Meal Plan - Best Foods For your Muscle Building

Best-Foods-For-your-Muscle-Building

When you think about foods that are high in protein, many times you think about animal-based foods – meats, poultry, fish, eggs, etc. However, don’t forget that including plant-based proteins is just as important. Varying your protein sources will also vary the amino acids in your diet, which is key to building healthy muscle. Here are some ideas of high-protein foods, and ways to incorporate them into your daily routine. While many foods are high in protein, there are better choices and less healthy options in each group, highlighted below.

1. Poultry – turkey, chicken, eggs

When it comes to poultry, make sure you are choosing white meats and skinless when possible. Buying ground turkey or chicken as a substitute for ground beef could be a lower fat choice. Check to see if the meat is lean and that skin was removed before grinding. White meat poultry protein sources are commonly used as main dishes for evening meals, while eggs are versatile for any time of day, not just breakfast. Even though turkey and chicken are also available as lunch meats, choose roasted whole breasts when possible to avoid extra sodium and other additives.

2. Fish – salmon, tuna, shrimp, oysters

Fish is another meat-alternative main dish that provides a lot of protein without a lot of calories. Fish varies from very low in fat (shrimp) to higher fat options (salmon), but all varieties are high in protein. When it comes to cooking fish, try not to add too much fat by choosing baked, broiled, or grilled preparations. Fish can also be a very budget friendly source of protein when purchasing canned tuna, salmon, or sardines. Adding some canned fish to a salad is an easy shelf-stable protein option for people on the go.

3. Meats 

Red meats and pork are very common in the Western diet and it’s easy to overdo it in terms of portion size. These protein sources can also be loaded with fat and calories. Choose lean cuts whenever possible and watch your portions to avoid too much saturated fat. Lower fat cuts of meat work well for slow cooking and roasting to keep them tender and tasty. Meats make great entrées and easy leftovers for lunches the next day. Limit red meats and high-fat pork products to once per week if possible.

4. Dairy – milk, yoghurt, cheese

The dairy group is a popular choice for high-protein food due to the wide variety of dairy products. In addition to being high in protein, dairy foods are often also high in calcium, a crucial nutrient for bone health. Strong, healthy bones are crucial for sustainable, lifelong exercise. Dairy foods vary widely in their use and processing; try to avoid large amounts of high-fat sources (cheese, whole milk) and focus on those without added sugars (i.e. plain Greek yoghurt instead of flavoured).

Dairy products work from your breakfast smoothie through to a glass of milk with dinner. If you avoid dairy products, check that your plant-based alternative products have added calcium and protein. Rice and almond “milks” are usually very low in protein. To use dairy foods for extra protein, add cottage cheese for a snack or use milk in shakes and smoothies instead of water.

5. Grains, legumes, and pulses

Plants aren’t usually the first foods you consider when it comes to protein, but there are many plant-based options for protein consumption. Vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders can maintain their protein needs with a variety of beans, peas, lentils, and wholegrains. Whole wheat bread or brown rice are higher in protein than their refined counterparts, while quinoa is a great protein source on its own.

Similar to animal protein sources, the types of amino acids vary between plants, making combinations of plant-based proteins (i.e. rice and beans) the best way to obtain all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Soy beans fall into this group, with a wide variety of soy and tofu products available for purchase at most grocery stores. For a protein punch, add some beans to your salad or swap out your pasta for quinoa or millet. Even if you are a meat eater, choosing these foods more often is an easy way to boost your protein intake for the day.

6. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are additional sources of plant-based protein power. While peanut butter is a common option, shelled raw nuts (without added salt) are easy to carry for snacking on the go. If you’ve only ever used peanut butter, experiment with almond butter or sunflower seed butter. Chia or flaxseeds are incredibly nutritious options to add to smoothies or oatmeal. While nuts and seeds can be high in calories, they contain high amounts of protein per gram and heart-healthy fats.

Summary

These Six groups of high protein foods give you a variety of healthy ways to incorporate more protein to help boost your muscle building. You can incorporate high protein foods into all of your daily meals or snacks. Here are some ideas of when to use the high protein foods listed above:

  • Breakfast options – eggs, cheese, milk, oatmeal with chia seeds and/or protein powder, lean turkey breakfast meats
  • Morning snack – yoghurt or cottage cheese, wholegrains, legumes, pulses
  • Lunch – wholegrains, meat, poultry, fish, soy products, nut butters, beans, peas
  • Afternoon snack – nuts, seeds, cheese, wholegrains, pulses, beans
  • Dinner – meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, milk, cheese
  • Evening snack – milk, yoghurt, nuts

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