Aug 2012 08
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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.

1. Bison

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.

2. Turkey

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.






  1. Art says:

    Vince I purchased your anabolic diet program, but somehow ended up deleting it from my computer? or someone did here anyhow long story short is there anyway of getting a copy or do I just need to go ahead and purchase another? you can look me up for proof that I did buy it….thanks Art

  2. Art says:

    I love it, as I read along here I am learning alot from everyone!! see you get some people talking and you learn alot of important info on nutrition , this is the kind of stuff nobody wants to tell you in the gym(my gym anyways) thanks everyone.


    Hi vince, i m sandeep from INDIA in New Delhi,
    i m doing exercise in last 1 year in gym but, before 20 days i face bike accident. and some injury in my left hand, if any time i have take any heavy weight in my left hand , my hand so painful, so plz suggest how i cover this, and my face so skinny, so suggest me some food for grow my face,
    how to make six pack abs,plz vince do something for me, i really big fan ur muscles,


  4. Hussain says:

    Very well article all five ways are very effective but i like to use fish and chocolate milk it’s very effective for me.

  5. Anna says:

    Great Article, very well written! Thanks Vince!!

  6. Tracy says:

    I would like to add deer meat and elk meat to your list. It is not marbled like beef and bison. It has even more protein than bison and less fat. Deer has 52 grams of protein in a 6 oz serving and it has 5.4 grams of fat with 2 being sat. fat. It’s very tasty. It also has a lot of minerals and vitamins. I’m lucky to be able to hunt where I live. The only meat I buy in the store is chicken and fish once in a while. The rest is deer and elk that I hunt, and process myself so I know what is in it. Very healthy.

    • Vince says:

      Amazing Tracy.

      Where do you live? Do you know any sites that you can order deer from?

      • Tracy says:

        Hi Vince,

        We live in Lake Andes, SD. I looked up some websites that you can purchase elk and deer. Geez, I didn’t realize it was so expensive. That would be a good business to go into. I’m glad we have the place to hunt.

        If you and Flavia are ever out this way, look us up, we will fix you some delicious deer steaks. Yum!


        • Vince says:

          Thank you for sharing that Tracy. Appreciated.

          • Mark says:

            In our neck of the woods, Morden farms (Ancaster) sells a variety of wild game including venison. In st.catharines, I like Lakeland meats. The grass fed beef at VG meats on the mountain in Hamilton is very good too, and reasonably priced (although it is corn “finished”).

          • Vince says:

            Where is Modern Farms in Ancaster Mark?

            Do you know where VG meats is?

            THANK YOU for sharing with a fellow local :)

  7. Travis Olson says:

    Good info! Does it mater witch type of Bison you eat? I usually a pound of ground Bison from teds Montana grill. Delicious!

  8. James says:

    I find it interesting that you suggest chocolate milk considering you are usually so against milk products espically in north america.

    I’m assuming you mean organic non-pasturized chocolate milk? ;)

  9. James says:

    What about thos of us who are vegans/vegetarians?

    Like myself:)

    • James says:

      I was a vegetarian in highschool and when I decided to get serious into body building I started eating chicken (not a big fan of fish). But as a vegetarian and a sports man (water polo) I needed protein in my diet to be successful.

      As a ovo lacto vegetarian getting your protein should be pretty easy. Egg White and Milk (or just Whey/Casein Powder Suppliments) are what most body builder rely on for a good portion of their protein diet. You can also get low fat/high protein cheeses.

      As a vegan or someone lactose intolerant there are also plenty of other non-animal products that are good protein sources. Nuts are an excellent source of protein along with all of your healthy fats. If you want a powder many people swear by hemp and pea protein powders. Most soy products have a good amount of protein, and I would ignore anyone that says that soy products have estrogen. Soy contains isoflavone phytochemicals that fall in the “phytoestrogen” or “plant” estrogen grouping. Clinical evidence indicates that soy foods do not lower testosterone levels in men.

