Maintaining a good physique is almost everyone’s goal; the key to achieving it is ensuring optimal musculoskeletal health. A great approach to acquiring improved skeletal and muscular health is focusing on muscle building or bulking, also known as muscular hypertrophy. Building muscles improves the overall physique, enhances muscle and bone strength, helps with weight management, prevents diseases and injuries, and regulates the body’s metabolic processes. But not everyone knows what to include in Food to Build Muscle into their regular diet.
While incorporating physical activity like strength and resistance training into your daily routine can help increase your body muscle mass, ideal results cannot be achieved without the right nutritional intake. Hence, it is necessary for individuals on their muscle-building journey to consume adequate nutritious calories along with challenging their bodies through physical training.
Let’s discuss a few ways to focus on Food to Build Muscle 2023 for our New Year’s resolutions, whether your ultimate goal is to build muscle or lose fat.
The Best Dietary Approach For Building Muscles
A proper well-balanced nutritional intake is crucial to support the internal processes and the high energy-consuming physical activities associated with increasing muscle mass. Without a good diet plan, muscle-building progress is slowed, and optimal results are not achieved.
Macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats are the key components that aid in muscle cell growth. Proteins are the main building block of your body, primarily functioning in tissue growth and repair. At the same time, carbohydrates serve as the chief energy source, followed by fats that also produce a part of the body’s energy.
A high-protein diet delivers essential and non-essential amino acids that, once absorbed, increase muscle mass and produce energy. On the other hand, carbohydrates and healthy fats deliver energy to fuel muscle-bulking workouts, build stamina, and aid in muscle recovery post workouts.
In order to build lean muscles, most fitness instructors and dieticians recommend consuming a greater amount of calories every day. Keep in mind that these calories must be consumed through muscle-building dietary items instead of intaking empty calories, foods that possess no nutritional value.
Usually, an additional calorie intake of 500 to 1000 calories combined with regular daily calorie consumption is recommended to induce muscle hypertrophy. However, it is important to note that this is not a fixed value for everyone. Since each individual has a different body composition, the additional calorie intake can vary.
Typically the caloric requirement for individuals trying to gain muscle mass depends on factors like sex, age, health status, activity levels, and current weight and Body Mass Index (BMI). Hence, to know how many calories to add to your diet, it is better to consult a registered dietician who will put together a diet plan best suited for your muscle-building journey and overall health.
Since proteins constitute the prime part of muscle fibers, a proteinaceous diet is ideal for bulking. The diet should comprise mainly complete or high-quality protein sources instead of low-quality ones to receive all the essential amino acids that aid muscle growth and repair. These high-quality proteins can be obtained from animal and plant sources, as discussed in the list later.
Based on scientific evidence, a daily protein intake of 1.6-2.2 g/kg of body weight per day should be consumed paired with resistance exercise to increase the accretion of muscle protein and gain muscle mass. This range can be divided into three or four meals of 0.53 or 0.4 g/kg protein per meal.
But if you find yourself unable to reach your protein intake goals, you can opt for protein powder supplements like whey or casein, and creatine with your regular diet. These dietary supplements deliver adequate amounts of protein but should only be taken after consulting a registered healthcare specialist.
Carbohydrates And Fats
Even though adequate ingestion of proteins is necessary for muscle building, other nutrients are also important to regulate the process. Consuming complex carbohydrates and a balanced amount of healthy fats will ensure your body receives enough energy to exercise while also assisting in muscle recovery and growth.
An intake of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals is also necessary to regulate the metabolic pathways and processes involved in muscle growth and repair.
You can also consume a moderate amount of caffeine to achieve energy boosts to power muscle-building workouts. It fuels the body, reduces muscle soreness and fatigue post-exercise, and enhances muscle strength, all of which can help you build muscles.
Last but not least, and quite the most important, is ensuring ample hydration. Since 76% of your muscles comprise water, it is crucial to maintain a good intake of water to build muscles. Adequate hydration levels also keep the body energized and electrolytes in balance and play a key role in transporting nutrients from the ingested hypertrophic diet to the muscles.
