Muscular hypertrophy, or muscle mass, goes beyond only applying muscle stress through your workouts and believing that miracles will occur. To build muscle mass, several factors are to be taken into consideration. First of all, you should aim at the best possible results for the following factors: optimal protein synthesis, a good hormonal balance, adequate recovery (sleep), good insulin sensitivity, a healthy immune system, and adequate intestinal health.
What are macronutrients?
When we talk about food, the word “macronutrient” comes around regularly. Macronutrients are chemicals that provide energy or substances required in relatively large quantities for living organisms. The calories we consume in food are classified in different categories by their metabolism and their effects once digested.
How are macronutrients categorized?
They are divided into 3 categories, and they are all essential for building muscle mass. We are then talking about proteins (the basic macronutrient for muscle and tissue repair that could be called the foundation), carbohydrates (sugars that can be burned for energy), and lipids (sources of fat).
What are the best foods to build muscle mass?
Wild red meat (bison, deer, moose, wapiti, boar, ostrich, etc.)
When it comes time to choose red meats, it is very important to ensure how animals have been nourished. To be healthy and have the maximum nutrients, you have to eat healthy animals. They are favored because the amino acid profile is much more complete and the protein content is much higher. These meats are often rich in omega-3, minerals, vitamins B, creatine, carnitine, glutamine, and glycine. These are all amino acids that will help you build muscle and have a healthy immune and hormonal system.
Poultry (chicken, turkey)
As it has a high protein content (especially white meat), poultry is key to getting your required protein intake on a daily basis. In addition to high protein, poultry is a good food to include during a meal after training or working out because it is digested quickly due to its high nitrogen content. Chicken, turkey, duck, and other white-meat poultry foods are excellent choices.
The egg is a popular food for many bodybuilders. Having a balanced protein / fat ratio, eggs are also rich in amino acids, where leucine is important in muscle building. The eggs are also concentrated in vitamin D and highly bioavailable, so they absorb very quickly. Quality is still very important, so make sure your eggs come from healthy chickens to have the best possible nutritional quality for your eggs.
Coldwater fish from wild fishing (salmon, mackerel, sardine, cod, trout)
Again, the same as with your eggs, make sure to check the quality of the fish you buy to avoid a high mercury content. Since it comes from breeding and is often nourished with GMO stuffed food, the fatty acids contained in salmon can be omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) unlike the omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) that we are looking for. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, omega-3 will also improve your insulin sensitivity (the anabolic hormone must be controlled in muscle mass).
Coconut oil is quickly absorbed and transported to be used as a source of energy (a bit like a carbohydrate, but without increasing your glycemia). Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory effects and improves insulin sensitivity. It is also recommended as a cooking oil since it does not become toxic when heated at high temperatures.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil is a good fat source to include in your diet as well. It is rich in vitamin E and helps fight free radicals. It can be used as vinaigrette in your salads, or just on your vegetables to get the number of calories you need to reach in your day according to your goals. Be careful, however, to choose extra-virgin olive oil, and not to heat it to high temperatures because it will become less healthy, unlike coconut oil.
Powdered whey proteins are very interesting for several reasons. They are easy to access and transport. Bioavailability is also very fast (speed at which it will be absorbed by the body). However, alternating your sources of powdered protein to try to avoid intolerances is highly recommended. Pay attention to companies that mix their powdered proteins with sucralose, aspartame, or other artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners have adverse effects on your health and long-term digestive system.
Mostly consisting of carbohydrates, the sweet potato is a very popular food in the world of bodybuilding. In addition to helping you replenish your muscle glycogen reserves, this food is rich in fiber and will help you have good intestinal transit, balance your blood levels, and maintain healthy blood glucose.
Like sweet potato, the white potato is a food that provides an excellent source of carbohydrates. However, this food is to be preferred for those who have a better sensitivity to insulin or those with a lower fat percentage because the index and glycemic load are higher and the impact on glycemia will be more important.
Berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries)
Since they are rich in antioxidants, berries will help you eliminate waste and toxins caused by intense workouts. By eliminating them, your body will be better able to recover well. They are also great for people who have less good insulin sensitivity due to their low glycemic index and their high fiber content.
Pineapple is a fruit to consider for building muscle mass. In addition to helping you in your muscle gains, it will also help you in your recovery since it is rich in vitamin C. The latter plays a vital role in the growth and healing of muscle tears. Pineapples should be mixed with your protein in your shake after the workout since it is rich in bromelain, an enzyme that helps digestion and synthesis of proteins.
For people who have a low percentage of fat (about 12% and less), powdered carbohydrates can help to further improve your muscle gains, performance, and redo your muscle glycogen reserves quickly. They can be ingested either in your drink during training or in a shake after your workout. You could also add your creatine to your shake (protein/carbohydrates) because creatine is better absorbed by the body in the presence of carbohydrates.
No matter your goals, green vegetables should always be part of your diet. Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, green vegetables will also help you with your digestion. As you need to consume quite large amounts of proteins (which often leave an acid residue), green vegetables (alkaline) will balance your pH and promote a good acid-basic balance in the stomach.
Although there are many foods that will help build muscle mass, these 13 foods are among the most common and easily accessible of them. The human body is made to eat real food and we often seek shortcuts. However, we should always prioritize health because it will inevitably produce results. Aim for quality foods, high-quality animal protein, and healthy fresh and local fruits and vegetables if possible (without pesticides, or as little as possible) and a wide variety in your food choices to get the best results from your muscle building and have the most vitamins and minerals possible.