When putting together your perfect muscle building diet, you probably already know the importance of considering all three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fats – into your plan. Your body needs a different percentage of each macronutrient to perform and look its best.
Protein is pretty straightforward to determine: At least 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. A variety of proteins like chicken, extra lean beef and whey isolate are three popular sources.
Carbohydrates are not as straightforward. Carbohydrates should primarily be complex, coming in the form of slow-digesting carbs such as brown rice, yams and oatmeal. Your carb intake should be around one gram per pound of body weight each day if you wish to reduce fat and two grams per pound of body weight each day if you wish to gain muscle. These are rough estimates to serve as starting points.
When it comes to dietary fats, you must consider that fats come from a range of chemical configurations, from mono- to polyunsaturated to hydrogenated. Each of these fats has a different outcome on your body. Ultimately you should include them all and today we’ll look at five muscle building foods, in the fat category, that will keep you building muscle and burning fat.
1. Coconut Oil
Why it’ll make you grow: A muscle building diet is not complete without this unique saturated fat which should be in every bodybuilder’s diet. It’s extracted from the kernel of mature coconuts and because of its superior heat stability, it makes a great cooking oil. One tablespoon has 116 calories, 100 percent of which comes from fat. Coconut oil does not offer any protein, carbohydrates, cholesterol, or sodium and no vitamins except for trace amounts of vitamin K.
Coconut oil is unique because it’s made up of medium chained fatty acids (MCTs), primarily lauric acid, so it is rapidly digested and absorbed into the body and utilized very quickly for energy. In fact, coconut oil is highly insulintrophic, so a spoonful in addition to your post-workout shake will not slow absorption or digestion of accompanied nutrients, as long-chained fatty acids would.
Coconut oil has been shown to boost testosterone production by improving the enzyme activity involved in synthesis of this hormone. We all know how testosterone plays a critical role in the muscle building process, and since testosterone levels begin to decline in the mid 20’s, this is a very beneficial oil for bodybuilders over the age of 30 and from those suffering from low testosterone levels.
This oil can even stay on board during a bodybuilder’s fat-loss phase because this oil has been shown to increase metabolic rate, aiding in lowering body fat levels. I used coconut oil in preparation for all four of my physique shows last year and found its effects amazing. I recommend at least one or two tablespoons a day while cooking.
2. Macadamia Nuts
Why it’ll make you grow: Just one cup of raw macadamia nuts comes jammed with 101 grams of total fat making it an excellent choice for skinny guys desperate to gain weight. These fatty nuts jam 11 grams of protein and all the essential amino acids, which is critical for overall health and muscle growth. Plus, you get 19 grams of complex carbohydrates to deliver lots of energy for a hard workout.
You also get a higher amount of fiber to help regulate the digestive system and help decrease the chance of heart disease and diabetes. Fiber is also excellent at regulating appetite and helps you feel fuller and more satisfied for a longer period of time. Also, macadamia nuts are accompanied by a range of additional nutrients like potassium, iron, niacin, calcium, iron, copper, chromium, manganese, zinc and magnesium – each one plays a critical role in everything from releasing energy to hydration to testosterone production.
Although macadamia nuts are one of the fattiest nuts, surprisingly it’s the fat that makes them healthy. The majority of fat found in macadamia nuts is in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids, higher than olive oil. This type of fat is healthier for your heart than artery-clogging saturated fats that can lead to heart problems and high cholesterol levels (when abused in excess). If you’ve ever visited Hawaii, as I just did, you’ll know that macadamia nuts are thought of as Hawaiian nuts. In one sitting I devoured a full bag in a matter of seconds and it made an amazing snack! Be warned, they are addictive.
Why it’ll make you grow: Although avocado’s fat content is approximately 20 times that of any other fruit, it’s primarily the heart-friendly monounsaturated type. Just one medium-sized avocado has as much potassium as three medium-sized bananas. It also has three times as many calories too, but for skinny guys looking to bulk up, this is a life-saving food. However, avocados should be a part of every fat-loss program in moderation.
Half an average-sized avocado delivers 160 calories, two grams of protein, 15 grams of fat and nine grams of carbohydrates. The only fruit higher in fat than avocados is the olive, which is mostly monounsaturated fat, while avocados contain both polyunsaturated and saturated fat.
A great way to start burning more fat and control your insulin levels is by including avocado with your meals because the calories from avocado will reduce your appetitive (compared to carbohydrates). Carbohydrates stimulate insulin secretion into the bloodstream, which can stimulate appetite but because of the high fat content of avocado it offers satiety by not promoting high insulin levels. Keeping small amounts of avocado in my diet during content prep is one of my secret weapons to control cravings. When it comes to a muscle building diet, I love going to a Mexican restaurant like Chipotle and stocking up on guacamole, the most delicious way to consume avocados!
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Why it’ll make you grow: If you have any interest in jacking up your testosterone levels, then get your hands on a bag of pumpkin seeds. These can be enjoyed on their own or added to your salad mixes. A 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds has 190 calories which breaks down to 16 grams of fat, six grams of carbohydrates and a good vegetarian source of protein with nine grams. Fiber comes in around two grams for 1/4 cup.
The big draw for bodybuilders is that pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid leucine which helps promote protein synthesis, fat oxidation, endurance and helps support testosterone levels. Since pumpkin seeds are similar to sesame and sunflower seeds because of their higher fat content, they contribute to boosting testosterone. Pumpkin seeds also provide a great source of zinc and magnesium which contribute to elevating the most anabolic hormone in our body, testosterone, and it can also result in improving sperm count in men. This is just one food that must be present during a muscle building diet and should not be neglected.
5. Almond Butter
Why it’ll make you grow: When it comes to nut butters, almond butter is my favourite, even more than peanut butter. Just 1 tbsp. contains 101 calories and 79 of those are from fat. It works out to nine grams of total fat, one gram of saturated fat, three grams of carbohydrates and two grams of protein. Almond butter is considered healthier than peanut butter because it does not contain extra salt, oils, preservatives or sugar.
The big advantage almond butter offers is that its high percentage of protein, fat and dietary fiber leaves you very satisfied, even if it’s just one tablespoon, although it’s often hard to stop at just one tablespoon! Last year during my content prep, during a rough night of intense hunger pains I snuck into the kitchen to satisfy my craving with “just one tablespoon of almond butter” and that one scoop turned into the entire jar 10 minutes later. Thankfully that did not happen again because my wife hid the almond butter to prevent a repeat offence!
A big benefit of almond butter is that it helps stabilize glucose levels because of the high fiber, protein and healthy fats, which control the rise of insulin. Almonds help prevent a spike in blood sugar during a high carbohydrate meal. Another benefit is its abundance of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that guards your cells against free radical damage. Almond butter can be added to your protein shakes, added to fruit and vegetables like apples or celery as a quick snack or you can add it your warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning.
So there you have it – three new amazing fat sources to rotate into your muscle building diet for maximal muscle growth and performance. You have no excuse to eat the same fat foods over and over.
If you’re still struggling to follow your muscle building diet and need more done for you recipes than check out Dave Ruel’s Anabolic Cooking Nutrition and Recipe Guide below.