How To Navigate The Grocery Store And Build Maximum Muscle

If you’re following a muscle-building diet, you probably do the majority of your grocery shopping along the outside perimeter where all the fresh food is located. But there are still a few choices you maybe missing when you pass through the interior of the store. Here’s a guide to shopping for the best fitness staples that might be missing from your muscle-building meal plan.

How To Navigate The Grocery Store And Build Maximum Muscle


You might think that canned goods have nothing to offer, but you can find a good supply of vegetables here, including a great supply of slow-digesting sources of carbs such as beans – black, white and red kidney beans, green and yellow beans, tomatoes, and even chic peas. Chic peas can be added to salads while kidney beans and black beans can be added to a high protein chili. In addition to vegetables, you can also find other great sources of protein including tuna and salmon. Canned fish offers a high source of selenium in addition to about 40 grams of protein per serving. Look for fish that is packed in water.


The obvious choice from the cereal aisle is oatmeal. But instead of reaching for the regular quick oats, reach for the steel cut oats. This unrefined oatmeal is much more nutrient rich and dense than oats that have been processed. These oats can digest slower than other regular versions, and contain more than twice the fiber in a single serving. If you are tired eating oatmeal, try sprouted grain bread, or flourless bread made with chia seed, sprouted grains, and other seeds and nuts. Sprouted grain provides 8 grams of protein per slice and is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.


The dairy aisle is where you will find some great sources of protein, including nonfat cottage cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, and of course eggs and egg whites. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt and contains about two times the amount of protein. Nonfat cottage cheese is high in slow-digesting casein protein, making it a great option before bed. Both of these protein sources can be eaten on their own, but you can also add Greek yogurt to shakes and smoothies or use cottage cheese in protein pancakes.


Probably the favorite aisle of any bodybuilder or physique athlete, the butcher section of your grocery store is the heart of your protein sources. You will of course find a selection of poultry – chicken and turkey – but you will also find lean cuts of red meats like beef, sirloin, buffalo and other ground meats. If you’re looking for something new to try instead of beef, consider grass-fed lamb, which is high in protein, and omega-3 fats – not to mention high in b-vitamins. If you’re tired of chicken try 99% fat-free ground turkey, which is just as high in protein but lower in fat.


Your diet needs to be full of fruits and vegetables, so fill your basket with many different selections. Choose from a selection of green veggies like asparagus, broccoli, spinach and kale. This bitter green can kick up a salad or add life to a stir fry. Kale contains a high amount of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and vitamin C, which can help speed post-workout muscle recovery and repair. Plus, Kale contains even more of the carotenoids Lutein and zeaxanthin than spinach. As for fruit, select berries or apples, which provide a source of antioxidants and fiber. Both veggies and fruit can help increase your antioxidant status, helping to reduce inflammation, remove toxins and increase recovery.


Probably everyone’s favorite aisle – and the most tempting – but if you tread cautiously you can find a few gems among the junk. For one, this is the aisle you will find a selection of nuts. Choose the ones that are raw and have not been roasted or salted. You can also find rice cakes here – a great easy and convenient carbohydrate source. Try organic brown rice cakes that have not been sweetened – these are lower in sugar and have more fiber than other regular rice cakes. Lastly, you will also find something to satisfy your sweet tooth – dark chocolate. There is lots of research that supports the positive effects of the polyphenols in dark chocolate when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. Choose a rich dark chocolate with at least 70% polyphenols, and limit to about 1 ounce per serving. Or choose dark chocolate that has been sweetened with natural sweeteners such as stevia.

Lauren Jacobsen

Lauren is a biochemist with a background in sports nutrition and supplement formulation. Lauren has over 15 years of experience as a trainer, consultant to the supplement industry and nutrition expert. She is also the TV show host of "Body Fuel," a former competitive athlete and regular contributor to various fitness publications.

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