Nutrition

The 15 Best Lean-Muscle Building Foods

Stock your kitchen with these foods to maximize your lean muscle gains.

Green apple partly peeled on a plate next to a knife

1) Beef (from grass-fed cattle)
Beef is important for building lean muscle due to its protein content, cholesterol, zinc, B vitamins and iron content. Beef from grass-fed cattle have much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventionally raised cattle, which gives you a boost in shedding bodyfat and building lean muscle.

2) Beets
A good source of betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, this nutrient not only enhances liver and joint repair, but also has been shown in clinical research to increase muscle strength and power. Beets also provide an NO boost which can ehance energy and aid recovery.

3) Brown rice
A slow-digesting whole grain that provides you longer-lasting energy throughout the day, and during workouts. Brown rice also can help boost your growth hormone (GH) levels, which are critical for encouraging lean muscle growth, fat loss and strength gains.

4) Oranges
Another good fruit that can actually help to boost muscle growth, strength and endurance, especially when eaten before workouts.

5) Cantaloupe
Due to it’s relatively low fructose content, this melon is one of the few fruits that is actually a fast-digesting carb. That makes it a good carb to have first thing in the morning after a long night of fasting and one of the few good fruits to eat after workouts.

6) Cottage cheese (organic)
Rich in casein protein, cottage cheese is a great go-to protein source, especially before bed. Casein protein is the slowest-digesting protein you can eat, meaning it prevents your muscles from being used as an energy source while you fast during the night.

7) Eggs
Eggs are known as the perfect protein, but their ability to boost lean muscle and strength gains isn’t due to just the protein alone. It gets a lot of help from the yolks, where the cholesterol is found. If you’re worried about your cholesterol shooting up from eating the yolks, cholesterol from eggs has been shown to decrease the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol particles associated with atherosclerosis.

8) Milk (organic)
Contains both whey and casein and is rich in the amino acid glutamine. Organic milk has about 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.

9) Quinoa
A complete protein in addition to being a slow-digesting carb, quinoa has been linked with an increase in insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels, an important factor associated with lean muscle and strength gains.

10) Wonka Pixy Stix
These contain dextrose, meaning this carb doesn’t even need to be digested — it literally goes straight into your bloodstream, getting those carbs straight to your muscles for the fastest recovery possible after workouts.

11) Spinach
A good source of glutamine, the amino acid that is important for lean muscle growth. In addition to glutamine, spinach can increase muscle strength and endurance.

12) Apples
The specific polyphenols in apples help to increase muscle strength and prevent muscle fatigue, allowing you to train harder for longer. Other research also shows that these polyphenols can increase fat burning as well. That’s why it’s a good idea to make apples a preworkout carb source.

13) Greek Yogurt
Like plain yogurt, Greek yogurt starts from the same source: milk. Greek yogurt, however, has more protein (a whopping 20 g per cup) and fewer carbs (9 g per cup) than regular yogurt (16 g protein, 16 g carbs per cup). It’s also a good source of casein protein.

14) Ezekiel 4:9 Bread
Ezekiel bread is made from organic sprouted whole grains. Because it contains grains and legumes, the bread is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the amino acids your body can’t produce on its own — the ones needed for lean muscle growth.

15) Wheat germ
Rich in zinc, iron, selenium, potassium and B vitamins, high in fiber and protein, with a good amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), arginine and glutamine. This makes wheat germ a great source of slow-digesting carbohydrates and a quality protein that’s a perfect food before workouts.

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