10 Superfoods For Muscle Gain, Strength and Bodybuilding 2023
Picture in your mind muscle-building foods. I’m guessing you are probably picturing large amounts of meat. And even though foods like chicken and beef are very good sources of protein, there is more to building lean muscle mass than just consuming additional protein sources.
You also need to consider foods that will help you increase your energy for workouts, decrease inflammation for faster muscle recovery, and reduce empty calories to help aid in fat loss and increase lean muscle.
There is no basis by which food is designated a superfood. Instead, it’s a generalized term for foods full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Read this article to see the top 10 superfoods for muscle gain.
Top 10 Best Foods for Muscle Gain
These are the 10 best superfoods for muscle gain:
- Nuts and seeds
- Chia seeds
- Greek yogurt
- Fish oil
- Whey protein
10 Best Foods for Muscle Gain
As mentioned above, foods high in protein are vital for gaining muscle, but that’s not the only thing to look for. Carbohydrates and fats are also essential because your muscles need other energy sources. If you are focused on gaining lean muscle, stick to a goal of eating foods each day from this list and exercise regularly especially weight training.
It’s amazing how many benefits pack in such a tiny package. They’re loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that are the cornerstone of every structure in your body, including building muscle. Omega 3s also provide energy to keep systems in your body (like the immune system, heart, lungs, etc.) working in tip-top shape.
Flaxseeds also contain fiber and phytochemicals, which help prevent chronic diseases, including cancer. Plus, they’re simple to add to everything. You can even purchase them ground and add them into your favorite dish for a little extra oomph of nutrition and protein, which is excellent for muscle growth. A great way to enjoy these is added to smoothies or morning oatmeal.
*Nutritional Info for flaxseeds: Per 2 teaspoons (13g) – 60 calories, 3g protein, 3.50g total fat, 5g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 5 mg sodium, 20 mg calcium, 2.5 mg iron.
Beans are a great non-meat source of high protein and thus are fabulous bodybuilding superfoods. They’re also a rich source of B vitamins, protein, and fiber.
There are tons of different options for beans on the market today including
- Black Beans
- Kindey Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Great Northern
- Lima Beans
- Black Eyed Peas
- And many more…
In addition to being full of nutrition, beans are also cheap, especially when purchased dry. Canned beans save some time, but dry is pretty easy to cook with.
To cook dry beans, place them in a pot and cover with water, then bring them to a boil. Simmer the beans anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Each variety of beans cooks differently.
You’ll know they are ready to eat when you can mash a bean with your fork. Alternatively, you can soak beans overnight, drain, rinse, and use them for cooking.
*Nutritional Info for beans: Per 1 cup dry (171g) – 245 calories, 15g protein, 1 g total fat, 45g carbohydrates, 15g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 0 mg sodium, 80 mg calcium, 4 mg iron.
Nuts and seeds
Almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, or any nut or seed will be an excellent addition to gaining muscle strength. This is primarily due to their high protein content. Protein is vital in building muscle because amino acids (the building blocks of protein) help repair and maintain muscle tissue.
In addition to protein, eating them regularly can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. There are multiple simple ways to include them in your healthy diet. For example, you can snack on them, add them to a salad, or add them to your favorite muffin recipe.
Just be careful. Nuts are very calorically dense and can add up if you snack on them mindlessly. Try to aim for one serving a day which is around a handful.
*Nutritional Info for nuts and seeds: Per 1/4 cup (28g) – 180 calories, 10g protein, 16g total fat, 5g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 1g sugars, 0 mg sodium, 80 mg calcium, 1.9 mg iron.
Chia seeds are another wonderful source of protein, making them a great source of nutrition when you are focused on foods to gain muscle. They are considered a superfood because of an antioxidant called quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to decrease your risk of several health conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
Additionally, they are lofty in fiber which can reduce blood pressure, help with blood sugar control, and aid intestinal function. Finally, Chia Seeds are tiny and tasty, so you can easily add them to any food for additional nutritional benefits and protein. They’re outstanding in oatmeal, yogurt, granola bars, salads, and smoothies.
*Nutritional Info for chia seeds: Per 1/4 cup (36g) – 180 calories, 6g protein, 11g total fat, 16g carbohydrates, 14g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 5 mg sodium, 250 mg calcium, 3.4 mg iron.
Have you ever wondered, “What is a lentil?” A lentil is part of the legume family, tastes like a bean, and is disc-shaped. There are many different types that are categorized by colors, including red, yellow, brown, and green. They are incredible sources of fiber and protein.
