12 Great Foods for Muscle Growth

Many people looking to get in shape go through their gym experience with the wrong idea about food. A lot of people looking to lose weight think they have to starve themselves. On the opposite side, some people that want to gain muscle or build strength think they have to overload on food to get anywhere.

The reality is that it’s simple to build a good weightlifting diet. There are a few key nutrients that you need to successfully build muscle. Foods like meats, nuts, and even vegetables have the necessary proteins to grow your muscles quickly.

For avoiding gaining fat, it’s important to stay away from foods loaded with sugar and carbs. Unfortunately, some of these unhealthy foods taste the best. This being said, There are lots of great healthy foods that taste even better than junk food.

Below, I’ll show you some of these foods that taste great, and will help build your muscles at the same time. It might seem like they don’t exist, but I’m sure that you know of all of them.


Okay, I know what you’re thinking, water isn’t a food. This is true, obviously, but water is essential for any weightlifter. Water is the building block for life, and that includes building muscle.

You probably know that around 70 percent of your body. You need water not only to build muscle but to stay alive and be able to get into the gym in the first place.

The fat in your body is only 10 percent water, while your muscles are up to 75 percent water. This means that if you want to build muscles, you need to be drinking the water that they need to exist.

Don’t drink too much water while you’re weightlifting, otherwise, you might get nauseous or even throw up. Try to drink plenty of water throughout your day instead.

Even though water isn’t a food, it’s essential to building muscle. You need it to grow muscle cells, as well as to have the energy to work out. Water is essential to every weightlifter’s routine, and shouldn’t be overlooked.


This is one of the best foods for getting a lot of protein. In fact, it has more protein and less fat than other foods like beef, pork, or bison.

Protein is one of the essential nutrients for building muscle. You need it in order to grow them, and also to give your muscles the energy to work out.

Chicken breast is going to be your best bet for getting protein. It may be bland, but you can mix it into almost any dish, which makes it very versatile compared to other foods.

You could see the lack of flavor as either a positive or a negative, depending on your preferences. It’s tasteless on its own, but you can add it into other foods and sauces and create a tasty and healthy flavor.

Whether or not you like the flavor of chicken, it’s proteins are necessary for any weightlifter. Your muscles will thank you after a workout when you have the nutrients you need to grow them properly.


Many nuts can be a great source of protein. Especially ones like almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios. One ounce of nuts, on average, have three to six grams of protein.

This being said, nuts have more fat compared to other foods with protein. Eating too many of them can lead to fat gain, which is hopefully the opposite of your goals.

Nuts are great for small snacks, but shouldn’t be a large part of your diet. Grab some cashews or almonds if you’re hungry, but don’t have too many, or you might lose your gains.

Most people don’t have nuts as their main meal, but it can be easy to overdo it. As well as having fat, many nuts are covered in unhealthy salt.

This salt can make them almost addictive, and very easy to eat a whole can without realizing it. One simple way to eat them is to mix them into a good salad, filled with vegetables.

Overall, nuts can be a good supplement to your diet, but they shouldn’t be a large portion of it. Mix them into other foods or have a small handful to get a small protein end energy boost.


This is one of the favorites for weightlifters, as well as anyone. Beef may have the best flavor on the list, as well as having some of the most protein.

This may sound great, but beef does have more fat per ounce than other meats, like chicken, which has almost none. You can also buy certain cuts of beef that have less fat than others.

Meats with a lot of protein.

Beef is also one of the easiest foods on this list to cook with other meals. Instead of eating it plain, you can cook it into soups, stews, noodles, and countless other dishes to enhance the flavor.

The main attraction of beef is its flavor. It tastes a lot better than bland chicken and is easier to eat a lot of. These benefits have downsides, however, like its higher fat content.

There are also many contradictory studies on beef, some stating that it’s good for you, some saying it’s bad. All of the bad ones state that it has a negative impact on the heart and lifespan, however, there are too many studies stating the opposite for either side to be proved.

