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When you’re looking to grow lean-muscle, it’s not just about what you do in the gym – it’s what you put in your body too. Nutritionists have long known that you are what you eat, but that message has sometimes taken a little longer to drip down to your friendly neighbourhood fitness buff.

Nevertheless, we’re beginning to pay more attention than ever to what we put in our bodies. So, what are the top 10 muscle building foods that your body absolutely needs if you’re going to gain lean muscle? Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Brown rice – Perhaps the easiest change to make to your diet, the move to brown rice is essential. Brown rice provides longer lasting energy throughout your day and can help boost your growth hormone levels, which encourage lean muscle growth and strength gains.
  • Beetroot – Love it of loathe it, beetroot is a tremendous food for those looking to build muscle. Clinical trials have shown it to increase muscle strength and power, whilst also helping with liver health and joint repair.
  • Beef from grass fed cattle – Chicken has gained a reputation as the meat for muscle growth, thanks to high levels of protein, but beef is arguably the better choice. Its high protein content, cholesterol, B vitamins, zinc and iron levels make it an essential eat. Grass fed cows have much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid, which gives your body a better chance of shedding body fat and building lean muscle.
  • Eggs – Eggs have been unfairly maligned for being ‘high in cholesterol’, but that’s just bad science. Eggs actually have a type of cholesterol which decreases the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol particles, serving an essential function. For those looking to build muscle, eggs are a complete protein – just remember to eat both the yolk and white.
  • Oranges – Fruit’s health benefits are amongst the first things any of us learn about foot, but oranges are great for building muscle too, especially if you eat them before a workout.
  • Organic cottage cheese – Cheese? For fitness? Yes! Organic cottage cheese is rich in casein protein, making it the perfect before-bed snack, ensuring your muscles aren’t being used as an energy source during the night.
  • Quinoa – Achingly fashionable, quinoa has seen a huge boost in popularity over the last year. It’s also a complete protein, a slow-digesting carb and has been linked with an increase in insulin-like growth factor 1, which has been shown to improve lean muscle and strength gains.
  • Spinach – Popeye loved it, and he was pretty ripped. Though it won’t give you his legendary strength, it’s a good source of glutamine, which is important for lean muscle growth.
  • Greek yogurt – Greek yogurt has more protein (20g) and fewer carbs (9g) per cup than traditional yogurt, making it an excellent choice for muscle fanatics.
  • Apples – Humble? Yes, though that shouldn’t be a reason to write them off. The polyphenols in apples help to increase muscle strength and prevent fatigue, as well as burn fat, making them an excellent pre-workout carbohydrate source.

The best thing of all though? Each of these ingredients is easy to incorporate into your diet and super easy to find in the supermarket. So what are you waiting for?

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