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Muscle Building Diet: 17 Best Foods to Eat For Muscles and Fast Recovery

Ambassador Tim McComsey doing bicep curls in the gym | Muscle Building Diet: Best Foods to Eat For Muscles and Fast Recovery | Featured | best foods for gaining muscle

If you want to gain muscles effectively and quickly, you need to start a muscle building diet. Read on to check out the best foods you need to eat in the list below.

RELATED: Building Muscle: Why Plant Protein Is Better Than Meat

Foods to Add to Your Muscle Building Diet

Why You Need to Build Muscle and Strength

We rely on muscles for just about everything we do.

Most of us already know that muscles attach to our bones to allow us voluntary movement, but muscles also make up the heart, line body organs like the stomach, and even surround blood vessels.

The body is constantly using these muscles to digest our food, move blood, pull in oxygen, transport lymph fluid, supply nutrients, remove waste, and allow us the freedom to walk, run, jump, dance, and climb.

We focus on the muscles we know we can improve. These are the skeletal muscles we see rippling beneath our skin—the ones that noticeably show off definition and strength as we push them harder.

We can’t directly work most of the hidden, involuntary muscles, apart from the heart, but these muscles benefit from exercise, too.

As our circulatory system improves, less fat builds up to interfere with the function of the muscles, which leads to a more effective and efficient transport system nourishing them.

Importance of Food to Build Lean Muscle

Beans, lentils, nuts, broccoli spinach and seeds | Muscle Building Diet: Best Foods to Eat For Muscles and Fast Recovery | what to eat to gain muscle

Cardiovascular exercise is important to all your muscles and improves their ability to recover from stress.

Apart from performing different types of exercises, our body needs the right foods to fuel muscle growth, maintenance, and repair.

Your body needs macronutrients to build lean muscles and keep them strong. Some people may load up on essential amino acids when building lean muscle but too much protein can have a negative effect on the body.

A good supply of protein is essential to strong, healthy muscles, but protein does not stand alone, and too much protein can put strains on your liver and kidneys. Your body needs carbohydrates and healthy fats, too.

Protein is the source material for muscle, but the body uses carbohydrates and fats to accomplish the work.

You cannot build muscle without carbs. Your body wants a balanced mix of these nutrients.

Healthy plant foods are a big part of the process of building muscle as they naturally come with plenty of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins along with the complex carbs, lean protein, and good fats your body craves without getting too much of anything you don’t need.

RELATED: How To Eat (And Train) For More Muscle: Vegan Style

The Best Foods for Muscle Building

So what do you need in your muscle building diet plan? Add these plant-based protein foods in your meal plan to gain muscle.

With a plant-based diet plan, you won’t have to worry about straining your kidney and liver.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is one of the best foods to eat to build muscle. This grain-like seed doesn’t contain gluten. It is a complete protein that also contains fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Quinoa is also rich in antioxidants and minerals. Eat quinoa after a workout to repair, rebuild, and protect muscle.

2. Water

Though water isn’t exactly food, it plays an important role in muscle health.

Drink plenty of water to aid the body’s metabolic processes and to speed up recovery. Drinking enough water hydrates the muscles, provides nutrients to the body, and helps in waste removal.

3. Chia Seeds

Chia seed on wooden spoon | Muscle Building Diet: Best Foods to Eat For Muscles and Fast Recovery | high protein foods for muscle building

These tiny seeds offer tons of nutrients to the body. They’re another plant-based source of complete protein and are also packed with good fats.

These healthy fats improve cardiovascular function, aid in hydration, supply extra energy for any exercise regimen, and reduce inflammation to speed up recovery.

4. Almonds

Almonds are rich in protein, good fats, vitamin E, and magnesium.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents free-radical damage after intense workouts. Magnesium is important in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.

What is protein synthesis? It is the process of creating new proteins or protein molecules.

5. Hempseed

Hempseed is another complete protein. It contains good fats that help in increasing muscle mass.

6. Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in free-radical-fighting vitamin E and monounsaturated fats that prevent muscle breakdown and keep the heart running smoothly.

7. Coconut Oil

Coconuts are an excellent source of medium-chain triglycerides. The body easily burns these smaller fats and fat cells do not store them.

The oil offers explosive energy for exercise and weight loss. These healthy fats also reduce inflammation.

8. Broccoli

Bunch of fresh green broccoli on wooden background | Muscle Building Diet: Best Foods to Eat For Muscles and Fast Recovery | best muscle building foods

Vitamins and minerals are important in keeping muscles running at their peak.

Broccoli is one of the richest sources of vitamins and minerals the body wants. The antioxidants in this vegetable also hasten recovery and prevent free-radical damage.

9. Barley

This ancient grain is rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates. These carbs burn slowly, supplying long-term energy when doing endurance-related workouts.

Barley gives an excellent energy boost before any workout.

10. Pineapple

Pineapple has enzymes that aid in the digestion of protein.

This makes them a perfect addition to any meal with protein-rich foods. Pineapple also reduces muscle inflammation for faster recovery.

Add this tropical fruit to your pre-workout or post-workout protein shake.

11. Spinach

Like broccoli, spinach is rich in a multitude of minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. Spinach also contains a phytonutrient that increases muscle growth.

12. Wild Rice

Wild rice is richer in fiber and protein than the white variety. It is even a little better than brown rice, which is already healthy enough for some.

13. Lentils

Scoops with various lentils on a wooden backround | Muscle Building Diet: Best Foods to Eat For Muscles and Fast Recovery | muscle building meals

Lentils have protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Lentils are easier to use and digest than most beans while still providing you with plenty of energy for muscle generation.

14. Tofu

Often used as a meat substitute, raw tofu contains protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Vegans and vegetarians add tofu in their meal plans because soybean, where tofu is made from, is one of the best plant-based foods for a high-protein diet.

It also contains calcium, which strengthens the bones and improves muscle function.

15. Chickpeas

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzos, can be used as a substitute for all-purpose flour.

It’s a great source for both protein and carbohydrates. It also contains fiber, which is great for digestion.

If your personal trainer requires you to lose weight, then chickpeas can help give you the protein and carbs you need for your muscle gain diet. The fiber in it also helps keep you full so you won’t end up craving food high in calories.

16. Soybeans

Soybeans contain a lot of nutrients you need daily. Aside from protein, you also get various vitamins and minerals plus unsaturated fat from soybeans.

It’s also a great source of iron which the blood needs to repair muscle tissues. Bodybuilders need to constantly repair the muscle fibers they strain during training.

Other vitamins and nutrients soybeans contain include vitamin K and phosphorus.

17. Buckwheat

Another substitute for all-purpose flour is buckwheat. Not only does it offer protein, but it also contains a significant amount of fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Since it offers B-vitamins and minerals like manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium, it’s a great addition to your muscle gain diet plan.

How much protein do you need to maintain or build muscle? Check out these organic, clean, plant-based proteins in this video from Sunwarrior:

Remember, gaining muscles isn’t just about strictly following your workout plan. You also need to eat the right foods to give your muscles the nutrients they need.

Keep a list of the best muscle building foods to reach your body goals. You’ll be able to see significant results if you stick to your workout routine and eat nutrient-rich foods.

To boost your protein intake, take Sunwarrior Warrior Blend, which contains essential amino acids glutamine, arginine, lysine, and leucine. It’s also organic, gluten-free, soy-free, naturally sweetened, and keto and paleo-friendly.

What does your post-workout nutrition look like? Share it with us in the comments section below!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 9, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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