A good muscle building program includes a combination of physical training and dietary changes. By focusing on strength training during workouts and including the top foods known for helping you build muscle in your diet, your body will likely gain muscle mass.

Muscle growth occurs when stress is placed on the muscle. This causes small tears in the fibers of the muscle that are repaired with rest and nutrition. This cycle of strain and repair builds muscle because with each repair, the muscle comes back stronger than before. You can force your muscles to grow by participating in strength training, getting the proper amount of rest, and eating foods that contain the protein needed to repair muscle tissue.

Overdoing It Does Not Help

For years athletes have packed their diets with high-protein foods. There are even stories of Olympic athletes eating up to 20 pounds of meat per day in an effort to fill their bodies with protein from food sources. Modern science shows us that extremes such as this are not necessary to achieve muscle building goals.

A recent study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston studied the muscle synthesis rates of study participants eating different amounts of meat each day. The study showed that the first 30 grams of protein eaten at each meal had an impact on muscle growth, but additional amounts were relatively meaningless. No matter how much protein the participants ate after the first 30 grams, each person’s muscle growth increased at the same rate.

As a result of the study, researchers concluded that eating approximately 30 grams of protein at each meal is ideal for muscle growth. Unfortunately, many people are not doing this. For instance, the average person eats the majority of his or her daily protein intake at dinner and often eats very little at lunch or breakfast. This results in an overload at night, but very little throughout the day.

What Foods Help Build Muscle?

Knowing what foods to eat for a protein boost can help you distribute your protein intake better throughout the day and increase your overall intake by eating protein-rich foods in the morning and afternoon. What foods offer the protein boost needed to build muscle?

Salmon

Salmon is one of the best foods you can eat because it is rich in amino acids and it provides the body with healthy essential fats. These fats help you maintain insulin levels by moving carbohydrate calories from other foods into the muscle cells instead of depositing them as fat. That’s right: salmon is so good for you it actually makes other less healthy foods better for you too!

Steak

Many people think of chicken when considering protein, but lean red meat is also a great option. As long as you limit the overall saturated fat in your diet, occasionally eating steak is not going to damage your health, as long as you choose a quality lean cut and opt for beef that has not been treated with antibiotics and other dangerous chemicals. Lean, grass-fed steak also provides a boost of iron, which is great for boosting energy levels during workouts.

Almonds

Almonds are considered one of the top muscle building foods available. They are rich in healthy fats and calories, so they help you boost your daily calorie intake without turning to unhealthy foods.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a complete source of protein and a great alternative to rice or pasta. It is also delicious in salads or mixed with nuts or seeds and served liked oatmeal.

Eggs

Eggs are a protein powerhouse. This is another great breakfast option, but eggs can also be eaten throughout the day. Ideally, mix whole eggs and egg whites together for the greatest impact. Egg yolks contain protein, as well as a number of other nutrients, but too many boost bad cholesterol. You are better off sticking to no more than a yolk or two at a time, mixed with the whites of extra eggs for the healthiest results.

Cottage Cheese

Finally, dairy is a great option for boosting protein and building muscle. Cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and provides casein protein, but is still low in fat compared to other sources of dairy. This type of protein is digested at a slower rate than regular protein, so it is a great option to eat right before bedtime. Your body has time to repair while you sleep and the casein protein helps the process.