what to eat to gain muscle

What to Eat to Gain Muscle: A Complete List

When training to build muscles, you must maintain a balance between physical activity and nutrition. You will only be able to achieve the desired results if you perform well in terms of physical activity and provide your body with the necessary nutritional support.

Knowing what to eat to gain muscle will ensure you incorporate muscle-building foods into your diet. As opposed to the popular belief that you only need protein for bodybuilding, the body also needs carbs and fats. The right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein helps you gain muscle. Keep reading to learn about 10 foods that will help you gain weight, 5 foods that you need to avoid, and 6 tips that will help you in your muscle-gaining journey.

10 Foods to Eat to Gain Muscle

You must follow a proper diet that includes enough protein and a reasonable combination of carbs and fats to gain muscles. Also, you need to exercise regularly, meet your body’s daily sleep and rest requirements, and keep it hydrated. If you are training to gain muscles, make sure you include the following food in your diet:

1. Eggs


One medium-sized egg will give you around 6 grams of proteins. However, that’s not it. The superfood also contains essential fats, carbohydrates, nutrients, and vitamins. It is an excellent source of amino acid leucine, vitamin B12, and choline. These nutrients help with muscle gain, energy production, and communication between the muscles and the nervous system.

2. Chicken Breast

Chicken Breast

Chicken breast can be found on all muscle-building food lists for a good reason. Skinless chicken is a great source of low-fat protein. A 120-gram portion of chicken gives you 35.5 grams of protein. Adding it to your exercise routine will help you gain weight. Chicken is also a great source of B vitamins B6 and niacin, which are necessary if you have an active lifestyle. It also has a high level of selenium, which protects the cells from free radicals produced during a workout.

3. Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt

Dairy products are a good source of proteins. Greek yogurt contains both the fast-digesting whey protein and the slow-digesting casein protein. When eaten in combination, they are known to increase lean muscle mass. It is a great source of vitamin D, essential for phosphorus and calcium absorption. While phosphorus is necessary for ATP synthesis, calcium is vital for muscle contraction.

4. Soybeans


86 grams, or half a cup of cooked soybean, gives you 16 grams of protein. It also offers minerals, vitamins, and healthy unsaturated fats. Soybeans have all nine essential amino acids and are a good source of phosphorus, vitamin K, and iron.

5. Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

A cup of low-fat cottage cheese gives you 28 grams of protein. It contains casein, a slow-digesting protein. So, it allows a slow release of amino acids over a long period. This is why people often eat it before bed, so the body does not switch to breaking down muscles for energy and instead uses the proteins from cottage cheese.

6. Salmon


100 grams of salmon contain 25.78 grams of protein. It is also a great source of several B vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids. The latter improves blood circulation, has anti-inflammatory effects, and prevents muscle loss in older individuals. It is also important for muscular health and may help increase muscle protein synthesis.

7. Quinoa


The botanical seed will give you 8 grams of protein per cup and is a source of carbohydrates, fiber, and good amounts of phosphorus and magnesium. It also contains all the nine essential amino acids, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, potassium, and so much more.

8. Almonds


100 grams of almonds will give you 21 grams of protein. However, that’s not all. Almonds also pack in phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin E. While phosphorus helps the body use fats and carbs as an energy source, vitamin E helps repair cellular damage caused by exercise. It also has vitamin B, which provides energy during training.

9. Chickpeas


You may also know chickpeas as garbanzo beans. They are a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber. 100 grams of the beans will give you around 9 grams of protein. One great thing about chickpeas is that you can consume them in several ways. You can have them canned, dried, soaked, or as a ready-made dish. It is an ideal option for people looking for weight gain through plant-based diets.

10. Tuna


Besides being a rich source of protein (25 grams of protein for every 100 grams), tuna is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, several B vitamins like B6, B12, niacin, and vitamin A. These are important for gaining muscles as well as for muscle health. It is especially beneficial for older adults as it helps strengthen muscles.

5 Foods to Avoid to Gain Muscle

Gain Muscle

Gaining muscle also means avoiding junk, so cut short on alcohol, caffeine, or any other food that may come in the way of achieving a fit body. Now that you know what to eat to gain muscle, here are 5 foods best avoided, as they may interfere with your muscle-building goal:

1. Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol interferes with muscle growth. A study showed participants who consumed alcohol after exercise had reduced muscle growth. Alcohol consumption also interferes with the sleep cycle, which can also hinder muscle growth.

2. Fried Foods

Fried foods have high-fat content and are not easy to digest. They can lead to digestive issues, so it is better to avoid them, especially before a workout.

3. Diet Soda

Diet sodas have artificial sweeteners that are no better than sugar. In fact, they can be more harmful, as some have been found to cause cancer in lab rats.

4. Ice Cream

High in sugar, fat, and calories, ice cream is a dessert that you will have to cut if you want to stay fit.

5. Pre-Made Salads

Salads are great; however, the dressing causes havoc. The dressing usually doubles the calorie content of the salad alone.

6 Diet Tips to Gain Muscle

Diet Tips

When on a journey to gain muscles, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Include protein in all meals.
2. Get enough sleep.
3. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking at least 2.5 liters of water daily,
4. Eat every 3 hours to meet the calorie count.
5. Do not forget to breathe while exercising.
6. Relax on rest days.

Is It Possible to Gain Muscle with Just the Right Food?

It is a common misconception that proteins are the only requirement for bodybuilding. That is not the case. Protein is definitely important, but a proper combination of proteins, fats, and carbs is necessary for appropriate development and growth. Also, you need more than your diet to gain the defined muscles you desire. You must follow a regimen that includes hydration, regular sleep, and, most importantly, strength training.

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