5 Muscle Building Foods You Need

peanuts butter in bowl and on a table

Build great muscle mass with these 5 foods

Listen, I hear you want to build some solid muscle mass. You want calves the size of tree trunks, arms that rip T-shirts, and a chest that’s got a few dimensions to it. Some food choices can help with this. In fact, add these high protein foods to your shopping list if you struggle to pack on that size.

1. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

5 Muscle Building Foods You Need For Great GainsMuscle is mass, meaning it weighs something. That’s obvious, but I know so many skinny dudes who are not gaining weight. The scale stays the same every morning. This is not good. For example, if your legs resemble chopsticks and your back would get crushed from a hit by the carnival Go Karts, I got some news for you, you need more calories.

My go to is peanut butter and jelly. It’s calorically dense and is the ultimate slap in the face of anyone who’s whining about, but “I just can’t gain weight no matter how much I eat” nonsense.

Take your favorite bread and slather on some peanut butter which have muscle building protein and healthy fats. Then slather on your favorite jelly and you got a snack or meal that can skyrocket your calories when you need them.

They also taste amazing and can be prepped with a protein shake ahead of time for convenience. Bonus tip: frozen PB & J’s are life-changing, probably better than sex.

2. Salmon

5 Muscle Building Foods You Need For Great Gains

Every 3 ounces pack about 17 grams of protein, 2 grams of muscle enhancing omega-3s, and loads of key nutrients like B-vitamins.

Salmon also contain a key antioxidant astaxanthin which have anti-inflammatory and health/skin enhancing effects. Salmon is arguably a superfood if such thing exists. Fattier cuts can help boost caloric intake as well.

It also pairs well with many starches and vegetables. In addition, for busy lifters, smoked salmon can be a game changer as far as anabolic snacks goes.

136 grams of smoked salmon packs you 25 grams of protein along with loads of hormone enhancing healthy fats and Vitamin D.

3. Nuts

Speaking of healthy fats, nuts are a key player here. They pass the convenient and calorically dense test, so simply having more nuts around can increase your average caloric intake if needed.

They also contain some protein which never hurts, but the fat and micronutrients are key here. In fact, in studies where subjects are eating a surplus of saturated vs unsaturated fats, even when consuming the same amount of calories, the group that consumes healthy fats gain more muscle (1).

Same goes for dieting, the groups consuming the same calories from unsaturated fats retain more muscle mass.

Some of my favorites are almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and cashews. If you want some extra omega-3s, flaxseed is an excellent choice.

4. Shellfish

Shellfish is eaten all over the world yet in America, we still have people who are afraid to eat seafood. If eating shellfish is really giving you that much anxiety, you might want to get your testosterone checked.

For clarification, shellfish includes crab, lobster, clams, scallops, oysters, shrimp, crayfish, and mussels. Many of these can be eaten raw or partially cooked. While some shellfish have strong flavors, many of them are quite mild taste.

Furthermore, they’re a stable in many country’s cuisines and produce awesome health benefits. For building muscle, they are nutritional powerhouses. All shellfish is packed with protein and have little tag along fat, most of which are unsaturated fats anyways. In addition, they’re packed with zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B12, all of which are common deficiencies.

Zinc and magnesium have direct roles in muscle recovery and hormonal production. B12 promotes and supports the mTORpathway responsible for muscle growth. These same nutrients also promote brain function and immune strength.

In fact, fish and shellfish are arguably the most anabolic and health enhancing animal sources on an ounce per ounce level.

5. Whole Eggs

Who doesn’t love eggs? They bring so many benefits to the table it isn’t even funny. Eggs are easy to digest, can be prepared a number of ways, and are packed with key muscle building nutrients. For all my macro trackers, eggs are also easy to track as well. One large egg is typically 70 calories with 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.

Whole eggs have been shown to stimulate more muscle protein synthesis than egg whites even when matched for the same protein content (2). The anabolic boost comes from the yolk because that’s where key health and muscle supporting nutrients are found.

You get multiple B-vitamins, choline, vitamin A, and selenium.

However, the most powerful muscle building in eggs is dietary cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol gets a bad rep because foods high in it tends to be high in saturated fat which can impact health when overconsumed in unhealthy individuals.

Fortunately, whole eggs contain a very favorable cholesterol to saturated fat ration, plus it’s very different when a lean weight lifting trainee eats them for breakfast compared to an overweight couch potato eating them inside their baked goods.

But anyways, dietary cholesterol has been shown to enhance strength and muscle growth (3). Eggs are one of the few foods packed with cholesterol reasonable to their serving size. One egg has about 190 mg of cholesterol. Some studies, participants who see anabolic effects consume as much as 1000 mg, so 4-5 eggs should make a great post workout meal. Additional cholesterol will also come from other foods you eat like seafood in smaller amounts.

Change Your Grocery List

You struggling to build some sexy slabs of muscle? Change your grocery list. Grab some PB & J sandwich ingredients, some seafood, your favorite nuts, and lots of whole eggs. Egg whites might be great for cutting, but to mass up, whole eggs are a gamechanger. What other foods do you enjoy having to build muscle?

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1. Petrus, Peter. “The Impact of Dietary Fatty Acids on Human Adipose Tissue.” The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31122299/.
2. van Vliet, Stephan, et al. “Consumption of Whole Eggs Promotes Greater Stimulation of Postexercise Muscle Protein Synthesis than Consumption of Isonitrogenous Amounts of Egg Whites in Young Men.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 4 Oct. 2017, academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/106/6/1401/4823156.
3. Riechman, Steven E., et al. “Statins and Dietary and Serum Cholesterol Are Associated With Increased Lean Mass Following Resistance Training.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Oct. 2007, academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/62/10/1164/568431.
Calvin Huynh
Calvin Huynh is a trainer, online coach, writer, and joyful ruler behind AwesomeFitnessScience.com. His content has reached various top sites and he has worked with a variety of clients ranging from top CEOs, hardcore lifters, everyday desk workers, and stay at home moms. When he’s not working, he spends his time going to church, dreaming of unicorns, and eating whole pints of ice cream on a comfortable couch somewhere in Southern California.