If you want to build some serious muscle, you’re going to have to give your body -
a) The building blocks it needs to create that muscle
b) The energy to train hard enough to trigger muscle growth, and
c) The micronutrients necessary to maintain a good overall level of health
If one of these vital puzzle pieces is missing, all your training efforts will be in vain. Of course it’s crucial to get a wide variety of foods in your diet; endeavoring to eat something new every week is a useful, if sometimes impractical way of trying to achieve this.
Not getting a variety of foods in your diet doesn’t automatically mean you are going to keel over on the floor and die of AIDS; hell, some people manage to get through life eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but if you deprive yourself of certain foods you’re missing a trick.
Fish seems to be a sticking point for many, particularly oily fish like Salmon or Mackerel. If eating this makes you heave your guts up then staying away from it is wise, but if you can wean yourself onto regular meals of oily fish you will be doing your body a massive favour since it contains precious, testosterone boosting Omega-3 fats seldom found in other meat or fish.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my ten essential foods for muscle-builders;
Chicken For me, this is the daddy. High in protein, low in fat, great-tasting when cooked right (no that doesn’t mean doused in breadcrumbs and dunked in liquid fat), and it goes with almost anything. This makes a daily appearance in my diet.
Eggs Could they be the perfect protein? Scramble them and they are a fast digesting semi-liquid protein packed with vitamins, good cholesterol and good fat. Eat them.
Tuna I tend to stick to canned tuna out of pure convenience; it’s incredibly cheap, portable and has a near-unrivaled protein-to-fat ratio
Salmon See above. The only downside to Salmon is it’s price, for this reason it is probably realistic to expect trainers with a modest budget to be eating it 1-2 times per week.
Oats This has been a feature of my breakfasts for the past few years. Unspectacular and tasteless they may be, but in my opinion oats are unrivaled as a slow releasing carb. They are versatile which means they can be used in shakes and smoothies.
Brown Rice Smaller and denser that it’s more popular white counterpart, brown rice has a lower glycemic index which means the nutrients are released more slowly into the bloodstream (that’s a good thing). Goes well with any of the above protein choices.
Olive Oil Not to be used as a cooking ingredient, Olive oil’s bets application is simply added to meals that require a calorie/fat boost. Don’t be too liberal though, one table spoon contains 250 calories.
Peanut Butter This delicious paste-like substance is, like all fat-based foods, very calorie dense (a small amount contains a lot of calories) so take a measured approach. It is however a very health snack food, provided you buy a brand with just one ingredient: Peanuts.
Broccoli The scourge of evening meals for many throughout childhood, broccoli is now your friend. It can be cooked in a number of tasty ways (try stir-frying with a little sesame oil) and is extremely vitamin-rich.
Oranges My favourite fruit by a mile, oranges are bursting with flavour and immunity-boosting vitamin C. A great pre-workout snack when paired with a protein shake, oranges provide you with a natural-sugar energy boost to propel you headlong into your gym session.
This is by no-means a definitive list of all the foods you should eat, but each one of these features almost daily on my nutrition plan. If you were to just eat these ten foods for the rest of your life, you’d have a better diet than most Brits or Americans. Add them to your grocery list now!
White and Sweet Potatoes
Joe – has written 101 posts on this site.