10 Easy-to-Prepare Foods That Build Lean Muscle

Eat. Sleep. Build muscle. If that’s your life right now, you know that the foods you eat have a massive impact on how successful you’re going to be. If you’re new to this, just know that you need to do more than just “eat all the proteins,” as there’s a little more to it than that. Many veggies, complex carbohydrates, and certain fats assist in muscle growth, too, because they add necessary calories for bulking up. To ramp up your efforts and get on the right track, check out these 10 very easily prepared foods that build muscle.

Remember: you’ll need a balanced, whole diet of protein, carbs, and fat in order to add muscle mass. The foods below can be mixed and match to create great tasting meals that you won’t get bored with. Come to visit our Juice Bar at 10 Hanover Square.

Foods that build muscle

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Foods That Build Muscle: Carbs

We’re starting with carbs, since not enough men and women out there realize that you do have to consume carbs as part of your bulk up strategy. These particular foods that build muscle are quick to cook and go with any lunch or dinner meal.

Brown Rice

Brown rice has tons of calories and packs nutrients into your diet. You can pair it with just about any protein: fish, chicken, red meat, etc. You can toss it into soups or make a quick stir-fry out of it, too.

In terms of macronutrients, brown rice contains fewer carbs, more fat, and slightly more protein than white rice. But as Paul Niyama of Muscle Building Foods HQ points out, not only is rice NOT a complete protein, but it also lacks lysine.

So his suggestion is to pair brown rice with beans and add them both to your list of foods that build muscle.


According to Bodybuilding.com, beets make the cut for foods that build muscle. You can easily and quickly prepare beets by peeling and boiling them. Or, if you want to get fancy, peel and slice them, and then broil them with a little olive oil, rosemary, and salt.

Beets contain 2.86 g protein and 16.93 g of carbohydrates in a cup. That cup adds 74.80 calories to your daily diet, which is great if you have trouble gaining weight and need to eat as many calories as you can.


One of the best reasons to include spinach in your muscle growth diet is that it helps reduce muscle loss (Source: Stronglifts.com). Maybe Popeye was right.

You don’t have to eat it out of a can, though. Toss a bunch of spinach into a saute pan with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, some salt, minced garlic, butter, and olive oil. Add it to salmon (which we talk about below) and a sweet potato for an instant, complete muscle building meal.

Sweet Potatoes

Many people consider sweet potatoes a wonder food. For bodybuilding, it’s ideal because it’s packed with good carbs, calories, and potassium that your body needs to put on muscle mass. Sweet potatoes taste great with or without anything added to them, and they’re super easy to make.

One baked sweet potato contains 4 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, and 6 g fiber. The easiest way to cook a sweet potato is to wash it, poke it with a fork a few times, and then microwave it for 6-8 minutes. Or, you can dice it, boil it, and mash it.

Sweet Potatoes

Foods That Build Muscle: Proteins

Whole Eggs

If you’re building muscle, eat the whole egg – yolk included. You decide how many eggs you want or need to eat. They’re essentially perfect proteins, but they’re also quintessential and classic body building food. Many people get bored with eggs quickly, so mix it up. Skip the boiled eggs for egg burritos instead.

A large whole egg contains 6 g protein, 5 g fat, and 71 calories. Just 5 eggs a day brings you to 30 g of solid protein with a decent amount of natural animal fat, too.


If the thought of eating chicken and eggs for the next several weeks while you’re bodybuilding grosses you out – there’s good news. You can skip chicken this time. Beef and fish also provide plenty of lean protein if you make the right choices.

If the protein content of beef isn’t enough to sway you, add iron, B12, zinc, and creatine. Grass-fed beef is even better. While you can technically eat steak for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, try other sources of beef so that you don’t get bored with your meals. Chill with chopped steak makes a delicious, super easy meal and a large pot can last you weeks if you freeze it.


Salmon tops the list of foods that build muscle due to it’s incredible amount of protein plus natural Omega-3 fatty acids. Wild caught salmon beats farmed salmon, for some obvious reasons but primarily because farm raised salmon doesn’t have the Omega-3. However, it’s much more expensive. Buy what fits your budget, but definitely make plans to include salmon in your muscle growth plan.

Four ounces of salmon contains 26 g protein, 4.88 g fat, and 157 calories. Paired with any of the above carbs, and you’ve got a great meal.


Foods That Build Muscle: Fats and Milk

Olive Oil

There’s a bit of science backing the claim that olive oil promotes muscle growth. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats stimulate muscle growth by way of creating proteins. Roundabout? Sure, but all foods that build muscle growth do it in a roundabout way.

Easy meal: Add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of cumin, salt, and pepper to sliced sweet potatoes and broil them until crispy on the outside and tender inside. Eat them with a steak and spinach salad for a quick and awesome muscle building meal.

Fish Oil

Why this makes the cut: Fish oil increases testosterone. While this is a bit of a cheat, since you’re technically not going to be “preparing” fish oil with any meal, it’s still one of the best foods that build muscle. Stronglifts.com also notes that fish oil reduces inflammation, which is important as you’re tearing down and building up new muscle in your body.

When you buy fish oil, look for very high quality oil with good ratings (avoid cheap brands). Take as directed.

Milk (or Greek Yogurt)

If you don’t have lactose intolerance, add lots of milk to the list of your muscle building foods. When you drink milk, you don’t need to boost your diet with whey or casein protein powders, because they’re derived from milk! Use whole milk if you can tolerate it. If not, or you really hate drinking milk, add unflavored, full fat Greek yogurt to your list instead. Use it to make a salad dressing or add granola and berries for a quick snack.

Milk (or Greek Yogurt)

  • James
    Posted at 19:43h, 01 November Reply

    These tips are awesome, I was looking for something like that. Thanks

  • Kevin Nelson
    Posted at 11:04h, 03 July Reply

    It is important to choose foods with the healthiest type of fat. Many people eat more fat than they need, which can lead to weight gain and heart disease.

  • Greg Raynes
    Posted at 06:47h, 04 February Reply

    What else can I eat if I have an intolerance to rice. I started eating brown rice and ended up with severe bloating and breaking out in hives. I’ve switched to white rice but my symptoms only slightly improved. It appears I can only eat it in moderation but not part of my every day meals. Can you recommend something else to swap out with the sweet potatoes that taste ok cold because I meal prep with no way of heating up my food.

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