Have you been hitting the gym recently to build lean mass muscles? If you have a gym trainer, he would have briefed you about the importance of food and protein supplements. However, entirely relying on protein supplements might not be suitable for your health in the long run. This is why regularly having protein-rich food is extremely important.
This article will give you a brief idea about 20 different foods that help promote the growth of lean mass muscle.
20 Foods That Help You Build Lean Muscle
When you want to build lean mass muscle, the first thing you should think about is dietary protein. It is the base through which muscle growth and muscle mass building are possible. However, other nutrients like fats and carbohydrates are also essential to promote growth and improve muscle and cell recovery.
Let us look at 20 foods that facilitate the growth of lean mass muscle.
1. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs are packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin A, B5, B12, D, K, B6, choline, calcium, zinc, proteins (around six to eight grams), and fats (around 5 grams). Two of the main things important for muscle gain are proteins and amino acids. An egg is rich in amino acid leucine, a type of acid that makes up proteins.
Apart from this, eggs also help raise the HDL level in your body, reducing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration of your eyes. Consume at least one or two whole eggs per day – never overdo it!
2. Cottage Cheese
Apart from eggs, cottage cheese is another food that contains proteins and amino acid leucine. The fat content in cottage cheese varies, so we can buy according to the amount of calories we want to add to our diet. If you choose one cup of low-fat cottage cheese, you are bound to get around 28 grams of protein.
We should also emphasize the type of protein found in cottage cheese! It contains casein protein, a slow-digesting protein, unlike whey protein. Since our body absorbs it slowly, the best time to consume cottage cheese is at night. Our body gets enough time to absorb the proteins, repair all the damage that happened throughout the day, and also keep us feeling full.
Milk contains both the type of proteins – whey protein and casein protein. The former consists of 20 amino acids that get easily digested and absorbed into our bodies. At the same time, the latter is a slow-digesting protein that makes us fuller while providing a dose of protein in regular intervals.
Apart from that, it also has amino acid glutamine, omega 3 fatty acids, and carbohydrates that also contribute to the development of lean mass muscles. Combining milk with regular weight training shows a significant change in the muscle mass in both men and women.
Almonds are also rich in their protein content – it has about 32 grams of protein in one cup of almonds. So apart from being a perfect nutty option for muscle building, it also provides other nutrients like –
- Vitamin E (good for skin, eyes, and immune system),
- Magnesium (supporting muscles and guiding nerve functions),
- Phosphorus (helps to facilitate the use of carbohydrates and fats),
- Antioxidants (speedy post-workout recovery), and so on.
However, one should always be careful never to over-consume it as it can lead to weight gain and other problems. The next one on the list is also a nut.
A cup of peanut also provides nearly the same amount of proteins as a cup of almonds – 34 grams per cup. But with proteins, peanuts also contain unsaturated fats, amino acids leucine, around 32 grams of carbohydrates, and 850 calories.
The best part is that it is an excellent source of energy and macronutrients and therefore helps develop the body and muscles. Both almonds and peanuts can be substituted as healthy snacks to munch on while watching a movie or doing your homework.
Buckwheat has gained importance due to its high level of nutrient content. Not only does it have minerals like magnesium, manganese, zinc, niacin, and phosphorus, but also a great amount of vitamin B6, fibers, carbohydrates, and around 16 grams of proteins (per cup).
The minerals found in buckwheat relax the blood vessels and boost blood circulation to your muscles, while the proteins help repair these muscles and tissue. It improves your bodily health and keeps you fit for exercises that promote lean mass muscle building.
The last thing you might have thought that would aid in your aim for building lean mass muscle would be green leafy cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, a compound that blocks estrogen production while increasing the amount of testosterone in your body.
As a result, our body stores less fat but increases muscle strength and growth. Apart from that, it is also rich in zinc, vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, etc., which also supplement the overall development of our body.
Don’t like broccoli? Well, here is your next leafy substitute! Kale is a jam-packed nutrient-rich food containing vitamin A, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, copper, iron, etc. These nutrients not only facilitate muscle development but also help with your weight loss goals.
It’s one of the best foods to consume post-workout as it aids in muscle repair and further muscle synthesis. If you don’t like broccoli or kale, you can opt for other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, etc.
9. Greek Yogurt
What makes greek yogurt better than regular yogurt is that the former has double the amount of protein as the latter. Like milk, greek yogurt also has both the fast-digesting and slow-digesting proteins, i.e., whey protein and casein protein, respectively. According to studies, such a combination is the best kind!
Greek yogurt has about 10 grams of protein per 100 grams of serving and other nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D that are essential for increasing lean mass muscles. These nutrients are the crucial ingredients for ATP production (energy needed for daily body activities) as well.
Looking for a meat substitute? If so, tofu is your best bet!
Tofu is produced from condensed soy milk and is highly rich in proteins and other essential amino acids. A 100 grams serving of tofu gives us around 17 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 9 grams of fat, and around 144 grams of calories.
