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30 Best Muscle Building Snacks: Try Now

Muscle Building Snacks

Looking for the best muscle building snacks? Scroll down now!

Let’s look at the scientific side of it, as muscle building is a whole science in itself.

It’s more than just lifting weights and eating to gain protein energy; it requires a scientifically based diet to achieve proper nutrition. And in some cases.

However, just like most things in the human body, muscle building is often affected by genetics, where some people are predisposed to build muscles bigger and faster than others.

Nevertheless, providing your body with the right amount of food for energy and the correct type of nutrition to build muscles is equally as important as lifting weights.

And that’s what we are going to break down.

Nutrition Basics for muscle building

Increasing overall macronutrient consumption:

The body can build muscle only if it gets a higher-than-average caloric intake.

If the individual gets exactly the calories an average body needs or below, then the body will not receive the excess nutrients necessary for muscle building.

Therefore, total caloric intake must be above normal maintenance levels.

Also, depending on the individual’s fitness goals and how demanding and intense the training routine is, this increase should vary, with most excess calories coming from complex carbohydrates.

And that’s because carbohydrates are the primary energy source for active muscles. Moreover, they are stored in the body as glycogen, a compound that the body can quickly break down and use as fuel for the forces during exercise.

Without sufficient glycogen, the body will break down protein for energy.

If the individual does not consume enough protein in the diet, the body will start to break down skeletal protein, aka the muscles. 

And because of that, for the body to direct excess protein for muscle synthesis and to avoid muscle breakdown for energy during exercise, one must consume adequate carbohydrates.

Specifically, we are talking about complex carbohydrates (like potatoes) and not simple carbohydrates that spike insulin production and secretion in the blood and cause more fat storage and less satiety, amongst many other health issues.

On the other hand, the body’s requirements for macronutrients vary based on age, gender, body composition, activity levels, digestive system health, and many other factors.

For this reason, it is better for you that you use a nutrition calculator to determine your macronutrient needs for any specific goal you want to achieve, whether it is muscle building, weight loss, or even weight gain.

Increasing protein consumption:

Protein intake is essential for building and enlarging new muscles in the body.

Here comes a question, how much protein per day should a person consume to build muscles?

The answer to this question is that adults with moderate activity levels require 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.

This amount of protein is enough to maintain muscle mass and prevent the body from breaking down the skeletal muscles.

On the other hand, to achieve muscle growth through intense physical workouts, the body requires 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. 

Appropriate carbohydrates intake: 

An individual trying to build muscles should eat about 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight each day on average.

Carbohydrates are number two if we consider protein the most critical macronutrient for muscle growth.

Carbohydrates become stored in the muscles as glycogen. And that keeps the muscles full and large and fuels them during workouts. 

For carbohydrates in meals, people should stick with complex slow-digesting carbs, as we mentioned earlier, sources such as whole grains, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, buckwheat, fruit, and vegetables. 

Healthy fat consumption:

About 20% to 30% of the total daily caloric intake should come from fat.

Maintaining optimal levels of testosterone is crucial to build muscle mass and strength and avoid fat gain. Maintaining optimal levels of testosterone is essential to build muscle mass and strength and avoid fat gain. And surprisingly, 5% to 10% of the fat calories can be saturated fats for people who work out and try to gain muscles.

And that’s because higher-fat diets that contain this small percentage of saturated fats supposedly maintain testosterone levels at their average healthy concentration in the body better than low-fat diets.

You can get your appropriate amount of fat from steak and ground beef, as red meat can simultaneously provide quality protein and fats.

Avocados, olive oil and olives, peanut butter, and nuts are excellent sources of monounsaturated fats.

And fatty fish like salmon, trout, and catfish. Also, flaxseed oil and walnuts as good sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. Also, adding chocolate, whole-fat Greek yogurt, and chia seeds will be helpful in your diet and overall health.

Now that we have covered the essential nature of what ingredients we should use in snacks to gain muscles let’s dive into the elements themselves.

Add these ingredients to your muscle-building snacks:

These foods will add to your daily meal preparations and muscle-building snacks.

Eggs:

It’s well-known that eggs contain high amounts of protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, and choline (1).

Proteins are essentially complicated chains of amino acids. And eggs, in particular, contain large amounts of leucine amino acid, which is crucial for muscle gain (2).

