What to Eat to Gain Muscle: Protein or Something Else?

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What to Eat to Gain Muscle

Gaining muscle is an important step in reaching any fitness-related goals, but it can seem like a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. Whether you’re just getting into weightlifting or are an advanced athlete looking to add mass quickly, understanding what foods to incorporate into your diet can have a huge impact on the results you achieve. 

Achieving a lean muscular physique requires dedication and work – it’s not enough to just exercise. To maximize your progress, accompany those strenuous workouts with the right nutrition in order to give your body optimal fuel for muscle growth. Make sure you’re eating additional calories from healthy sources of protein so that you can build impressive gains without sacrificing health!

Protein is essential for muscle building and can be found in all kinds of animal sources such as eggs and lean meats plus plant-based options including beans, avocado, peanuts, or tofu. Other beneficial snacks involve carbs like whole wheat pasta or bread along with healthy fats from salmon, tuna, and yes – even more avocados! With these powerhouses fueling your body pre-workout you’ll have the energy needed to get through those reps while post-workout will feature improved recovery time thanks to proper nutrition.

If you’re finding it difficult to achieve your health objectives through dietary sources alone, protein supplements such as creatine or whey powder may be the answer. By consulting a dietitian or medical professional for guidance on supplement usage, you can supercharge your muscle growth efforts and reach your goals in no time!

While striving for lean muscle and fat loss, it’s wise to steer clear of sugary treats, white flour goods, and processed grub- these are known triggers in the body that result in increased fat storage. To maximize your gains with respect to building mass you’ll have to regulate caloric intake all day long; also ensure a selection of nutritious foods as well as hydration. Lastly don’t forget about exercising regularly at a suitable intensity level!

This blog post will go over the key components of a successful diet for gaining muscle, including healthy proteins, complex carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids. You’ll learn about their importance, as well as helpful tips to make sure you are getting enough of each food group in your daily meals. With this information, you’ll have all the tools necessary for creating an effective nutrition plan that gets you results!

See more: How to Gain Muscle

Why Nutrition is Important?

Protein is essential for muscle building, as it supplies the amino acids required by your body to construct lean muscle mass. Additionally, healthy carbohydrates are important for providing energy during workouts, and essential fatty acids aid in reducing inflammation and improving recovery post-workout. Eating a balanced diet that includes all these vital food groups gives your body what it needs to reach its full potential.

In order to build muscle effectively, you should be consuming an adequate amount of calories each day. Your caloric intake should depend on your weight and activity level; however, what’s most important is that you make sure you’re eating enough protein throughout the day to support muscle growth. Protein shakes can also come in handy here as they allow you to quickly and conveniently get in that extra protein.

The ISSN recommends consuming 1.4–2.0 g of protein per kg body weight daily for the average person looking to stay in shape – and those engaging with intense resistance exercise should ideally have around 3g/kg every day!

Carbohydrates are necessary for replenishing glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, providing the fuel that helps prevent fatigue during training sessions. The ISSN recommends consuming 45–55% of total daily calories from carbohydrates – even higher levels may be required among those engaging in high-volume or intense workouts!

Training performance and muscular development can be further optimized with a nutritious diet. An appropriate macro-nutrient balance of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, plus adequate hydration all help to fuel athletes for success. To maximize muscle-building potential though it is also important to consume more calories than the body burns – an effective way to create the calorie surplus needed for optimal gains in lean mass.

Diet Tips You Should Know

Consume more calories than burning 

Are you looking to build muscle mass? Consuming more calories than your body burns is an important factor in successfully meeting your weight goals. Entering stats into our calculator can provide the guidance needed to determine how many extra calories are necessary for getting that muscular frame!

Increase protein intake 

Eating protein-rich meals throughout the day is essential for promoting muscular growth. Animal sources such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy are important to focus on; however, plant sources like beans peas lentils peanuts, and chickpeas should not be neglected either.

Protein supplements can also play a role in helping reach your goals with whey or casein shakes having particular success post-workout rather than concentrating too much consumption into just two or three big meals every day which may struggle to meet all your dietary needs. Consider how you’re going about achieving these gains by sourcing out different animal and plant-based proteins so there’s plenty of variety!