      Rice and beans also have good amounts of protein and very little fat. Dark greens also have some small amounts of protein, but you have to eat buckets of them to get anywhere near your “bodybuilding” requirements for a day.

      The only concerns with most Plant based protein sources is that they are not considered to be a “Complete” protein. Which just means to get all of your essential amino acids you need to eat from a good variety of different sources to get everything that you need to stay healthy.

      Hope that helps, I focus on most of these foods for the other benefits besides just the protein amounts.

  10. Wayland says:

    I’ve learned to make my own strained yogurt. To produce a quart of super-thick strained yogurt:
    -use a half gallon of milk
    -heat to 180-185 F (82-85 C) while stirring to prevent scorching
    -cool it to 110-115 F (43-46 C) in a water/ice bath
    -stir in some plain Greek yogurt as your yogurt starter
    -put in covered containers and store for 8-12 hours. I use 3 bath towels to keep the containers warm.

    I’ve gotten the heating/cooling process down to about 30 minutes at the most.

    After the yogurt has had time to sit and create the culture, get some strainers and coffee filters and bowls to catch the liquid.

    -Let the yogurt strain for 6 hours or more and then refrigerate.

    After refrigeration you’ll have a quart of some of the thickest yogurt you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

    I use whole milk to for my higher-fat higher-protein lower-carb style diet. Plus, it’s fantastic when you add a good quality flavored whey protein.

    I also have low-carb egg custard recipe if anyone is interested.

  11. Jean says:

    Bison,I can’t find it in stores in this town and sablefish are the ones I don’t obviously eat.
    I take almond chocolate milk with my protein shake,I hope this is a good one.

  12. Tj says:

    I love the bison… $10 a pound around here.. but delicious! I also make a kind of pudding with greek yogurt and vanilla Muscle Milk and cinnamon, and I rotate my main meals with ground turkey and chicken. Always have vegetable and salad with my dinner every night. Very seldom eat bread, and NEVER white bread. When I do bread, it is spelt bread with breakfast.

  13. Mr bison says:

    Nice goatee on the bison :p

  14. Clint says:

    What alternatives do you suggest for the lactose intolerant people?
    Thanks, Clint

  15. joseph says:

    vince and mussels, sardines, octopus, squid.
    I take the list of chocolate milk, but only in Norwegian cod in Easter.

    A Vince you are a one of my inspirations.

  16. mark says:

    What about Chocolate Almond milk that’s natural. (Not Silk) instead of the whole chocolate milk?

    • James says:

      The only concern with Soy Milks and Almond milks is that most of the sugar content of those drinks are from the “Fructose” found naturally in the plants. Frutose is not processed by any organ in the body besides the liver and unless right after a workout it get’s processed directly into type B LDL cholesterol (which causes heart disease and cardiovascular disease). Lactose is composed of two simple sugars glucose and galactose. So if you have the enzyme to break down lactose (ie not lactose intolerant), it breaks down instantly in your stomach into sugars (glucose) that every organ in your body can process.

      Just remember a Calorie is not a Calorie, and every sugar is not the same as every other kind of sugar. Your body processes them differently. Just because people “sell” soy and almond milk as health products doesn’t mean that they are healthy.

      *Side note: Fructose is AWESOME for atheletes that are in a glycogen depleted state, so ONLY directly after a major workout.

  17. Ossian says:

    How about Marmite/Vegemite – a HUGE amount of protein gram for gram; 42g per 100g, which is more than twice that of a sirloin steak!

  18. kamran says:

    Thanks for these creative options, Vince! I’d love to try bison.

    However, you didn’t mention how much sugar chocolate milk typically has in it. Since you’re talking about lean sources of protein that are good for bodybuilding and lean muscle gain, chocolate milk should probably not be on this list.

    • Vince says:

      Post workout chocolate milk is an option. You WANT the sugars. Re read why it’s on the list.

      • Dave says:


        When you say chocolate milk, are you mixing it with Quick powder, or are you buying the chocolate milk they sell already made up at the store. Just want to know exactly what it is, as the sugars and other ingredients in each of them are so different. Thanks for your articles.


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