A proper diet is essential to good health, and eating the right foods can even help build muscle and lose weight. Protein contains 20 amino acids and provides the basis for building muscle tissue, so eating foods with complete proteins, including the nine essential amino acids the body doesn’t produce, will stimulate muscle growth. Yet many protein-rich foods such as red meat and eggs come with harmful saturated fat, making them likely to pack on pounds. Choosing proteins with good, healthy fat makes all the difference.
With its exceptional nutritional value, broccoli stands as one of the healthiest foods, providing ample amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and other vital phytochemicals that help fight disease. Broccoli is also loaded with soluble fiber, meaning it helps flush the system and shed fat.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The body needs fat. The key is eating only healthy fats like the ones in extra virgin olive oil. The 70 percent monounsaturated fat in olive oil protects against heart disease and won’t add needless weight. Whether used for cooking or as a salad dressing, extra virgin olive oil makes for a welcome addition to any diet.
Vegetarians know how valuable nuts like almonds and walnuts can be in meeting protein needs. A calorie-dense food, nuts will help add weight and mass in a healthy way, providing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats along with such vitamins and minerals as vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Unlike red meat, poultry contains virtually no saturated fat, delivering all the protein with none of the drawbacks. A 3 oz. portion of chicken or white turkey contains 26 g of protein. A similar-sized portion of beef will have 24 g of protein, but it also comes with 3 g of saturated fat.
A South American grain, quinoa contains more protein and fiber than rice or oats. As an added bonus, quinoa is also gluten free, making it perfect for those on restricted diets. Quinoa can be eaten post-workout with some meat and vegetables for a balanced, muscle-building meal.
Fish makes for another exceptional protein source. Wild salmon, in particular, provides the best nutritional value, delivering 20 g of protein in a 100 g serving. However, be sure and opt for wild salmon. Farm-raised salmon can be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids due to being fed corn and grain.
Popeye knew what he was doing. Due to its exceptional nutrient profile, which includes high levels of vitamin A and iron, spinach helps prevent muscle loss. Spinach is also a highly alkaline food, helping to control the body’s acidity and further preserve muscle tissue.