When it comes to packing on head-turning muscle there are two parts to the equation: training and nutrition. The first one breaks your muscles down and the second one builds your muscles up by providing the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep you growing for weeks. Let me spell it out for you: kiss your dream body goodbye if you put a half-hearted effort into your nutrition, especially protein intake. This is one part of your muscle building diet you can not neglect.
Of course, it’s critical to eat a wide variety of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to ensure your body is receiving the nutrients necessary for growth, but there is no doubt that a small handful of muscle building foods, like certain protein sources go beyond the call of duty when it comes to packing on rock-solid muscle mass and carving out the body you deserve.So here’s a list of five less popular muscle building protein foods you should regularly rotate into your muscle building diet.
Why it’ll make you grow:Bison, or buffalo in layman’s terms, delivers a whopping 42 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving and is generally leaner than beef, with a tiny six grams of fat compared to the same-size portion of lean cuts such as rib eye and top round.
Bison is an all-star meat loaded with zinc, a mineral purported to boost testosterone production. It’s also one of the best dietary sources of creatine, which has been well documented to help bodybuilders and athletes lift heavier weights and pave a path for more muscle growth. Bison is also known for its superior nutritional profile – containing more omega fats compared to factory farm, grain-fed beef.
Bison is gaining popularity and becoming known as one of the healthiest and leanest red meats you can sink your teeth into so it’s become more common in your local grocery store, farmer market, butchers and at your favorite restaurant. And if you’re lucky, many burger joints are finally giving you the option to swap beef for bison, a bodybuilder’s healthy alternative.
Why it’ll make you grow:Don’t mistake turkey for sliced deli turkey. Turkey has eight grams of protein in a single ounce while the same portion of sliced deli turkey has only six grams of protein. Fillers, additives and preservatives in deli meat affect not only the flavor, but also the protein value of turkey meat.
Muscle and fitness enthusiasts seeking the leanest cuts of meat will find turkey a favorable option, specifically boneless and skinless turkey breast. Removing the skin eliminates a great deal of fat from the food, keeping the caloric content low. Turkey can be relatively inexpensive around Thanksgiving and New Year but that doesn’t mean you should wait for these special occasions.
In fact, turkey has a slight nutritional advantage compared to the most famous muscle-building staple of bodybuilders – chicken. The caloric intake is slightly lower in turkey as is the fat intake per serving, although chicken should still be a part of your diet.
When it comes to considering your protein choices, branch chain amino acid profiles, or BCAA’s — isoleucine, leucine and valine — play a major role in the degree of muscular growth and recovery. Turkey takes the gold medal by a slight edge over chicken when it comes to BCAA content. While a serving of chicken contains 1,230 mg of isoleucine, 2,073 mg of leucine and 1,297 mg of valine, turkey boasts 1,420 mg of isoleucine, 2,176 mg of leucine and 1,451 mg of valine. Include turkey as a protein-rich and lean source to skyrocket your muscle gains.
3. Greek Yogurt
Why it’ll make you grow:Per cup, Greek yogurt contains almost double the amount of protein as plain yogurt, and the Greek variety is lower in carboydrates. Thick, rich Greek yogurt is made by straining away any liquid during production. It’s created quite the stir among muscle and fitness enthusiasts because of its abundance of protein and lower carbs. It can make a great muscle-building snack when combined with omega-rich walnuts and antioxidant-rich blueberries. You can also use it to replace mayonnaise and sour cream in recipes.
Every spoonful dishes out probiotics and beneficial bacteria that improve digestive and immune health. You can expect to pay a bit more for Greek yogurt, as the straining process requires additional milk to produce the same volume of yogurt, but it holds its value as an upgraded dairy option.
To experience the maximal benefits of Greek yogurt, avoid the flavored versions, as they are packed with copious amounts of belly-bursting sweeteners and sugars.
One of the biggest benefits of Greek yogurt is that it’s packed with the muscle-activating amino acid leucine, the branched-chain amino acid that plays a key role in protein synthesis.
4. Sablefish (black cod)
Why it’ll make you grow:This fish provides a generous 26 grams of protein in a 6-ounce serving as well as supercharged omega-3 fats: 1,400 milligrams in a 3-ounce serving or 2.8 grams in a 6-ounce serving – eight times more than tilapia. Research shows that individuals with higher blood levels of this marine-derived omega-3 have lower body fat percentages.
Furthermore, research shows a higher intake of fish omegas may improve the efficiency by which exercising muscles use oxygen, thereby delaying the onset of muscular fatigue. This fish fat appears to reduce levels of cortisol too, a stress hormone that can break down muscle and interfere with testosterone.
The catch of the day is well-stocked with selenium. As an antioxidant, selenium may help reduce the muscular oxidative stress during hardcore training. For a simple and tasty way to prepare your sablefish for an excellent post-workout meal, season fillets with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Bake at 375 degrees F until solid throughout, about 15 minutes will do the trick.
5. Chocolate Milk
Why it’ll make you grow:Chocolate milk contains two types of protein: casein protein and whey protein. Approximately 80 percent of the protein found in milk is made up of casein and the rest made up of whey. While whey is a fast-digesting protein, casein is slow-digesting and contributes to preventing muscle breakdown when taken after an intense workout. To increase the whey content, add a scoop of chocolate or vanilla whey protein powder (but mix ahead of time in a blender or else it’s hard to blend by shaking). Chocolate milk is more favorable over regular milk because it has a better combination of carbohydrates and protein more suitable for a post-workout drink.
Chocolate milk also comes out on top when with a high concentration of branch-chain amino acids to promote muscle growth and recovery. You’ll also experience a bump in insulin production, improving sugar uptake into the muscle cells to replenish your energy faster.
Chocolate milk does contain a significant amount of electrolytes, specifically sodium and potassium. After a sweat-drenched workout, your body loses a great deal of sodium and potassium, and chocolate milk contains enough to prevent mineral depletion that occurs during an intense and sweaty session. Electrolytes also enhance hydration after a hard workout, which will accelerate recovery and growth.
Since milk contains lactose, some individuals cannot drink milk because they are lactose intolerant, which can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea. If you are not lactose-intolerant, approximately eight to 14 ounces after your workout will help you achieve greater gains in muscle mass and become the highlight of your day.
To fully maximize your muscle building diet and muscle gains, take advantage of all these less popular protein food sources so that you can experience greater gains in muscle mass and a reduction in body fat.