22 Best Muscle Building Foods (Eat Your Way to a Lean Mass)

Jeff Baldelli
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TOP 22 Best Muscle Building Foods

Muscle building foods are good for bodybuilders and athletes who need to pack on a lot of muscle mass in a short amount of time. For most people, consumption of such foods will help them maintain a lean, muscular physique that will help them look good, feel good and improve their overall health.

Chicken Breast

Among poultry choices, chicken breast comprises the leanest variety.

Healthy individuals do no need to eat chicken breast more than once or twice a week; however, it’s a fine option for people who eat it daily. To prevent getting tired of the taste, you can purchase the lowest-calorie form (grilled, boiled, broiled, and roasted) and complement with a variety of flavors.

The 0 calorie trans fat free Chicken is prepared to have a Nutritional value of over 50g which means that a serving size of 100g, contains approximately 54g of protein.

Remember to ditch the sugary dipping sauce for this one. The natural flavor is already tantalizing enough.

The ideal Skinless and Boneless Chicken Breast weighs 100g.


Eggs are one of the most versatile foods on this planet. Eggs have been known to make the world (or at least the food we eat) go round for ages.

With more than 55 million hens laying eggs in North America, chances are that you’ve eaten an egg at least once in the last year.

Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition. However, if you’ve been dining on just the whites for a while, you might be missing out on some nutrients.

Although you can use whites in cooking, there is one crucial component to a healthy egg yolk … the “good fat,” otherwise known as “cholesterol.”

The yolk of a single egg contains more than 180 mg of cholesterol, more than any other food.

Although there are some mixed messages about eggs, egg yolks have been a part of the human diet for centuries. Many people have thrived for generations on a diet rich in whole eggs.

However, not all eggs are created equal. Omega-3 eggs, which are raised on free-range hens that are free to roam, provide more nutrients.

Lean Beef

Top Round Roast: 100 g of 85% lean top round roast contains 23 grams of protein. It only has 17 grams of fat and 138 calories. You can grill it, broil it or roast it. It also makes a great stir-fry. It tastes great if you season it with black pepper and a little bit of salt.

Top Sirloin Steak: 100 g of top sirloin is about the same as 100 g of top round roast. It has about 20 grams of protein, 19 grams of fat and 104 calories. It tastes just as delicious as the roast. It’s also good for a stir-fry.

90% Lean Ground Beef: 90% lean ground beef is rich in protein. 100 g has about 18 grams of protein, 27 grams of fat and 222 calories. To enjoy this, you can cook it with a little bit of soy sauce and make it into a healthy burger. Or you can incorporate it in your favorite Asian dish.

Lean Ground Turkey: 100 g of lean turkey has about 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat and 29 calories. You can have it as a burger patty or create your own turkey burger. Cooking it with a little bit of soy sauce will add flavor. You can even throw it in the blender with a little bit of fat-free yogurt and some vegetables and make healthy turkey meatballs.

Cottage Cheese

The first suggestion on the list is a vogue one. Many bodybuilders consider cottage cheese, the “king of protein” to be the vogue meal of choice, as it’s an excellent food.

Cottage cheese is a low-fat, inexpensive dairy choice. It’s an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, protein, and Vitamin A, among other nutrients. The fat and cholesterol in cottage cheese is generally all cholesterol is not considered harmful.

Despite the cottage cheese being low in fat and cholesterol, it actually has a neutral or negative effect on certain indexes of cardiovascular disease, according to the Physicians’ Health study. The study shows that this is due to the minerals and vitamins that the body receives. Best of all, it’s about 15 grams of protein per cup!

With fluid milk, skim milk, and whole milk, you’re really only getting about 13 grams of protein per cup. A very popular use for cottage cheese is on top of fruit salad, either as a main course or as a side dish choice.


Salmon is without a doubt one of the best muscle building foods there is. It is full of important amino acids, is low in calories, and has omega 3. It is an easily digestible fish, which is important when you are trying to put on lean mass.

The reason salmon is so good for you is it contains high-quality protein. As mentioned above, this is one of the most important nutrients for building muscle.

The fat content between lean meat and fatty is another reason that salmon is a popular lean-enriching meat. Salmon has a high protein-to-fat ratio compared to most other meat; therefore, it can be seen as an effective weight-loss tool.

