Knowing the best foods to eat to reach your fitness goals isn’t always easy. One of the most common goals people have is to build muscle while losing fat. This can be done by pairing regular exercise like strength training and cardio with a smart, healthy meal plan. You need to be eating a variety of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, fruits, and veggies on a day to day basis. Protein is one of the most important nutrients to consume, as not only does it help build and maintain muscle, it also helps with fat loss due to its high thermic effect. Wondering exactly what you should be eating? Here are 12 of the best foods for muscle gain and fat loss.
12 Best Foods for Muscle Gain and Fat Loss
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is loaded with healthy benefits. It contains conjugated linoleic acid, which is known to burn fat and promote weight loss. It’s also a slow digesting dairy protein, which contributes to muscle gain. It’s packed with protein, which fills you up for longer, boosts metabolism, and reduces overall calorie consumption. On top of this, the probiotics in yogurt positively impact gut health, which helps with weight management.
Eggs are an awesome source of protein, promoting fullness and increasing your metabolic rate for several hours after you eat them. The protein in eggs has a high thermic effect, meaning it requires more energy to digest, supporting a slight increase in energy expenditure. Eggs are also high in choline, which plays a role in fat metabolism. Starting your morning with eggs reduces your likelihood of overeating throughout the day.
Oatmeal is a very slow digesting carb, which keeps blood sugar and insulin levels low, so fat burning stays high. It’s a complex carb that keeps you feeling full and provides sustained energy. Oats are also high in protein and fibre, and increasing your intake of both of these nutrients can help with weight loss.
Chicken is another high protein food with a high thermic effect. Protein is key for muscle repair and growth and helps with fat loss. It increases feelings of fullness and takes more energy for digestion, which aids in fat loss. As a lean protein, your body expends a significant amount of energy to digest and process chicken, making it key for fat loss.
Turkey is one of the best foods for building muscle as it’s super high in protein, and has a low carb and fat content. The protein and abundance of B vitamins in turkey helps repair cells throughout your body, helping your muscles recover. Turkey is also high in the amino acid tryptophan, which converts to serotonin. Serotonin can switch off your appetite and prevent binge eating.
Salmon is packed with nutrients like protein and healthy fat. A diet rich in high protein foods greatly benefits weight loss and reduces body fat. It’s also essential to help create lean muscle, promote faster recovery, and improve digestion. Salmon is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may influence fat metabolism.
Tofu is a soy-based food and is a great alternative to animal protein. It also contains ample amounts of calcium and iron, which promotes muscle growth. Calcium helps muscles contract and relax properly, while iron helps deliver oxygen to the muscle cells. Soy protein has been found to be just as effective as animal-based proteins in promoting weight loss and lean muscle gain.
Beans are another great plant-based protein to add to your diet for lean muscle gain. Along with being rich in protein, they’re also excellent sources of fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Their high fibre and protein content help you feel fuller on less food, which can help with weight management.
Avocado is a source of monounsaturated fats, which are burned readily for fuel during exercise, encouraging fat burning. They also contain a carb called mannoheltulose that blunts insulin release and enhances calcium absorption, which are both key for fat loss. The combination of healthy monounsaturated fats and fibre in avocados promotes fullness and reduces the consumption of less healthy foods. It’s also a good source of protein and high in folic acid, which plays an important role in absorbing protein.
Whether you like them lightly salted, added to your stir fries, or in a crunchy Asian salad, edamame are a stellar source of plant protein. One cup of frozen edamame equates to about 18 grams of protein and 8 grams of fibre. They also contain a hefty dose of folate, vitamin K, and manganese. Folate helps your body process amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and may be important for optimal muscle mass and strength.
Quinoa is a complex carb, which provides your body with much-needed fuel to get active and do workouts. If your body doesn’t have enough carbs to fuel exercise, it will break down protein for energy, which impairs muscle growth. Quinoa is also a good source of protein, fibre, phosphorus, and magnesium, the latter of which plays an important role in the function of your muscles and nerves. Fibre and protein are both essential for burning fat.
Whenever you need a fuelling snack, reach for almonds. They’re nutritious and packed with protein, along with large amounts of vitamin E and B2, magnesium, and phosphorus. Phosphorus helps your body use carbs and fat for energy at rest and during exercise. Vitamin E and B2 are also essential for producing the energy needed to workout. Keep in mind, they should be consumed in moderation due to their high calorie count.
Add these foods to your diet on the regular to ensure you’re eating a healthy, well-rounded meal plan for muscle gain and fat loss.
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