Building muscle mass and creating a lean definition really depends on two key factors. Shredding down muscle mass when you’re lifting and rebuilding it with your post-workout nutrition. These principles are codependent, and if one is missing, then don’t expect to reach your muscle-building goals any time soon.
Below you will find a list of the 16 best muscle-building foods, to help you build and rebuild lean muscle mass. By including these foods in your diet, you’ll feed your body the nutrients it needs, to get the body you want.
16 Best Muscle-Building Foods
Before we get started, it’s important you know that a muscle-building diet is the complete opposite of a fat-burning diet. Instead of eating fewer calories, you’ll need to eat more. Based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and physical activity, you can determine how many calories you need to maintain your body weight. To build muscle mass, you’ll need to increase your normal caloric range by 200-300 calories.
Eggs contain a high amount of the branched-chain amino acid, Leucine. Leucine has the highest anabolic (muscle-building) capabilities of all the essential amino acids. One egg contains close to 6G of protein. Start eating 3-4 eggs every morning and you’ll be on the road to Gainsville.
2. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast, is perhaps the leanest form of protein, to help build muscle mass. Chicken contains roughly 25G of protein, per 3.5oz. If you’re not including chicken in your muscle-building diet, then you’re missing out. When you’re purchasing chicken, make sure and opt for the organic whole chicken breast.
Turkey, much like chicken is another great animal source of protein. Adding in some turkey burgers into your diet can be a great way to shake things up and continue building muscle mass, without getting bored. Turkey packs a punch with 30G of protein per 6oz.
4. Brown Rice
Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates are essential to a muscle-building diet, since they’re not converted into sugar, and don’t raise your blood glucose levels. Complex carbs digest at a much slower rate, providing you with the long lasting-sustained energy you need to crush your workouts.
Believe it or not, chickpeas pack a heavy count of protein with 10G per 3.5oz serving. If you love pasta, then you have to try Banza. Banza is made from 100% Chickpeas, instead of the traditional refined carbohydrates from white pasta. Add in some chicken, tomato sauce, and finish it off with some fresh parmesan and you’ve got yourself a deliciously tasty muscle-building meal.
6. Greek Yogurt
Who doesn’t love Greek Yogurt? Greek yogurt is great for both muscle building and for weight loss. Greek yogurt has more protein than other sources of yogurt at nearly 10G per 3.5oz. Sprinkle some chia seeds, protein granola, blueberries, with a dust of cinnamon and you’ve got yourself a delicious muscle-building treat.
Salmon is a great source of protein and rich in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids containing 25G of protein, per 3.5oz. Squeeze a fresh lemon over the top and bake your salmon on high with olive oil. You’ll thank me later, for this muscle-building masterpiece.
8. Clean Carbs
Glycogen replenishment is paramount pre and post-workout to build more lean muscle mass. The complex carbohydrates in Swolverine’s Clean Carbs come from sweet potatoes, yams, oats, and blueberries. Sweet potatoes contain sporamin, unique proteins that account for more than 80% of their total protein content [R]. Sweet potatoes, yams, and oats, also provide soluble and insoluble fiber, which does not spike blood sugar and provides long-lasting sustained energy, to help endurance and recovery. Not to mention, it’s packed with essential vitamins, nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin c, and potassium. The added blueberries also pack antioxidants for overall health and wellness.
Quinoa is a complete plant protein and delivers an insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a critical factor in the muscle growth process. Quinoa is the perfect complimentary complex carb food source to pair up with another protein source such as chicken, beef, or salmon for an anabolic overload.
Pricey but tasty these little silver dollar dreams are easy to cook and packed with over 80% pure protein. Scallops contain a whopping 20G of protein with just 95 calories per 3oz serving. Also, they’re a fabulous source of magnesium and potassium.
11. Whey Protein Isolate
Whey Protein Isolate is made by using a cold-press micro-filtration process which purges the extra lactose, fat, and carbohydrates from normal whey protein. The result - a highly concentrated, fast-absorbing type of protein that will help you pack on muscle mass. Swolverine’s Whey Protein Isolate comes in several rich and tasty flavors and contains 26G of pure protein per 30G serving
12. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is loaded with over 14G of casein protein per 4oz serving. Casein is a very slowly absorbed protein, and just as effective as whey when it comes to building muscle and inhibiting muscle mass breakdown. Casein also promotes prolonged absorption of the amino acid leucine, which has been linked to better muscle building capacity. Not only is cottage cheese an excellent source of protein, but it also packs B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.
Add a scoop of cottage cheese to your breakfast or eat it as a snack, to get an extra hit of protein to build more muscle.
Oatmeal is one of the best muscle building carbohydrates you can include in your diet. Oatmeal is an insoluble fiber and passes through your gastrointestinal tract, without raising blood glucose levels. As a result, oatmeal can help provide more energy and help with digestion since it’s pure fiber. If you’re serious about some bodybuilding gains, then eat oatmeal with eggs or cottage cheese in the morning.
14. Hemp Seeds
Classified as a glorified superfood, hemp seeds are an excellent source of protein with 32G per 3.5oz serving. Unlike other plant protein sources, hemp seeds have a complete amino acid profile and an abundance of healthy fats.
15. Pumpkin Seeds
Much like Hemp Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds are also a complete source of protein with all essential amino acids, to help assist in the muscle-building process. Pumpkin seeds contain 5G of protein per 1oz and are also extremely high in antioxidants.
16. Lean Beef
Beef is high in protein and interestingly enough, in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). CLA helps burn more body fat, which for you is exactly what you’re looking for. More muscle and less body fat, pretty much the perfect scenario. Opt for the grass-fed Wagyu or lean cut beef, for a delicious and savory protein-packed meal.
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