Top 4 Muscle-Building Foods


There are plenty of well-known fitness dos and don’ts, like eat well and exercise daily. Obvious right? But when it comes to diet and nutrition it can be tricky to know exactly what foods we should be eating for our specific fitness goals. 

When it comes to the workout side of things, we’ve chatted previously about the Top 4 Exercise Tips to Build Lean Muscle

Now it’s time to take a deeper look at what is arguably the most important trick to building lean muscle, the food we eat. 

It is impossible to perform the physical feats it takes to increase lean muscle gains without properly fuelling our bodies. 

Following a balanced diet that is high in fibre, includes the right amount of lean protein and avoiding overly processed foods is something we hear all the time. 

But what are some of the top foods for building lean muscle that may not be as obvious as tuna and rice? 

1. Eggs 

Eggs are one of the most underrated but overperforming foods to consume for lean muscle gains. Beef and chicken are both also excellent sources of protein, but eggs are hailed as the “perfect protein”. 

Why: The protein we consume when eating eggs best supports our bodies’ needs, more so than even beef, so we need less of it to enjoy the same muscle-building benefits. Eggs have a high level of the amino acid leucine, one of the key amino acids contributed to building lean muscle. 

When: Try as an omelette for breakfast; add boiled eggs to a salad at lunchtime; a frittata at dinner with chargrilled vegies. 

Extra Benefits: The high levels of B12 found in eggs helps to breakdown fat in our bodies and is essential for muscle contraction during weightlifting workouts. Other vitamins and minerals in eggs include iron, zinc, folate, and Vit D & E. 

Tip: To reap all the benefits, it is essential to also consume the yolk. 

2. Quinoa 

The benefits of eating brown rice are well-known, but quinoa has a few additional super nutrients for our bodies when looking at lean-muscle building. Once only an ancient grain known to hippies and health nuts, it is now one of the most commonly consumed complex carbs, and for good reason. 

Why: Quinoa delivers a double-shot of goodness for our bodies as it is both protein-rich and a top source of carbohydrates to help fuel our bodies throughout exercise.  

When: Make up a quinoa porridge for breakfast; add to a wrap or salad at lunchtime; make a roast veggie quinoa with beets for dinner. 

Extra Benefits: Quinoa also contains a healthy serving of magnesium and phosphorus to aid muscle and nerve recovery post-workout. Plus, consuming quinoa around three times a week can increase our bodies’ levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and that in turn has been linked to an increase in lean muscle and overall strength. 

Tip: Quinoa is especially important for anyone on a vegetarian diet at is one of the few non-meat sources of complete protein

3. Greek Yogurt 

Dairy products often get a bad wrap from the health industry, but nutritional experts are continually stressing the importance of consuming this high-quality source of protein. One of the best dairy products for lean muscle gains? Greek yogurt. 

Why: Greek yogurt includes both the quickly-digested whey protein that is the key ingredient in so many top-level protein powders, along with casein protein that is more slowly digested by the body. Consuming foods with a mixture of both fast and slow-digesting proteins has been associated with an overall increase to lean muscle mass. 

When: Greek yogurt with muesli for breakfast; add to smoothies at lunchtime or post-workout; put as a side instead of sauce with dinner or add to curries. 

Extra Benefits: Greek yogurt as opposed to regular yogurt contains as much as 50% more protein. It is also a rare source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is a unique type of fat linked with reduced body fat. 

Tip: Consume post-workout to aid recovery or pre-bedtime to help muscles repair and build overnight. 

4. Olive Oil 

When building lean muscle and stripping body fat there is a tendency to fear eating fats of all kinds. Avoiding poor quality foods that are deep-fried and highly processed is obviously important, but we shouldn’t shy away from consuming good fats found in foods like salmon, almonds and olive oil

Why: Olive oil, when consumed in moderation (1 – 2 tablespoons a day), is the one of the best sources of healthy monounsaturated fat for our bodies. It helps prevent muscle breakdown as it acts as an anticatabolicnutrient, lowering the cellular protein tumor necrosis factor-a that contributes to muscle wasting and weakness. 

When: Add a tablespoon to a morning smoothie instead of coconut oil; drizzle a small amount over a lunchtime salad; use to cook-up lean beef strips or chicken at dinner with vegetables. 

Extra Benefits: Not only does olive oil help to boost muscle strength and aid lean-muscle gains by preventing wastage, it is also linked with lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Liquid gold! 

Tip: Try to use extra-virgin olive oil as it contains higher levels of Vit E than regular varieties, a free-radical fighting powerhouse. 

Remember, to gain lean muscle it is crucial to consume quality, protein-rich foods that will aid muscle recovery post-workout and allow muscles to grow during periods of rest. 

Complex carbohydrates and foods full of healthy fats are also needed to provide enough energy for us to complete the exercises required to build lean muscle, as are other nutrient-dense food sources

Eat the right foods and engage in the right exercises – like our Group Fitness Classes – and lean muscle gains will happen sooner rather than later! 

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