Chicken:

Chicken breasts, in particular, are packed full of protein. 85-gram serving of chicken breasts contains 26.7 grams of pure protein. (3)

Chicken breasts also contain significant amounts of the B vitamins niacin and B6, which may be particularly important if you are physically active as they protect and strengthen peripheral nerves; these vitamins aid the body to be able to function correctly during the physical activity that’s necessary for muscle gain (4).

Greek yogurt:

Dairy products contain high-quality protein and a mixture of fast-digesting whey protein and slow-digesting casein protein.

Research shows that it is mainly effective in increasing lean muscle mass. And that makes it the perfect ingredient in muscle-building snacks. (5)

But the significant difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt or other dairy products is that Greek yogurt often contains almost double the amount of protein as regular yogurt. (6)

 Beef:

Beef is full of protein, of course. Also, it contains vitamin B, minerals, and creatine. (7)

Also, Research shows that eating lean red meat can increase the lean mass in the body due to weight training.

Cottage cheese:

One cup (226 grams) of cottage cheese contains 28 grams of protein, mainly formed from the amino acid leucine, which is why they are very suitable as muscle-building snacks ingredient.

Choosing which type of cottage cheese, whether total fat or low fat, depends on how many extra calories an individual wants to add to their daily caloric intake. (8)

Turkey:

Eighty-five grams of turkey, and turkey breasts, contain 26 grams of protein and almost zero fat or carbs.

Moreover, turkey is a good source of niacin, which helps process fats and carbohydrates. (9)

Beans:

Many different types of beans can be a source of protein in a diet for muscle gain.

The most popular varieties are

Black, pinto, and kidney beans:

They contain around 15 grams of protein per 172 grams of cooked beans. (10)

Moreover, they are excellent fiber, vitamin B, magnesium, phosphate, and iron sources. 

Furthermore, they serve a significant role in health and disease prevention.

Soybeans:

To put the amount of protein in soybeans in perspective: Half a cup (86 grams) of soybeans contains 16 grams of protein, unsaturated fats, vitamins like vitamin K, and minerals like phosphorus and iron.

And iron is of great importance for storing and transporting oxygen in blood and muscles. And as an individual starts working out, the muscles require more oxygen. (11)

Edamame:

Edamame is immature soybeans.

These beans in this specific growing period are stable in Japanese cuisine. It can be eaten as it makes them the most accessible muscle-building snacks.

One cup (155 grams) of edamame contains around 18 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber.

As well as large amounts of folic acid, vitamin K, and manganese are a massive benefit for bodybuilders, as folate may be necessary for optimal muscle mass and strength, particularly in older adults. (12)

Chickpeas:

Chickpeas are one of the vegan diet’s durable components and are great for muscle building. 

One cup (164 grams) of chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber.

Just like plant-based protein in general, protein in chickpeas is considered lower quality than animal sources. However, it is still considered part of balanced muscle-building snacks and meals. (13)

Quinoa:

Quinoa is one of the superfoods that are packed with multiple nutrients that provide significant health benefits.

Foods with carbohydrates are essential in providing the energy we need to work out and build muscles, as we mentioned earlier.

One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and large amounts of magnesium and phosphorus. (14)

And it is essential to know that magnesium plays a playsMagnesiumtant role in the function of the muscles, nerves, and heart muscle.

Seafood:

Seafood is a rich source of Amino acids (particularly taurine), fibers, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

However, according to Research, eating large amounts of seafood excessively may cause a risk of toxicity with heavy metals and pollutants. That’s why we advise consuming it in moderation.

Salmon:

Salmon is an excellent choice for muscle building and overall health, as an 85-gram serving of salmon contains about 17 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B.

Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in muscular health and may even increase muscle gain during exercise programs; that’s why you should add it to your muscle-building diet plan. (15)

Tuna:

85-gram serving of tuna contains 20 grams of protein and high amounts of vitamins A and B (including B12 and B6).

These nutrients are essential for optimal health, energy, and exercise performance. Additionally, tuna provides large omega-3 fatty acids, which may support muscle health.

And this is why tuna is considered one of the most popular foods for muscle builders. (16)

Shrimp:

Eighty-five grams of shrimp contains 19 grams of protein, 1.44 grams of fat, and 1 gram of carbs.

