may have heard that all the people who are trying to build muscles generally eat quinoa in place of rice or wheat. Quinoa has an exceptional nutritional value with multiple essential nutrients. This is very helpful in strengthening the body’s muscles to a greater extent.
Quinoa instead of rice can be a daily source of meal intake for people who look out for fitness. With the richness in protein, amino acids, fiber content, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants, quinoa also lacks gluten – another advantage.
I love eating peanuts. They are one of the great snack options that are really tasteful and healthy. A box of peanuts as such has 41g of proteins. We all know that protein helps improve your muscle strength. It also makes your muscles flexible and agile.
A can of peanuts on a regular diet schedule would help improve the flexibility of your muscles and bones. It can also be molded and induced into different recipes so that the intake is tailored to fit your taste preferences.
Walnuts that look like little brains in hard shells are indeed a great source of protein. They also have omega – 3 fatty acids, which we obviously know is a plus point.
The little brains have a brilliant impact on the strengthening of muscles and help greatly improve the health of sportspersons and fitness freaks. They are also a great source of vitamin E, which protects people from the stress and pain of exercise.
10. Brown rice
If you love eating rice but cannot have some because you want to build muscles? Then swiftly switch to brown rice, and you can enjoy great food while building muscle. Brown rice is a great post-workout meal option. It helps in repairing damaged muscles and refills glycogen stores, which is key for building muscle.
Without any doubt, buckwheat has lots of protein. It is also noted in various research that buckwheat has muscle-building benefits that dairy proteins do not. Buckwheat also has some content of manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin B.
After working out to gain some protein content in your body, prepare some buckwheat Prodigy and enjoy some delicious meals that are healthy too. You can also pair buckwheat with some meat and make a full protein meal.
Salmon, another type of oily fish, is obviously a great source of protein. I like salmon for more than just a dish. Making it super convenient, and it is not smelly like other fish. As we have learned that fish has omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a good source for sure.
You can make some salmon-based dishes and pair them with brown rice. Salmon not only helps in building muscles but also helios in repairing them and keeps you full for a good time.
Edamame is nothing but premature soybeans. They are generally green in color, with lots of protein and other nutrients like folate, vitamin K, and selenium.
These soybeans are in pods, and both of them can be cooked and eaten as a dish. Edamame is a great vegan alternative for protein, and as per one Quora user, the soy in the edamame has the required protein.
What is the basic requirement in a diet for building muscles? Protein and low-fat diet. Now, scallops have exactly the same qualities. They are rich in protein with very low fat.
It is very similar to shrimp and lean poultry when it comes to nutrient content. You can easily intake a great dose of protein without adding much of a calorie. Try to get fresh scallops for your meal and enjoy the amazing flavors.
15. Turkey breast
Turkey breast can be eaten while building muscle as it comes under lean meats. They are super rich in protein and obviously delicious. So whether it is Thanksgiving or not, if you are a fitness enthusiast, make some turkey and build great muscles.
With richness in protein, turkey breasts are low in fat, so don’t worry about calories. Turkey is also a good source of niacin that helps in processing carbs and fats. Just make sure you don’t take up a challenge like Joey in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. to eat a whole turkey alone in one sitting.
Tilapia is another type of seafood that has been known best to consume after a workout. A single tilapia filet offers around 23 g of protein, as mentioned by Feast Good.
It is also a good source of selenium and vitamin B12. Simply consume tilapia after a workout and regain all the protein in your body. You can make honey lime tilapia as it is very delicious and a great meal option for you.
Most people love eating tuna; it is very delicious and obviously super healthy. Tuna is strong in vitamin A and numerous B vitamins, including B12, niacin, and B6, and includes 20 grams of protein for every 3-ounce (85-gram) dose. These nutrients are necessary for good health, vitality, and athletic performance.
Tuna in a can is a healthy and economical source of protein. Tuna contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help with muscular health. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce muscle mass and loss of strength as people age. Make some tuna salad and enjoy your healthy meal.
