When it comes time to do battle with the winter gut you put on over the holidays and turn over that New Year’s new leaf, there’s no better place to start than by building muscle.
While traditional fitness regimens used to suggest that fat-burning is closely tied to cardio and is separate from anaerobic exercises like weightlifting, more up-to-date studies show that in fact packing on the muscle is a great way to burn off that spare tire.
The effects have been shown to last for several hours after you’ve racked your weights.
So, great! Let’s get started! But also keep in mind you can increase your muscle growth and thus fat attacking capabilities even more by choosing the right foods to complement your muscle building program.
Here are some of the top foods for building muscle to get your new year and new you started right!
1. Whole eggs
Eggs go through phases of popularity and unpopularity for their health benefits, but the science seems to be settling on the notion that they offer great benefits for not only losing weight, but also gaining muscle.
A single egg packs in 6 grams of protein at only 70 calories and half a gram of carbs, a tremendous ratio for muscle-building. What’s more, eggs contain tons of the amino acid leucine, a vital component for post-workout muscle recovery.
You’re looking for protein when it comes time to build muscle, and salmon is also a hefty source, with 20 grams of muscle-popping protein per 100 gram serving.
Salmon is also a great source for omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which help reduce inflammation as well as increasing insulin sensitivity, thus reducing insulin in your bloodstream.
This is great double-whammy for the post-holiday gut reduction, muscle building routine because insulin increases fat storage.
Salmon also made our list of foods that increase testosterone.
3. Greek yogurt
This wonderful, versatile food not only packs in casein and whey protein – about 10 grams per 100 gram serving – it also contains high levels of vitamin D.
This is important if you want to build muscle because it helps you absorb calcium and phosphorus.
Calcium is vital to muscle growth because is needed for muscle contractions, and phosphorus helps your body make ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, the chemical that provides your cells with energy.
4. Chicken breast
Not only does chicken breast meat contain tons of protein – 26 grams per each 85-gram serving – it is also packed with B vitamins niacin and vitamin B6.
Both of these vitamins are vital to healthy activity levels, and keep your body functioning optimally during the types of physical activity that are required for muscle gain.
Special bonus: other studies demonstrate that high-protein diets containing chicken may help you to burn fat!
Tuna is another high-protein go-to food for muscle gain, loaded to the gills (heh heh) with 20 grams of protein per 85-gram serving, as well as tons of omega-3s.
Score one for the vegetarian who wants to build lean muscle! Soybeans contain tons of iron, vitamin K and phosphorus, all essential to building muscle, as well as 14 grams of protein per 85-gram serving.
Soybeans also have a ton of healthy unsaturated fats and other vitamins and minerals.
Most bean varieties like pinto, kidney and black beans contain in the neighborhood of 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (172 grams) and so are a tremendous source for those interested in building muscle.
They’re also a great source of fiber to help you feel full longer, as well as bringing you tons of B vitamins as well and made our list of best testosterone boosters.
8. Grass-fed beef
Beef is of course a great source of protein, with around 26 grams per 100-gram serving, but it’s also a good place to look for vitamin B, minerals and creatine, all important to building lean muscle mass.
9. Brown rice
While brown rice only contains 5 grams of protein per 195-gram serving, it is nonetheless a great addition for building muscle in your diet plan.
That’s because it’s a slow digesting grain that contains the healthy carbs you need to exercise harder and better.
10. Cottage cheese
A single cup (226 grams) of cottage cheese packs in a whopping 26 grams of protein, including tons of the muscle building amino acid leucine.
Bodybuilders praise cottage cheese’s virtues as something to eat before bed due to its high casein protein levels. That’s because it’s a slow digesting protein that sticks with you during your overnight fast.
Spongebob’s home under the sea isn’t the first food you think of when you consider a muscle-building program perhaps, but nonetheless pineapple can provide a critical link in the chain toward getting you ripped and lean.
That’s because it’s high in bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme that helps your body break down and synthesize all that protein you’ve been consuming. Not only that, pineapple also has anti-inflammatory properties that will help your post-workout recovery.