While healthy fats and carbs are essential in your overall diet, adding some shrimp is easy to get muscle-building protein without too many additional calories.

And like many other animal proteins, shrimp contains a high amount of the amino acid leucine necessary for optimal muscle growth. (17)

Scallops:

If your dietary goal is to add protein without consuming too many calories, then scallops as lean protein sources may be good choices for your case.

They coat a perfect amount of protein and are low fat; 85 grams of scallops provide around 17 grams and fewer than 100 calories.

Buckwheat:

Buckwheat is a type of seed that people ground into flour and use in place of traditional flour for its health benefits and the fact that it is gluten-free.

One cup (168 grams) of cooked buckwheat contains 6 grams of protein, high amounts of vitamin B,  magnesium, mangMagnesiumosphorus, and fiber. (18)

Tofu:

Another vegan diet favorite and a stable component in Japanese and Korean cuisine.

They are easy to cook and very versatile, which is why they make the perfect muscle-building snacks.

Tofu is produced from soy milk, and vegan people often use it as a meat substitute in food. Each half cup (124 grams) of raw tofu contains 10 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and adequate calcium for muscle and bone health. (19)

Nuts to your muscle-building snacks:

Peanuts:

One cup of peanuts contains nearly 41 grams of protein.

And two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 7 g of protein, and peanuts also contain 257 mg of magnesium per magnesium.

Research suggests that it may enhance exercise and performance, which makes peanuts and peanut butter the perfect muscle-building snack.

Walnuts:

A cup of chopped walnuts contains 15.2 g of protein, a good amount of vitamin E, and 9 g of omega-3 fatty acids, which may benefit muscle building, as mentioned earlier.

That’s why a lot of people consider them great muscle-building snacks.

Almonds:

Twenty-eight grams of roasted almonds contain 6 grams of protein, reasonable amounts of vitamin E, and magnesium.

On the other hand, when you consume nuts, they should always be in moderation due to their high-calorie content, which might throw off your caloric intake plan and mess up your routine for muscle gaining.

Seeds:

Seeds are a suitable source of healthy fats, fibers, and minerals such as magnesium; a cup of sunflower seeds contains 14 g of protein, while a half cup of roasted pumpkin and squash seeds contains around 18 g of protein.

People eat seeds as a muscle-building snack or sprinkle them on breakfasts, salads, or vegetables—the perfect addition to any muscle-building snack.

Protein powders for your muscle-building snacks:

If an individual finds it hard to get enough protein from food, it might be a good idea to consider drinking protein shakes or adding protein powders to meals and muscle-building snacks.

Dairy protein powders like whey and casein are the most popular but are not the only ones in the market.

These were the main ingredients you should add to your meal plans and muscle-building snacks. Now that we covered the nutritional values of each of these food products,

Here are some simple muscle building snacks ideas:

Greek yogurt with honey and roasted nuts:

This recipe will include mixed nuts and Greek yogurt, and you can even add roasted sunflower seeds for garnishing.

This will provide you with a recipe that contains three of the muscles building foods that we mentioned earlier.

You can add a small amount of honey for sweetness and have a delicious, nutritional, and satisfying muscle-building snack.

Protein smoothies:

Add about 20 to 30 grams of protein powder in many delicious flavors like vanilla and chocolate to Greek yogurt, artificial sweetener, honey, and ice cubes.

You can drink this practical muscle-building snack after your workout session.

Peanut butter and oats cookies:

This is a simple recipe; add eggs, peanut butter, artificial sweetener or honey, and oats, and even mixed nuts for an extra kick of flavor.

You can either bake it or put it in an air fryer. This recipe contains 3 of the muscle-building foods we mentioned, with the added benefits of oats.

Tuna salad:

With tuna, chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans, you can make a perfect protein-packed salad.

You can add your favorite vegetables to this dish and even crumble cottage cheese on top of the salad to boost this muscle-building snack. 

Trail mix:

It is a combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Of course, you can customize this dish however you want.

For example, for nuts, we can add Almonds, peanuts, and walnuts specifically for their previously mentioned benefits.

Just as well as sunflower seeds. And as we learned, fruits are a great source of healthy carp. However, beware that dried fruits have large amounts of sugar, so we recommend using a minimal amount.

This makes the perfect muscle-building snack as it is easy to make and take wherever you go.