Eat complex carbs 

Eat complex carbs 

When selecting what carbohydrates to eat for muscle building, think about the glycemic index (GI). The GI is measured by how quickly or slowly certain foods break down into glucose within the body. The lower GI number is associated with a food’s slower digestion rate- meaning it will give you long-lasting energy and be less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

Fueling your body properly is an essential requirement for building stronger muscles. Complex carbohydrates, with their fiber-rich content and ability to store glycogen in muscle cells, provide the energy needed to stimulate hypertrophy. From oatmeal and sweet potato to quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas – there are many nutrient-packed foods that can be used as part of a balanced diet designed towards enhancing muscular growth. Increase your intake of high-fiber components such as beans or whole wheat rice while strengthening both physically & nutritionally!

Add healthy fats to your diet 

Consuming good fats can be beneficial in achieving your goals! These nutrition-packed items, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts give the body an added boost of energy to metabolize more fat while stimulating muscle growth. Incorporating them into snacks or meals like organic crackers, yogurts and smoothies could prove successful on your journey toward a healthier you.

Essential fatty acids are very important for overall health. These include Omega-3s from fish, nuts, and seeds along with monounsaturated oils such as olive oil or avocado. Adding these into your daily meals will not only help with muscle growth but can benefit cardiovascular health too!

Consume smaller meals throughout the day 

In order to reach a balance of nutrients in every meal, it is recommended that you eat smaller portions spread out over the course of each day. This will help to fuel your body efficiently while providing enough energy to support workouts and recovery periods. Eating multiple times per day also helps maintain blood sugar levels and can reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks!

For optimal health, ensure you’re never missing out at meal time! Fuel your body with small and frequent meals throughout the day – five to six should do it. Pay special attention to those important pre- or post-workout snacks; neglecting these can lead to decreased muscle mass over time.

Drink plenty of water

Drinking a sufficient amount of water is essential for muscle growth. Our bodies are composed mainly of water, and it helps us in so many ways- including aiding digestion and absorption of nutrients into the cells. Water also serves to help regulate body temperature during exercise.

Adults should be drinking a minimum of 35ml (1 oz) for each kg they weigh – that would mean 82oz per day for someone weighing 70kg (154 lb). However, remember sugary and alcoholic beverages are not going to count towards this goal of water intake; only pure, natural H2O will do the trick when it comes to stimulating hypertrophy!

Eat at least 2 pieces of fruit per day  

Regularly consuming two or more fruit types daily is paramount to enjoying an effective post-workout muscle recovery. Our bodies need the nutrients found in fruits, such as minerals and vitamins, for optimal contraction of muscles during workouts – reducing fatigue levels while augmenting our immune system’s functionality. Not only can this help spur faster hypertrophy rates but it will also aid a quicker full-body regeneration process!

Besides being a great source of vitamins and minerals, fruits are also loaded with fiber which can help to regulate digestion. Eating two pieces per day can provide you with the energy you need for muscle building while providing antioxidants to fight against free radical damage caused by exercise.

Bananas, apples, oranges, and berries are all excellent sources of natural sugars – perfect for replacing any lost electrolytes post-workout or just satisfying those sweet cravings! Fruits can also be blended into smoothies or added to salads as an easy way to consume them on a regular basis.

Avoid sugar and processed foods

Avoid sugar and processed foods

Eating a muscle-building diet often involves consuming more calories than the average person, which can lead to fat storage in the body. To prevent this weight gain and stimulate the healthy functioning of muscles instead, it is important to remove certain high-sugar or processed foods from your diet – such as candy, cookies, cake, and fatty cold cuts like prosciutto. While simultaneously replacing them with healthier alternatives including whole wheat bread & biscuits, fresh cheeses (e.g. cottage cheese & mozzarella), and egg protein sources such as meat and fish.

Avoid alcohol 

Alcohol, unfortunately, can reduce the body’s ability to repair and build muscle. This is because it causes what is known as myopathy, which is a form of muscular degeneration that hinders the natural processes that lead to muscle growth. As such, reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption altogether will be beneficial for those looking to build their muscles in an effective way.

By following these simple tips, you can create an effective diet plan that will help you reach your goal of building muscle mass in no time! With the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals – what to eat to gain muscle shouldn’t be so hard after all! Remember: always consult a qualified nutritionist if you have any doubts about what’s best for your individual needs. With a well-structured muscle-building nutrition plan, you can be sure to achieve the results you’re looking for in no time!

See more: 30 Day Challenges: Change Yourself Now 

What to Eat to Gain Muscle: Foods for Your Muscle

1. Eggs

Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, boasting not only high-quality protein and healthy fats but also several essential vitamins. Of particular note is the amino acid leucine found in eggs which plays an important role in muscle gain. B vitamins provide your body with energy production benefits too – making them invaluable to supporting overall health.

