You see guys that look like Channing Tatum, or the cast of 300, and you want to look like them. You want to pack on some serious muscle. It’s understandable, but a lot harder than simply working some squats and deadlifts into your daily routine. You not only need to have the discipline to develop and stick to a weight lifting regimen, but you also need to fuel your body with the elements you need to build muscle. That means lots of protein, and very little, if any, sugars, fats, and foods dense in empty calories and carbs.
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To get lean and cut, this is of the utmost importance. In fact, since you plan on gaining mass, you need to be eating more calories than you need — so that your body can build on top of what you already have. The difference is, you’re building muscle — not storing excess energy as fat stores. To make sure that doesn’t happen, you need to supply your body with the proper ingredients.
Let beans become your new best friend. Beans are cheap, easy to prepare, and are packed with proteins and fiber. Your only worry should really be about when and where you eat them, as beans are known as “the musical fruit” for a reason. Beans will keep your digestive system well-regulated, and can make for an excellent and filling snack or meal. And seriously, you probably won’t find a more powerful dietary punch, dollar for dollar.
Yes, you still need to eat your vegetables. They’re an important source of fiber, and will help you hit your mineral and vitamin goals for the day, which is incredibly important when building muscle. Many veggies also have some protein content, like broccoli. They’re perfect for snacking, as most vegetables aren’t very calorie dense, and they make the perfect pairing with some of your other dietary staples — like salmon, chicken, and eggs.
Need a break from your daily intake of eggs? Try oatmeal. It’s easy to make, cheap to buy, and you can customize it in a thousand different ways — so don’t be afraid to throw some fresh fruit in there for an extra punch of vitamins and minerals. Oatmeal can be a good source of healthy fats and carbs, too, to help you refuel if you’re feeling fatigued or tired. It also has some good protein content.
Chicken breasts are a staple of many people’s diet, and for good reason. They’re lean, protein-packed, and can be prepared in a huge number of ways. Basically, it’s one of the most versatile and cost-effective cuts of meat that you can get. You can pair a grilled chicken breast with just about anything, but the biggest knock against them is that people tend to get sick of eating them day after day. Get creative, though, and use the relative inexpensiveness of chicken to your advantage.
Again if you’re looking for a lean food with huge levels of proteins, salmon is it. Plus, you get the benefits of essential amino and fatty acids, which your body needs to keep you healthy (and your brain firing on all cylinders). The big knock here is that salmon can be pretty expensive, especially if you want to keep a lot of it around. If you’re breaking the bank, substitute salmon for tuna — it’s cheaper and delivers much of the same benefits.
2. Cottage cheese
Some people are grossed out by cottage cheese. It may be a texture thing, or maybe they just don’t like the taste — but it’s hard to deny that cottage cheese is one of the best foods you can buy for building muscle. If you stick to low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese, you can get an enormous amount of protein, with relatively little calories. There are many brands and types, so try some out and see what you like. There’s nothing better for a post-workout snack, or for a midday pick-me-up.
You can easily make eggs a staple they’re relatively cheap, packed with vitamins and protein, and can be cooked in a number of ways. If you really want to get after it, you can just go for the egg whites, which will lower the calorie content, but also means you miss out on some nutrients. Still, eggs are one of the most complete whole foods you can get your hands on, and for those of you looking to pack on muscle, a fresh carton should always be close at hand.