Building Muscle with Basic Foods and Beverages | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Building Muscle with Basic Foods and Beverages

February 28, 2013 | Jim Carpentier

Must See Nutrition Videos

Your favorite sports stadium or arena wasn't built from scraps. Its developers made sure they established a strong, stable foundation before construction began. And they did not use materials of inferior quality, which could have weakened the structure.

Your body is like that stadium. You need a strong foundation of good nutrition and quality foods and beverages to develop muscle and sustain performance.

It all starts with a good base or "foundation." Consuming natural foods and beverages ensures healthy muscles, bones, tendons and joints. This is how you minimize injuries on the field, mat, court or ice. No "groundbreaking" magical performance enhancing potions or supplements are necessary. Avoid artificial, unhealthy, overly processed foods and beverages. They weaken joints, tissue and muscle and spur inflammation. "Real" foods and beverages such as eggs, milk, and water, fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are your primary muscle-building "materials."

Boost your chances of playing in one of those multi-level stadiums or arenas with three "tiers" of foods and beverages that will help you increase size and strength for your sport. (See also Foods That Help Athletes On And Off The Field.)

First Tier: Eggs, Milk and Water

Eggs and plain milk (and chocolate milk) have the highest biological protein value. This simply means they contain all amino acids needed for muscle growth and repair. So include them regularly in your dietary program. Bodybuilders rely on milk to gain weight and pack on muscle, typically drinking a gallon a day. Nowadays, chocolate milk is an ideal post-workout beverage, with a high carbohydrate and moderate protein ratio to replenish glycogen used during intense weight training. Muscles are 75 percent water, and water is a major muscle-building beverage for transporting nutrients. Water intake also makes muscles appear fuller. (See Foods That Hydrate Your Body.)

Second Tier: Fish, Meat and Poultry

Though ranked lower in biological protein value than eggs and milk, fish, meat and poultry have plentiful amino acids for muscle growth and recovery between workouts. Fish such as salmon and tuna also have beneficial anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce muscle soreness following exercise and sports.

Third Tier:  Nuts, Seeds, Beans, Popcorn, Dark Chocolate, Fruits, Vegetables, Olive Oil, Whole Grains, Black and Green Tea

Nuts, seeds and beans have incomplete amino acids but become complete protein when paired with whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal or whole wheat bread. Nuts, seeds, beans, popcorn, dark chocolate, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and black and green tea all contain anti-inflammatory antioxidant compounds for aiding muscle recovery, so you are stronger for your next workout. Nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, brown rice, popcorn, whole wheat, oatmeal, and fruit such as raisins contain the muscle-building amino acid arginine. Fruit and nuts provide an excellent energizing pre-workout meal to help you sustain a high intensity weight training session and promote muscle growth.

Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

When to Use Isolation Exercises for Growth

Isolation exercises are often shunned by coaches and trainers, and for good reason. Multi-joint lifts not only transfer better to the field and...

Build Muscle Faster With This Simple Weight Room Trick

Pack on Muscle by Wave Loading

How the Actors of 'Blue Mountain State' Get in Shape

3 Simple Moves for Bigger Triceps

Get Strong and Thick With Strongman Exercises

Why Hard Work May Not Always Beat Good Genes

5 Easy Muscle-Building Tips for Hardgainer Athletes

Mechanical Overload: A Strategy for Bigger Muscles

Q&A: Brad Schoenfeld on Maximizing Muscle Growth

Build Muscle in Less Time With Massed Practice

Quickly Build Muscle for Football

Keys to a Successful Full-Body Transformation

5 Reasons You Can't Build Muscle

Build Bigger Arms With This Bicep Workout

5 Tips to Increase Lean Body Mass

Pressed for Time? Try This 20-Minute, 200-Rep Workout

Increase Metabolic Stress for Size and Performance

A Simple Strategy for Serious Muscle Growth

The Food Rules for Building Muscle

Build Bigger Biceps Without an 'Arm Day'

What You Need to Know About Gaining Muscle Mass

5 Reasons Why You're Not Ripped

6 Skinny Pro Athletes Who Dominate Their Sport

How to Build Muscle: A Game of Angles

The 4 Rules of Bulking Up

Shoulder Workouts for Mass: 3 Tips

You Need Rest Intervals. Here's Why

The 15-Minute Beach Muscle (Plus Hustle) Workout

Get a Big Chest With 5 Stand-up Exercises

The Weakling's Guide to Working Out

Why You Need to Change Your Workouts More Often

Why You

3 Reasons Why You're Not Getting Stronger

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

The 8 Craziest Things People Do to Build Muscle

5 Food Swaps that Help Athletes Bulk Up

I Lift Weights But Can't Build Muscle. What's Wrong?

How to Strengthen Small and Weak Muscles