Foods to Strengthen Muscles

Muscle strengthening foods include foods high in protein. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming enough protein can help increase muscle strength and mass.

Meat is a great food to help strengthen muscles. Credit: istetiana/Moment/GettyImages

How Much Protein Do You Need?

You've got to consume enough protein to keep your muscles strong and keep your body from tearing them down. When you don't have enough protein, your body will start to break down muscle in order to get the protein that it needs. This means that if you don't consume enough protein in your daily diet, you will begin to lose muscle strength and mass. An April 2014 study published in the Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism shows that keeping your protein intake high can help prevent muscle loss.

Harvard Health Publishing states that the recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight. This is the absolute minimum of protein an adult needs, and does not take into account variables such as your age, height, weight and activity levels.

Fortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a dietary reference intake calculator (also known as a DRI calculator) you can use to find out how much protein you need, along with other nutrients. The DRI calculator figures how much protein you need based on your age, weight, sex, height, activity level and whether you're pregnant or lactating. It's much more customized to how much protein you need.

Read More: How Much Protein Is Right For You?

Foods for Muscle Strengthening

Muscle strengthening foods that are high in protein, according to Help Guide, include:

  • Fish
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Dairy
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Soy

Read More: The Difference Between Muscular Strength and Muscular Endurance

Vegetarian Food for Muscle Strength

Not all protein comes from meat. There is plenty of vegetarian food for muscle strength. As you can see from the list of protein-rich foods, there are some on there that do not include beef, chicken, fish or turkey. High-protein foods for vegetarians include dairy, beans, nuts, seeds and soy. Here's a more detailed list of those foods:

Dairy: Greek yogurt, skim milk, cheese

Beans: Peas and beans of any kind

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, peanuts

Soy: Soy milk, tofu, meat alternatives

There is plenty of vegetarian food high in protein to help you keep those muscles strong.

Foods to Avoid When Building Muscle

When you're seeking protein-rich foods for your diet, you can find yourself considering foods that might be high in protein but are also unhealthy. You need to consider foods that are high in protein and also healthy for you.

Foods to avoid when building muscle are red meat and processed meat. Limit red meat, which includes beef, veal, lamb, mutton and goat. Processed meat contains high amounts of salt. Both processed meats and red meats increase your risk of cancer, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Processed meats are any that are salted, cured, smoked or fermented. These are deli meats like hot dogs, sausages and bacon. A September 2018 study published in the International Journal of Cancer showed that processed meat and red meat are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

Be careful about dairy foods. Many are high in fat and sugar. Avoid processed cheese (which is usually not cheese at all), high-fat milk and yogurt with added sugar. Stick to skim milk and cheese and Greek yogurt.

Read More: 7 Day Protein Diet

references
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.