By now, most men understand the importance of protein in building muscle. When working out, the stress of weight lifting damages muscle fibers. This damage activates a special repair process that eventually forces individual muscle cells to grow. All of this growth requires loads of amino acids, the basic building blocks of life.
But the process of muscle growth requires more than just protein. Weight lifting burns fat and energy in the form of muscle glycogen, so your diet also needs to include a healthy serving of carbs to both replenish muscle glycogen stores and to boost insulin, a hormone that helps shuttle amino acids into the muscles. This means you should not only focus on incorporating protein into your diet, but also pay just as much attention to avoiding unhealthy foods – this combination of attention to your diet will be a winning combo.
Well, AskMen has already explored foods make the best post-workout meal as well as the best pre-workout food, so in this piece, we’ve decided to focus on which specific foods pack the biggest protein punch.
Here are the top 10 foods for muscle growth.
Reality check: Not all men eat meat. But without meat, how can you get that precious protein? Look no further than quinoa, a protein-packed grain native to South America. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is also complete, meaning that it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. This gluten-free food is also easy to digest and is high in fiber, magnesium and iron. No wonder the ancient Incas called quinoa the mother of all grains!
Almonds are another plant-based food absolutely packed full of protein. Just 1/4 cup of almonds contains nearly 8 grams of protein - that’s nearly 2 grams of protein more than your typical egg! Almonds are also an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and magnesium. Magnesium is an abundant mineral that’s used in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is specifically known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
8. Cottage cheese
It may sound surprising, but most serious bodybuilders include cottage cheese among their top muscle-building foods. To understand why, simply read the label of your typical low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese. Just 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese packs a whopping 14 grams of protein in only 80 calories with less than 2 grams of fat. Trust us, this one’s a winner.
Although not the best-known muscle-building food, oysters are another secret specialty of weight lifters and bodybuilders alike. Just 100 grams of cooked Pacific oysters yield upward of 20 grams of protein with only five grams of fat. Oysters also provide more zinc than any other food. Like magnesium, zinc is another mineral that’s essential for protein synthesis, making oysters a top food for muscle growth.