Regardless of if beef, and red meats in general, are bad for you, there’s no doubt that they’re a great source of protein. With the added benefit of great taste and a small downside of slightly more fat, beef is one of the best muscle building foods on our list.


Now again, I know that milk technically isn’t a food. While this is true, I can’t ignore the benefits that it gives to weightlifters, and people trying to build muscle and strength.

Milk contains whey protein, the same type of protein that is used in most protein powders. Drinking milk allows you to get these proteins straight from the source, and unprocessed.

Although if you drink milk it will have a lower concentration of protein, it also has other nutrients that will help you. The added calcium will help make your bones stronger, making you more resistant to injury.

It would be hard to drink enough milk to match it with a protein shake, but that’s okay. Having a glass of milk with your meals will help to ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need to build muscle safely and avoid injury.

Milk isn’t the first or last non-food on my list, and that’s for good reason. Many drinks supply us with the nutrients we need that are harder to get from solid foods. You shouldn’t be surprised if you see a few other drinks on this list of muscle building foods.


Rice might be a surprising one on our list, but its nutrients are essential. It has more carbs than other foods, which can be bad in excess, but your body does need them for energy.

Rice takes a shorter amount of time to digest than other foods with carbs, like whole grain foods and pasta. This means that your body can start using the energy from it much more quickly.

White rice is the best choice for rice because it has the simplest carbs. The best time to eat it is after a workout when your body needs to replenish its energy.

Rice is also one of my personal favorites, because of its versatility. You can add it into almost any meal, and the taste of each one is different.

Mix it in with some meat, and you have a great post-workout recovery meal. The carbs from the rice and the protein from the meat together make a great dish for healing and growing your muscles.

Again, with most things in life, the simplest things can be the best. Rice is one of the simplest meals to cook and contains the simplest nutrients. Be sure to not miss out on the benefits that eating rice can give you.


This is another of my favorites on the list. It may not be for everyone though, as it can be a little more expensive than other meats. Price aside, salmon is a great source of protein to grow your muscles stronger.

Just like beef, salmon has more fat than other meats on our list. This being said, it has less saturated fat than beef, which is the unhealthy fat that you want to avoid.

Salmon does not have many downsides for weightlifters. The only one I could possibly find, besides the price, is the fish taste. Many people are turned off by the taste of fish. If you’re one of them, salmon might not be for you.

I mentioned that salmon is more expensive than other meats, but truthfully, most people can afford it once in a while. Going for around 20 dollars a pound, it’s much more expensive than beef.

20 dollars a pound might seem like a lot, but it serves great as a treat once in a while. Salmon’s protein, paired with healthy oils and a great taste (for some people), easily makes it one of my favorites.


It might seem obvious that fruits lack in protein, but they come with many other helpful nutrients for building muscle. Most fruit also tastes great and can provide a great, quick snack.

One of the best nutrients you can get from fruits is potassium. Potassium is essential for building muscle and strength, and fruits are some of the easiest ways to get them.

A bowl of fruit and some chocolate.

Fruits like bananas and cantaloupes have great nutrients, as well as watermelon. Watermelon also has a great amount of water in it, which takes me back to my first section in this article about why you need water to build muscle.

Most fruits are packed with water, which will, in turn, make you need to drink less water. Many people struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, and eating fruits is one of the easiest ways to get the liquids you need.

Fruits can also be made into salads, as well as drinks. This makes it another one of the most versatile foods on our list, easy to grab as a snack or make into a more complicated meal.

Protein Shakes

I know, I know, another food on my list that’s not actually a food. While it’s not a food, drinking a protein shake is one of the easiest and fastest ways to get some protein.

Protein powder has the benefit of having many flavors, making it almost impossible not to find one that you like. They’re also quick to mix into almost any drink or just water.

Protein shakes can also be made easily on the go. Put some powder into a shaker or cup, and fill it with water whenever you’re ready. You never know when you might need a little boost of nutrients.

If you haven’t noticed already, the common ingredient between most foods on this list is protein, and for good reason. Protein is without a doubt the most important part of foods for building muscle.

