20 Must-Have Foods for Bulking Up
Bulk Season is upon us…
Summer is officially over and we all know what that means, bulking season has arrived.
When on the quest to gain mass, it is essential to challenge your body through physical activities. However, it is just as important to feed your body the proper nutrition. Without the proper nutrition, your progress will stall and you will hit a plateau.
Foods that are high in protein are vital for muscle growth, while carbohydrates and healthy fats make for a great source of energy.
If you’re looking to gain lean muscle mass, you should focus on getting regular exercise and eating in a caloric surplus of muscle-building foods.
Here are the top 20 foods for gaining lean muscle. (In no specific order)
1. Lean Beef
Lean Beef is packed with high protein, vitamins, minerals, and creatine. The antioxidant selenium, highly absorbable iron, and immune boosting zinc are all present in beef. Beef also includes well-represented vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 & B12. Beef also contains roughly 2 grams of creatine per pound, which can help give your body that extra pump to push some serious weight. Be careful with the fat content, however. Some saturated fat is necessary for maintaining testosterone levels, but too much can have a negative effect on your cholesterol levels, heart and arteries. Then leaner the cut, the less fat and the more muscle building protein per ounce. Hence why nutritionists’ recommend choosing leaner cuts of beef. (1)
2. Whole Eggs
Despite that stigma that arose around eggs in the 1980’s, eggs are packed full of nutrients. Eggs are a great, super-versatile, muscle-building food! Just like lean beef, eggs contain high-quality protein and other important nutrients like B-vitamins, as well as a significant amount of choline. Eggs are also rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. (2)
3. Rotisserie Chicken
Chicken is a staple in any bodybuilder’s diet, and for good reason. Chicken is a high-quality source of protein that contains generous amounts of B-vitamins, niacin, and B6. Furthermore, it is arguably the cheapest protein, and what’s more, chicken has very little fat and still tastes delicious. (3)
4. Turkey Breast
A 3-ounce serving of turkey breast contains around 25 grams of protein with little to no fat or carbs. Turkey is also rich in minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, and niacin (which helps process fats and carbohydrates in your body.) (4)
5. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese delivers 28 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, and includes a healthy dose of the muscle-building amino acid leucine. There are many versions of cottage cheese; some have high-fat content, and thus more calories. Choosing the best type for you depends on your goal, and how many extra calories you’re comfortable adding to your diet. Nonetheless, cottage cheese makes a great, muscle-building snack. (5)
6. Greek Yogurt
Dairy, besides containing high-quality protein, also has a good mixture of fast-digesting whey protein and slow-digesting casein protein. Some studies suggest eating Greek yogurt after a workout, or before bed, may be beneficial due to it mixture of slow and fast digesting proteins. (6)
Nuts are among the best sources of plant-based proteins. On top of being a great source of protein, a 2017 review study found that nuts may help prevent risk factors, such as inflammation and chronic diseases. Another great thing about nuts is they’re easily accessible and widely available. If you’re on the go and are in need of a high protein snack nuts can easily be your best friend. Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, and walnuts have the highest protein content. (In that order)
Next on the list is salmon, a personal favorite of mine. Salmon is a great source of protein that is typically low in fat. A ½ filet of salmon contains up to 40 grams of protein (8). Salmon is also loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids and is an excellent source of Vitamin D.
Tilapia is an excellent source of protein, one ounce of tilapia contains 7.3 grams of protein and less than a gram of fat (9). Even more impressive is the amount of vitamins and minerals in this fish. Tilapia is rich in niacin, Vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium and potassium.
Adding shrimp into your diet is an easy way to get muscle-building protein without too many additional calories. (10) Like many other animal proteins, shrimp contains a high amount of leucine, an amino acid necessary for optimal muscle growth.
Scallops are more than 80 percent protein, and they’re also an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. One large scallop has 5 grams of protein and only 0.2 grams of fat. (11)
Tuna is another brilliant protein source. Containing 6.5 grams of protein per ounce, tuna is low in fat and calories. Not to mention that it is fairly cheap and proven to help you lower your risk of stroke, heart disease and cognitive disorders. Tuna is an excellent addition to any bulking meal plan. (12)
13. Chick Peas
Chick peas, also known as garbanzo beans, provide protein, dietary fiber and many vitamins a minerals. These peas are a great additional to any bulking diet, especially for someone who is looking for meat-alternative protein sources. (13)
14. Brown Rice
White rice, like many simple carbs, lacks several of the nutrients your body craves. Lucky for us, brown rice is here to save the day. Not only is brown rice packed full of nutrition, but it also contains high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. One cup (195g) of brown, long-grain cooked rice contains five grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates and only 216 calories. It is also very filling, low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium. (14)
Lentils are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of protein, iron, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, folate and manganese.
Beans (and lentils alike) are high in protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, making them a healthy bulk shopping choice. They’re also extremely versatile, and can be added to a wide variety of dishes such are soups, stews, chili, salads, etc. Black beans for example, are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese, and a very good source of Folate. (16)
Quinoa is very low in cholesterol and sodium and is also a good source of magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of manganese. Quinoa is an ancient grain that has been gaining lots of popularity in the modern diet. (17)
Avocado is packed full of nutrients and is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, which is perfect for adding healthy calories to your diet. Avocados are also extremely versatile; add them to salads, on top of stir fry, spread it onto toast, etc. You can even make things such as avocado nice-cream and avocado cheesecake (which are surprisingly good). (18)
Bison meat has fewer calories, way less fat, and more protein than the average meat. It’s also rich in iron, zinc, B12, omega-3 fats, and selenium, making it a great option for your bulking diet.
20. Whey Protein Powder
Last but not least, we have whey protein. Whey protein is an excellent source of high-quality protein. There are three main types of whey protein powder, concentrate (WPC), isolate (WPI), and hydro-slate (WPH). Concentrate is typically the most common and cheapest option. However, whey protein isolate (WPI) is the purest form of whey protein and contains between 90-95% protein, and generally contains little to no lactose.
Whey protein also promotes muscle growth when coupled with strength training. Because whey is rich in leucine, a branch-chained amino acid that is the most growth-promoting (anabolic) of the amino acids, is has shown to be slightly better compared to other types of protein such as casein or soy. (20)
EC Sports will be launching (very soon!) a whey protein isolate called Whey+.
Benefits of Whey+:
1) Collagen Peptides
We have included collagen peptides, the most abundant protein in your body, which not only improves your physical physic, but is used to repair your ligaments and skin so you will be healthier all around.
2) BCAA’s and Leucine
Our Whey+ contains 7 grams of BCAA’s: including 4 grams of leucine. BCAA’s are some of the most essential amino acids for muscle repair and development, and leucine has been clinically shown to stimulate muscle synthesis.
Your body only has so much time to break down the large protein molecules before they pass through digestion. Thus, with the inclusion of digestive enzymes in Whey+ you will get more protein out of each shake you drink. More so, these enzymes reduce the stomach discomfort and gas usually caused by protein powders.