The taste of salmon is also another reason that it is so popular. It is a versatile fish that is easy to cook and can easily be absorbed.

This is probably the best muscle-building food out there due to the high amount of amino acids and the low amount of calories it contains.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a low fat dairy product that is made with strained whey. It has a taste similar to sour cream and sports a higher protein content than regular yogurt.

One five ounce serving of plain Greek yogurt contains 15 grams of protein with less than 2 grams of fat. Every serving also packs in over 10% of the recommended daily amount of calcium and protein. By only consuming one serving each day, you can meet over half of your recommended daily protein intake.

Unlike regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is great for muscle building because it contains a higher probiotic count. Increased daily fiber intake can improve your metabolism, and this will enhance your efficiency while exercising.

It’s true that many people do not like the taste of plain Greek yogurt, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. There are plenty of ways to make this food more palatable.

Greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream or mayonnaise. You can also enjoy it as a snack with fresh fruit or use it as a replacement for part of the other ingredients in many recipes.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein is the most commonly used supplement by bodybuilders and athletes around the world. It contains high amounts of branched chain amino acids that are crucial for muscle growth. Whey protein also contains the amino acid glutamine which helps in improving the immune system and prevents glutamine deficiency that is often seen in people who are stressed out or who exercise a lot.

Whey protein has high digestibility and amino acid score and is rich in essential and non-essential amino acids, which are beneficial for athletes as it helps them in building lean muscle mass as the protein that contains is complete. Whey protein can be consumed before, during or after a workout.

Whey protein contains lactose, minerals, beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin. Whey protein is available in different types like whey concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate. Additionally, carbs build mass for quickly refined growth but can also lead to excess fat gain which is also unhealthy. Carbs are beneficial when having a bulk. A moderate amount of calories is needed with the right type and quality of protein in your diet.


Don’t let this small fish fool you! They’re one of the leanest sources of protein and provide all the essential amino acids that your body needs in order to repair muscle tissue after a tough workout. Most of the fat content in tuna is “good” fats that will help you grow, not subcutaneous fat that will make you look flabby.


This lean protein is the nutritional equivalent to a steak or a chicken breast. It’s 81 percent protein and contains almost no fat. This canned fish contains an affordable dose of protein as well as selenium. This trace mineral helps improve your metabolism and is also vital to producing the male hormone testosterone.


This mineral works with vitamin E to protect your immune system. As an added bonus, selenium helps your body eliminate mercury and other heavy metals. This is why tuna can be a superfood for those who work out regularly. Fish like tuna are rich in the fatty acids you need to build muscle tissue (EPA and DHA) and help your body eliminate the inflammation caused by heavy metals.

Kidney Beans

What the experts say: Kidney beans are among the lowest-carbs beans, with only 37% per cup of the high quality carbs. You’ll also get a lot of minerals in the bargain, such as manganese, potassium, molybdenum, copper, iron and magnesium.

What we say: We’re always big fans of legumes, which are great sources of protein and fiber. We’ve also mentioned before that they’re great for people who don’t eat meat regularly, and are top sources of iron and zinc. Cook kidney beans with a little sodium, like one teaspoon of salt, for the best flavor.

What they say: For weight lifters, one of the highlights of kidney beans is the they’re a great source of creatine. You can get half a day’s worth in just a cup per serving.

What we say: Creatine is a natural compound found in muscle that’s converted into your body’s energy. You can also supplement with it to support your performance in the gym.

Chocolate Milk

If you want to know how to build muscle fast, then you need to get your hands on some chocolate milk.

It’s no secret that milk is a bodybuilders best friend.

But not just any milk, chocolate milk.

Chocolate milk is an excellent post-workout food. Chocolate milk is a great recovery drink because it’s loaded with carbs, fat, and protein.

Carbs replenish glycogen, protein provides the building blocks to repair and build muscle, and a little bit of fat helps the body absorb the nutrients in milk.

Researchers have studied chocolate milk after workouts and found that it promotes recovery from exercise better than regular milk. In one study, scientists found that those who drank chocolate milk gained significantly more lean mass than those who drank a regular recovery beverage.

