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.
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:
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
- Harvard Health Publishing: How Much Protein do You Need Every Day?
- USDA: DRI Calculator for Healthcare Professionals
- Help Guide: Choosing Healthy Protein
- NCBI: Dietary Protein to Maximize Resistance Training
- NCBI: A Systematic Review of Dietary Protein During Caloric Restriction in Resistance Trained Lean Athletes
- American Institute for Cancer Research: Red and Processed Meat
- Wiley Online Library: Consumption of Red and Processed Meat and Breast Cancer Incidence