Best Muscle-Building Foods: What to Eat to Gain Muscle

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The foods you eat and the type of exercise you include can help you prevent muscle loss.

How to Eat to Gain Muscle

The foods you consume have a major impact on your body's ability to maintain or build muscle. Including enough dietary protein plays a big role in building and maintaining muscle mass. A 2018 study published in Nutrients found that in order to gain muscle, individuals would need to consume 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass each day. For someone weighing 150 pounds (68 kg), this would equate to 109 grams of protein each day.

5 Best Muscle-Building Foods


Avocados are an excellent plant-based source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated "healthy" fats.
In addition to helping lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL), avocados have the highest source of protein of any fruit. They are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, minerals which support muscle recovery. Further, they provide a good source of folic acid, which, according to a 2019 review published in Archives of Pharmacal Research, may have a positive impact on muscle development.


Beans are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant-based protein and low in fat.
They are an excellent and economical source of leucine, one of the three amino acids used by muscles to give energy during exercise and thought to improve muscle growth.


If you are looking for the perfect post-workout meal, you may want to include an egg.
Researchers found that after a resistance workout, those who consumed a whole egg, not just an egg white, experienced increased protein synthesis that may stimulate muscle growth, per a 2021 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Fatty Fish

Tuna, salmon, snapper and yellowtail are all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that has been found to help reduce muscle loss and function and could actually increase muscle mass, per a 2020 article published in Frontiers in Nutrition.Not a fan of fish? Try a fish oil supplement instead.

Greek Yogurt

Full of protein and gut-healthy probiotics, nonfat plain Greek yogurt is an excellent choice for those looking to maintain or build muscle and reduce body fat.

A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition found that participants who included nonfat plain Greek yogurt as part of a post-exercise meal saw greater strength, muscle thickness and body composition than those who received a no-protein snack.

Be sure to skip the blended, flavored yogurts, though, as they often have high amounts of added sugar that would negate the potential health benefits.


Whole grains are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates that your body needs for energy. Oatmeal provides a healthy mix of carbohydrates, plant-based protein, fiber and nutrients that will help to keep you full longer between meals.

As with Greek yogurt, remember to skip the flavored oatmeal, as it is often high in added sugar. Go for plain oats instead, and try adding dried fruit for added vitamins and a hint of natural sweetness.

In conclusion, maintaining muscle mass is vital for overall health, especially as we age and face the challenges of sarcopenia. Alongside regular resistance training, a balanced diet rich in muscle-building foods can significantly contribute to muscle maintenance and growth.

Prioritizing sources of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, such as those outlined in this article, can help support optimal muscle health and function throughout life. By making mindful dietary choices and staying active, individuals can enhance their quality of life and maintain an active lifestyle for years to come.

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