A lot of muscle builders are so obsessed with protein that they keep on chomping on protein powders day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong, protein powders are powerful supplements, but it’s not the only nourishment you need to bulk up. Overall nutrition is crucial if you want to gain not just muscles, but LEAN muscles. You subject your body to strenuous routines at the gym, causing lots of fluids and macronutrients to be flushed out of your system. With this, knowing what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles should be a priority.
High-protein foods are necessary to support muscle growth. The amino acid it contains ensures that your muscles are well-fed. However, calories are also essential as a source of energy and for added mass. You have to eat big not just in terms of amount, but also in the nutrient profile of the food items.
Here are 15 of the best muscle-building foods you should incorporate into your diet:
If there’s one protein source you shouldn’t be guilty of eating, it would be eggs. This high-protein food is packed with essential nutrients like choline, B-vitamins, healthy fats, and calories. Eggs contain complete protein which means it bears all the amino acids required by the body. Each egg has six grams of protein which is biologically utilized to support muscle growth.
There’s also five grams of fat on each egg, but only a small portion is considered as “bad fat”. Nevertheless, bodybuilders still need some dose of fat from time to time.
If you’re worried about cholesterol levels, there’s nothing to fear since eggs aren’t likely to spike up your cholesterol levels to the roof.
2. Lean beef
What to eat to lose fat and gain muscles? Beef is an excellent source of quality protein too. It contains creatine, a supplement that’s widely known to boost lean muscle development. Studies have proven that consumption of lean beef benefits muscle mass during training.
Beef with about 95% protein is an excellent option. A 100-gram serving can give you whopping 27 grams of protein. The thing about lean beef is it tends to be high in fat, but it also has better vitamin and mineral content than other meat products. It has loads of vitamin B, iron, and zinc that are essential in muscle building. If you’re not a fan of beef, you should start eating it like you mean it!
3. Beans and nuts
A variety of beans like kidney beans and black pinto can provide up to 15 grams of protein per 170-gram serving. Aside from organically supporting your muscles, it also contains fiber and vitamin B as well as iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. It promotes better digestion with added nourishment.
If you’re vegan, adding more beans to your diet will be excellent. These plant-based protein sources may not be as concentrated as meat, but it will be a great alternative.
You can also snack on oatmeal, quinoa, and lentils for more protein. These are also sources of carbs that your body needs for extra energy. That’s what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles.
4. Chicken breast
Chicken breasts are one of the staple foods of bodybuilders. A diet containing chicken is proven to help trigger fat loss together with muscle buildup. How? Chicken breast has 26 grams of protein for every three-ounce serving as well as vitamin B-complex to aid an active lifestyle.
Of all cuts, the breast area is the leanest chicken meat you can get. It has a complete amino acid profile the same with eggs so there’s no doubt that it’s a powerful food for the muscles.
The only caveat about chicken is it’s not the best source of iron. Nevertheless, you can always compensate with other food items like beans or a serving of lean beef.
5. Protein powder
This one doesn’t need further introduction. Protein powders took muscle building by storm and it hasn’t slowed down since then. The market is flooded with different formulations. The most common nowadays is whey protein powders with slow-digesting amino acids. This works by ‘rationing’ the muscles of protein supply even hours after the initial ingestion.
Protein powder helps muscle gainers augment their protein intake without the need to take loads of solid foods. It’s also an on-the-go option since most protein supplements nowadays can be dissolved into a cup of water as a refreshing drink. Protein powder with hefty calorie content is what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles.
6. Cottage cheese
As a dairy product, there’s no doubt that cottage cheese would be ideal for muscle gain. A 226-gram serving has lavish 26 grams of protein. Aside from that, cottage cheese also has leucine, an essential amino acid for muscle synthesis. There’s more: it has casein, a substance that’s usually found on post-workout supplements.
You can choose the type of cottage cheese you want to eat depending on your caloric requirements. If you’re still gaining more mass, reach for a high-calorie serving. Also, eat cottage cheese for dinner. The anabolic characteristics of casein prevent your muscles from starving while you sleep. This means you keep building mass even when you’re catching some winks.
Fishes are excellent for muscle building. But salmon, specifically, is one of the best choices. It contains about 17 grams of protein per serving with added B-vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids. The supply of these two substances is crucial when you’re exercising. It also helps normalize insulin levels in the blood as you consume more carbs.
Salmon is an all-around food that can be cooked in different ways. Aside from the two mentioned nutrients, salmon boasts a long list of vitamins and minerals. Fishes are also low in bad cholesterol which is good for those who have issues with meat and poultry products. Salmon has low saturated fat. It’s definitely what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles.