18. Lean Beef
The name itself justifies why lean beef is good for building muscles; therefore, cook some lean beef and have a protein-packed meal. Lean beef also has B vitamins, creatine, and minerals.
They are full of amino acids and have low-fat concentrations. So you can consume it without worrying about the calorie count. Eating lean beef not only helps in building muscles but helps in the repair of the same.
19. Pork tenderloin
You will be amazed if you see the ratio between protein and fat in pork tenderloin. Every four ounces of pork tenderloin has 2 g of fats and 23 g of protein. I mean, I never thought pork tenderloin could be healthy for building muscles.
Pork tenderloin has the same benefits as chicken and beef. You can simply cook or roast them and consume them after a great workout. Unlike other parts of pork that are fatty, you can consume pork tenderloin without worrying about fats and calories.
Tofu is another alternative to cottage cheese for those who prefer vegan food items. Tofu, for sure, has a great amount of protein. However, tofu also has calcium that helps in the proper functioning of muscles and bones.
Tofu is produced from soy milk, and we already know the great nutrients available in soy for muscle building. Tofu has a great number of amino acids, which is a must for bodybuilding. You can make various dishes with tofu and simply eat it raw. They are great for post-workout meal options.
Almonds are another great source of protein and amino acids that are responsible for building muscles. Simply consume two handfuls of almonds to gain muscles. Eating almonds daily will ensure your body gets essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
They will help your body build muscle and stay slim as they are lower in calorie count. Almonds are great to consume after a workout as it helps to utilize the carbs and fats. If you ever feel hungry but worried about overeating, then eat a handful of almonds, and you are good to go.
Without any doubt, whey is an instant source of protein. It is a naturally occurring mixture of protein in milk and is used as a protein powder in many meals. Simply mix whey powder in some of your food items, and you are perfectly fine.
Another great thing about whey is that they easily get digested compared to other protein-based food items. Whey is super popular among bodybuilders. You can find many protein supplements and powders with whey as the main ingredient.
Peas that are commonly used in many dishes are known for protein. The proteins present in peas are great for resistance training. In many studies, it is noted that there is an increase in muscle thickness after consumption of peas for 12 weeks.
Pea protein works similarly to whey protein. A single cup of peas has around 9 grams of protein. They also have magnesium and B vitamins. Pair peas with some brown rice and beans to enjoy a great post-workout meal.
Shrimp is a delicious seafood item that is full of nutrients and flavors. There are so many shrimp dishes that you can enjoy with some rice without worrying about calories. They are a great source of amino acids, making them a great muscle-building option.
The low amount of fats and carbs makes shrimp the best to consume if you want to gain some bulky muscles. The sweet and versatile flavored shrimp are great for a post-workout meal.
25. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are known for their richness in nutrition. They are rich in magnesium, proteins, and nitrates. You can prepare various dishes and pair them with some rice to make a meal. Leafy greens include spinach, kale, arugula, and lettuce. Dark leafy greens are known for bodybuilding and help make your meal perfectly balanced.
We all know that avocados are a super fancy meal. Eating avocados is pretty simple. Simply mash and spread on bread or dice them in salads and you are good to go. Avocados are energy boosters. They have folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and other B vitamins.
The energy helps in building muscles through workouts. They are also a good source of antioxidants. The presence of vitamin E will give you enough stamina to work out and build muscles. Not only a good source of energy but eating avocados are good for reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol in your body.
27. Peanut Butter
A spoonful of Peanut butter has so much protein. Peanut butter has some fat and carb content as well. They are also good in amino acids as compared to other plant-based food. Consuming peanut or peanut butter and maintain your daily calorie requirements.
Spread it on bread or eat it as it is; you will be surprised by the effect of eating peanut butter. I usually pair it with some fruits and enjoy it in the morning before workouts. Nuts are actually really good for the body and help in maintaining balance in your diet.