2. Salmon

Salmon is an amazing source of nourishment for building muscle and maintaining wellness. With 17 grams of protein, 1.5g omega-3 fatty acids, plus beneficial B vitamins in each 3-ounce serving – it’s a nutrient powerhouse! Omega-3s are essential to ensuring your muscles remain healthy while also helping you maximize the results from any exercise program.

3. Chicken breast

Chicken breast

Chicken breasts are an excellent and protein-rich dietary staple for muscular development. Not only do they contain 26.7 grams of high-quality protein per 3-ounce serving, but also provide generous amounts of B vitamins niacin and B6 – essential during physical activity to optimize muscle growth. Moreover, scientific studies suggest that diets containing a higher amount of chicken proteins support body fat reduction.

4. Greek yogurt

Dairy is known for its high-quality protein content, which stands out even more when you consider the mixture of whey and casein it provides. Research has demonstrated that consuming fast- plus slow-digesting dairy proteins can lead to increases in lean mass compared with other sources of nutrition. Greek yogurt offers an ideal solution here; unlike regular yogurt, it typically contains twice as much protein – making a great snack any time but particularly beneficial after exercise or before bedtime due to these different types of digesting nutrients working together harmoniously.

Greek yogurt is packed with important nutrients to help optimize muscle growth, such as calcium and magnesium. Calcium helps maintain strong bones while aiding in the contraction of muscles; magnesium plays a crucial role in energy production, helping reduce fatigue during exercise. If you’re looking for an easy way to get more protein into your diet – reach for Greek yogurt!

5. Tuna

Tuna is a powerhouse of key nutrients, boasting 20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving alongside ample amounts of vitamins A and B12. These essential components are important for optimal health, energy production, and efficient exercise performance – especially as we age when our muscle mass begins to decrease over time. With the aid of tuna’s omega-3 fatty acids that slow this loss in strength and muscle tissue density, rest assured your senior years will remain strong!

6. Lean beef

What to Eat to Gain Muscle_Lean Beef

Beef is an ideal food for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, providing a powerhouse of nutritional value consisting of quality protein, B vitamins, minerals, and creatine. In fact, some research has demonstrated that including lean red meat in one’s diet can yield greater muscle mass gains when combined with weight training exercises.

When looking to increase their strength while minimizing calorie intake it may be best to choose beef types that are low in fat such as 95% lean ground beef which contains 16g more protein than the 70% version but only around half the calories at 148 per 3 ounces (85 grams). So if you’re serious about developing your physique then don’t forget to include Beef!

7. Lentils

Lentils are an excellent source of both quality protein and carbohydrates which make them a great choice for muscle-building diets. As a plant-based food, lentils offer up to 18 grams of protein per 1/2 cup (90g) serving alongside 8.9g of fiber and 15% of your daily iron requirements – all essential components for optimizing muscle growth.

The low-calorie content also makes them a great addition if you’re looking to stay lean – plus the range of valuable amino acids present in lentils will help ensure your muscles remain healthy even during times when physical activity is lower.

8. Shrimp

Shrimp is a low-calorie, high-protein powerhouse making it an ideal choice for those looking to optimize their muscle growth. Just 3 ounces (85g) of shrimp provide up to 20 grams of protein and are packed with essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, and copper that play a key role in the development of strong bones and muscles.

These crustaceans also contain omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation – beneficial if you’re completing intense exercises regularly. Shrimp can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to pasta.

9. Soybeans


Packed with 16 grams of protein and healthy unsaturated fats, soybeans provide an excellent source of vital vitamins and minerals – most notably vitamin K, iron, and phosphorus. Iron helps store oxygen in the blood for use by our muscles; its deficiency can cause serious impairment to bodily functions. Notably, those who menstruate are particularly prone due to monthly blood loss throughout their cycle – making nutritious consumption even more important!

Moreover, soybeans boast a range of antioxidants that help to reduce exercise-induced fatigue, oxidative damage, and inflammation making them an ideal choice for optimal muscle growth.

10. Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a great source of high-quality protein that’s low in fat and contains excellent levels of calcium. It also offers a range of essential amino acids – such as glutamine, leucine, and arginine – which help to aid muscle development and improve workout recovery time.

Plus with just 170 calories per 1/2 cup (124g) serving alongside 14 grams of protein this dairy product makes an ideal pre or post-workout snack as it helps promote muscle repair and increase overall energy levels.

