5 foods to gain muscle: advice from a sports nutritionist

  • Combined with strength training, foods like Greek yogurt can help build muscle, a nutritionist says.
  • Muscle-building diets should include meals high in protein and calories, such as salmon, she added.
  • Foods like nuts, which contain omega-3s, can reduce inflammation and pain after a hard workout.

Although no food will make you stronger, certain foods can help you in the process, according to the sports nutritionist. Angie Ash.

Asche, the owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition, told Insider that in addition to strength training, eating foods high in protein and calories promotes muscle growth. Protein is made up of amino acids, which the body breaks down and absorbs to build muscle tissue, The Insider’s Rebecca Strong previously reported. Your body then needs a surplus of calories, Asche said, to fuel the muscle-building process.

Foods like full-fat Greek yogurt and salmon are high in calories and packed with protein, Asche told Insider. Avocados and tempeh are great protein-rich vegan alternatives, she added.

Full-fat Greek yogurt is loaded with calories and goes well with smoothies

Full-fat Greek yogurt is a great muscle-building food because it’s high in calories and protein, Asche said. According to Healthline, 100 grams of whole yogurt contains 61 calories and 3.5 grams of protein. She said the recommended amount of protein for an active person trying to build muscle is 1.6 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight (1 kilogram is about 2.2 pounds) per day. The number of calories a person on a muscle-building diet consumes depends on their height, weight, age, activity level and fitness goals, she said. Experts generally recommend eat 10 to 20% more calories than your body needs for muscle growth.

The whole-fat version of yogurt contains more calories, as well as healthy fats, Asche said, which helps the body absorb nutrients, regulate hormones and reduce inflammation.

Greek yogurt is also incredibly versatile, she said, and can be added to foods like smoothies to get more calories and protein in a ready-to-eat form.

Lawyers are a high in calories vegan option

Asche recommends avocados as another high-calorie food that can be added to a variety of meals. There are approximately 250 calories in a medium avocado. Asche said she puts them on sandwiches and eggs to add calories and fat to her meal.

Avocados are also a great source of vitamin E and fiber, she added.

Fatty fish are full of protein and can reduce inflammation

Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring and halibut are another great source of protein, Asche said. They’re full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation during strength training, she said. Omega-3s are also an essential nutrient that the body is unable to manufacture on its own and have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, according to Harvard School of Public Health.

These fish are also high in healthy fats, which boost the calorie content, Asche said.

“Gram per gram, fat contains twice as many calories as carbs and protein, which helps you increase your calories without sitting down to a big plate of food,” she said.

The tempeh is more high in calories than other vegan options

Asche said tempeh is a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans looking to build muscle because it contains more protein than other meatless options. It’s also a higher-calorie food than other high-protein foods like chickpeas or black beans, she says, so you don’t have to eat as much. According to Healthline, 1 cup of chickpeas is about 269 calorieswhile a cup of tempeh is about 315 calories.

An added benefit of tempeh is that it’s fermented soy, Asche said, which means it has bacteria called probiotics that live in our gut and help us digest food.

Nuts are a protein-rich snack

Nuts are a great snack to have when trying to build muscle because they’re high in protein and calories, Asche said. One ounce of nuts usually contains 173 calories.

The sports nutritionist said she recommends nuts because of their high calorie count and omega-3s. The flavor isn’t overpowering either, so nuts can be added to smoothies and yogurt for extra calories and protein, she said.

But Asche said eating a wide variety of nuts will give you the greatest nutritional benefit. For example, almonds are high in magnesium, while cashews are a good source of zinc.

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