11 Foods To Help You Build Muscle And Tone

Last Updated: August 3rd, 2022

The most common reason people want to build muscle is to bulk up and improve their physique and strength, also known as “bodybuilding”.

Increasing muscle is also beneficial for weight management, as muscle is an “active tissue” meaning it uses energy even while we rest. Increasing your muscle mass, therefore, means your body burns more calories at rest. This can help you both lose weight and keep it off.

Maintaining muscle mass is also beneficial as we get older and naturally lose some of our muscle mass and strength. From the age of 30, we lose approximately 10% of our muscle mass every decade and after 50, that increases to 15%. A loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, is associated with several negative health outcomes such as an increased risk of falls, various diseases, and poor quality of life. It is therefore beneficial to try and minimize this loss of muscle to maintain good health as we age.

When trying to gain muscle, it is essential to get enough protein, both throughout the day and immediately after workouts. The International Society for Sports Nutrition recommends 1.4 grams to 2 grams of protein per kg body weight per day for muscle building. The exact amount will depend on factors such as gender, body size, and activity levels (1).

The recommended muscle-building foods below include both plant and animal sources. These include: whey powder, tofu, peas, milk, beans, lentils, eggs, and fish. To build muscle, these foods should be eaten in combination with regular resistance exercise. Resistance exercise is any type of exercise that causes muscles to contract against a force or resistance; this can be free weights, weight machines, or your own body weight. For example, weight lifting, squats, lunges, push-ups and even yoga. Resistance exercise builds and tones muscle and makes your muscles stronger, it also increases bone strength. For good health, it is also recommended to include 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week.

There is some debate about animal vs. vegetarian protein sources. Many bodybuilders are convinced you need animal protein to build muscle. There are however many successful vegan bodybuilders and athletes and a new school of thought that the inflammation caused by animal proteins might actually hinder performance. For this reason, the following list contains a mixture of both animal and plant-based proteins. If you do consume animal foods, it is healthy to include a mixture of both plant and animal proteins in your diet.

These muscle-building foods are all high in protein, easy to prepare, and have other health benefits beyond just their high protein content.