Apart from this, it is also rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, vitamin A, iron, and so on. Being rich in calcium and protein, it becomes an excellent option for building solid muscles while reducing bones loss or mineral density.
This is tofu’s mother plant and is an excellent choice for both vegans and vegetarians who can’t get their daily dose of proteins from meat items. Let us look at some of the nutrients that we get while consuming soybeans (one cup) –
- Around 28 grams of proteins,
- Unsaturated fats,
- Vitamin K, and
- Minerals like iron. Phosphorus, etc.
Iron has a significant function – it transports oxygen through the blood vessels to your muscles. As a result, our body repairs the daily wear and tear that it experiences and improves muscle growth and strength.
12. Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans
Whether you are aiming for weight loss or building lean mass muscles, chickpea is an excellent option. Due to its high fiber and low calorie content is a great way to lose weight faster without constantly making you feel hungry. The protein content in chickpeas comes up to 14.5 grams per 100 grams serving.
We cannot consider chickpeas a complete protein as it lacks tryptophan, an essential amino acid, but it has a high protein content. So, we can say that this beautiful combination helps us build lean mass muscle without gaining much weight.
13. Kidney Beans
Don’t like chickpeas, go for kidney beans!
For bodybuilders and muscle builders alike, this is an excellent food choice as it has a perfect amount of calories (110 calories), carbohydrates (16 grams), proteins (8 grams), fiber content (5 grams), etc. per ½ cup serving.
Another perk is that kidney beans are fibrous food and are good for gut health. This means that our body would be in a better position to absorb the nutrients, thereby providing a better facility for growth and improving muscle strengths.
14. Brown Rice
Brown rice made this list not because it has a high level of protein content – it only provides 5 grams of proteins per cup. The main reason it is listed here is that it is a healthy source of carbohydrates, vitamin B, and fiber necessary for pre and post-workout for tissue and muscle repair.
Like the casein protein found in milk, brown rice also takes time to digest and absorb, so the best time to consume brown rice is for dinner. Our body will have sufficient time to repair itself and prepare for the next workout session.
If you want to add fish to your daily diet, choose salmon. Since it is loaded with proteins, omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, vitamins like vitamin D and B12, minerals, and other nutrients, it aids in muscle development and growth. In 100 grams serving, we get about 20 grams of protein and 4 grams of omega 3 fatty acids.
Not only does it increase metabolism, but when combined with a regular workout designed for your special needs, you will see wonders in your muscular health and growth.
When people aim to build lean mass muscles, most people opt for eggs and chicken, and there is a good reason for it too. It Is heavily loaded with proteins (around 31 grams per 100 grams serving), 165 calories, 3.6 grams of fat, niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, etc. All this supports physical activity, promoting muscle gain and protecting cells against free radicals.
Besides, workout or not, lean muscles or not, who wouldn’t want to have chicken once a day (unless you are vegetarian or a vegan)?
17. Lean Beef
100 grams serving of 95% lean ground beef is loaded with around 21.41 grams of protein, sufficient quantity of vitamin B, creatine, zinc, around 137 calories, 5 grams of fats, and zero carbs. While opting for beef, always choose 95% lean ground meat instead of 85% or 75% lean ground beef as those have a lower amount of proteins but higher amount of calories.
Few researches have shown how a combination of exercise and consumption of lean red meat has enhanced lean tissue mass and muscle strength. The high amount of proteins in lean beef is backed by zinc, a nutrient that aids in the production of testosterone – an essential hormone for stronger muscles.
Another food on the list with zero carbs! Shrimp is rich in niacin, iron, amino acid leucine, phosphorus, vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, and it also has around 18 grams of protein and a gram of fat in 85 grams of serving.
While amino acid leucine helps with muscle growth, zinc improves testosterone production, which also contributes to the development of lean mass muscles. Having shrimp in a well-balanced diet is fine, but seeing that it has zero calories, do not consume too much of it as it has high LDL cholesterol!
Want to opt for an inexpensive diet? Tuna is a versatile dish, but too much of it is terrible and can, in some rare cases, even lead to mercury poisoning.
However, tuna comes in this list because of its high protein content. Besides the 25 grams of protein in 100 grams serving, it also contains vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, and some essential omega 3 fatty acids.
The nutrients support muscle health and slow down the loss of muscle mass that most people face as they age.
This is the last food item on the list and the last one you thought would help build lean mass muscles. However, oysters make excellent protein-rich food that is jam-packed with other nutrients and minerals like zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamin B12, etc.
Even though it is very low in calories, every 85 grams serving contains about 8 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, 4.2 grams of carbohydrates, and 90 milligrams of sodium. Oysters not only help to boost the overall immunity but also aids in healthy weight management and muscle building.
The main thing you should look for in food items that aid in building lean mass muscles is dietary protein. Opt for protein-rich food but do not forget to have a well-balanced diet for the other necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Some foods that you can choose are eggs, salmon, tuna, chickpeas, tofu, cruciferous vegetables, and so on.
Remember to have a well-planned workout session along with the diet for quicker results.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you know any more food that helps build lean mass muscles, please let us know in the comment section below.