Ask anyone who’s been in the game long enough…muscle isn’t built in the gym, it’s built in the kitchen. That old saying may be a cliche, but it’s absolutely true. If you’re not eating some of the best bodybuilding foods out there, then you’re robbing yourself of gains.
Going to the gym breaks your muscles down. It tears them apart, but that’s only half the battle. The other half is when you build them back up by eating well and resting long enough. Interestingly enough, most guys actually mess up HERE rather than in the actual gym.
If you want to build that lean, shredded physique that everyone so desperately wants, you need to eat right. There’s no way around this—abs are built in the kitchen, not in the gym. Without the proper nutrition, all of that hard work you spent lifting weights will just go to waste.
So with that in mind, I have a specific “go to” list for all of my favorite muscle-building foods, and I always have every single one of these in my kitchen. With that in mind, and without further ado, here’s my seven best bodybuilding foods that should ALWAYS be in your kitchen.
1. Eggs (Protein & Healthy Fats)
Ah, eggs—the old staple of bodybuilding classics. While it may be an exaggeration that you have to crack them open, blend them up, and drink them raw, having enough eggs in your diet is certainly beneficial. They’re jam-packed with the building blocks of muscle, making them one of the best bodybuilding foods out there.
Just one egg has a whopping eight grams of protein, and is a complete nutritional powerhouse. They’re filled to the brim with nutrients like vitamin B-12, healthy fats, essential amino acids, iron, lutein, and more. Don’t buy into that old myth that eggs are bad for you—in fact, they couldn’t get much better!
In fact, many men find that following the steak and eggs diet gives them incredible results in both the bedroom, and in the gym. This diet is specifically designed to build muscle, boost testosterone, and put your body into a state of ketosis (to shred fat).
2. Salmon (Protein & Omega 3’s)
Salmon is another one of the best bodybuilding foods out there, and if you can afford it, you can never have enough. It contains extremely high amounts of healthy Omega 3 fats, which have been shown to have numerous health benefits, as well as muscle-building benefits.
Just one serving of salmon (roughly 3.5 ounces) has 20 grams of protein, a ton of Vitamin D, and countless other micro nutrients that are good for your health. Be sure to opt for wild caught salmon, however—farmed salmon can be just as bad for you as any other junk food, due to the way they’re grown.
3. Cottage Cheese (Slow-Digesting Protein)
While everyone’s aware that you need protein to build muscles, what most people don’t know is that there’s numerous different types of protein. One major type of protein is whey protein, which is very fast digesting. Another is called casein, and cottage cheese is absolutely PACKED with casein. Why is this good? Here’s why.
Casein is a very slow digesting protein, which can take hours longer to digest than say, the protein you’d get from a chicken breast. While normally this may not be a good thing, when taken right before bed time, a cup of cottage cheese can ensure your body has a constant IV-drip of slow-digesting protein all throughout the night.
4. Blueberries (Tons of Antioxidants)
While blueberries, and any other type of berry for that matter, aren’t filled with much protein, they do have their benefits. Many bodybuilders put their bodies under enormous amounts of stress—after all, when you’re bench pressing 500 pounds for reps, it’s kind of hard to avoid a lot of bodily breakdown.
That’s where antioxidants come in—powerful little nutrients which can protect your body from free radical damage, and help repair it from the inside out. Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant concentrations of any food out there, making them one of the best bodybuilding foods for both you and me.
So, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, and are craving something sweet, just have a handful of blueberries instead of a cheat day.
5. Almonds (Great Healthy Snack)
While almonds aren’t extremely high in protein, they do have a good amount—almost 6 grams per handful. Where these powerful little nuts do shine however, is in their fat content. Almonds are absolutely PACKED to the brim with healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to boost overall cardiovascular health (similar to certain SARMs).
They’re also a great source of magnesium, Vitamin E, Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Phosphorous, and Vitamin B2. Almonds are one of the best bodybuilding foods, in my opinion, also due to their ease of use—no cooking, no cleaning. Just pop a handful into your mouth and you’ve got yourself a snack!
6. Spinach (Great Micronutrient Profile)
“Spinach? How is that one of the best bodybuilding foods out there, Jon?” I can hear someone ask. Well, I know it doesn’t sound that appetizing, but raw spinach is actually great for you on so many levels. It has virtually zero protein, but where it does shine is in its micronutrient profile.
Raw spinach contains tons of nitrate, a compound which helps to build muscles. It’s packed with folic acid, which helps repair DNA and build new red blood cells, which are crucial for pumping oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. On top of this, it’s rich in iron, which bodybuilders need more of than any other group.
7. Sweet Potatoes (Healthy Complex Carbs)
For a while there was some myth going around about how sweet potatoes are “bad for you” because they’ve got “sugar.” While this may make sense on the surface, it’s actually completely false. Sweet potatoes are one of the best bodybuilding foods you could possibly have, for a multitude of reasons.
Sweet potatoes have got an all star lineup of nutrients, which will thrust your body’s muscle production into overdrive. From Pantothenic Acid to Vitamin B6, and from Biotin to Vitamins B1 and B3, having just a sweet potato a day can be one of the best ways to improve your bulking diet.
Bodybuilding Foods: The Bottom Line
Overall, these are some of the best bodybuilding foods out there. Keep in mind that while high protein intake is very important, so is health—and a major component of health is consuming the right micronutrients. It’s always a good idea to take one of the top bodybuilding multivitamins if you’re unsure.
In addition to the above list, I also keep a few other things in my kitchen at all times, like avocados, coconut oil, coffee, green tea, tuna, chicken breast, and more. Having a diverse kitchen makes following the right diet infinitely easier, so it’s worthwhile to invest in some quality spices, cooking lessons, and foods.
For those of you who want a detailed guide to bodybuilding, I lay down all of the nitty gritty, dirty details in my “Body of an Alpha” package. It comes with three free eBooks, plus access to a special Facebook mentorship group. I also cover everything from nutrition to supplements to working out to recovery. It’s my bodybuilding bible.
To all my readers, I hope you enjoyed this article. Sometimes you have to take a step back and really focus on the basics: healthy bodybuilding foods, good exercise routines, lots of reading, and tons of self-improvement. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know down below—and as always, I’ll see you next time!