When it comes to packing on muscle, many people will think that the only way to achieve your muscle definition goal is to spend countless hours in the gym. I’ve been there, done it and got the t-shirt! Putting the time, work and effort in is clearly important but working out alone is not the most effective way to achieve your muscle aspirations.
You’ve probably all heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” Well this is partly right. It is crucial to ensure that your nutrition is right when you are looking to increase your muscle mass. This is where you need to have the right diet and a focus on protein will help you to work harder and rest more effectively. It is not as though you should solely focus on protein, any diet that focuses on a single element is never going to be great but you need to make sure you add more quality protein to your diet. This will provide an added push for your workout routine and it will help your muscles to recover more effectively during your rest and recovery periods.
Before I start and tell you my top four muscle foods, maybe it’s a good idea to chat through how your body develops and actually builds muscle. I’d say just about everyone knows that eating protein will help build muscle, but why? Protein synthesis is “removing or repairing damaged proteins and building new ones that are replicas of the original.” When you train, you break muscle. As you rest, the muscle rebuilds and if you are following good advice – it will rebuild bigger, more dense and stronger.
You should also consider that poor technique, not enough rest between workouts and lifting really heavy weights may undo a lot of the hard work. Balance is key here and by levelling these factors, you will see huge improvements.
Here are the top four muscle foods that will have a positive impact on your muscle ambitions:
If you are keen to add muscle, fish should be at the top of your shopping list!
I personally love tuna and it has 30 grams of protein for every 100 grams of tuna. Incredible! It’s also really cheap to buy. I literally load my shopping trolley with this stuff every week. I love it so much I can eat it straight out of the can. If you’re not as keen, try mixing it with low-fat mayonnaise, sweet corn and peppers.
Another example of an excellent fish to try is salmon as it is loaded with nutrients and it offers a considerable amount of protein. You can expect to find around 25 grams of protein for every 100 grams of salmon you consume, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to add muscle.
One of the hardest things I encounter throughout the day (and I work from home) is the constant hunger spell. Sometimes you want to graze or fill up as you go while also thinking of your need for protein. This is where a cup or handful of almonds can provide you with what you are looking. A small cup of almonds can provide you with close to 8 grams of protein, packing a strong punch for a small snack. Almonds provide other health benefits and you can expect to be full of energy when you consume almonds.
Be careful not to select salted almonds, these are quite popular in supermarkets such as Lidl. I like the salted ones but you don’t want too much salt in your diet. Here are some more nutritional facts about almonds.
Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fibre, vitamin E and magnesium. The health benefits of almonds include reduced blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels. They can also reduce hunger and promote weight loss. Like I say, it’s a perfect snack to have close by!
Kind of obvious one but I’ve listed it just in case you didn’t realise that chicken is an excellent protein source and therefore an excellent muscle food. Chicken is another known favourite for people looking to add more protein to their diet. If you are able to get a good quality lean chicken, you can expect to find around 31 grams of protein for every 100 grams of chicken.
In an even better bonus, this should provide you with just 4 grams of fat. This is a fantastic protein ratio and the fact that chicken is tasty and versatile should ensure that it is a regular dinner time meal for anyone looking to gain muscle. There are literally hundreds of recipes that include chicken and some of my favourites include most style curries, soups, fajitas and risotto.
4. Cottage Cheese
If you are looking for a product that bodybuilders in the know love but you may be surprised by, look no further than cottage cheese. It’s not something I really love but I believe it’s an essential ingredient that you should be consuming.
This is a low calorie and low fat option that manages to provide you with a considerable amount of protein. Cottage cheese can be eaten anywhere, making it the natural choice for many bodybuilders.
There are 11 grams of protein in 100 grams of cottage cheese. This may not be as high as some other foods such as fish and chicken but it’s a generous amount and you should consider cottage cheese in your diet. Cottage cheese doesn’t only offer a lot of protein, it’s also packed with essential vitamins and minerals. For this reason, it’s widely used by athletes and in weight loss plans.
So there are my top four muscle foods that I consume every week and on most days. If you’re not including these in your balanced diet then what are you waiting for? Remember though, “everything in moderation.”
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