It’s true! And no, this isn’t one of those clickbait titles and intros that with two scrolls of your mouse there’s going to be an offer to buy a tub of protein powder or a box of protein bars. The fact of the matter is, there are various foods that build muscle. Many of which you may have never even known can help. For that reason, I want to showcase some of these foods so you can make sure you’re including them on your grocery list so you can maximize your gains.
Due to the fact that you already know that protein is essential for building lean muscle tissue, I’m not going to include those foods mentioned above since they are (or should be) “duh” sources.
The list below is in no particular order.
When it comes to carbohydrates, you should be looking for complex carbohydrate sources that do not spike insulin and can help increase your calories to put you in a surplus. When in a caloric surplus, your body is able to put on size rather than trying to maintain or lose weight. If you want to grow, you need to be consuming more food.
2. Cottage Cheese
While I consider this a “protein source,” most generally wouldn’t. Cottage cheese is essentially a slow-digesting protein (casein protein source) that is perfect as a nighttime snack. On top of its protein content, it’s full of micronutrients as well.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt I feel goes along the same lines as cottage cheese in that while people consume it and more and more brands are calling out the protein content, most don’t view it as a viable option for muscle-building. Well, it’s definitely one of the foods that can help build muscle and with as little as one small cup, you can take in more than 10g of protein. This also makes for a great addition to your protein smoothies to add in some texture while boosting the overall protein content.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ok Ok… You’re not going to sit there and eat or drink extra virgin olive oil (well, maybe you do? I dunno?). However, if you use it to cook with or as a salad dressing, you’ll see that it can help in the muscle department. Including extra virgin olive oil in your nutrition can help you preserve lean muscle mass while providing the body with some healthy monounsaturated fat.
Have you ever had chickpeas on your salad? Maybe some roasted chickpeas as a snack? How about hummus? Chickpeas are actually a plant-based protein that not everyone knows about. If you want an easy option to add to a healthy salad or use as a dip, chickpeas should be on your list of foods that build muscle.
For many, sushi is high up on their list of cheat meals. But little do many know, those green snap-pea looking thingies are full of protein. Edamame is a great option for those who are vegetarian or who need to up their protein intake and do so with a fun side dish.
Easy there, Buffy, we aren’t out hunting vampires. But if you are looking for foods that build muscle, garlic absolutely makes the list. On top of supposedly keeping vampires away, garlic also keeps cortisol levels at bay while also potentially boosting natural testosterone production. Keeping cortisol levels down can help you produce better muscle gains.
I actually stumbled on this one by accident as a family member was throwing away a bottle of the supplement bromelain. She asked if I wanted it before she threw it away. After doing some research, I drove straight to her house to get it. Bromelain is actually a digestive enzyme from pineapple which helps us digest our food properly but it also is a natural anti-inflammatory. Quicker recovery time means the potential to build more muscle.
This cruciferous veggie actually has the ability to naturally boost your testosterone levels while helping to reduce the production of estrogen. That’s a win-win! Boosting testosterone can help with the muscle-building process while lowering estrogen in the body can help prevent you from storing excess body fat. This should absolutely be on your grocery list of foods that build muscle. Maybe mom was right after all about eating your broccoli?
Have you ever heard of someone consuming beets pre-workout? It’s fairly uncommon but those who do know exactly what these purple beauties do. Beets have the ability to increase endurance while decreasing perceived exertion during workouts. This helps you push yourself harder and longer in the gym. If you know, then you know. And if you did, you’d know beets are one of the foods that build muscle.
To this day there is still a high percentage of people who have absolutely no clue how to pronounce this. It’s ok. As long as you can read it, make it, and eat it, you’re good to go. Quinoa is loaded with amino acids (they help build muscle) along with many other micronutrients such as magnesium which is essential for proper muscle function. This type of seed also provides you with some added protein as well.
Nuts are extremely good for you. The wide array of available nuts definitely makes our list of foods that build muscle. When looking for a snack, protein options are generally slim-pickings. Well, grab yourself a handful of nuts and you get some heart-health benefits along with some added protein. Many nuts also contain antioxidants that seek out and destroy free radicals before they can do the body harm.