While you can get protein from countless foods at the grocery store, the quickest and most efficient way is through protein powder and shakes. You can be sure that you won’t see progress in the gym if you aren’t getting enough of it.

Greek Yogurt

This is another tasty way to boost your weightlifter’s diet. Yogurt provides the same beneficial nutrients as milk, and even more. Of course, some yogurts are healthier than others, but it’s usually easy to spot the difference.

Many weightlifters choose to eat greek yogurt over other types, and this for a good reason. Greek yogurt has more protein, as well as fewer carbs and sugar. This sounds great, but it has some downsides.

Greek yogurt has a much stronger taste than regular yogurt, and it can be off-putting for some people. Regular yogurt has more sugar, making it much less sour and having a sweeter taste than greek yogurt.

Yogurt is another food on my list that doesn’t make a good full meal. This being said, it has a lot of protein and makes for a great, quick snack. It can also be bought in many different styles and flavors, helping you to find one that you like.

It also has benefits for your gut health. Yogurt is a good probiotic, meaning that it helps the good bacteria in your gut. This probably isn’t the main reason you’ll want to eat yogurt, but it’s an added benefit.

Yogurt, all around, makes a great option for a pre or post workout snack. With its protein and sugar, it’s great for an energy boost and getting your daily protein levels.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter cookie dessert.

This is great for a quick protein boost, and it tastes great. Peanut butter can be made into many foods like sandwiches, as well as desserts, or even eaten plain.

You can also eat peanut butter with vegetables, which is even healthier. This is another one on this list that won’t make up a whole meal but can be great when added into other things.

Some people are allergic to peanuts, which of course, they won’t be able to eat peanut butter. However, there are alternatives like almond butter that still have great amounts of protein.

Peanut butter is one of my favorites because of the taste, and amount of foods it can be turned into. Personally, I like it plain, but the sheer amount of options available makes it favorable.

Like everything else on this list, you might not like peanut butter. This being said, that doesn’t take away from its benefits and is the reason that I put 12 foods on my list.

Not everybody will like everything on my list, and that’s okay. There are hundreds if not thousands of foods available for you that will help you build muscle, grow you stronger, or aid you in losing weight.


Eggs have the ability to start your day off great. That sounds cheesy and generic, but it’s common for a reason. Eggs are packed with protein and help give you the energy to get through a workout, your workday, and build your muscles.

They can be fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, poached and many more things. Eggs can be eaten at any time of the day for a meal, or for a snack. A small bowl of hard-boiled eggs make for a great snack opportunity after a workout.

All of the protein that eggs have give you a great amount of energy. This will help your body to get through your workout in the first place, and in turn, give you the energy to build more muscle.

Your body needs a certain amount of energy to perform your workouts and exercises. It also needs energy and nutrients to repair the muscles that you broke down during that workout.

Too many eggs can be a bad thing, however. Eating a lot in one day can end up giving you stomach issues. Eating a few for breakfast, or a few throughout the day as a snack won’t hurt you.

The Bottom Line

As I’ve mentioned before, in this article as well as others, the simplest things in life can sometimes be the best. The same goes for the foods you eat.

No, I’m not talking about fast food. What I’m talking about are foods that are simple to cook, eat, and have simple nutrients in them.

Some of the best foods for building muscle and increasing strength have the highest amount of protein. Too much protein, just like anything else, can be bad for you.

This being said, you need a lot of it in order to have the energy to work out, as well as the energy to grow your muscles. To build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn throughout the day.

The best things in life, as well as weightlifting, are simple. The best lifts to do, as well as the best foods, are all relatively simple. Overcomplicated things usually take too much time, and lack in effectiveness.

It might seem daunting to try to find healthy food that will not only help you build muscle but also tastes great. In reality, You can find these qualities in simple foods like meats, nuts, and even some drinks.

Pete Schenkel

My name is Pete Schenkel, and I've been into weightlifting since I was a teenager. Now, my main focus is growing Powerful Lifting and putting more information out there. In fact, I'm also currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer.

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