A diet to build lean muscle needs to be high in calories and revolve around healthy foods. While the overall calorie, protein, carbohydrate and fat content of your diet determines how much muscle you gain, rather than specific foods, certain foods deserve a place in your eating plan. Although it may be impossible to state that any foods are categorically best, foods high in protein, whole-grain carbohydrates and healthy fats rank highly.
1. Nuts and Nut butters
It’s time to get nuts about nuts! I’m sure you already know nuts are energy dense and full of healthy mono unsaturated fats… it’s for this reason that nuts and nut butters are perfect for bulking! Small servings of nuts can provide a large amount of calories in addition to protein and fat- with up to 300 calories per 50g! What’s more, nuts and nut butters are packed full of essential micronutrients and minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc! All of which are essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy nutritional status and building muscle mass. So why not try snacking on a handful of nuts when the hunger pains kick in- or for the ultimate snack cover a banana in peanut butter. Delicious!
Keeping in the theme of healthy fats, salmon and other sources of fatty fish should definitely be part of your bulking diet. In fact, eating at LEAST one portion of fatty fish a week is recommended by the government for the general UK population. Salmon is full of MUFA- mono unsaturated fatty acids which are super healthy and great for clean bulking! In addition to this, the large dose of omega 3 we get from fatty fish can help improve joint care and cardiovascular health! During intense training try and consume at least 3-4 servings of fatty fish per week!
3. Whole Eggs
If you’ve been binning the egg yolks- STOP! Whole eggs are great for getting a good source of protein and fat with around 75 calories per egg! Many people consider eggs to be unhealthy due to their saturated fat content and high cholesterol- but did you know eggs are high in healthy cholesterol? And unless you’re eating 12 eggs a day the saturated fat content shouldn’t be a problem! Get in a good source of fat and protein by making a whole egg omelette or some delicious scrambled egg!
4. Lean Beef
When it comes to getting the perfect physique lean sources of protein are most people’s number one choice- with many individuals lowering their intake of red meat. But consuming red meat is great for bulking for tons of reasons! For example, red meat is a high source of fat and protein, which when consumed regularly can help the growth of muscle mass. What’s more red meat is high in heme iron! There are two types of iron generally consumed in the diet- heme iron and non- heme iron- whereby the absorption of these two types of iron differs significantly in the body. For example, the absorption of non- heme iron is largely effected by other dietary factors and foods- the absorption of heme iron however is unaffected by other foods in the diet. Getting an adequate amount of iron is essential when building muscle and training hard, so why not try a delicious steak for your next meal.
5. Sweet Potato
When it comes to bulking- most people think protein, protein and fat- but really guys, carbohydrates are an absolute must! So forget cutting carbs to a minimum, now is the time to enjoy your meat and potatoes! Sweet potatoes are jam packed full of carbohydrates with the average potato providing around 40g of carbs and tons of vitamins and minerals! What’s more, if you’re doing a clean bulk and avoiding refined sugar, sweet potato is great for satisfying a sweet tooth and can be incorporated into tons of protein recipes- such as this sweet potato protein brownie recipe! Try adding a portion of sweet potato to your meals and reap the bulking benefits!
6. Dark chocolate
Last but not least- the sweet sin. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is a great way to fix your sugar cravings! What’s more chocolate with over 75% cocoa content is full of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats! For the ultimate bulking treat- try a banana covered in peanut butter and dark chocolate!
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