It’s also an excellent choice for an on-the-go shake. If you’re always on the go and hate packing food for the gym, you can carry chocolate milk in a regular water bottle and it will be just fine.


(Per Cup / 190g)

Recipe: Coconut Quinoa


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 bananas, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of sea salt


Place all the ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes

After 20 minutes, allow to rest for 5 minutes before removing from heat and serving.

Calories (per 2 Cups): 534

Protein: 10.3g

Fat: 24.6g

Carbohydrate: 68.8g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Sodium: 7.5mg

Potassium: 624mg

Fiber: 6.0g

Calcium: 21mg

Magnesium: 168mg

Source: USDA

It has a mild flavor that won’t overpower any other foods. It also contains more protein than most other grains, making it a good source of energy.

Source: US Wellness Meats

Lean meats are a great muscle-building food because they provide the body with protein. Proteins are critical to muscle building and repair.

Try mixing lean meats with other protein-rich foods, such as eggs, cheese, or plain yogurt.

Source: USDA

Soy Protein

There’s a myth that soy protein boosts estrogen levels and decreases testosterone levels. But studies that have been conducted point to the contrary. In a study at Purdue University, scientists compared groups of rats that were fed soy proteins to those that weren’t. The test subjects were either male or female, but regardless of sex, the results were pretty similar. The rats eating a soy-rich diet experienced stronger bones, better birth outcomes and a healthier dose of free-radical-destroying antioxidants. Even in small amounts, the soy diet increased the amount of healthy compounds in the blood. If you’ve been avoiding soy since high school because you’re worried it will mess with your testosterone levels, you’re depriving your body of some pretty rad nutrients.


Almonds are a prime source of the amino acid arginine, which is critical in producing growth hormone.They contain numerous phytonutrients like flavonoids that help in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Almonds are also known to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Almonds are a very good source of fiber and vitamin E. They are affordable and are also high in monounsaturated fats.

Almonds are also known to suppress hunger pangs and are extremely nutritious. They are also very filling. Nutritionists recommend eating almonds just before meals because it can lower your calorie intake and prevent you from overeating. Almonds contain unsaturated fats that are good for anyone who has high cholesterol but are bad for those who have high triglycerides.

Almonds also contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So, it is very important that almonds are consumed in moderation. They can be consumed at any time of the day, though for individuals with heart conditions, it is advisable that they are consumed in moderation.

Almonds are very beneficial for the heart and are very healthy to consume daily. They are also very low in sugar and carbohydrates. They give you a feeling of fullness and they also make a healthy snack.

Turkey Breast

Turkey breast is diet foods as it is very low in calories and fat. Add a little cheese or deli meat to turn this into a meal.

Turkey breast is a great protein source for people who can’t eat meat. Just make sure to cut the skin off because it has fat.

Do not overcook it because it will become tough and rubbery.


Chickpeas are the second most widely grown bean in the world, after the common bean. Chickpeas are packed with dietary fiber, making them extra filling. A half cup serving of cooked chickpeas provides about 18 grams of fiber, one-third of the daily value. Fiber helps promote healthy digestion and lower blood cholesterol, which means it will produce lean muscle.

Net Carbs: 6g

Protein: 19g

Fiber: 19g


Oats are rich in vitamins and minerals, and they’re full of fiber, which promotes a healthy heart. Oats also contain antioxidants that can help combat free radical damage that’s caused by pollution. This can help fight cancer and heart disease.

Combine oats with milk, honey and berries for a healthy breakfast that will give you energy and help build muscle.

Oatmeal can also be used to create other foods that you can eat for muscle building. For example, you can substitute oatmeal for breadcrumbs in meatballs, turkey mince and pork mince to make them extra moist and tasty.

If you can’t stomach eating solid food first thing in the morning, why not try an oat smoothie instead. Mix your oatmeal with skimmed milk and berries and you’ve got a tasty and healthy breakfast.

Many bodybuilders depend on oats in the morning to provide them with the energy and nutrients they need to power through that morning workout.

Chia Seeds

A mighty source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids that help regulate your body’s cardiovascular and immune systems. And, they also help protect your joints which is why they’re a staple for almost every athlete. Chia seeds are also one of the best muscle building foods in the world.

