The Best Foods for Building Muscle

lean beef

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As men, muscles matter. Whether they’re big or small, we’re constantly working on them. While your training regime plays a massive role in building them, the secret is in your nutrition. Surely by now, we know the foods we need to avoid: burgers, fries and alcohol. But do we really know what foods we have to be eating for muscle growth? This guide details which foods will facilitate the best results when recovering from workouts and building muscle.

Lean beef

lean beef

Leaf beef contains what is known as a complete protein. This protein is backed up by the necessary amino acids, which work alongside insulin to build those guns. Amino acids form the foundation of protein and are an important component in muscle growth. Once protein enters the body, the nutrient is broken down into amino acids, which are then used to grow and repair muscle fibres after workouts. Furthermore, this red meat is chock full of nutrients that hone in on muscle growth such as B-vitamins, iron and zinc.

The fact that this meat is lean is important as this will promote weight loss without compromising muscle gain. To put this into perspective, a quarter pound of beef provides the same amount of protein as two cups of beans but at half the calories.

A 100g portion of lean beef contains 250 calories and 26g of protein.


Are Eggs good for you?

We’ve all heard about boxer’s incorporating raw eggs into their diets but what’s that all about? Well, eggs are one of the most nutritious foods out there, especially if you’re goal is to build muscle at a low cost. They contain protein with nine amino acids, choline, vitamin D, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These help with growing, maintaining and stimulating muscles during workouts.

How do you like your egg in the morning? While we’re not asking you to have them raw, it is recommended to either boil, poach or bake your egg to gain the most nutritional value from your eggy meal.

A 100g portion of egg contains 155 calories and 13g of protein.

Skinless chicken

Skinless chicken

If you’re not a red meat fan, then the skinless chicken is the perfect food for you. The fact that this piece of meat is skinless is important as it reduces the saturated fat content, so enabling you to reap the nutritional benefits. We would recommend the breast cut as a result of this.

There are various benefits associated with chicken, which is why it is a staple dish in global cultures. From a bodybuilding perspective, it can grow and maintain muscles as a result of the high-protein content but is also good for bone health and weight maintenance. With chicken, there’s never a boring meal since there are so many different ways to prepare.

A 100g portion of skinless chicken contains 165 calories and 31g of protein.

Cottage cheese

Cottage Cheese

Protein comes in all shapes, sizes and varieties, with cottage cheese being an apt example. This dairy delight is made up mostly of pure casein protein. Who would’ve thought?! Dubbed one of the best nutrients for muscle growth, casein protein is a milk-based protein that gradually releases amino acids into the bloodstream. It’s for this reason that we recommend eating cottage cheese before bed to aid recovery and reduce muscle breakdown.

A 100g portion of cottage cheese contains 98 calories and 11g of protein.


Wait, shouldn’t we be avoiding carbs? Well, it depends. Consuming carbohydrates in controlled quantities is beneficial to increase performance and muscle mass. Oats are a great example. Even though they are a rich source of carbohydrates, they contain a low glycaemic index value. This means that they digest slowly in the body, which produces a gradual rise in blood sugar levels and insulin for long-lasting energy.

Oats have a great micronutrient profile, produce increased satiety and promote fat loss. These qualities make this age-old food a great source for growing and preserving muscles.

A 100g portion of raw oats contains 389 calories and 16.9g of protein.


Fresh Fish

Another complete protein, fish is a low-cost, staple food for building muscle. There are a range of fishes to choose from so it’s important to pick one that aligns with your muscle-building goals. For example, salmon has higher calories, which is great for those trying to bulk up; however, if you’re trying to get shredded then cod and tuna is a leaner alternative. 

I’m sure you remember the cod-liver oil capsules your parents would make you take as a kid. That god-awful taste once you pierce the outer shell. Well, those Omega-3 fatty acids and oils were important in keeping us active. All fish contain them and are important in supporting the body in physiological activities, in addition to funnelling carbohydrates into muscles.

A 100g portion of tuna fish contains 132 calories and 28g of protein.


healthy Soy

Soy has taken the world by storm in recent years and for good reason too! Whether consumed as milk, tofu or in edamame, this is the most complete plant-based protein, which contains all essential amino acids. We recommend consuming soy directly after a workout as the plant-based food boosts nitric oxide levels to increase the blood flow to muscles and other growth hormones.

A 100g portion of soy chunks contains 70 calories and 52g of protein.

A nutritious diet is important when working out for muscle building. Everyone has their go-to dish but it’s nice to switch it up every now and again. So, let us know which foods you will be incorporating into your diet in the comment section below.

The men’s health and lifestyle category is full of useful for information for guys around the world. Whether your looking to get yourself in shape, or wanting to try out the latest exercise routines, our articles have got you covered.