After the great feedback on my Top 10 Favorite Fat Loss Foods post, I thought it would be fitting to give you some tips if you’re looking to put on muscle & build your strength.
When it comes to building muscle & gaining strength your main goal should be to get bigger. Yes you may put on some fat with it, but all that can be eliminated when you’re done with some intense circuit training.
Anyways here are my top 10 favorite muscle building foods (and drinks)…
10 Muscle Building Foods
If your stomach can handle milk, I’m all for it if you’re trying to build muscle. Normally I don’t recommend people drink milk, but if gaining muscle or strength is your goal, there’s no denying that milk works incredibly well.
One of my clients I put on a 1/2 gallon of milk per day diet in addition to his regular diet and he put on 15+ lbs & got much stronger over the course of 2 months…
If you’re really skinny you can even try a gallon of milk per day.
Some of the best protein sources you’ll find come from good cuts of meat. I recommend steaks, ground beef and pork for trying to put on some muscle. Make sure to stay away from processed meats, though. As much as I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart you can usually find some cheap stakes that taste pretty good for $4-$5.
Granted the meat isn’t organic grass fed or anything like that, Granted the meat isn’t organic grass fed or anything like that, but if you’re trying to build muscle on a budget, you may have to sacrifice some quality in exchange for quantity.
#3 Whole Wheat Pasta
Pasta is incredibly high in calories and carbs, so it makes a great muscle building meal. I like to stick with the whole wheat pasta as it’s a bit healthier for you than the white starch kind.
If you mix your pasta with a cream sauce with butter and some parmesan cheese, you’ll easily have a 1000 calorie meal.
#4 Peanut Butter
Peanut butter (or almond butter) is a great way to get a bunch of calories in your mouth without eating a ton of food. Most guys who need to put on size have a hard time eating a lot of food, so finding foods that pack a bunch of calories in small servings is a good idea.
A peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread will give you about 500 calories or so. If you eat two with a glass of milk, then you’ll be on your way to a great muscle building meal.
Almonds & walnuts are my two personal favorites. Both of these have lots of healthy fats in them and pack a bunch of calories. A 1/4 cup of nuts usually has 200 calories in it. You can easily add 800 calories to your day by making a big handful of almonds your snack in between each meal.
#6 Olive Oil
Just like nuts, olive oil has a lot of healthy fats in it – And it has 120 calories per TBSP. Olive oil can be used to cook pretty much everything from meat to veggies to eggs. You can also add a few tablespoons to a smoothie. It’s a great way to get more fruit in your diet & also consume a bunch of calories (trust me you actually won’t taste it).
Your morning breakfast should look something like this… 4 egg omelet with red pepper, onion & cheese, 2 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter, hashbrowns and a glass of milk. Eggs are easy to make & not to mention incredibly cheap to buy. They pack a lot of protein & are a perfect meal plan for breakfast.
Fish is actually great for both building muscle & losing fat. It pretty much boils down to how much of it you eat. A 4 oz piece of salmon is good for fat loss, while a 10 oz piece would work for muscle building. Fish like salmon pack a ton of protein & tons of fish oil benefits like omega 3’s.
The only draw back to fish is it can be a bit pricey, and a lot people just don’t like it.
#9 Brown Rice
Rice is always a great post workout meal along with some beans and a chicken breast. Brown rice can be used in a lot of dishes such as stir fry with veggies, chicken, and teriyaki sauce.
Brown rice usually has about 300 calories for a normal serving size.
The potato is very versatile as a muscle building food. You can make mashed potatoes or baked potatoes or sweet potatoes ahead of time and store them in the fridge. You can also use them to make homefries or hashbrowns in the morning.
Add some butter and cheese and you’ll add a bunch more calories to your potato.
As you’ll see I still am eating mostly REAL foods. There’s not much that’s processed on this list. Eating for muscle building is much different than for fat loss. I actually think it’s alot harder because you have to plan everything out much better than you do for fat loss.
You should be eating 3-4 meals per day + 2 snacks each day. And all of them should be packing a bunch of calories. Most people who are trying to build muscle should be eating between 4,000-6,000 calories a day depending on how active you are throughout the day.
