Foods to Eat to Build Lean Muscle

Updated July 18, 2017

Proper nutrition is crucial for achieving your fitness goals, there is no way around it. Eating the right foods can make a big impact on whether you gain lean muscle or increase body fat. Some foods contain muscle building nutrients that can effectively help you initiate muscle growth and build lean muscle tissue.


Besides containing heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, salmon also contains muscle building protein. Protein is considered the most important macro-nutrient in the building and maintenance of muscle tissue. Protein intake stimulates protein synthesis, the muscle growth process within muscle cells, according to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Furthermore, salmon is a good source of selenium, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin B-12.


Garlic has sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for its numerous health benefits. According to the Journal of Nutrition, garlic boosts testosterone, a hormone that initiates protein synthesis. Furthermore, garlic also blunts the release of the hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscle for energy.


Spinach is packed with nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin K, and fat fighting fibre. According to Muscle and Body website, spinach is a rich source of the compound octacosanol, which increases muscle power and strength. In addition, it contains glutamine, an essential amino acid that improves muscle recovery. On top of that, spinach possesses 20 beta ecdysterone, a phytochemical that boosts protein synthesis.


Don't be surprised to see chocolate on this list. This food contains antioxidants that increase nitric oxide, a chemical that boosts blood flow to muscles. An increase in blood flow enhances the delivery of oxygen, protein, and hormones, which are necessary for muscle growth, according to the Muscle and Body website. However, chocolate can be fairly high in calories, so don't go overboard.


Muscle damage is the result of muscle fibres being broken down. Although sometimes overlooked, muscle recovery plays a crucial role in building muscle. According to the Muscle and Body website, blueberries contain powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals, which are byproducts of muscle cell damage caused by resistance training. Proper recovery allows you to be ready for your next training session, which allows you to build lean muscle over the long haul.

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About the Author

William Gamonski is a graduate of St. Francis College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health promotion and sciences. He was a dietetic intern at Rivington House and has been a personal trainer for the past two years. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in nutrition.