Let’s face it; most women don’t eat to put on massive amounts of muscle. But if you are a woman who has a hard time putting on any kind of muscle or weight for that matter, you may want to consider using some foods that are guaranteed to help you build more. Unlike a diet program that you may use before a contest, or perhaps before you get into your bikini for your next beach vacation, a program to put on lean muscle weight will have you eating a few more calories than you are use to, not to mention some foods you may not expect. The best part— muscle-building foods are full of flavor and provide a lot more options than bland and boring diet foods.
Almost anything goes on a lean-gaining diet, but there are some exceptions. Secondly, unlike a weight-loss diet, it is OK to give into the occasional cheat food here and there to pack those extra calories on. But don’t do it all the time or you will only end up gaining fat weight, not lean muscle.
If you are unsure how many calories you should be eating to put on some muscle, aim for 18 to 20 times your weight in pounds. Stick to a high-protein diet that is at least one gram per pound of bodyweight. Carbohydrates should be about 40 percent, while good-for-you fats should make up the remaining 30 percent. Now, here are ten foods for lean gains.
1. Lean Red Meat
Beef is definitely your number one bulking-up protein. This is no wimpy chicken breast; beef has a high content of muscle-building creatine and BCAAs, more than any other food. Beef is also packed with carnitine, which assists in fat oxidation, and is a source of the anti-catabolic agent CLA. Beef contains iron, which drives oxygen delivery to muscles, and zinc and magnesium, which are needed to ignite protein synthesis. Beef also provides cholesterol. While you might think that is not a good thing, a little bit of cholesterol in the body is OK! Cholesterol is the basis for the muscle-building hormone testosterone, which can help to stimulate muscle growth. Lastly, red meat is of course loaded with protein; just one 3 oz serving yields 30 grams of protein!
2. Whole Eggs
Whole eggs are full of the good fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. But the important part here is that, just like steak, they also contain cholesterol, which in this case is a good thing for muscle gains. If you want to be sure your testosterone is elevated naturally to the best of your ability, you need cholesterol in your diet. Eat whole eggs at least a few times per week.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a source of MCTs or medium-chain triglycerides, which are unlike other fats. They are saturated triglycerides that are more compact than long-chain triglycerides, which means they can provide energy quickly and efficiently. Even better, these fats act more like carbohydrates during digestion, and are preferentially used for fuel sparing lean protein. Coconut oil can be used in replace of non-stick cooking spray.
4. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is the perfect food for adding lean size, especially from an economical standpoint. It not only packs a high-protein content and is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids, but it’s also super cheap and convenient. This high-calorie food can be added to shakes or eaten straight out of the jar, and just one tablespoon contains 100 calories and costs a measly $0.05. Peanut butter also provides some key antioxidants that can provide muscle protection, including vitamin E.
Now here is a calorie-dense fruit; just one half cup contains 204 calories, and about 50 percent of those calories come from fat! But that’s not all bad, avocados contain mostly the good fats— monounsaturated— and this green fruit is also a source of glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that can help speed the recovery process. Add this to any existing meal to punch up the calories. It’s great on salad or even a great side to your eggs!
Easy to eat, loaded in calories, and high in sugar— if you want to get in a quick few calories, here is the way to do it. Just five Medjool dates have 330 calories! Maybe they don’t seem like the typical mass-gaining food, but dates are often used for carb loading at bodybuilding shows. Combine with a handful of nuts, and you are looking at an easy and quick 500 calories!
Cashews, or any nut for that matter, are an excellent mass-building food; they are high in calories, can be eaten anywhere and can add calories to existing meals. One-third cup of this nut packs 260 calories!
8. Cottage Cheese
This casein-based protein is usually forgotten when it comes to cutting diets, as is most dairy. But if you don’t have dairy issues, why not give it a try during a lean-building phase? Cottage cheese is easy to eat, contains about 160 calories in one cup and 32 grams of protein. Plus its consistency makes it perfect for mixing with other high-protein muscle-building foods such as whey protein, or even nut butters!
9. Whey Protein
Whey protein is not necessarily strictly for gaining muscle; whey protein should never be off of your food list, actually. The reason for including it on this one is strictly for convenience purposes. It can be hard to get in all the calories and protein you need to on a weight-gaining diet with solid foods alone, but a liquid meal can easily be taken. Alternate your solid meals with shakes.
10. White Rice
There is nothing too special about white rice; the reason it is on this list is because it is a source of simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates can help to stimulate important growth factors such as the shuttling hormone insulin, which can work to quickly clear the blood of glucose, and other nutrients where it can be stored or used as fuel. Even better, when the blood is cleared, a fall in blood sugar levels can help stimulate appetite, which can be critical for those of you who have a super high metabolism and never feel hungry!
1. USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/list