If you’re worried about getting too fat, you can add 2 days of hill sprints to your workouts on your off days. I know John Berardi says he has his clients do interval training like hill sprints on their off days, because it makes you hungry and allows you to eat more. Not a bad idea…
Also as an aside, I’ll be finishing up my muscle building experiment later next week. I’ll post the results of it here sometime around then. Be sure to look for that…
P.S. – Forgot to tell you… Many of you have asked and yes you’ll soon be able to purchase the 31 Day Challenge Workouts in a nice, neat manual that you can keep and print out. I’m gonna throw in some cool bonuses along with it… Look for an email in the next 10 days for that…
P.P.S – If you’re looking to build muscle, the manual I’m using for my workouts is Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets. It’s pure content, with no B.S. workouts. His manual has helped me with a bunch of my muscle building workouts… I highly recommend it…Check it out…
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Can’t beat the taste and nutrition of Sweet Potatoes either.
its just not in me genes…id blow up like Oprah!
However, great info.
For a great wee cheap protein hit try some tinned sardines, doused in olive oil on a bed of spinach. Takes 2 minutes to make and the same time to eat!
Thanks for the quick and easy meal suggestion!
Great stuff Vic! I know when I was building (20+ years ago) I consumed as much protein as possible. I was up to between 6000 and 8000 calories a day. 3 meals a day, 2 shakes with fruit, milk, juices, coffee and raw eggs; plus snacks. 3 hours a day in the gym. Biology classes taught me about aminos and their contribution to protein chains & ultimately muscle fibers. I took tons of aminos, what your body doesn’t use gets flushed out. I added at least 20 lbs of muscle and stayed around 6% body fat. I was lucky to be a skinny kid though. Went to college at 125 lbs. left at 160 lbs. and eventually was up to 180 lbs. (5′-8″, 6% fat). You’re absolutely right about basics and simplicity. Basic foods and simple routines. The intensity produces the results if you’re fueling the fire.
Thanks for giving us the quick rundown on your journey through muscle gains. It helps everyone when someone who has been through it can give the formula they used for success. Everyone see that? 6000 – 8000 calories per day at 5’8″! Gotta eat like it’s your job to pack on some size. Thanks again!
Great post Vic. I like adding raw pumpkin seeds to my meals. 1/4c serving has about 9g of protein, plus the healthy fats definitely makes them a superfood.
Raw pumpkin seeds are great! Thanks for the suggestion.
You stole my post >|. I just finished writing mine. I guess ill publish it some other time 🙂
Plenty of room in the old blogosphere for everyone. Post away my friend!
Agreed, healthy and natural foods are the way to go. Nothing beats fish for high protein and good fats – i just hate tuna which seems to be the staple of most fitness gurus.
I think tuna comes up so often due to it’s convenience and price. If I had the time and budget, I’d eat fresh fish a few times per week for sure. Oh, and if it didn’t stink up the house. 🙂
Great post! I only knew about half of these. Quick question: Is it true that cooking meat to long on a grill can burn the nutrition, and the protein for that matter, out of the meat?
Not sure about cooking out the nutritional value of meat. Sounds like it makes sense to me. I like my steak medium – delicious!
great post. Just discovered your site and there’s some great articles. Tofu is one of my favorite muscle building foods and great for vegetarians. Not to everyone’s taste though!
Thanks for making a suggestion for the vegetarians out there!
Hi Vic! I love to check out your blog. Great post.
But I have a question. I’m a woman and i love to go to the gym, but eating is not my scene. I have lost to much weight and need to gain some. will this foods help me like they help guys? Thanks.
Absolutely! For muscle building purposes, you can eat the same foods as guys.
Is there an upper limit on how many calories I should eat in a day?
Hard to say. Your body fat will go up possibly, but a little allowance there is not a bad thing if you are trying to pack on some size. Evaluate your self each week, and adjust accordingly. Good luck.
A diet consisting of organic live food protein builds stronger muscle fibers. If you don’t want to eat 100% raw foods then at least take some form of live protein like freshly ground flax seeds, hemp powder, raw nuts and seeds, raw organic milk organic raw eggs taken whole.
Very good and helpful post Vic, I just stumbled upon your website and I will check out more articles written by you. If you have some time check out my website named Muscle Palace, I would like to read your comments about it.
We will check it out!