The Best Foods To Gain Long, Lean Muscle

Closeup of two pieces of salmon coated in sesame seeds and seasoning sitting on a plate.

With every Physique 57 sweat session, you’re forming long, lean, gorgeous muscles. And after you’ve crushed your barre workout at home or in the studio you can enhance your gains in the kitchen! Refueling with whole, unprocessed, and nutrient-packed foods is key for muscle growth and recovery. The combination of your workouts and proper nutrition is where you’ll see the most benefits! 

We’re sharing 6 of the best foods to pair with your workouts to build muscle and feel lean, healthy, and energized.

Salmon 

Salmon delivers a double dose of muscle-building perks — it’s high in both protein and omega-3 fatty acids. First, let’s talk protein. Each 3 oz. serving of salmon contains about 17 g of protein, and protein is a powerhouse when it comes to gaining lean muscle. Research shows that protein helps build muscle strength and lean body mass ¹ ². It also helps repair and replenish your muscles after a tough workout, so you can recover faster and get back after it at the barre ³. Here’s how it works: When you’re rocking a workout, your muscle fibers break down. Protein’s amino acids allow your body to synthesize new cells, which repair the damaged fibers and help build new muscle ⁴. 

Salmon is also an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to protecting your heart health, omega-3s have been shown to maintain bone health and increase muscle gains ⁵. 

Eggs

Eggs also pack a lot of high-quality protein — about 6 g per egg. They are particularly high in the amino acid leucine, which has been linked to building muscle and enhancing post-workout recovery. Leucine is essential for regulating muscle protein synthesis, and it may be the key amino acid for optimizing muscle mass ⁶. 

According to research, you may get the most benefits from whole eggs. A study showed that people who consumed whole eggs had more muscle gains than those who opted for egg whites ⁷. This may be thanks to the cholesterol in yolks — a study shows that cholesterol can contribute to muscle building by enhancing your body’s inflammatory response ⁸. If you’re worried about cholesterol for heart health, it’s important to know that the cholesterol in eggs doesn’t seem to raise LDL cholesterol (aka the “bad” kind) the way other foods like trans and saturated fats do ⁹. Still, if you do have heart disease or diabetes, it’s smart to watch your overall intake. 

Quinoa 

While protein-rich foods are important for muscle gains, getting plenty of complex carbs is also essential. Carbs get a bad rap, but if you choose the right kind, they are a major way to feel energized and gain lean muscle. Slow-digesting complex carbs provide the energy your body needs to fuel your workouts and recover ¹⁰. Cooked quinoa, which is actually a seed and not a grain, delivers about 40 g carbs per cup. 

Plus, quinoa is an amazing plant protein for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone looking to lead a more plant-based lifestyle. Another perk: Quinoa is high in magnesium, which plays an important role in the function of your muscles and nerves and helps protect your bones ¹¹. 

Spinach 

Popeye was on to something! Spinach is a great source of glutamine, an amino acid that is important for muscle growth ¹². Research also shows that glutamine can help your muscles recover faster and soothe soreness post-workout ¹³.

Beets 

This root veggie contains a molecule that enhances muscle power. In a study, people who drank beet juice pre-workout saw an approximately 13% increase in muscle power. The perk comes from the nitrate, an ion found in beets and leafy greens like spinach. When you take in nitrate, it is converted to nitrite and then becomes nitric oxide, a molecule that boosts muscles and may enhance blood circulation ¹⁴. 

Almonds 

In addition to their high magnesium and protein content (16 g per serving), almonds also deliver phosphorus, a mineral that helps the body make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells. Phosphorus also helps your body make a molecule called ATP, which leads you to use carbs and fat for energy during exercise ¹⁵. 

Eat up and enjoy! We’ll see you at the barre!

Sources:

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