It’s no secret that a balanced diet – rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals – is essential for muscle building.
If you have to go grocery shopping after every workout, you’re making life difficult for yourself. There are some foods great for muscle building that you can easily store in your pantry so you always have quick energy sources at hand.
Worth reading: You can also build muscle with a vegan diet.
These small, round powerhouses are more than meets the eye. Like all legumes, chickpeas are a source of protein, and they’re optimal for muscle building. Just 100 grams’ worth of chickpeas contains a whole 9 grams of protein. They also contain fiber and minerals such as iron as well as magnesium, which keeps our muscles functioning smoothly*.
Canned chickpeas can be prepared in no time. In fact, all you have to do is rinse them first. You can make them into a creamy hummus and dip vegetable sticks in it. But they also taste delicious in soups or stews. Chickpeas as a healthy snack? Absolutely! Simply roast chickpeas in a pan with your favorite spices.
#2 Low-fat quark
Low-fat quark offers both a low-fat content and high casein content, and is definitely a staple we love keeping around. Around 80 percent of the 13 grams of protein per 100 grams of quark is casein, which provides the body with valuable proteins in the long term. Low-fat quark can usually be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks, so you can always have a few packs on hand to get in some protein after a workout. Wanna stir it up? Add some protein powder to the low-fat quark and liquid of your choice and mix until creamy. Our favorite? Cookies and Cream!
#3 Protein shakes
The advantage of protein powder is obvious: it can be stored for a long time, it’s easy and quick to prepare, and it’s rich in high-quality protein, which helps to build muscle mass. But there are big differences among individual products: some are vegan, others contain whey, and still others are a mix of whey and casein. Many protein shakes are targeted specifically for losing weight or building muscle, and the sky’s the limit on the flavors you can find. How about a creamy strawberry shake, for example?
#4 Nuts and seeds
Almonds, hemp seeds, peanuts, oh my! These are all rich in nutrients for muscle building, because they contain valuable minerals as well as vegetable protein. You can eat a handful as a small snack, use them as a topping for a salad, or stir them into your muesli. Peanut butter made from 100 percent peanuts, i.e. without added sugar, is particularly popular for building muscle. There are about 30 grams of protein in 100 grams, so an average serving of 15 grams contains 4.4 grams of protein.
Oats are true all-rounders. The flakes are rich in fiber, and score points with long-chain carbohydrates, minerals, and even a little protein. When combined with protein-rich foods such as yogurt or quark, they make for a real fitness breakfast. The flakes themselves can be stored for a long time in a well-sealed can. They have a shelf life of about one year, so they’re perfect for the pantry.
The long-chain carbohydrates from oatmeal provide your muscles with necessary energy during a workout. So, if you’re looking to build muscles, you shouldn’t neglect this important component of your diet.
Quinoa is a pseudo-grain that contains all the essential amino acids. It is for this reason an ideal food for muscle building in a plant-based diet. But not only protein is contained, but also folic acid, zinc, magnesium and iron.
Quinoa can be stored in your pantry for about a year, as long as it stays away from moisture. Preparing it is also quite simple. Want some recipe ideas? Here’s a recipe for a delicious quinoa bowl.
#7 Frozen fish/meat
If you have a freezer, you shouldn’t use it for ice cream only, because many protein-rich foods such as meat and fish are quickly perishable and are only suitable for storage for a few days. When kept frozen, however, you can always have some ready. Especially with frozen meat, we recommend that you buy the meat at your local butcher shop and freeze it yourself, because frozen products are often of low quality.
When it comes to fish, try going for fatty sea fish such as salmon. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats. Along with carbohydrates, fat is an important source of energy. You should get about 20-30 percent of your energy from fat.
#8 Tofu, tempeh, or seitan
These foods often replace meat or fish in a plant-based diet when building muscle. But even if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, it’s worth having one of these products in your fridge. They are a high-quality source of protein and at the same time rich in minerals. Most often they’re sold in vacuum packaging or canned, so they can be enjoyed for a long time.
You either love it or hate it. Canned tuna has an almost infinite shelf life and is a great source of protein. You can enjoy the fish with a salad, in a sandwich, or in a tomato sauce with pasta. When buying fish, look for fish from certified fisheries and tuna in its own juice. If the fish is pickled in oil, it becomes a calorie bomb pretty quickly.
#10 Whole grain pasta
Complex carbohydrates are ideal for muscle building and also generally for your health. Compared to foods made from white flour, they’re absorbed more slowly, so they don’t spike your blood sugar levels as dramatically.
After eating whole grain pasta or rice, your body releases insulin. This ensures that glycogen is stored in the muscles. A combination of carbohydrates and protein is a good mix for any goal.
#11 Mineral water
Water as a food for muscle building? Maybe this seems illogical at first, but all cells (and therefore all muscles) need fluid for optimal function. This is why sufficient fluid intake is super important during muscle training, and mineral water is the best option. Sparkling Aminos provides a little variety, as well as natural caffeine.
Beans and other legumes are valuable for muscle building nutrition. They’ve got fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein, and minerals. The great thing about beans is that there are so many different varieties, so it’s hard to get bored. Frozen green beans or edamame, as well as kidney beans and canned white beans, are great for stocking up. Depending on the variety, you can fry them in vegetable pans, turn them into puree, or cook them in chili con carne.
More things to know from foodspring:
- Bodyweight Exercises That Can Help You Lose Weight
- Muscle Building for Beginners: Your 5-step guide
- 9+1 tips on nutrition for muscle definition
- 30 High Protein Foods to Amp Your Muscles
* Magnesium contributes to normal muscle function.