8 Foods That Help Build Muscle | Fitbie

Muscle Building Diet

8 Foods That Help Build Muscle

Muscles don’t just grow in the gym—find out how to pump up your plate (and your body) with these strength-enhancing eats

Pump Up Your Plate!

8 Foods That Help Build Muscle // edamame © Mitch Mandel

Image: Mitch Mandel
You can’t build muscle without hitting the gym, but you can grow your guns (or your gams or your six-pack) more efficiently by properly fueling your body. There’s no single food that holds the secret to bigger, stronger muscles, but protein is one nutrient that plays a major role in muscle development.

Protein is composed of 22 amino acids (what are these?), 9 of which our body can’t produce naturally, so it’s necessary to get them from foods like meat and dairy products. There’s one particularly promising amino acid called leucine that works “like a light switch,” according to Roberta Anding, RD, dietitian for the Houston Texans, to signal muscle protein synthesis, crucial to muscle growth and repair. Though protein requirements vary based on your size and activity level, a general rule is to consume about 20 g of protein per serving about three times a day. You should aim to get 2.5 to 3 g of leucine in each serving to maximize your time in the gym. You won’t want to exceed around 28 g of protein in a single sitting, because there’s a limit to how much your body can use at one time.

Avoid Common Strength Training Mistakes

In addition to filling your plate with protein-rich foods, it’s important to eat an array of foods in general, with a balance of carbohydrates and healthy fats, as well as fruits and veggies. Carbs supply your body with the energy it needs to build muscle, while fats help keep your brain and central nervous system—which control your muscles—performing smoothly. Meanwhile, fruits and vegetables pack antioxidants. These have anti-inflammatory properties and may help protect against muscle soreness.

To help you gain an edge in the weight room, we’ve identified a few mighty morsels that contain an optimal balance of nutrients for muscle growth. Read on and load up your plate today.

Tone Your Body at Home

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