Keeping a mental check on what foods you consume and how many calories you ingest can become challenging and tiresome at some point. In order to make your muscle bulking journey more organized, you can keep track of nutrients and calorie intake by using a nutrition app or make a fitness journey to input your data.
Now that we have discussed what nutrients need to be consumed to optimize muscle growth, the question arises; what particular foods should you eat?
10 Good Foods To Build Muscle
An adequate intake of a nutritious diet containing both macronutrients and micronutrients in balanced quantities is essential to initiate and maintain the body’s ability to build muscles.
To make our compiled list of the best hypertrophic foods more diet inclusive, we have divided it into two sections: animal-based foods and plant-based foods.
Additionally, as mentioned previously, if you have dietary restrictions or cannot meet your optimal nutrient intake solely through food, you can add supplements to your diet to ensure optimal muscle bulking. However, consult with a registered dietician before consuming a dietary supplement.
Animal-Based Muscle-Building Foods
As discussed above, proteins play a key role in regulating muscle hypertrophy and hence are needed to be consumed in greater quantities. One of the best ways to receive high-quality proteins in sufficient amounts is by introducing whole eggs into your diet. Whole eggs are a rich source of high-quality protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
A large whole egg (50 g) provides 6 to 7 grams of protein, making it the perfect food choice for building muscles. Moreover, a single egg yolk contains around 164 mg of choline. This amino acid functions in the body to reduce muscle fatigue and fatty acid synthesis, improve muscle contraction and assist in muscle protein synthesis. The protein content in a whole egg also delivers 0.6 grams of leucine, which helps in muscle recovery post-workouts and improves skeletal muscle quality when combined with exercise.
Other than being a great protein source, whole eggs contain healthy fats and micronutrients like phosphorus, iron, A and B-complex vitamins, etc., all of which aid in muscle building by transporting nutrients and producing energy.
Consuming whole eggs is better than just egg whites because they are much more nutritious and effective in bulking muscles.
Dairy products, especially milk, are also great for maintaining and building muscles. Based on scientific evidence, drinking milk stimulates the synthesis of muscle proteins acutely, and when consumed as a post-workout drink, muscle hypertrophy is induced.
100 grams of milk contains 6 g of fast and slow-digesting proteins along with 1 g of healthy fat and carbohydrates that deliver energy to the body to fuel muscle-building workouts. It is also rich in a number of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and cobalamin, all of which are crucial in maintaining musculoskeletal health and function. Besides, drinking milk as a sports drink helps keep the body hydrated and replenish its energy stores.
Poultry meat, especially chicken breasts, is a well-liked food by many fitness enthusiasts for building lean muscles. It is because chicken, similar to eggs, is a great source of protein and is low in fat. A 100-gram serving of chicken breast contains 31 g of high-quality protein along with 3.6 g of total fat. So the protein content constitutes most of the calories, making it a great food choice for muscle building.
Of all the amino acids chicken breasts contain, leucine plays an essential role in building and maintaining muscles. According to research, leucine can improve muscle strength and prevent muscle loss influenced by aging. Other than high amounts of proteins and fewer fats, chicken breasts also contain various vitamins and minerals that aid in regulating muscle health and energy.
Other than poultry meat, red meat, such as beef, veal, lamb, etc., is also a good food option for inducing muscle hypertrophy and increasing mass. A 100 g portion of lean red meat contains around 30-32 g of protein, making it a rich proteinaceous muscle-building food.
Red meat is packed with the amino acid creatine. This organic compound increases muscle strength and lean mass and boosts athletic performance, allowing individuals to work on their muscle exercises for longer. However, when consuming red meat, select a slice of leaner meat to avoid high calorie and fat intake and receive more protein.
Seafood like fish and shellfish are also ideal picks for a muscle-building diet. White and oily fish contain high amounts of proteins (18-26 grams), optimizing the hypertrophic muscle state. While white fish are low in fats, oily fish such as tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Backed by science, omega-3 fatty acids enhance protein metabolism and the effects of resistance training on muscles, increasing growth rate and strength. Along with promoting effective muscle building, consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, even as supplements, can prevent the risk of age-related muscle loss.