Cottage cheese is an advantageous snack if you’re looking to add protein – and muscle-building amino acid leucine – into your diet. Each cup of low-fat cottage cheese carries 28g, while higher-fat versions like creamed contain more calories. Ultimately the selection comes down to how many extra energy sources you wish to include in your meals; but whichever way, it’s a beneficial choice for those wanting greater muscular gains!

11. Turkey breast

Turkey breast is an excellent choice for a lean, healthy protein source. A 3-ounce serving provides 26 grams of the muscle-building macronutrient with virtually no fat or carbohydrates. In addition to being low in calories and fat content, turkey also contains important B vitamins like niacin that help your body metabolize fats and carbs into energy needed for exercise – enhancing gains over time!

Plus, its high tryptophan content helps to reduce stress levels – this is a key factor in muscle growth and recovery as the hormone melatonin plays an important role in sleeping cycles.

Turkey breast is an incredibly versatile meat – it can be enjoyed grilled, roasted, or smoked – making it a great go-to choice for any type of meal plan. Ultimately, turkey breast’s nutritional value makes it a top choice for what to eat to gain muscle.

12. Tilapia


Beans are a great way to introduce protein, fiber, and B vitamins into your diet. With about 15 grams of lean muscle gain-promoting protein in each cup (around 172g) of cooked beans, popular varieties such as black beans, pinto or kidney beans can be enjoyed regularly for their many health benefits. Not only do they help build strong muscles but these everyday superfoods also contain important minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and iron — all while reducing the risk of certain diseases over time!

13. Protein powders

Protein powders can be a great addition to any diet, whether you are looking for an extra boost of protein or something convenient on busy mornings. Different types of proteins like whey and casein exist as well as non-dairy options such as soy, pea, beef, or chicken so that all diets can get the nutrition they need with ease. With plenty of easily available online shopping sites stocking up these days, it’s easy to shop around for your ideal fit!

Protein powder is an efficient way to add extra protein to your diet for muscle growth and recovery. Whey protein has multiple benefits, including the ability to increase muscle mass and strength while supporting fat loss; casein is a slow-digesting type of protein that helps provide a steady stream of amino acids overnight.

Whether you choose whey or casein, plant or animal source – what matters most is what works best for you. Ultimately, protein powders can be convenient options when looking for what to eat to gain muscle – just make sure to read the label carefully as not all brands are made with quality ingredients!

14. Edamame

Edamame is a great way to get more protein into your diet. This popular snack is packed with 17 grams of muscle-building protein per cup (around 148g) – plus it’s low in calories, making it an ideal choice for those wanting to gain lean muscle without adding too much fat.

The vitamins and minerals found in edamame are also beneficial when looking at what to eat to gain muscle; they help the body generate the energy needed during exercise as well as promote healthier bones, skin, and hair. Plus, they contain fiber which helps regulate digestion and keep you feeling fuller longer – perfect for those working out regularly! So next time you’re stuck on what snack to reach for why not try some tasty edamame?

15. Tofu


Tofu is a versatile, nutritious ingredient made from soy milk and commonly used as an alternative to meat. With 10g of protein in every half cup (124-gram) serving, it provides essential nutrients like calcium for muscle function & bone health; not to mention its high-quality plant source of proteins which makes tofu an ideal dietary choice for vegans or vegetarians.

Tofu is also easy to cook and has a mild flavor which can easily be enhanced with the addition of herbs and spices. Whether you eat it cold or hot, what matters most is how you choose to prepare this superfood – grilling, baking, roasting, or stir-frying – to make it an enjoyable part of what to eat to gain muscle. 

Above all, tofu is an excellent option when looking for what to eat to gain muscle as its high protein content helps build and maintain lean mass. To get the maximum amount of nutrients from this versatile ingredient though, consider adding a source of healthy fats like avocado or nuts for extra flavor too! 

These are just some examples of what to eat if you want to gain muscle. There are plenty of other nutritious and delicious options that are sure to help you reach your fitness goals. Eating a balanced diet with the right combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins is essential for healthy muscle growth so make sure to tailor what you eat according to what works best for you!

See more: Foods That Boost Metabolism for Flat Stomach

Anabolic Cooking Cookbook

This cookbook is ideal for anyone wanting to learn what to eat to gain muscle. With over 200 pages of recipes and meal plans, Anabolic Cooking provides all the nutrition you need to build lean mass while making sure that your diet never gets boring.

The recipes are specifically designed to support muscle growth with a focus on proteins and healthy fats as well as nutrient-rich carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables. What’s more, they are quick, easy, and delicious – so you can maximize your gains without sacrificing taste!

