6 best muscle-building foods for men

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Building muscle mass requires a good deal of time spent in the gym lifting weights to carve and sculpt the kind of muscular definition most men want.  Pumping iron is one part of the equation achieving that look but there is a second vital component also required to complete the formula – muscle-building food.

When we think of muscle-building food, we often think of protein.  Muscle growth does require a good supply of protein from your diet but carbs are another nutrient our muscles need also.  Weight lifting burns fat and energy in the form of muscle glycogen, meaning your body will need a healthy dose of carbs to both replenish muscle glycogen stores and to boost insulin, a hormone that helps shuttle amino acids into the muscles.  So instead of solely focusing on protein, also pay attention to avoiding to choosing healthy carbs to create a winning combo promoting growth in muscle mass. 

To grow muscle it is necessary to fuel your body with the right kind of food.  Consuming pop tarts for breakfast, white bread with bologna for lunch and a greasy hamburger and fries for dinner won’t cut it.  You need energy-rich foods supplying your body with the right blend of vitamins, minerals, and protein to help repair muscle tissue in conjunction with lifting weights to sculpt your physique into a lean, strong muscle bound machine.

Here is the kind of muscle-building foods to choose from:

1.  Lean meat

There are plenty of sources of protein, but lean meat wins hands down on providing the nine essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein - necessary to build and repair muscle mass.  

A three or four-ounce portion (about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand) of lean beef, chicken or fish will provide approximately 22-26 grams of protein.  About 25-30 grams of protein should be consumed at each meal providing a constant supply of protein throughout the day essential for optimal muscle growth.  Be sure to eat a variety of lean meat throughout the week to obtain the different nutrients each one supplies.

2.  Low-fat dairy

Dairy foods should not be shunned if you are looking to grow muscle.  Low-fat dairy – skim or 1% - will provide high-quality protein, carbohydrates, riboflavin, vitamin D and calcium.  One of the best post-workout recovery drinks you can consume is chocolate milk.  This beverage has all the nutrients you need to replenish your body after exercising helping your muscles to recover and replace calories you burned.  Chocolate milk supplies sugar to restore glycogen stores in the muscles and starts the process of muscle rebuilding making your body ready for the next workout.

3.  Eggs

Eggs are an excellent choice for any man wanting to build muscle.  One large egg contains 6 grams of high quality protein, in fact so high it is used as the standard by which other foods are measured against.  They are also a rich source of vitamins including A, E, and K and a range of B vitamins such as B12 for energy, riboflavin and folic acid.

4.  Nuts

These plant-sources of protein are another good choice for men to choose helping to enable muscle growth. One ounce of nuts provides between 3 to 6 grams of protein but they are not a complete protein source as they do not contain all nine essential amino acids.  If they are paired with legumes such as beans they form a complete protein.  Even though nuts contain a healthy fat, they are high in calories and eating multiple portions may lead to excess weight gain. 

5.  Beans and whole grains

Both beans and whole grains are also a plant-based source of protein however neither are complete proteins since they also do not contain all nine essential amino acids our bodies require.  But beans and whole grains should be chosen by men wanting to build muscle as they contain quality carbohydrates with small amounts of protein providing energy and muscle repair along with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.

6.  Fish

When it comes to building muscle, fish really crushes the competition.  Let’s look at salmon.  Not only is salmon a protein powerhouse yielding around 25 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving, but it’s also packed with so many other healthy nutrients you’d be a fool to avoid.  Salmon is loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.  It’s also one of the excellent natural sources of vitamin D.  Try tuna also – like salmon, tuna is a excellent protein and omega-3 fatty acid source.