A big challenge when trying to build up muscle mass is trying to get the right nutrients into your body to maximize your muscle gain. While exercise is a major factor in your bodybuilding journey, if you’re not eating the right food you’re going to plateau quickly, seeing the rate of your gains drop off. To avoid this, you’re going to want to revisit your diet plans and see which great foods you can add to give you that added boost of macro and micronutrients for more effective muscle growth. We’ve listed some of the best foods and supplements you can add to your diet to do just that.
First off, we should dispel some unhelpful myths about soy-based products like tofu. Many people still believe that they have some adverse effect on masculinity by increasing estrogen levels in the body, and in turn, hamper the production of testosterone—the male muscle growth and sex hormone. The belief is that if you eat soy products, it can cause femininization in men, but it’s simply not proven to have any impact on femininity, especially not when it’s part of a normal, balanced diet. In fact, foods like tofu and edamame, which are immature soybeans, are actually complete proteins unlike many other plant-based foods. In fact, 150g of firm tofu has 26g of protein in it, which is more than a 3-ounce serving of chicken or turkey breast, or even a steak.
These legumes are also known as chickpeas in other parts of the world, and they are packed with carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. While the quality of protein is not as high as meat or tofu, it’s definitely a worthwhile addition to your meals. The energy that these little beans give you combined with additional proteins and fiber which helps greatly with digestion, are phenomenal. These are great to add to dishes like curries and salads if you’re trying to find something to add that won’t be a waste of space both on your plate and in your stomach!
The chances are, as a bodybuilder, you’ll already be trying out different types of nutrient supplements. There is one in particular that has stood the test of time and is used by many who are trying to gain muscle mass. However, there are lots of protein powders out there that are of a low quality, so finding a quality whey protein like those offered by Ingredient Optimized is very important, as they can reduce discomfort in the stomach as well as reduce the amount of wasted protein too. Protein powders are a great addition to your diet and should only be used as an addition. Using them to replace part of your diet isn’t exactly healthy and also means you’re losing out on that added protein from whichever meal you’ve cut out. Instead, whey protein is best used as a booster to your protein intake if you find you’re struggling to eat enough food which contains protein.
Lean Red Meat
The protein in red meats like beef are high-quality and are also accompanied by lots of minerals and vitamins. The reason that you’ll want to choose a leaner cut however, is that the excess fats found in red meat can be a big contributor to heart disease and stroke. As well as this, you could choose to eat things like bison which offers similar levels of protein but with a reduced negative impact on your heart health. Of course, even with lean meats, there is still a high amount of saturated fats, so make sure you eat this in moderation. Consider having meat-free meals to break up your consumption of meat to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce your amount of body fat.
Tuna And Salmon
These fish are perfect sources of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3s are said to improve the overall health of your muscles, reducing pain and swelling post-workout. This ultimately gives you better performance during workouts, as it reduces your chances of being unable to do concurrent workouts. Adding tuna and salmon is a great choice due to the many health benefits they provide. When it comes to protein, tuna contains about 21g of protein per serving and salmon has about 18g. You might think that you should just pick a can of tuna over salmon every time due to the higher protein levels, however, salmon makes up for its reduced protein levels by containing higher levels of omega-3s so it’s worthwhile considering salmon as a regular choice for meals after workouts.
Similar to meat, eggs are extremely high in protein and are also full of essential micro-nutrients such as vitamin B and phosphorus. Phosphorus helps to manage your body’s energy storage, as well as reduce post-workout pains just like omega-3s. It also helps towards other maintenance tasks inside the body like assisting in the production of our DNA and RNA, helping kidney function and repairing muscle. Just remember to eat these in moderation too, as they are also high in saturated fat which can increase cholesterol levels excessively, leading to a higher risk of heart disease.