To build muscle, individuals need to consider nutrition alongside resistance training. Protein is a key macronutrient, but a person also needs to eat carbohydrates to replenish glycogen and avoid fatigue.
This article explains the importance of nutrition and what to eat to build muscle.
It also lists 30 foods with sufficient amounts of protein, including those suitable for a plant-based diet, and discusses additional health benefits these foods may have.
Eating the right foods can help someone build muscle, recover from training, and maintain their energy levels.
People performing high-intensity resistance training may benefit from up to 3 g of protein per kg of body weight per day.
The ISSN suggests that consuming 45–55% of daily calories as carbohydrates is sufficient for a general fitness program. However, people who take part in high-volume training may require more than this.
To support any training program, including resistance training, people need to eat a healthy diet that includes vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. They should also make sure they are adequately hydrated.
Vitamins, minerals, and water help people perform well, recover from exercise, and maintain their general health.
The following are foods containing protein to help someone build muscle. Some also contain carbohydrates and fiber, while many others contain beneficial micronutrients.
A boiled or poached egg contains
Eggs contain the amino acid leucine, which research indicates is essential for muscle synthesis.
Eggs are also a suitable source of B vitamins that people need to produce energy.
A medium chicken breast without skin weighing 120 g contains
Chicken without the skin is a low fat protein source that someone can easily add to different meals and recipes.
Like chicken, turkey is a low fat protein source that is adaptable to different meals and recipes.
Five ounces (oz) of Greek yogurt contains 12–18 g of protein.
A person could add some carbohydrate-rich banana to their Greek yogurt for a healthy snack after training.
Part-skimmed cottage cheese contains 14 g of protein per half-cup.
Cottage cheese is also rich in calcium for healthy bones.
A 227 g salmon steak contains
Tuna fish is a suitable source of omega-3 fatty acids besides their benefits for general health and inflammation.
Tuna contains 7 g of protein per ounce.
Skimmed or 1% fat milk contains 8 g of protein per 8 oz, and high protein milk contains 13 g of protein per 8 oz.
As long as individuals tolerate milk, it can be a healthy choice to boost protein and hydration after exercise.
Milk also contains calcium which people require for healthy bones.
Dried beef or turkey jerky contains 10–15 g of protein per oz.
Jerky can be a protein-rich snack that people can easily transport when going to the gym.
Whey protein powder
Whey protein isolate powder contains 50 g of protein per 3 scoops.
If someone tolerates whey protein powder, they can boost their protein intake by making shakes and drinks.
Soy protein powder
Soy protein powder contains around 25 g of protein per scoop.
People who eat a plant-based diet may find soy protein powder a valuable addition to boost their protein intake. They can add it to a smoothie along with some fruit and plant-based milk.
Edamame beans are immature soybeans. Some people use them in Asian cooking.
One oz of dry-roasted edamame beans contains 13 g of protein, which is a suitable option as a quick and convenient snack.
- high protein
- balanced amino acid profile
- fiber content
- range of vitamins and minerals
- absence of gluten
The same review indicates that quinoa has a protein content of between 9.1–15.7 g per 100 g, depending on where manufacturers cultivate it.
Chickpeas, which people also call garbanzo beans, are a suitable source of protein and carbohydrates.
A person can choose to eat chickpeas either dried and soaked, canned, or as a ready-made dish such as dahl.
Canned chickpeas contain
Hummus, which contains ground chickpeas, has 7 g of protein per one-third of a cup.
A cup of cooked brown rice contains
Tofu is a suitable protein source for people eating a plant-based diet, containing
When manufacturers prepare tofu with nigari, it is also an excellent source of calcium for healthy bones. It contains 345 milligrams (mg) of calcium per 100g.
Seeds are a suitable source of healthy fats, fiber, and minerals such as magnesium and zinc.
A half-cup of roasted sunflower seeds contains just under 14 g of protein, while a half-cup of roasted pumpkin and squash seeds contains around 18 g of protein.
People can eat seeds as a snack or sprinkle them on breakfasts, salads, or vegetables.
- amino acids, particularly taurine
- vitamins and minerals
- omega-3 fatty acids
However, according to
One cup of peanuts contains nearly
Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 7 g of protein.
Peanuts also contain 257 mg of magnesium per cup, which
A cup of chopped shelled walnut halves contains 15.2 g of protein and 9 g of omega-3 fatty acids, which may benefit muscle building.
Walnuts are also a suitable source of dietary vitamin E, which
Buckwheat is a seed that people can use as a grain or flour. Retailers sometimes market buckwheat as groats or kasha.
A cup of buckwheat contains 22.5 g of protein and
Buckwheat is a valuable addition to a plant-based diet, and people can use it in place of rice or use the flour to make protein pancakes.
Lean pork or fresh ham contains nearly 40 g of protein per cup.
The authors suggested that pork is a nutritious meat that does not negatively impact someone’s cardiovascular risk.
Lentils provide a protein source for people following plant-based diets, and someone can achieve a balanced amino acid profile by combining lentils with a whole grain such as brown rice.
Beans are a valuable source of protein for people eating plant-based diets.
Kidney beans, black beans, and navy beans contain 8 g of protein per half-cup.
Beans are also a
A cup of dry roasted almonds without salt contains nearly 29 g of protein.
Nuts also provide fiber to help keep someone fuller for longer and B vitamins for energy during training.
However, many kinds of cheese are a source of saturated fats. Government guidelines advise people to limit saturated fats to no more than 10% of their daily calories.
High protein cereals
Some packaged cereals are higher in protein, with between 7 and 15 g of protein per portion.
Eating high protein cereals for breakfast also offers a source of carbohydrates and fiber.
Soy milk is a suitable protein source for people who follow a plant-based diet or are intolerant to dairy milk.
An 8 oz portion of soy milk contains 7 g of protein.
People need a variety of protein sources and amino acids to build muscle during training.
They can choose from many common animal- and plant-based foods and combine these with adequate amounts of carbohydrates.
Protein foods, such as oily fish, may have additional benefits for health and exercise.
Individuals should ensure they consume essential vitamins and minerals in their diet for energy, performance, and recovery. They should also make sure they are adequately hydrated.