Other than protein, peanut butter is also good in amino acids, and we really know that they are good for muscles. They also contain magnesium, which helps in muscle growth.
28. Chia Seeds
I cannot stop emphasizing the point that chia seeds are one of the superfoods. They are full of nutrients and can be easily added to your diet. They are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
They are also fiber-rich so that you will feel contended for a good time span. Chia seeds are known for providing strength and energy. Simply combine with Greek yogurt or plain water to grasp the chia seeds’ goodness.
29. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so delicious that nobody needs any motivation to eat them. Apart from the delicious taste, they are full of nutrition. Sweet potatoes are good for muscle contraction.
We need fiber and carbs for heavy workouts, and sweet potatoes are a good source for them. They are a go-to workout food option. They are also good in protein, and you can enjoy this any part of the day. People prefer sweet potatoes over potatoes because of such health benefits.
30. Lean jerky
Lean jerky is a really great source of protein. The fats and carbs from the meat are usually scrapped out during the process, and all you are left with is great protein and fat from protein. Depending upon the type of meat, the nutritional content also differs.
You can definitely include lean jerky in your delicious meal option and enjoy it to gain energy and boost your workout. Just make sure you use naturally prepared lean jerky with less salt content.
Another great source of protein is bison. They are lean meat that is good for building muscles. Bison is better than beef as it does not have an impact on your heart like that.
If you regularly consume bison in your diet, then there is a high chance that your muscle mass improves and the bone strengthens. They are also great sources of zinc, iron, and vitamin B12. Add this to your diet without worrying about your health.
Cheese is a dairy product, and obviously, it has a great source of protein without any doubt. You can incorporate this into your diet swiftly and enjoy the flavors and building muscles.
You can go for low-fat cheese and enjoy some tasty dishes with great nutrition. They are also a good source of calcium. Make some breakfast or snacks with cheese, and start your day with something great.
Amarnath is an ancient grain that is widely popular in India. It is known for its highest energy content compared to other types of grains. Amarnath is a great protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron source.
Many people are not aware of this particular grain, but it is for sure a great addition to your diet. If we compare it to other different grains, Amarnath has lysine and amino acid, which is typically missing in other grains.
Amarnath helps in building muscles as well as maintaining muscle mass. It is considered a superfood. It also helps in better digestion, so that is an added benefit. You can make various dishes with Amaranth and swiftly add it to your diet.
Lentils are a staple diet for many of us. They are now slowly becoming a part of Americans’ diet. So many different types of lentils are available that are very colorful and nutritious. Normally, lentils are paired with rice, but if you are trying to build muscles, then you can use lentils at your convenience.
They are rich in fiber, protein, and low-impact, slow-releasing carbohydrates. They help in losing weight with a great punch of protein. Cooking lentils are super easy, and you can enjoy anything you want.
Lentils also have a long shelf life, making them easy to store and consume every other day. Pair it with brown rice or sprinkle over salads. You can even enjoy lentils as a side dish. They are a great meat substitute as well.
Hemp seeds are another prominent source of protein and have a great amount of amino acids. They are not only helpful in building muscles but are a great muscle recovery meal option. If you want to add vegan protein, then hemp seeds are genuinely great options.
They also contain healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You can sprinkle or add hemp seeds to your salads or other dishes and enjoy some great nutrition.
When it comes to flax seeds, I am very sure that it is a great addition to your diet. The little flower seeds are so great in nutrition and help to build muscles. They are a great source of fiber, fatty acids, and protein.
Not only building muscles, but flax seeds have various health benefits too. From hypertension to skin cancer, it is very helpful in various health issues. As flaxseeds are great for energy, they are rich in calories important for muscle building.
You can consume flaxseeds in many different ways. Simply add Greek yogurt or sprinkle it over different dishes. Adding flax seeds to your diet is super easy and convenient.
Beans are such a popular meal option that one cannot stop listing different dishes made with them. I love eating beans, and the added nutrition is a plus point. You can find many different beans that are great for gaining lean muscles.
