Muscles aren't just made in the gym, they're made in the kitchen, too. Incorporating these nutrient-dense or protein-packed foods in your diet will help you build strong, lean muscles.
While red meat should be eaten in moderation, animal foods have complete proteins with all essential amino acids. In beef, some of them help produce creatine, which improves muscle mass.
Salmon & Tuna
These fatty fish also contain complete protein, plus omega-3s that enhance muscle responses and B vitamins to help your body make energy.
Eggs are another complete protein source. One study showed that eating whole eggs after resistance exercise improves muscles’ use of protein.
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Greek Yogurt & Cheese
Protein in cheeses and yogurts feeds muscle. Greek yogurt contains casein, which may increase lean muscle mass.
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Most of the calories in shrimp come from protein and very few from fat. In addition, shrimp contain significant levels of the amino acid leucine needed for muscle development.
Magnesium, needed for regulating muscle function, is found in dark leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, and kale.
Avocados have folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and other B vitamins that help create energy and build muscles.
Nuts & Peanut Butter
In addition to some protein, nuts and nut butters contain significant levels of leucine, an amino acid that triggers muscle repair. They also contain magnesium, needed for muscle growth.
Lentils, Peas, Soy Beans & Other Legumes
These foods deliver magnesium and B vitamins. Many also are good sources of protein, especially soy beans (or tofu), which are a complete protein.
Chia seeds are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, they're high in fiber to help you feel full.
Sweet Potatoes & Grapes
These foods contain potassium—more than bananas—which helps with muscle contraction.
This supplement contains whey protein and is often used by those who strength-train. While many experts believe it's better to get your nutrients through food, whey protein powder is a convenient alternative for quick nutrition.
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