10 Best Foods to Build Lean Muscle

Written by stella oakley
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10 Best Foods to Build Lean Muscle
Nutrition is important for people looking to build lean muscle. (gym image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com)

Building muscle is commonly associated with drinking raw eggs and eating exorbitant amounts of meat. Protein is the most important factor when building strength, but in combination with complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Ten of the best foods for building lean muscle are brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, beans, eggs, chicken breast, red peppers, carrots, bananas and broccoli.

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Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Whole-grain Bread

These foods are complex carbohydrates. They provide long-lasting energy and fibre, which promotes cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health. It's important to choose carbohydrates with whole grains rather than the white, processed variety. The three best carbohydrates for building lean muscle are brown rice, oatmeal and whole-grain bread. Brown rice is now available in microwaveable and prepackaged bags that cook in 10 minutes, to aid people in a time crunch. When choosing oatmeal and whole-grain bread, it's important to know what you're looking for. Oatmeal should be unflavored with no added sugars. Steel-cut and rolled oats are both nutritious and can be flavoured with fresh fruits and a small amount of brown sugar. When looking for breads, make sure the package is labelled "whole grain" or "whole wheat" rather than "made with whole grains," which simply means a certain amount has been added to a less nutritionally dense mix.

10 Best Foods to Build Lean Muscle
Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate. (Wholegrain Rice and Fresh Rosemary image by Andreja Donko from Fotolia.com)

Beans, Eggs, Chicken Breasts

These are lean proteins, meaning they have the least amount of fat possible. Proteins are necessary in maintaining bone and muscle health and also provide the body with vitamin B complex, iron and vitamin K. The three best lean proteins for building muscle are low-calorie, high-protein beans, eggs and chicken breasts. Beans are an example of a low-fat protein that can be enjoyed by muscle-building vegetarians and vegans. One cup of black, navy or pinto beans contains the same amount of protein as a 170gr. steak. Vegetarians can also prepare eggs as a source of protein, although it's advisable to consume more egg whites than whole eggs to limit fat intake. Eggs can be poached as another way to limit fat consumption because no butter or oil is needed for preparation. A poached, skinless chicken breast is another lean protein option as it contains 45 grams of protein and just 7.5 grams of fat.

10 Best Foods to Build Lean Muscle
Skinless chicken breast is a low-fat, high-protein food. (chicken image by blaine stiger from Fotolia.com)

Red Peppers, Carrots, Bananas, Broccoli

Without fruits and vegetables your exercise routine can be affected by a lack of energy or illness from a compromised immune system. When watching calories, fruits and vegetables pack in density and fibre without the calories of many processed foods. Four of the best fruits and vegetables for those building muscles are carrots, bananas, red peppers and broccoli for their high fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene are all necessary for functioning at your best. Although citrus is commonly associated with vitamin C, red peppers contain 80 mg and can be eaten raw or cooked in a stir-fry. Carrots are a source of beta-carotene but also contain 312 mg of vitamin A. After a workout, bananas provide simple sugars for an energy boost as well as potassium that helps maintain muscle function. Broccoli is a green vegetable that contains vitamin C, calcium and high fibre.

10 Best Foods to Build Lean Muscle
Fibrous vegetables like broccoli are important during training. (broccoli image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

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