How to Eat Healthy Foods for Muscle Building

By Laura Paquette
eggs image by Maria Brzostowska from

Getting into shape involves a delicate balance of removing excess fat from your diet and consuming the protein and amino acids you need to build muscle. Without the right diet and nutrition, you won't be able to bulk up. Of course, it's crucial to get the right kinds of protein. Protein supplements can help you reach some of your goals, but ideally every meal should contain growth-promoting foods. If you shop correctly, your daily diet should include the nine essential amino acids for growth: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, and tryptophan.

Stock your pantry with the basics. By keeping common ingredients available, you have the option for several healthy, muscle building meals daily. Among your staples should be eggs for the protein, fatty fish for the omega-3s, nuts for fiber, zinc and fat, red meat for iron and B12, turkey for tryptophan and no saturated fat and plenty of fruits and vegetables for fiber and antioxidants.

Cook with olive oil or flax seed. Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy base for sauteing veggies or a simple salad dressing. Flax seed can be used as a fat substitute in baking recipes or mixed in with yogurt or oatmeal. It also is a source of protein, fiber, and even omega-3.

Use yogurt or coconut milk in shakes to replace whole milk. Both are low fat, and yogurt provides healthy bacteria. Mix with berries, tea, and flax seed for a healthy breakfast.

Use brown rice and quinoa as carb staples to give you energy. Some experts say to only consume carbohydrates after a workout. Quinoa is high in fiber and protein. Cook it as you would rice and mix with veggies.

If eating out, consider Mexican food. Avocados provide healthy fats, and are quite filling. Guacamole adds tomatoes to the mix, which also provide lycopene. Red meat and black beans are a good protein option, but avoid white flour chips and tortillas. Dairy products provide many of the essential amino acids for muscle gain, but cheese also adds a significant amount of fat to your diet, so eat in moderation.

Drink plenty of water, at least two cups with every meal. In the morning, consider having green tea instead to promote weight loss and improve circulation.