By trying out this cookbook you can explore what foods work best for you when it comes to what to eat if you want to gain muscle – from high-protein snacks like egg muffins or homemade energy bars to meals like salmon-potato cakes and broccoli mac and cheese.

How to Know How Much to Eat

It’s easy to be drawn in by the promise of trendy diets, with quick results. However these mainstream plans are often not conducive to building muscle due to their restriction on calories – this may end up stalling your progress as it goes against scientific principles of nutrition and gaining muscular strength.

Knowing the right amount of food to consume each day can be a tricky calculation. But according to Bustillo, you’re only an equation away! Start by multiplying your body weight (in pounds) by 16 and 18 – these numbers represent calorie goals that are worth aiming for over one or two weeks. With this simple step, you’ll come closer to finding out how much fuel is needed per day for optimal nutrition success!

To ensure the most rewarding fitness journey, Bustillo recommends considering a metabolic test to help identify an ideal starting point. However, these tests can be costly and inconvenient. As such, he suggests beginning with 16-18 times your body weight in pounds as guidance – then monitoring progress along the way! Most importantly, however? Don’t forget that eating well is essential for growth alongside consistent training routines. Remember: eat abundantly for muscle growth and establish consistency with training regimens!

Incorporating the expertise of a personal trainer and nutritionist into your health regimen is an invaluable way to set achievable goals, fine-tune your workout plan and ensure you’re getting adequate nourishment. Additionally, having regular body composition measurements taken provides crucial data so that you can track changes in progress over time. This way, you’ll see the results of what to eat to gain muscle and what works best for your individual needs. Taking these steps will lead you closer to achieving a leaner, more muscular physique in no time!

What Happens If We Don’t Eat After a Workout?

What Happens If We Don't Eat After a Workout?

It is essential to refuel the body after an intense workout. Otherwise, our bodies won’t be able to efficiently build muscle or repair themselves. After a strenuous exercise session, what we eat plays a major role in how quickly we can recover and reach our desired fitness goals.

If we don’t eat shortly after exercising, the body starts using its own proteins as fuel instead of building new muscle. This results in fatigue and slower recovery times between workouts. Additionally, it increases the risk of overtraining due to insufficient energy levels needed for more intense activities.

On top of that, not eating after exercise also slows down your metabolism and decreases testosterone production – both of which are necessary for proper muscle formation and maintenance. As such, what to eat to gain muscle post-workout is just as important as what we consume throughout the day.

The best way to refuel is with a combination of protein and carbohydrates. Protein helps repair muscle tissue and aids in growth, while carbs provide energy for your next workout. It’s also helpful to include some healthy fats such as olive oil or nut butter in order to keep you satiated for longer periods of time. A good balance between these macronutrients will help sustain optimum energy levels while introducing essential nutrients that can aid muscular development.

Overall, what we eat after exercise is just as crucial (if not more so) than what we consume prior to working out. Eating the right foods in the right amount allows us to stay energized, recover faster and build lean muscle mass. So make sure to refuel properly after your workouts with what to eat to gain muscle – it’s the key to achieving lasting results!

Just remember: what you choose matters as much as how much you consume when it comes to what to eat to gain muscle. Eating the right kinds of foods in appropriate amounts is what will help ensure success on your health journey. Focus on consuming a variety of protein-rich foods (like eggs, fish, and poultry) that are also high in healthy fats and complex carbohydrates for sustained energy levels throughout the day. Add colorful fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals – all while making sure not to consume too much sugar or processed foods. Doing so will offer the best chance of success when it comes to what to eat to gain muscle!

Final Thought

When it comes to what to eat to gain muscle, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, you need to find what works for your individual needs and goals. It’s important to remember that simple dietary changes are often enough for most people looking for leaner muscles. Establishing a calorie surplus (eating more calories than what you burn) is key, as well as including plenty of high protein and complex carbohydrate sources in your diet. For those who have already achieved their target weight but want bigger muscles, supplementing with a higher protein intake may help.

Finally, to achieve the best results, it’s essential to track what you eat and make necessary changes depending on what your body needs. Consider creating a food diary to be able to identify what’s working and what’s not, so that you can make the necessary adjustments and continue what to eat to gain muscle in an efficient manner.

Good nutrition is essential to obtain the most out of your workouts and see results. With the right combinations of what to eat to gain muscle, you can achieve your fitness goals in no time! Don’t forget to check out our other articles and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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Anthony Michelin

Anthony Michelin


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