One serving of lentils gives you over 30% of your daily fiber needs and over 10 grams of protein! In addition, lentils are an excellent way for vegans and vegetarians to gain muscle.
Lentils tend to absorb any flavor or seasonings you put with them so that you can use them in a variety of delicious recipes. In addition, just one cup of lentils packs almost 20 grams of protein. Try adding them to your favorite warm hearty stew.
*Nutritional Info for lentils: Per 1 cup – 230 calories, 25g protein, 0g total fat, 40g carbohydrates, 16g dietary fiber, 4g sugars, 7 mg sodium, 7mg iron.
Chicken being on this list is probably a no-brainer. It is the gold standard for gaining muscle because it contains loads of protein.
Each 3-ounce serving contains about 25 grams of high-quality–yet lean–protein. In addition, chicken breasts also have tons of B6 and niacin, essential while exercising to help your body function at peak capabilities.
If chicken is too high for your budget, consider the ground turkey. Ground turkey has a lot of similar qualities to chicken without the price tag. Plus, it absorbs surrounding flavors making it easy to cook with. Just a three-ounce serving will give you around 20 grams of protein.
Use ground turkey instead of ground beef in soups, tacos, or even when making a spaghetti meat sauce. (Consider turkey meatballs.)
*Nutritional Info for chicken: Per 3-ounce serving – 180 calories, 25g protein, 5g total fat, 30g carbohydrates, 15g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 0 mg sodium, 20 mg calcium, 1.5 mg iron.
*Nutritional Info for ground turkey: Per 3-ounce serving – 200 calories, 20g protein, 15g total fat, 0g carbohydrates, 0g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 0 mg sodium, 20 mg calcium, 1mg iron.
Yogurt is a fantastic superfood. First, it contains lean protein (almost 20 grams per cup), which helps the body build muscle. Consuming large amounts of protein has been linkedto muscle growth and feeling satiated longer, which can help with weight loss.
Secondly, the probiotics in yogurt benefit your gut health which in turn helps with weight management. The best way to add greek yogurt to your diet is in your protein shake for extra creaminess.
One word of caution: check the added sugar levels in greek yogurt as they can be high. When choosing a product, stick to one with less than 6 grams of added sugar per serving.
Nutritional values vary from product to product.
Fish oil supplements are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. These nutrients have several benefits that promote muscle growth, such as reduced muscle soreness (i.e., faster muscle recovery) and protection of muscle tissue.
They may also help your muscles with an increased range of motion. You can purchase a fish oil supplement or consume fatty fish such as salmon at least twice weekly to see these benefits.
As mentioned previously, muscles need protein to repair and grow. Eggs are rich in high-quality protein – one egg provides all nine essential amino acids – and are therefore an ideal choice for post-workout nutrition.
In addition to protein, one egg provides B vitamins, zinc, calcium, other vital nutrients, disease-fighting antioxidants like choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, and 6 grams of complete protein.
*Nutritional Info for eggs: Per 1 egg – 68 calories, 7g protein, 4g total fat, 0g carbohydrates, 0g dietary fiber, 0g sugars, 60mg sodium, 24 mg calcium, 1mg iron.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein powders have been widely researched and proven to be highly effective at boosting muscle growth when consumed during, before, or after a workout. Protein synthesis in your muscles is usually the highest right after a workout. Therefore, this is the prime time to consume whey protein.
Whey protein has gotten a bad rap recently because some research suggests that whey protein might cause belly troubles such as bloating and irritation. However, that data is limited in that it doesn’t take into account other combinations of supplements or foods that the participants might have been ingesting.
If you have difficulties getting adequate protein from foods alone, you could consider adding whey protein to your daily habits. Dairy protein powders like casein and whey are very popular. However, other powders are also starting to become just as popular, such as pea protein, soy protein, egg white protein, etc.
Nutritional values vary from product to product.
There are a lot of superfoods for bodybuilding on the market today. You’ll find most foods that help with building muscle are high in protein. But some are different and allow your muscles to recover faster or even help with range of motion.
Remember that you also need extra carbohydrates and fats to fuel exercise and physical activity. What’s more, many foods on this list contain the vitamins and minerals your body needs to operate at its best.
So to reach your goal of gaining lean muscle, focus on exercising regularly and eating more calories each day from nutritious foods like the ones listed in this article.
*All nutrition information was taken from the USDA nutrient database.
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