So you’ve decided you want to build muscle, and you’re not quite sure where to start. First of all, why are muscles important? When you hear the word muscle, do you automatically think of body building or being extremely fit and muscular? Well muscles are important for everyone whether we’re skinny, muscular, overweight, young or old. Muscles allow us to move our bodies.
A muscle consists of thousands of small musculus fibers. Nerves command the musculus fibers which make the muscle contract. The body metabolizes food to make adenosine triphosphate and then muscle cells turn ATP into energy.
What’s the trick to building muscle? Unfortunately, there isn’t one easy trick for building muscle. It’s a combination of several factors that contributes to muscle growth, and it takes time and dedication to build muscle. Exercise, weight lifting, hydration, and a proper diet are all necessary if you’re trying to gain muscle.
Can I turn fat into muscle? The answer to this question is no. Muscle is separate from fat, and fat is separate from muscle. You cannot turn one into the other. However when you build muscle, you are burning more fat.
How many calories should I be consuming per day for muscle growth? An easy way to figure out how many calories you’ll need for your muscle gaining journey is to multiply your total body weight in pounds by 15-17 calories. For example, a 150 lb female should be consuming about 2,250-2,550 calories per day.
Finally, what foods promote muscle growth? While protein remains the most sought after nutrient for muscle growth, a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates and healthy fats are crucial as well. So let’s look at the top 10 foods that are muscle builders!
1. Lean Beef
Meat is packed with protein. High protein foods and supplements deliver the amino acid building blocks that promote muscle protein synthesis. Protein rich foods increase thermogenesis, the body’s calorie burning mechanism. Beef is full of the same kinds of proteins humans are made of like myosin, troponin, collagen, and connective tissue proteins. That makes consuming lean red meat desirable for building muscle.
2. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is packed with muscle building nutrients. It’s full of protein, calcium, and vitamin D- all great for muscle growth! A protein rich diet can help boost metabolism and reduce hunger. Greek yogurt is a great pre-workout and post-workout snack because it is so light, yet packs a bunch of awesome nutrients, including probiotic cultures.
According to a new study, individuals who consume more than 18g of protein from eggs as a post resistance exercise meal differ dramatically in how their muscles build protein, a process called protein synthesis. Eggs contain about 6g of high quality protein, and are full of important nutrients like zinc, calcium and iron. On top of all that, eggs have all 8 essential amino acids that are optimal for muscle growth! These things make eggs the standard food for muscle growth.
Fish skeletal muscle is molecularly similar to mammalian skeletal muscle, and offers the same protein per ounce. However, fish muscle is typically more lean. Much of the calories from fish are derived from protein, making it an amazing protein packed food essential for muscle growth. The benefits of consuming salmon go beyond just protein intake. Salmon contains high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids which help significantly with exercise recovery by reducing soreness and even inflammation. Fish oil supplements have been shown to boost muscle growth, too.
Almonds are one of the best sources of vitamin E and and it’s the best way to absorb it into the body. Vitamin E is extremely important to building muscle because it fights free radicals since it is so abundant in antioxidants. Free radical damage to muscles slows down the recovery, slowing down muscle growth.
6. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast compares to lead red meats and salmon thanks to its protein richness. A 3 ounce serving of skinless chicken breast contains about 27 grams of protein! It is important that the chicken consumed is boneless, and is the breast as it has a lean protein profile. In some ways chicken breast is even better for muscle growth than beef because it contains less fat.
We’ve discussed that animal protein is important because of its similarities to human protein. Recent studies suggest that soy protein is equivalent to animal protein in its effectiveness to build muscle. The soybean is a species of legume and a widely grown bean. Soybeans contain a significant amount of protein making them great for muscle building.
Canned tuna is sometimes a staple in the diets of body builders. It’s cheap and it packs a huge amount of protein. Some canned tuna contains up to 30g of protein. If you’re not excited about eating tuna out of the can, there are tons of recipes you can incorporate this protein packed fish into like toasted tuna sandwiches, tuna pancakes, fish cakes, and simple tuna salad.
Quinoa contains complex carbohydrates, complete protein, and fiber while being gluten free. It’s also full of antioxidants and minerals. Now I know we’ve mostly been talking about protein so far, but you can’t build muscle on just protein. You need carbohydrates and healthy fats as part of a healthy, balanced diet otherwise there will be no muscles being built.
It’s the last on this list, but water is the single most important nutrient for development, growth, and health. It is a key factor and crucial when trying to build muscle. Many people underestimate water’s importance to the body. Without water, your muscles don’t get electrolytes, muscles cramp; control and strength are weakened.
Dehydration can also put you in the slumps and make you not want to work out. According to a recent study, 75% of Americans have mild chronic dehydration. This means most of us are suffering from fatigue without realizing we are the ones causing the fatigue by not supplying our bodies with water. Water is essential to maintain proper kidney, heart, and brain function. If you’re dehydrated, forget about building muscle.