The most common are – pinto, black, and kidney beans. Now just for clarification, lentils, soybeans, and other such food items are from the bean family only. Simply prepared bean dishes are really great for building muscle as they are rich in protein. They are also great in fiber and help in maintaining a healthy heart.
38. Wild Boar
Wild boar is one of the delicious meat options that are also rich in nutrients. Those who are looking to build great muscles should definitely add wild boar to their diet. They have a unique juicy flavor and have rich nutty tastes. They are a great addition to your diet if you are looking for some muscle repair.
They are rich in protein, and that is why they are idle for bodybuilders. They are comparatively high in protein content when compared to the other types of meat. Another great part is that wild boar have lower fat content, so you can enjoy eating without much worry about calorie count.
Venison is a very nutritional food and is the best alternative to beef. If you love eating beef but are worried about the fat, then venison is your go-to meat option. There are different ways you can cook venison.
They are high in protein and very low in fat content. In case you are trying to build lean muscles, venison is a must-add to your diet. The taste and flavor of venison are really rich and earthy. You might not find them juicier like beef, but they are definitely very firm in taste.
Olives, as we all know, are a great pickle option. However, did you know that olives are really amazing while building muscles? Yes, it is true. Olives are great for protein production for muscle growth.
Not only a great source of protein, but they also help in increasing insulin sensitivity in muscles so that the body can use glucose, nutrients, and amino acids appropriately. Eating olives will make sure that you eliminate fat from your diet and add lots of protein content.
41. Dark chocolate
Who doesn’t love eating dark chocolate? Isn’t it great if you are asked to eat dark chocolate to build muscle? Actually, dark chocolate is rich in protein content which we already know is great for building muscles.
They also contain healthy fats and help in boosting energy levels. Dark chocolate is also known for its instant energy boost, so you can have a bite now and then. They are also rich in magnesium which helps during muscle cramping.
Without any doubt, spinach – a leafy green vegetable, has some valuable protein content. However, as compared to other vegetables, spinach is not so great in calories or protein, but adding them to your diet is a wise option. As Popeye the Sailor man ate spinach every other time, you should too.
Spinach has ecdysterone, which is also known as a natural plant steroid. It’s great for muscle growth and repair. Other than this, spinach is high in antioxidants and is best for a post-workout meal option.
43. Brussel sprouts
Brusse sprouts are indeed very delicious options for a side dish. They are also rich in fiber and easy to break down during digestion. That is why they are great for muscle growth.
They are also rich in vitamins K, B, and C and are loaded with minerals like manganese, folate, and copper. You can roast them or add to them your salad. They taste great and have various health benefits.
44. orange juice
Who would have thought that sipping orange juice might help them build muscles? You heard it right. Regular and fresh orange juice is not only for refreshment. We all know that oranges are a great source of vitamin C, and drinking unsweetened orange juice will benefit us in many ways.
As orange juice is good in antioxidants, it helps prevent nitric acid from depleting, which eventually helps in muscle growth as more nutrients are absorbed in your body. So gulp down that refreshing orange juice and let your muscles grow.
Mushrooms are another great vegetable that is a great addition to your diet. Mushroom meat is as beneficial as other animal meat for muscle growth. They are amazingly effective for muscle growth after heavy training and workout sessions.
You can prepare many dishes with mushrooms that are evidently delicious and healthy as well. Just ensure you get some fresh and good mushrooms from the market.
Broccoli, which is known for so many valuable health benefits, is also beneficial for your muscle growth. They offer lots of fiber and help to maintain the stomach feeling full and content.
Broccoli is great as they are lower in calories, so you can enjoy them without any worry. Add broccoli in brown rice or stir fry with other vegetables, and add it to your regular diet.
Minions love bananas, and every bodybuilder should too. Bananas have a specific enzyme – ‘bromelain’ that helps in boosting your testosterone. They are rich in calcium and have crabs that help you generate energy while working out.
