Certain foods act like catalysts for your muscles, helping to keep them tight, lean and strong, so try adding more of the foods that increase lean body mass to combat weight gain, flab and even weak bones. Increasing your lean body mass is one of the best things you can do to support your skeletal system, optimal weight, metabolism and even your brain health. Studies have shown that certain foods that increase lean body mass help make this easier, meaning you don’t have to spend hours in a weight room to get the benefits. Try adding these foods to your plate, and you’ll become trimmer, fitter and have stronger muscles in no time!
1. Greek Yogurt
Though dairy usually causes weight gain for most people, Greek yogurt is one of the best foods that increase lean body mass of all- if you buy the nonfat and plain varieties, that is. Stick with the plainest, leanest option possible, and you’ll be well on your way to lean muscles thanks to the special composition of calcium, lean protein, Vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium that Greek yogurt has. It makes the perfect post-workout snack since calcium after exercise replenishes bone mass, lowers stress hormones and reduces belly fat. The lean protein helps muscles recover and the Vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium supply the body with the perfect post-workout electrolytes, vitamins and minerals for the muscles to establish lean body mass, growth and recovery.
Fish is another top source of lean protein to eat for lean body mass. It is rich in protein that is easy to digest, contains Vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium, and is low in fat for the most part. Most fish that have higher amounts of fat are fine to eat since they only contain heart-healthy and metabolic friendly omega 3 fats. These types of fats actually increase your fat burning potential and aid in heart health, brain health and digestion. Pick low mercury sources and buy wild caught whenever possible.
3. Leafy Greens
Popeye had the right idea, ladies! Leafy greens like spinach, kale, romaine, collards, arugula and other leafy greens are amazing for your muscles. Believe it or not, they contain a large supply of protein per serving, and are rich in other nutrients that help muscles rebuild, repair and recover. They are also obviously low in calories, and they alkalize your body, preventing inflammation. Pair them with any of the other foods here for the best effects.
Though eggs have cholesterol, so long as you keep amounts to one egg yolk per day and leave the rest as egg whites, you’re safe in terms of cholesterol counts. You should be eating eggs to burn body fat and build muscle if you’re looking for quick, healthy results. Eggs are rich in chromium that burns fat and helps the muscles utilize glucose, all while also preventing blood sugar surges, so you’re satisfied longer after eating eggs than other foods. Eggs are also a decent source of protein with 6 grams per egg, and their Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Vitamin A contents are also wonderful for your body, brain health and metabolism. Eggs are also rich in all essential amino acids, which your muscles need to build and maintain lean muscle mass.
5. Hemp Protein
If you’re vegan, don’t worry because there are plenty of protein sources that help build lean muscle mass that don’t involve animal food sources at all. Hemp protein is my absolute favorite food to build lean protein, decrease fat and increase brain health. It has such a unique combination of nutrients, starting with 12 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons, and omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, fiber, potassium and chlorophyll. Hemp protein has a mild, nutty taste, and I love it in smoothies or stirred into Greek yogurt for a protein boost. It is a great way to increase your protein intake, help muscles recover and give your body an anti-inflammatory source of protein that will help you recover faster. Hemp protein also combats low energy, depression and is great for your waistline and digestion!
Quinoa is one of the best foods to eat for your muscles, and one of the only grain like sources that I recommend eating while you’re trying to build lean muscle mass and decrease fat. Though whole grains are good for you, they can contribute to a stall in weight loss. That’s why I recommend quinoa. It is called a whole grain, but is technically a pseudo-grain, meaning that it isn’t actually a grain at all, but a seed. It acts like a grain in cooking, and is higher in carbs than other seeds like pumpkin, flax, chia, etc. The reason quinoa is so awesome for your muscles is that it contains lean protein and all essential amino acids to help your muscles rebuild and repair themselves. Yet, because it is lower in carbs than typical grains, and digested much differently, it won’t stall weight loss at all. Instead, it will build those muscles, decrease body fat and help lower your waistline.
7. Low Starch Veggies
Low starch veggies are any vegetable outside of potatoes, winter squash, peas, legumes and corn. This means broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, Brussels sprouts and veggie-like fruits such as tomatoes, cucumber and avocado. These low-starch veggies are lower in glycemic index spiking carbs, which makes them excellent for reducing fat. Anytime your glycemic index spikes, even from healthy starchy veggies, it makes it harder for you to lose weight. However, low starch veggies will bulk up your meals, have plenty of fiber to aid in digestion and they have just enough carbs to replenish glycogen to the muscles after exercise, while still being low glycemic. Eat 3-4 servings a day if you can.
Most all sources of lean protein are going to be a go-to food for increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat. I’ve just highlighted a few of my top picks, but I’d love to hear yours! What is your favorite food to eat to help keep your muscles lovely and lean?