The Top 7 Ultimate Muscle Gaining Foods
If you want to gain lean muscle you must be in a caloric surplus. You simply can’t gain weight if you are expending more energy than you are consuming in the form of food.
It’s important to make sure that surplus is being used to help promote muscle growth instead of contributing to gaining body fat.
Often times when people decide to go on a traditional “bulk”
they will reach for anything and everything ranging from pastries like donuts and cookies to greasy foods like burgers and pizzas in a constant semi-gorged state. While this approach will gain muscle your waistline will also increase as well.
Not to mention when you are putting a large amount of unhealthy processed foods
into your body you are negatively altering your gut biome and once your bulk is done and the volume of food is lowered
you are at risk of losing lean muscle
because your body may not optimally absorb nutrients or store calories.
If you are eating a constant supply of low quality food
lacking any nutrients satiety will not last as long or come as early. This almost constant grazing will raise insulin levels too high
and lead to more rapid fat gain.
So how can we ensure we build muscle while limiting the fat gain and maintaining a healthy gut biome?
By eating healthy, nutrient and calorically dense foods
that optimize the muscle building hormones.
1. Grass-Fed Beef
You need high quality animal protein
to truly pack on the mass and grass-fed beef is the best choice. I’m not talking about lean cuts only, ribeyes and fatty cuts are great too. The fatty acid composition of an animal that is fed a natural diet of grass is much more favorable than an industrial piece of beef. It contains more stearic acid and less myristic and palmitic acid.
Stearic acid lowers LDL and cholesterol
while palmitic and myristic have been shown to have raise LDL levels. There are also much more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats, vitamins A and E, and CLA which can help burn fat
and build muscle.(1)
Another benefit of red meat is that it provides the largest amount of creatine
among all food sources. Creatine
is a vital component of our ATP cycle enabling our body to produce more explosive output leading to larger gains. While red meat is an excellent provider of creatine, if you are looking for more than what you get in a meal, the serious lifter would benefit from creatine monohydrate supplementation as well. Sheer Strength Labs Creatine
is 100% pure monohydrate and has the lowest price on the market. Despite this they offer a full money back guarantee if you are not happy. Most professional lifters supplement with a creatine supplement, and the results speak for themselves.
2. Whole eggs
Eggs have the highest bioavailability of any kind of protein.
This means the protein is more easily utilized by your body so 20gs of egg protein is going to provide more benefits than 20gs of any other kind of such as whey, plant or animal protein. If the chicken was fed a natural diet it will have higher amount of omega 3s to help combat inflammation.
Another benefit of eggs is that it is packed with vitamins, essential amino acids, and healthy fats and cholesterol.
It has long be proven that dietary cholesterol from eggs has no impact on normal peoples cholesterol levels. When our consumption of dietary cholesterol goes up, we produce less endogenously unless you have a specific genetic disorder. These fats and cholesterol are precursors to testosterone production which is the ultimate anabolic hormone most responsible for gaining muscle.
3. Raw Milk
Milk has long been said to be a king of foods
when it comes to building muscle. This is because of the minerals it contains that promote increases in testosterone
such as selenium and zinc, it also contains every single amino acid, and has a mix of milk, whey, and casein protein
which are all absorbed at different rates leading to prolonged protein synthesis. But milk that is pasteurized or homogenized lacks digestive enzymes, has diminished nutrient availability and denatured milk proteins, and causes a more inflammatory response. Raw whole fat milk from grass fed cows is a better option to meet your muscle building needs and it has been shown that whole milk may have increased utilization of available amino acids for protein synthesis than reduced fat versions. (2)
4. Wild Fish
Wild caught fish is the best source of anabolic omega 3 fats
you can eat and these help promote muscle growth. (3)
Fish is easier to digest than other forms of protein like beef or chicken enabling you to take in a higher quantity without having negative digestive responses. Different kinds of fish also contain a variety of beneficial minerals for building muscle and regulating metabolism such as iodine, selenium, chromium, and zinc.
5. Grass-fed butter or ghee
When you need to gain weight you need calorically dense foods and adding some grass-fed butter is an excellent way to get some healthy hormone boosting fats in your diet.
Grass-fed butter is also the best source of CLA you can consume. The fatty acid butyrate is also available in high quantities and has anti-inflammatory properties and the cholesterol and saturated fats promote higher testosterone levels as well.
6. Sweet potatoes
Carbs are essential when trying to gain weight
and there is no better source than sweet potatoes or yams. Provided you don’t overcook them they have a low to moderate insulin response and provide a high amount of quality carbs that your body will use as a slow burning fuel during its intense workouts. Carotenoids are also quite abundant in sweet potatoes and this helps repair cellular damage and increases recovery ability.
Although not technically a food, water is often overlooked during the pursuit of adding slabs of muscle mass to your physique. So much attention is paid to proteins, fats, carbs, supplements, and the actual workouts that often drinking an appropriate amount of water is overlooked.
It is one of the simplest most effective ways to increase athletic performance and protein synthesis.
When cells are well hydrated protein synthesis has been shown to occur at a higher rate than in dehydrated cells. (4)
When you are not properly hydrated your performance will also suffer hampering your gains in the gym.
A Sample Day of a Bulking Diet:
1 cup of steel cut oatmeal
4 whole eggs
2 strips bacon
1 large sweet potato with ghee
8 oz of grass fed beef
Intraworkout with 20-30 grams of carbs like cyclic dextrin,
Immediately post workout:
10oz raw grass fed milk with 20-30 grams of whey isolate
1 cup white jasmine rice add ghee
6oz wild caught salmon
1 cup butternut squash with raw honey or maple, and ghee
6oz grass fed beef (or other ruminant animal like lamb or bison if you want to switch it up)
- Make sure to drink at least 80 oz of water
- If you want or feel the need to snack try raw nuts, dark chocolate, bananas and berries, jerky, or a protein shake. Cottage cheese is also acceptable if your stomach has no issues digesting it.
Workouts should have a heavy strength component but more of an emphasis on volume and hypertrophy
- Make sure to get adequate sleep
Supplement with creatine, and natural testosterone booster
- Make sure to cook with oils like coconut or olive, or use ghee and be sure to not burn or overcook proteins and fats as this can lead to an inflammatory response
Assess your tolerance to raw milk. Some people just don’t do well with any lactose at all while some can handle raw milk due to the full preservation of digestive enzymes that help break lactose down
Sometimes as guys we do the exact opposite of girls. They see a number on the scale that they think is too high, and they go on a starvation diet. We see a number on the scale that is lower than ideal, and often we binge eat the day away to pack on the precious pounds. This ultimately will not lead to optimal eating habits so don’t fall into that pattern. Eat whole, nutritious food and you will pack on quality mass.
It may come at a slower rate than when eating tons of excess junk calories but the gains will last long term and the fat gained will be minimal.
Two of the main benefits from eating this way include increased levels of creatine and testosterone;
these should also be supplemented for the fastest gains and recoverys possible. Once you have your diet and training in place, Sheer Strength Labs Creatine
and Testosterone Booster
will give you an edge and optimize your efforts. Of course, supplements are great not only for professional lifters, but for ANYONE that wants to maximize your muscle building while minimizing your time in the gym.
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.