They have the ability to absorb fluid and swell up to 50 times their original size making them an ideal weight loss aid. And, due to the high amount of fiber they contain, helps keep you full…even longer after your meal.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a potent fiber and necessary for muscle.

It can speed metabolism. Fiber also takes more time to digest than carbohydrates; therefore, it has a lower glycemic index.

This fibrous content allows the rice to absorb water and form softer balls. Due to its high cellulose content, it also takes longer to get digested.

The body digests carbohydrates only in the small intestine.

Brown rice also contains healthy fats that play a vital role in hormone production and testosterone production.

It contains B vitamins such as niacin, which helps in the production of adiponectin and HDL cholesterol.

Brown rice also contains selenium, which is necessary for the kidney and thyroid function.

Maintaining a healthy thyroid promotes lean muscle, along with healthy metabolism.

This vitamin is also crucial in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Brown rice contains minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Potassium helps in maintaining blood pressure levels and is required for building muscle.


Broccoli is categorized as a cruciferous vegetable, and it contains a compound known as sulfur, which is associated with the smell of garlic and methyl sulfones.

This compound has been demonstrated to help the body better metabolize fat, which promotes weight loss and muscle building.

While eating broccoli in large amounts isn’t essential to burning fat, it’s still a great addition to a weight loss diet. It’s a great source of vitamins and minerals, and it’s delicious in soups or steamed alongside salmon.


Asparagus is a popular vegetable that goes great with veal or red meat.

It’s full of vitamins C and K, and it also contains more protein than most other vegetables. Plus, even though it’s technically a vegetable, it’s often cooked alongside protein to make a very lean and delicious meal. Microscopic protrusions known as fibrils cover this plant, and these fibrils have been linked with the growth of new muscle cells, which aids in muscle growth.


Rich in zinc, when you are building muscle and you are not working out a lot, with oysters, you’ll be working out without knowing it. Zinc is essential to releasing your body’s anabolic hormone naturally. When your body is releasing its own anabolic hormone, it’ll be building muscle without you even realizing it.

If you are wondering what anabolic hormones are, they are the ones that are responsible for building muscle and letting your body know that it needs to build muscle. This means that if you eat oysters, your body will build muscles without you actually knowing it. That is why it is important to eat oysters in order to build muscle.

Eating oysters is extremely good for you as it has been known to grow hair and strong nails. It is also good news for men who think that testosterone is a good thing.

The zinc that is in oysters is also good for boosting testosterone levels. Therefore, oysters can be a great snack if you are trying to regain the upper hand in your testosterone level.


Beetroots are usually consumed as a cooked veggie. They contain a number of benefits that makes it an important part of a healthy diet. One such benefit is the presence of nitrates found naturally in beet. Nitrates have been found to aid in muscle contraction of the heart. In addition, nitrates have been found to increase oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. They also support fat burning capacity by burning the fat while working out.

In addition to this, the presence of folic acid makes it an important part of post-workout food. The folic acid has been found to prevent premature destruction of muscle cells. This helps in building strong muscles.

Finally, the presence of betaine serves to aid in the prevention of muscle cramps.


(Allium sativum)

One simple food that has been scientifically proven to pack a punch is garlic. Garlic is a staple in many cuisines and is known for its health benefits. It has been prescribed for diverse ailments like the common cold, allergies, and high cholesterol to name a few.

Studies conducted in animals and humans and have demonstrated the positive effects of garlic on the cardiovascular system. It lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides blood serum and increases HDL cholesterol. Additionally, it decreases the amount of free radicals in the body, which is great for overall health.

According to a study published in the journal of Food Science and Biotechnology, a compound in garlic known as allicin, which gives garlic its strong odor, can increase one’s Exercise Endurance and inspire muscle growth. Always erring on the side of caution, one study published in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism suggested that eating garlic may cause the body to excrete its nitric oxide. However, this study was done using 20 grams of garlic, and most people will not be consuming this much garlic on a daily basis.

In addition to the scientific support, medical practitioners have observed the cardiovascular system health of people who regularly ate garlic. Their observations were that people who regularly ingested garlic generally have healthier hearts than those that didn’t.