When it comes to eating for body building and strength, most of us know there are a handful of staple foods that meet the stringent nutritional requirements and provide an anabolic stimulus. However, there are many other lesser-known and “underrated” foods that do just as good a job.
Do yourself a favor and try these foods! Add them to your weekly nutrition to support your growth, strength and recovery.
There’s a reason why every successful bodybuilder in the world incorporates egg whites into their diet. With a protein to fat ratio of 60:1, egg whites are unquestionably one of the purest forms of protein in the world.
This magnificent muscle-building food also possesses an extremely high biological value—meaning that a large proportion of the protein absorbed from egg whites is readily utilized by your body for protein synthesis. Egg whites also contain very few carbohydrates and are a source of vitamins and minerals.
To pack on pounds of serious muscle, lean meats such as chicken and turkey breasts should be a staple in every bodybuilder’s diet. Aside from providing an excellent source of high quality protein, they are also extremely low in saturated and trans fats.
If you are serious about building muscle, you can’t ignore the power of beans and legumes. When people typically think of bodybuilding foods, they immediately refer to various lean meats, but what they don’t realize is that the bean is a delicious and highly nutritious source of protein and fiber.
Fiber is essential to maintaining a regular and normal healthy bowel movement as well as proper insulin response—which is critical to muscle growth as both functions aid in absorption and use of various nutrients and supplements ingested by bodybuilders.
Kidney beans in particular are a very popular choice as they provide nearly 14 grams of both protein and fiber.
Muscle isn’t built with protein alone. You also need a good source of slow-burning carbohydrates to fuel and sustain your muscles. Slow-acting carbohydrates found in foods such as oatmeal and sweet potatoes make the best pre-workout snack. Why?
Well, when you exercise, muscle glycogen (carbs stored within your muscle) becomes the main source of fuel. As glycogen levels decrease from hard training, your intensity begins to decrease and more importantly, your body begins to tap your muscles for a source of energy thereby causing them to degenerate!
That’s why it’s so important that no matter what your goals are, in order for your muscle-building machinery to run at maximum levels, you need a consistent source of fuel such as a serving of slow-digesting carbs.
Although the recurring theme so far has been to eat foods that are low in fat, fish is one exception to this rule. Of course you want to stay away from saturated and trans fats, but your body still needs essential fatty acids such as omega-3 to help support the muscle-building process.
Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and sardines are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Canned fish packed in water also comes in very handy because it provides a quick source of protein when on the go.
Oysters contain zinc, which plays a big role in hormone production, a fact that’s relevant to anyone who lifts.
Greek yogurt is produced in part by straining excess liquid and carbohydrates from regular yogurt, yielding a higher concentration of protein. The straining process used to create Greek yogurt results in a higher concentration of casein, a “slow-digesting” protein; it slowly releases amino acids into the bloodstream.
A 2012 study published in “Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise” showed that consuming casein before sleep provided an increase in blood amino-acid levels that was sustained throughout the night and yielded a 22 percent increase in protein synthesis.
Depending on your calorie needs, you can use full- or reduced-fat Greek yogurt as part of your muscle-building efforts. However, always strive for the plain version to reduce the effects of added sugar.