Foods To Eat To Build Lean Muscles

Our muscles are energy-intensive and, therefore, require more calories than fat mass to function well. Consequently, it’s vital to incorporate workouts and eat the right food for muscle development. 

For effective muscle mass gain, certain dietary recommendations are vital. You must give your body enough nutrients to replenish and promptly maintain muscle mass. Ideally, avoid foods that slow down lean mass gain and increase fat mass. 

In this article, we explore food to eat to build lean muscles.


High-protein meals are vital for building lean muscles. Proteins are found in body cells and play important roles in repairing and maintaining the tissues.

The recommended dietary allowance or RDA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for an active adult. But, research shows that the body may require more RDA for muscle development. With this in mind, taking more protein can help build muscle strength and lean body mass. If you combine it with resistance training, you may get better results. 

Protein comprises amino acids, which are the basic building blocks for cells and tissues. Whereas the body may synthesize some amino acids, it must obtain essential amino acids from the diet. Amino acids aid energy production, muscle process synthesis, repair, recovery, and immune function.

If you fail to consume proteins, your body breaks down the muscles to get the amino acids for body functions. As a result, you may feel weak due to low muscle mass. 


Outside of training, adequate carbohydrate intake supports optimal recovery by supplying the energy needed to build new muscle mass. Carbohydrates are vital foods for fueling your body. Usually, carbs are converted to sugars or glycogen, which is stored in your muscles as energy. Subsequently, this energy helps in powering your muscles. 

Unlike proteins, carbohydrates are not essential nutrients but play an important role in optimizing muscle growth. As you already know, building strong muscles is vital to stay on top of your fitness goals. 

If you go into your resistance training in high spirits and take some snacks beforehand, you may have a quick post-recovery. Indeed, some athletes prefer taking candy before a training session to spike their energy. However, this type of energy is short-term, and you can consider complex carbs for sustained performance.

Ultimately, carbohydrates build mass post-workout and kickstart recovery by preventing muscle loss or degeneration. Refilling your glycogen stores is vital for performance and muscle growth. 

Depending on your training program, experts recommend between 3 to 12 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight daily.

Fruits and Vegetables

When gaining muscle mass, your body needs a hefty supply of vitamins and minerals. You can get these from a varied and balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, carbs, and proteins. 

You need vegetables to bulk up your muscles because they provide several nutrients, including vitamins, phytochemicals, and minerals. Additionally, veggies have a lot of fiber which helps support digestion and absorption of amino acids. Therefore, you’re likely to get a bang for your money from your carbs and protein consumption.

Effective post-workout recovery requires your body to be able to fight off illness. Vegetables also enhance the quick absorption of minerals and vitamins, essential for post-workout recovery.

Mixing different veggies can give your body a wide range of vital nutrients per serving. However, if you have no time to prepare, vegetable powders can offer a quick solution. 


In the 80s and 90s, there was hype about low-fat diets. However, research has shown that fats are essential in building lean muscle mass. Of course, if you want to build muscle, you may want a lean body by shedding off fat. Still, fat is essential for several reasons. 

As noted earlier in this text, carbohydrates are broken down to provide energy for the muscles. If there’s a shortage of stored sugar in the cells or glycogen, your body will turn to fat to provide the energy. Essentially, the muscle-building process requires fats that trigger amino acid production through a complex reaction.


The following table represents a summary of the types of food and several examples.

Type of FoodExample
ProteinLean meats such as; lamb, pork, or beef. 
Poultry, eggs,fish, salmon and other seafood. 
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.
Whey protein powders and plant-based protein powders.
Plant-based proteins like; beans,peas,nuts,lentils,seeds,soy products. 
CarbohydratesWhole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, fat-free yogurt and quinoa. 
FruitsApples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, apricots, cherries, pineapples, pears and strawberries. 
VegetablesAsparagus, cabbage, onions, cauliflower,broccoli, green beans, zucchini. mushrooms, squash peppers, and spinach.
FatsAvocados, flax seeds, canola oil, soybean oil, walnuts, chia seeds and fatty fish.

You can include the food items in our discussions for an optimally balanced meal.  Also consider alternating various sources for maximum results. A protein intake alongside adequate fiber, carbohydrates, vegetables, and water can give your body the necessary nutrients for muscle building.