10 Perfect Muscle Foods
Our muscles do a lot for us. They give us an attractive shape, they make us stronger, and they constantly burn calories, even at rest. In return, they need proper nutrition to carry out their tasks.
If you want to build and maintain your lean muscle mass, try adding these 10 perfect muscle foods to your diet:
Eggs are a classic muscle-building staple for a reason: They are packed with protein and heart-healthy fat. They are also low in calories (at 70 per egg, or 15 per egg white), and they can be prepared in a variety of ways to stave off food boredom.
#2: Lean Beef
Beef is a rich source of muscle-nourishing creatine, as well as energizing B-vitamins and zinc. Choose lean cuts to minimize your intake of saturated fat from beef products. 95% lean ground sirloin is an excellent choice.
#3: Salmon & Tuna
These canned fishes are cheap, tasty, and convenient. They're also full of the protein your muscles need. As an added bonus, they pack a healthy punch of omega-3 fatty acids, which limit the body's production of the fattening stress hormone cortisol.
#4: Whole Grain Pasta
Healthy carbs are vital for energy and muscle repair. Choose whole grain pasta over white pasta for sustained energy that doesn't spike your blood glucose level. Buckwheat noodles, or soba, are another great choice for muscle-builders.
Broccoli is high in fiber, which helps keep your blood glucose (and bowel movements) regular. It also contains indoles, compounds which limit the body's production of the fat-storing female hormone estrogen.
#6: Olive Oil
Significant heart benefits aside, olive oil also happens to be a powerful anti-inflammatory. Reduced inflammation in the body means better muscle recovery after workouts.
#7: Dairy Products
Like eggs and lean beef, dairy products are a staple of a healthy muscle-building diet. Their calcium content keeps bones strong and also helps you burn fat at a higher rate.
Should you consume low-fat or whole milk dairy products? The answer depends on your daily calorie limit and how much saturated fat you receive from the rest of the foods you eat.
Some weightlifting pros recommend whole milk because the fat it contains is easily digested, moreso than other dietary fats. Whole milk also serves up 16 grams of protein per cup.
Others insist that low-fat products are better. Fat-free cottage cheese is a popular choice for muscle builders because it packs 30 grams of whey and casein into a trim 80 calories.
Yogurt is a dairy product, but it deserves special mention. Yogurt contains protein and calcium, but its true strength lies in it probiotic properties.
Yogurt contains healthy bacteria which keep our digestive systems healthy. This, in turn strengthens the immune system. With a strong immune system, you will find that your muscles recover much faster from the stress of a workout.
Look for yogurt that contains active cultures of L.Acidophilus. Fat-free or full fat varieties are available, and the choice of which to eat is up to you.
A zero-calorie herb might seem like a strange entry on a list of muscle foods, but more and more pros are adding garlic to their diets and enjoying the benefits.
The Journal of Nutrition published a study in which garlic supplementation was tested on rats. The rats who were fed garlic produced more testosterone than the rats who were fed normally.
Testosterone is a male hormone that makes it easier for the body to build muscle and burn fat. While the evidence in favor of garlic supplementation is still questionable in humans, many pros swear by it.
Old-fashioned oatmeal is an excellent pre-workout muscle food. It provides sustained energy that won't get depleted during your workout, giving you enough fuel to exercise at a high intensity without hitting the wall. Add protein powder for an extra protein boost.
As you can see, it's possible to eat a balanced diet while nourishing your muscles as completely as possible. Add some of these perfect muscle foods to your diet, and you'll soon see the results!