Adding fish to your diet also ensures you receive optimal amounts of various vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B6, B12, magnesium, etc., all of which regulate muscle-building processes and activate the body to work out better. Besides fish, shellfish like shrimp are also ideal for muscle-building. A 100 g serving contains 24 g of protein, healthy fats, and carbs. Shrimp is also rich in leucine which, as mentioned above, aids in enhancing muscle strength and the rate of muscle recovery post-workouts.
Plant-Based Muscle-Building Foods
Tofu is one of the top muscle-building food choices for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is made from soybeans and is a complete protein source, containing all 9 essential amino acids. Consuming tofu provides the body with soy protein, which, according to studies, has been shown to be effective for muscle protein synthesis, aiding in muscle development. It also prevents muscle damage induced by exercise and promotes muscle recovery.
A 100 g serving of tofu contains 8 g of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and fats. It is also rich in minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, vital for optimal musculoskeletal health and function and for keeping the body energized during muscle-building training.
Buckwheat is a pseudocereal often used as a substitute for wheat flour by people with gluten allergies as it is gluten-free. This pseudocereal functions as a nutritional powerhouse, rich in muscle-building and body-energizing nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and more. A 100 g serving of buckwheat contains 13.3 grams of protein and can be consumed as flour or full-grain.
Buckwheat is an ideal plant-based food choice because it is rich in lysine and has three times the arginine found in casein protein. The essential amino acid lysine is observed to regulate muscle mass accumulation pathways and suppresses protein degradation, thus maintaining muscle growth and health. On the other hand, the consumption of arginine increases nitric oxide levels in the blood, which induces vasodilation, increasing blood flow to the muscles and assisting in muscle pumps. With more oxygenated blood being received by the muscles, exercise-induced hypertrophy can be achieved. Another great feature of buckwheat is that it incorporates antioxidants, promoting overall health.
Quinoa is another great gluten-free food choice for building muscles. This grain-like seed comprises complete protein and contains adequate fiber, slow-releasing carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Quinoa contains 16.5 g of protein per 100 g serving and, with the fiber content, helps build lean muscle while promoting healthy fat loss.
Fitness enthusiasts often use it as a healthier substitute for brown rice as it contains all nine essential amino acids, unlike the latter.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are nutritious legumes that many people on vegetarian and vegan diets consume for building and maintaining body muscles. Per 100 g of serving contains 19 g of protein along with 61 g of total carbohydrates and 6 g of healthy fats, which help in synthesizing muscle proteins, inducing muscle hypertrophy while providing ample energy for strenuous exercises. The fiber content in chickpeas keeps insulin and blood sugar levels balanced, further aiding in improving muscle-building workout performance. Additionally, chickpeas are rich in vitamins like A, C, and E, and minerals like iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium, contributing to maintaining muscle health.
Peanuts are another food choice you can add to your muscle-building diet. Many gym enthusiasts and bodybuilders prefer consuming peanuts as it is or peanut powder or peanut butter because of their workout-boosting and muscle-bulking properties.
However, it should be taken in moderate amounts because an ounce of peanuts, roughly equalling two tablespoons of peanut powder and butter, contain adequate nutrition; 7 g of protein, 6 g of carbs, and high amounts of healthy unsaturated fats. In large quantities, high amounts of phytic acid accumulate in the intestines, reducing digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Peanuts are also rich in leucine, which, as mentioned previously, prevent muscle loss and fatigue and improve strength and muscle recovery post-strenuous workouts.
The Bottom Line
If you wish to focus on food to build muscle 2023, opting for a healthy, well-balanced, and nutritious diet, combined with regular physical training, is crucial. The 10 foods mentioned in this article would help you achieve optimal muscle gains while ensuring improved overall health. So, consult with a registered dietician first to get an individualized diet plan for acquiring the best results.