✓ Evidence Based

13 Best Foods That Help Build Muscle

Are you trying to build strong lean muscles? If so, your diet is the first place to examine.

Lean muscle mass is built through the proper nutritional balance of vitamins and minerals, protein, exercise, and finding the right routine for you.

Protein plays a huge role in building strong muscle mass. It is an essential macronutrient that is necessary to build muscle. Healthy fats and carbohydrates are also macronutrients and essential to keep a healthy physique as well.

Timing can be another important factor in building muscle throughout the body. Make sure to get enough protein at each meal. Although eating protein-rich foods in the evening will not build muscle much, it can help keep you full, so you do not eat empty calories high in fat or sugar instead.

Foods that Build Muscle

There are many foods you can add to your diet to help build long lean muscle mass. Check out the foods below to see what foods can help to build muscle now.

1. Chicken

Chicken is lean meat that is low in fat and high in protein as well as amino acids, all of which are essential for muscle building (1).

It is important to try to choose chicken that does not have antibiotics, contaminants, or unnecessary additives. Chicken high in these, especially antibiotics can contribute to weight gain, and throwing off your muscle-building goals.

Add chicken to your diet more if you want to build more lean muscle mass but remember to choose organic and antibiotic and hormone-free chicken instead of the latter (2).

2. Grass-Fed Beef

Beef can be a powerful source of protein that can assist with muscle growth as well (3).

Grass-fed beef is a better option because it is often not full of added growth hormones, antibiotics, and additives that can make it harder to gain lean muscle mass.

It makes it harder because they can put on weight. Do not be afraid to eat some grass-fed meat every so often. Simply be cautious of your portion sizes.

3. Tofu

Are you vegetarian or vegan? Tofu should be a staple food for you if you want to build more lean muscle.

Tofu is full of protein from soybeans, so it makes an excellent alternative to meat for those who do not eat it. It can even be a great option for those who simply want to change up their routine.

This soy-based protein is also full of other essential vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system and maintain muscle mass.

4. Salmon

Salmon is a healthy fatty fish that contains tons of essential omega 3 fatty acids. It can be great for muscle gain because it contains a ton of protein and essential B vitamins.

B vitamins are necessary to maintain and grow muscle mass as well. Eating salmon gives you tons of B vitamins, healthy fats, and protein.

Add some protein-rich salmon to your diet out of the can or fresh. Your body will thank you for the extra nutrients and energy.

5. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is extremely low in fat, but high in protein, making it a go-to cheese to gain muscle. This cheese is also a powerful anti-cancerous food (4). Mix it with some flaxseed oil to get a stronger effect.

You can easily sneak cottage cheese into many meals for a delicious and nutritious change up. Throw it together with hard-boiled eggs and spinach for an easy, muscle building lunch.

You can even substitute cottage cheese on your favorite dishes to make them healthier and less fatty. Substitute fattier cheese with cottage cheese in dishes like lasagna and more.

6. Low-Fat Yogurt

Low-fat yogurt is powerful for muscle growth because of its high protein content as well.

Greek yogurt can be especially helpful for muscle growth because it contains the same nutrients as milk, but it also has beneficial bacterial cultures that promote a healthy gut microbiome (5).

Eating more low-fat yogurt like Greek yogurt can help to build long and lean muscle mass over time. Make sure to choose plain yogurt as the flavored versions are high in unnecessary sugars.

7. Lentils

Lentils are a vegan and vegetarians go-to for a good reason. They are an excellent source of protein as well as essential vitamins and minerals.
They are high in essential B vitamins like vitamins B6, thiamin, and folate, as well as iron, and more. All these vitamins are crucial for muscle production, too.

Lentils also help to reduce the increase of many common chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and more (6).

8. Black Beans

Black beans are another staple for vegetarians and vegans because of their high protein, vitamin, and mineral content.

While plant-based sources do not offer all the same amino acids that animal-based products do, they can still be a part of a healthy diet to help build muscle mass (7).

Worried that black beans will make you gassy? Not to worry. There is an easy way to avoid this. Simply thoroughly soak, wash, and rinse your beans before eating. This will remove the lectins, which are the major culprit to gas production.

9. Eggs

Eggs are the most common protein-rich food to eat when you are trying to gain muscle. Their high protein content makes them unbeatable food to many.

The protein, along with the many vitamins and minerals, makes them a great food for most. Be sure to eat the egg yolk as well because that is where most of the nutrition is.

While the egg whites do contain most of the protein, it does not hurt to add in the yolk as well for more nutrition. Remember, a proper nutritional balance is key to weight loss and muscle building.

10. Quinoa

Quinoa is not only high in protein, but it also packs in a powerful punch of essential minerals closest to animal-based foods.

That is because quinoa has all nine essential amino acids that animal-based foods have. While it does not contain as many B vitamins as animal foods, it is a great way to cut back on meat sometimes.

Add some quinoa to your next meal instead of meat to try it out yourself.

11. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is high in healthy calories, which is essential to build more muscle mass.

Adding some peanut butter to smoothies like protein shakes is a great way to get in more protein and calories without overdoing it too much.

Do not be afraid to use the delicious and nutritious peanut butter in your diet here and there to help with muscle gain.

12. Spinach

Spinach was Popeye’s choice for lean muscle building for a reason. It can significantly help add to muscle mass.

This popular leafy green vegetable is high in plant-based protein, as well as the essential calcium and iron. Calcium and iron are also essential components to building lean muscle, and for those who do not eat meat, spinach is a great option.

Add some raw spinach to your smoothie, omelet, or next dinner as a tasty side dish with garlic and olive oil. Get creative-spinach pairs well with many meals.

13. Nuts

Struggling with weight loss and muscle gain? A handful of nuts a day can do the body good. Nuts are high in calories, which is essential to muscle growth.

But because they are high in calories, you do not need much. They are the perfect blend of fiber, fats, and protein, too. That helps to get what you need without adding fat to your waistline.

Add some almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, and more to your daily diet, and try to change it up often to get more health benefits from each.


There are plenty of foods to help build lean muscle mass, even more than the ones above. Make sure to eat a balanced diet and time your meals well to meet your goals.

Many other factors go into building lean muscle mass as well. They include regular exercise, protein, and the right balance of micro and macronutrients.

Try to make sure you get enough movement, and time your meals well, especially those full of protein-rich foods necessary for muscle growth.

See if you can add some more of these protein-rich and nutrient-dense foods to your diet to increase your weight loss and muscle building goals.