If you’re a fan of seafood, you’ll be delighted to know that scallops are one of the best foods for your muscles. It’s very lean that every 3.5-ounce serving contains 15 grams of protein and only about half a gram of fat. Scallops are excellent post-workout meals since it has high magnesium content that helps reduce muscle tension. This seafood is also a good source of zinc that assists in the process of muscle synthesis.
You don’t have to worry about splurging in scallops since a 100-gram serving only has 27% of your daily sodium requirement. It will just give a slight increase in your blood pressure, but still low enough to be in the normal range.
9. Greek yogurt
Switching to plain Greek yogurt will give your muscles a big favor. Greek yogurt has higher protein content compared to flavored ones you purchase at the supermarket. This yogurt also contains probiotic bacteria that promote better digestion and nutrient absorption.
Aside from its impressive protein profile, Greek yogurt has high carb content which makes it an excellent post-workout snack. It also has added calcium for bone health plus vitamins to boost the immune system. Medical professionals even recommend that you snack on plain yogurt paired with a fruit after working out. You can eat both free-fat or full-fat options depending on what your diet requires. Knowing what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles will save you from sugar bombs that don’t give you any favor.
10. Brown rice
If you’re looking for a food item packed with both carbs and protein, nothing beats brown rice. Each cup of brown rice has five grams of protein with added branched-chain amino acids that play a vital role in muscle synthesis. This makes it an excellent protein source for vegetarian muscle builders. Not to mention the 45 grams of carbs per serving, brown rice is a great source of energy too.
The big difference between brown and white rice is the processing. White rice was processed further to remove the germ and the bran, thus fewer nutrients and fiber content. This makes brown rice a healthier option since you’ll get additional vitamin B-complex and iron.
11. Almond butter
It’s time to swap your traditional peanut butter with almond butter! This nutty goodness is gaining popularity due to its better protein to fat ratio. It also has a milder taste and contains loads of vitamins E and B2 to strengthen the immune system. If you’re finding it hard to eat solid foods just to pump up your calorie intake, devour spoonfuls of almond butter. That’s what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles without feeling guilty.
The beauty of almond doesn’t stop on its protein profile. Like any nut, it’s packed with fiber, minerals, and healthy fat that support various bodily processes aside from muscle synthesis. You’re free to snack on raw almonds or the butter if you want a dose of protein and carbs in one.
Tempeh originated in Indonesia and is made of fermented soybean. The controlled fermentation begins by adding a tempeh starter that contains live molds (don’t worry, this is safe to eat, we promise). It’s left soaking on this mix for two days until the soybeans form a cake-like consistency. Tempeh is cooked in a variety of ways and you can also experiment with it on your next meals.
This food item is rich in probiotics and protein that help nutrient absorption and muscle growth. It can even pit with chicken in terms of protein consistency. In fact, the protein tempeh contains is already converted into amino acids for faster absorption and delivery to the muscles.
Vegetarians, rejoice! Tofu is an excellent alternative to meat by providing a rich consistency of protein. This food item is made from soy so there’s no doubt it shares the same excellent nutritional profile. It’s like paneer but made out of soymilk. Tofu can be fried, steamed, sautéed, or eaten raw. A 100-gram serving of tofu has at least eight grams of protein to help you gain lean muscles.
It could be bland, but tofu is rich in potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium for overall nourishment. Tofu is a very versatile food and you can add it to your meals without changing the taste too much. It’s what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles; however, those who have soybean allergy can’t enjoy this benefit.
If you don’t want to eat meat, but you want to have something close to it, tuna will be the best choice. Tuna bears a high protein consistency than any other terrestrial animal. This is very lean that a five-ounce can have a whopping 30 grams of protein. That’s equivalent to one to two scoops of protein powder supplements.
It’s best to stick on light tuna canned with oil for higher calorie content and fewer fats. However, take it easy when eating tuna. You should only consume one can every three days to avoid the risk of mercury contamination. Besides, diversifying your diet will prevent your taste buds from getting tired of the nutritious fish.
I know, I know. This isn’t food. But since you’re already here, I want to stress the value of keeping your body hydrated. You can consume all the lean foods you can think of, but if you don’t drink enough water, your body will have a hard type processing and absorbing the nutrients.
About 70% of our muscles are made of water so it makes sense that you should also prioritize its hydration. The idea of drinking more water isn’t just a marketing ploy of bottled water companies. Remember that dehydration is the leading cause of daytime fatigue and a drastic decline in physical strength.
A report from the Biochemistry Journal stated that water deprivation can shrink the cells and start protein breakdown. You just don’t’ feel lethargic; you also lose muscles if you don’t sip enough liquids, water specifically.
When you work out, your body sweats heavily and reduces lots of fluids in the process. You have to replace it so your system will function at an optimal state.
By knowing what to eat to lose fat and gain muscles, you gear your habits into a muscle-building lifestyle.