You can enjoy some banana shakes or smoothies or simply cut them and eat them as it is. They are good for your digestion too and keep you full for a long time.
48. Soy milk
If you don’t like regular milk or prefer vegan food items, then soy milk is your best go-to milk option. The soy-based protein is great for your muscle growth. They are great for an instant energy boost. So you can gulp down the soy milk before or even after an intense workout.
Soy milk helps muscle growth, improves heart health, and increases antioxidants in your body. Simply chill the soy milk and enjoy the hot weather.
Who would have thought that eating garlic would help in building great muscles? However, it is very true. Garlic has an inflammatory compound that helps to aid sore and inflamed muscles.
The use of garlic in your food helps in increasing blood flow and also helps to boost testosterone levels in males. You can simply eat a clove of garlic raw or roast them. For ease, simply add them to your dishes and enjoy the aromatic flavors.
How Should You Eat To Gain Muscle?
Eating nutritional foods is the main factor in your muscle gain. However, the way you eat your food is also an important fold when it comes to building muscles. How much you should eat and when you should eat is something we all want to know.
Firstly, the amount of food to be consumed depends from person to person. Your total intake of calories and proteins should be according to your body weight, type, and how much energy you put in. However, you should at least consume 20 calories per pound of body weight you weigh to gain muscle mass.
On the other hand, knowing when to eat is also equally important. For instance, do not eat high-fat foods before workouts. There should be a good gap between your food timing and workout session. If you want instant fuel for a workout, then go for high-carb, high-protein food.
Consuming protein powder in an appropriate amount is also a beneficial option. Now, we all know protein is a must for building muscles, but as per Frontiers, it is very important to follow a healthy diet that includes other nutrient components as well.
Should You Just Eat To Gain Muscle?
No, just eating protein riched food is not enough to gain muscle. Apart from intaking great calories, one has to train with weight along with cardio. Lifting heavy weights is also important in building great muscles.
The training should be consistent. You can go for 2 to 3 days of muscle training weekly. Gradually increase the weights and reps at your convenience. Taking protein supplements is also very useful. Peak Nutritionals have great options to try when it comes to protein supplements. From whey protein isolate to vegan plant protein, they are the best in their field.
As I mentioned, intaking protein before workouts can have great effects, Peak nutritionists have pre-workout drinks and supplements to meet your needs.
Their pre-workout drinks and supplements are enhanced by B.C.C.A. so that your body has enough fuel and no energy is lost during workouts. You can even get protein supplements in bulk and get straight into the game of building muscles.
What Not To Eat When Building Muscles?
There are certain food items that you should avoid if you are trying to build muscles. We have listed a list of such food items below.
- Simple carbohydrates
- Deep-fried foods
- Refined sugars
- High-fat foods
- Red meat
- Processed foods
- Carbonated drinks and sodas
- Premade foods
- Frozen food
- Caffeinated drinks
- All-Purpose Flour
- Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
- Artificial Sweeteners
Building muscles looks so fun and exciting, but the one who has been trying to get the desired muscles knows the real pain. I know gaining muscles is really difficult, but with the right diet and regular exercise, you can achieve the desired results.
Make sure to have a balanced diet because your body needs more than protein. Being regular in workout sessions and going the extra mile is what you need other than a great diet.
I would also recommend practicing some mindfulness because your brain has a direct impact on your body. Keeping your mind on a peaceful tangent is also important. Anyway, I will be back soon with more conversations. Until then, lift those weights.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to eat to gain muscles?
Consuming the right food will definitely help you to gain muscles. You should consume more calories along with protein and have other nutrients as well.
How much to eat for muscle gain?
The quantity of food depends from person to person. However, you should at least 20 calories per pound of body weight you weigh to gain muscle mass.
What should be avoided during building muscles?
If you are building muscles, then you should definitely avoid alcohol, simple carbohydrates, deep-fried food, frozen food, high-fat foods, excessive sugar, and processed food items.