So many of us are concerned with staying trim and fit by eating right and doing cardiovascular workouts that we overlook the importance of building and maintaining muscle mass through diet and exercise. Having a lean and muscular physique provides many benefits.
One of the most important is that muscle tissue burns through calories, even while at rest. This in turn increases the metabolism and boosts energy levels all day long, while keeping the body trim. Muscles also help burn the fat stores in the areas around them. This is why simple muscle building exercises like squats and pushups are just as important for fat loss as cardiovascular exercises.
With that said, diet is of even greater importance when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass. Most bodybuilders and fitness models will tell you that their training program, in terms of importance, comes down to about seventy percent diet and thirty percent exercise.
These professionals know there are certain foods that are rich in protein and have high concentrations of essential amino acids, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, enzymes and other nutrients, all of which are crucial in supporting protein synthesis and and maintaining a muscular build. The foods listed below are known to be among the most essential for muscle development.
Top 25 healthy muscle building foods
1. Water – although this one isn’t actually a food it certainly is the most important item on this list, as muscle tissue is comprised of over 75 percent water
2. Whey protein concentrate – the most complete amino acid profile among any food
3. Pea protein powder – a very complete protein source; great for vegans
4. Free range organic eggs – next to whey protein, contains the highest concentration of essential amino acids
5. Raw milk – a protein and vitamin rich food known for its muscle building properties
6. Bison – higher in protein than beef and are not confined to feedlots
7. Free range organic chicken breast – rich in glutamine and other essential amino acids
8. Grass fed organic beef – grass fed beef is much higher in CLA, which aids in body composition
9. Fish – wild salmon and tilapia are among the best; avoid tuna due to high mercury levels
10. Turkey – a very lean protein source
11. Nuts – walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds are among the best
12. Oysters – great for naturally boosting testosterone levels
13. Beans – a very slow digesting carbohydrate high in zinc and fiber
14. Oats – steel cut are best but old fashioned work too; avoid quick oats
15. Peanut butter – high in healthy fats and protein and low in carbohydrates
16. Cottage cheese – very low in sugar and high in protein
17. Yogurt – Greek yogurt is best
18. Bananas – a potassium and vitamin rich food
19. Avocados – very rich in unsaturated fatty acids
20. Healthy oils – olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, hemp oil, flax seed oil as well as others
21. Spinach – other green leafy vegetables offer similar benefits
22. Broccoli – a superfood vegetable; others include tomatoes, kale, cauliflower and bok choy
23. Berries – high in antioxidants and many other vitamins necessary for muscle growth
24. Quinoa and brown rice – both are rich in B vitamins and slow digesting
25. Apples and other fruit – high in fiber which cleanses the system and allows for better nutrient absorption
As always, purchase organic or local items when possible to avoid toxins and get more nutrients out of your foods. It’s also important to limit alcohol consumption as it retards muscle growth. By consuming these foods regularly along with weekly muscle building exercises you will see a substantial increase in muscle tone and overall health.