If you’ve seen our previous list of muscle-building foods, you know that what you eat goes a long way in determining how quickly you pack on muscle. You probably already know you need to eat plenty of protein and some energizing carbs to keep your body fueled pre and post workout. But certain foods offer up more nutrient-dense, anabolic benefits than others. Here are five of the best to include in any muscle-building diet.
FOOD #1: NATURAL PEANUT BUTTER
Calories are a must when you are looking to put on size, especially for the hard gainer. Nut butters like peanut butter can pack a whole lot of calories in a single spoonful. This high-calorie food delivers healthy fats, a source of antioxidant vitamin E and energizing vitamin B. Add a scoop or two to your next protein smoothie to bump up the calories, dollop on a rice cake, a slice of whole grain bread or just eat it out of the jar.
Calorie Count: 100 calories, 4g protein, 3 g carbs, 8g fat in 1 tablespoon
FOOD #2: POTATOES
While most might grab a more popular sweet potato over a white potato, white potatoes can provide more of an anabolic boost. When we eat simple carbs, such as white potatoes, they cause a spike in blood glucose, which causes the release of the anabolic hormone insulin. Insulin shuttles carbs and amino acids to your muscles, where they can be used to replenish lost muscle glycogen and fuel protein synthesis, i.e. muscle building. A single medium sized potato delivers whopping 70% of your daily value of the antioxidant vitamin C and 30% of your daily value of energizing Vitamin B6.
Calorie Count: 147 calories, 3.6g protein, 37 g of carbs, 5 g of fiber in one medium white potato
FOOD #3: AVOCADOS
Avocados are considered a super food for many reasons. They are full of vitamins and minerals including K, C, B vitamins, E and potassium. But the main benefit of avocados lie in their high content of monounsaturated fats. Eating a diet rich in avocados has also been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Avocadoes have also been shown to help increase absorption of antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins and help reduce inflammation. They are a high-calorie food that can be easily added to almost any meal. Half an avocado provides 33% of your daily value of Vitamin C, 5% of your daily value of vitamin A and 25% of your daily value of Vitamin B6.
Calorie Count: 234 calories, 3g protein, 12g carbs, 15 g of fat (10 g of monounsaturated fat) 7 g of fiber
FOOD #4: WHOLE EGGS
Not only do whole eggs provide a high amount of protein, the protein they provide is highly bio-available and delivers all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth and repair. Whole eggs are also a source of cholesterol, and when it comes to muscle-building, cholesterol is very important for producing the anabolic hormone testosterone. In addition to cholesterol, whole eggs are a great source of vitamin D, which is a key vitamin involved in testosterone production. Instead of just eating egg whites, throw in a couple of whole eggs to the mix. Just 1 egg important antioxidants choline, lutein, vitamins A, D, selenium and iodine.
Calorie Count: 78 calories, 6 g of protein, .6g carbs and 5 g of fat in 1 large egg
FOOD #5: FULL-FAT DAIRY
Cottage cheese, milk and Greek yogurt are all great sources of dairy protein – including whey and casein. You are probably already well aware of the benefits of these proteins, but eating the full-fat versions may offer up even more of an anabolic benefit. In one study that compared the benefits of whole milk to fat-free milk when consumed 1 hour post exercise, it was found that protein synthesis was greater with the ingestion of the whole milk, showing a greater up-take of available amino acids into the muscle. So next time you go to grab a non-fat tub of cottage cheese or yogurt, or reach for the skim milk, opt for the higher fat option instead.
Calorie Count: 222 calories, 25g protein, 8g carbs, 10g fat in 1 cup of cottage cheese
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Wang L, et al. Effect of a moderate fat diet with and without avocados on lipoprotein particle number, size and subclasses in overweight and obese adults: a randomized, controlled trial. J Am Heart Assoc. 2015. 4(1).