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.

Topics: BUILD MUSCLE
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier, CSCS, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist, and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as Associate Health and...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier, CSCS, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist, and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as Associate Health and...
Must See
Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,081,054
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 9,492,253
Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings
Views: 6,468,061

Featured Videos

Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Real Workouts: Randall Cobb Views: 20,496
Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Greg Nixon's Full-Body Dumbbell Circuit Views: 317,829
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,081,054
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,928
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,945
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,869
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,467

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

So Happy Together Foods that Pack a Power Punch together Nutritional Power Combinations Amy Jamieson-Petonic Want to take your workout to the next...

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

10 Athlete-Approved, High-Protein Healthy Cereals

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Why You Need Dietary Fiberand Where to Get It

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

The Case for Red Meat

The Case for Red Meat

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Why You Should Always Say No to Diet Foods

Why You Should Always Say No to Diet Foods

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

The Boston Cannons' Keep It Real Eating Plan

The Boston Cannons'

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

YardBarker