Whether you play sports casually or you’re a seasoned athlete, a proper diet is essential to your health and performance. Among others, one you’ll need is protein, which is essential for building muscles.
Protein is the building block of your muscles, making it crucial for maintaining and promoting muscle mass and growth. In addition, like carbohydrates, proteins can provide the fuel you need during physical activity.
If you’re curious about the best high-protein foods to incorporate into your diet, read on. We’ll have a quick rundown of some of the must-haves to help you gain stronger and bigger muscles.
Build Your Muscles With These Protein-Rich Foods
Do you want to be better at powerlifting? Or maybe, are you interested in improving your tennis skills? Whatever sports you want to be better at, you need to work on your body. Among others, one of your priorities should be muscle building.
Exercise can help build muscles, but it isn’t enough. It’s best if you complement it with healthy eating. With that, include protein-rich food in your diet, including those we’ll talk about below.
It’s almost impossible to talk about protein sources without mentioning eggs. They’re easily accessible and affordable, making them a common item in many kitchens. Best of all, it’s versatile. There are plenty of ways to include eggs in your diet without being boring.
Protein is not the only nutrient you will find in eggs. It is also a potent source of carbohydrates, thiamin, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6. Plus, it contains leucine, which is an amino acid that can help build strong muscles.
In one study, the finding was that the consumption of whole eggs after exercise improves the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. The participants ate whole eggs and not just egg whites.
Like the other protein sources on this list, eggs contain branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs, which are also a common ingredient in many supplements. Branched-chain amino acids can be derived from natural sources, such as eggs. It can activate enzymes that are responsible for muscle building.
2. Cottage Cheese
Because it’s high in protein, cottage cheese is popular among bodybuilders and anyone who wants to build muscles. It can also help make you feel fuller longer, which is important if you’re trying to manage your weight while building muscles. It’s also a low-calorie cheese. It may not have the same probiotics you’ll find in yogurt, but it’s a good alternative for dairy-based protein.
Around 80% of the protein in cottage cheese is casein. It’s slowly absorbed by the body. Hence, most people opt to eat cottage cheese before going to bed to increase muscle synthesis overnight. It results in the sustained release of amino acids, which can prevent muscle breakdown.
Cottage cheese also contains riboflavin. It helps in metabolizing protein in cottage cheese. Nonetheless, take note that it’s water-soluble, so you need to incorporate it into your daily diet to maximize its benefits.
Like with other foods, moderation is the key when consuming cottage cheese. It should be noted that it has high sodium, which can increase blood pressure and bring other negative health effects. Luckily, they’re available in low-sodium or sodium-free variants.
Seafood, especially fish, can also be a great option for muscle building. The trick is to pick the right fish and eat it in moderation. Among others, one of the best choices is salmon. It’s not only a great protein source, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids, making it good for your heart health. It also contains Vitamin D, selenium, and niacin.
Even canned fish can be a good source of protein. For instance, four ounces of light canned tuna in oil can have as much as 33 grams of protein. Canned anchovy in oil can also be a great alternative as it has 52 grams of protein for a four-ounce serving.
4. Lean Meat
Are you a meat lover? Well, you’ll be happy to know that meat can also be a rich source of protein and will help in achieving your muscle goals. However, the most important thing is to ensure the meat is lean.
One of the best choices is chicken breast. One reason why most people avoid it is that it can be bland and monotonous. However, there are plenty of ways to make it more flavorful, such as by adding BBQ sauce, paprika, or vinegar.
If you prefer red meat, lean beef is a good addition to your diet. Aside from protein, it’s also packed with Vitamin B and creatine. It can provide muscle gain without adding too many calories to your daily food intake.
Lean jerky can also be a great choice, especially if you want something to snack on. Most fats are removed during the process of turning meat into jerky. Nonetheless, the specific protein contents can differ from one brand to another, so make sure to check the nutrition label.
Craving a delicious but healthy snack that can also help you build your muscles? It’s hard to go wrong with almonds. Such is especially the case if you are vegan and looking for plant-based protein sources.
Nuts often get a bad rap because a lot of people think they are fattening. However, there are healthy nuts, such as almonds. It is high in protein and amino acids, making it a must-have for muscle building.
Another good thing about almonds is their versatility. It is good on its own for a quick snack, but you can also incorporate it in many dishes and foods if you want something more filling. For instance, you can make a protein bar using almonds and other high-protein sources. You can also mix it in oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles.
Protein should be a staple in your diet if you want to build muscles. Good thing, you can also source this nutrient from a wide array of foods, including those mentioned above. From eggs to lean meat, there are plenty of ways you can have a delicious meal and fuel muscle growth.