If you’re trying to build muscle and trim fat, a good workout is essential. But just as important is creating a meal plan that’s high in the kind of foods that build muscle. No need to cut out an entire food type because you’ve heard rumors. Nutritionists and trainers agree, you need a variety of proteins, fruits, carbohydrates, vegetables, and healthy fats to not only build and maintain muscle, but to lose flab as well. If you are looking to eat strong, make sure you include these 11 foods in your diet plan:
1. Whole Eggs
For a while, eggs got a bad rap. There were stories flying around that cholesterol in egg yolks that had health-conscious people everywhere abandoning yolks for good. But the truth is, eggs are perfectly healthy and an amazing source of protein. If you’re worried about keeping your blood cholesterol levels down, you’re better off keeping the eggs and ditching body fat through exercise instead.
This one should go without saying, but even people who work out regularly sometimes slip in the hydration department. Failing to drink enough water not only wreaks havoc on your skin and organs, but can also cause your body to retain moisture, which leads to bloat and edema. 9 glasses a day should be your goal if you’re lifting and working out regularly.
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids on the planet. It’s also packed with protein and flavor. If possible, go with wild salmon, which isn’t corn-fed, like many farm raised varieties. It costs a bit more, but it’s worth the expense when you consider the nutritional advantage.
4. Greek Yogurt
Packed with more protein than the regular variety of yogurt, Greek yogurt will actually help you feel fuller longer, all while fueling your metabolism. It’s also a great way to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system thanks to lots of good bacteria. Try mixing it into smoothies for a quick and satisfying breakfast.
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A staple of the much-studied Mediterranean diet, extra virgin olive oil contains the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that your cardiovascular system craves. Mix with balsamic vinegar for a delicious salad dressing. Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to help build lean muscle, when eaten regularly and in moderation.
Naturally sweet and delicious, berries pack quite the nutritional punch. One of the best things I love about berries is that I never get bored of them. There’s a great variety of them. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and all their cousins are full of the antioxidants that prevent things like cancer and eye disease. Moreover, berries help to build lean muscle. If you’re on a fitness kick, Greek yogurt with tons of berries is a delis muscle-building snack.
One of the most heart-healthy foods most dieters swear by, spinach also helps prevent muscle and bone loss, as well as many forms of cancer. Try sautéing baby spinach leaves in garlic and extra virgin olive oil as a side dish for salmon, and you’ll have a lean and nutrient packed dinner. Or, start your day with a green spinach smoothie to speed up your metabolism and build lean muscle.
If you’re looking to add bulk and lean muscle, mixed nuts should be a part of your meal plan just about every day. High in polyunsaturated fats, fiber, zinc, protein, and vitamin E, nuts also contain potassium and magnesium to help combat muscle cramps and fatigue. Just don’t forget about moderation. Nuts are tasty finger food that you can mindlessly grab while you work or watch your favorite show. Nuts are rich in fats so a handful per day is enough to enjoy all their benefits.
While it may seem like this is a new tasteless food, quinoa has actually been a South American staple for centuries. Higher in protein and fiber than rice or pasta, quinoa is also gluten free and very versatile. Try it post-workout for a filling and healthy meal.
Forget store-bought, processed orange juices. Real, fresh oranges (whole or juiced) contain tons of disease-fighting vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene. Not only do oranges improve your immune system and boost your energy levels, they help you build lean muscle as well.
11. Green Tea
A natural diuretic, green tea is also loaded with antioxidants. Drinking green tea every day has also been shown to speed up fat loss and muscle increase. It also improves blood circulation, heart health and blood sugar levels. Consider swapping your morning java habit for a mug of green tea sweetened with honey.
Exercise is probably the most effective way to build lean muscle, but not all of us can spend days in the gym. Needless to say, not all of us want to look like a bodybuilder. Incorporating these foods into your daily meal plan will help you get your dream body without starving yourself and spending hours in the gym. Do you believe foods help to build lean muscle?