Whole grain crackers with cottage cheese:

Whole grains crackers are full of fibers that can help you with hunger, even if you eat small amounts. And since cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, this can make the perfect muscle-building snack.

Protein truffle:

All you need to make this healthy, delicious muscle-building snack is oats, peanut butter, artificial sweetener or honey, and any protein powder of choice (but we recommend chocolate flavor).

Simply put all the ingredients together and mix them well, and then cover it with plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge until it is firm. It will form a dough, and you can shape them into small balls.

Besides these recipes, you can always go for a protein bar, a couple of hard-boiled eggs, overnight oats in Greek yogurt, or even a plate of cottage cheese with tomatoes and olive oil for a kick of flavor and extra omega-3.

Also, you can mix any of the food ingredients we mentioned earlier to create your muscle-building snack recipe.

Now that we got the food ingredients and recipes part covered. We need to know more about the habits that can help us gain muscles healthily.

Healthy dietary habits for a healthy muscle-building journey:

Never skip breakfast:

When you start your day, you need an immediate burst of energy, and breakfast will help give you this.

It’ll also help you stay full until your next meal or snack.

And not being extremely hungry in the middle of the day because you ate breakfast will help you make the conscious decision to eat healthily.

Start your day with a breakfast full of protein, like eggs and cottage cheese.

Eat muscle-building snacks between meals:

The easiest way to ensure you get the proper amounts of protein and macronutrients in the day is to eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner as usual, interspersed with muscle-building snacks post-workout and two other snacks throughout the day.

And keeping your food intake up will mean you won’t be as hungry because eating smaller meals more often versus a few big meals will help you avoid being extremely hungry, which often results in overeating or even topping yourself up with unhealthy snacks or fast food. So to stop cravings, eat at fixed times every day, and your body will learn to get hungry at those times.

  • Monitor your protein intake:

As we mentioned earlier, it would be best if, you had protein to build and maintain muscle mass. 

Eating a whole protein source with each meal is the easiest way to get the right amount of protein daily. These include:

Beef, lamb, Chicken, turkey, duck, fish, tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, eggs, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt.

Other plant-based options for vegans such as lentils, tofu, seeds, and nuts.

Monitor your dietary fibers intake:

Most fruits and vegetables are low-calorie.

This means that with most vegetables and 50% of fruits, you can eat your stomach full without gaining fat or weight.

Fruit and vegetables are also full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which helps digestion, but just be careful to check the sugar content of some fruits.

Know when and what carbs to eat:

While you need carbs for energy, most people eat more than they need. Limit your carbohydrate intake to after your workout only, and you’ll start building plenty of lean muscle mass.

 Of course, you can eat whatever you want in moderation if you work out. But try to avoid simple carbohydrates and focus more on complex, slow, digesting carbs.

Water:

Strength training, like any form of energy exertion, causes water loss through sweating which can impair muscle recovery and, in extreme cases, may even cause dehydration and be life-threatening.

Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration and hunger since an empty stomach can make you think you’re hungry.

Focus more on whole foods:

The grand majority of your dietary intake should consist of whole foods. Try and avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined (or little refined) foods that come as close as possible to their natural state. Examples are fresh meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, pulses, fruits, rice, oats, quinoa, etc.

Processed foods usually contain added sugars, high amounts of trans fats, corn syrup, sodium, and more chemicals. These chemicals mess with different body systems, from skin and hair to hormonal levels.

Summary:

There are many food options for people trying to build muscles.

Whether it is to achieve a dream body or live a healthier lifestyle, you have many options instead of artificial testosterone supplements!

And thanks to science, we have a lot of information on what to eat, how to eat it, when, and what to avoid.

We hope we were able to help by providing some ideas to people who wish to achieve their muscle-building goals.

Let us know in the comments if we can help. And as always, stay safe.

Dr. Lin Wei Chen

Dr. Lin Wei Chen

Dr. Lin Wei Chen, PhD in Sports Medicine from the University of Hong Kong and a Master's in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Beijing University, is a trailblazer in integrating herbal wisdom with modern fitness science. With over 10 years in sports medicine, Dr. Lin specializes in natural approaches to muscle growth, stamina, and men's health, revolutionizing how we enhance physical performance. His unique perspective, combining rigorous scientific research with age-old herbal practices, offers innovative and effective solutions for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Renowned for his patient-centered approach, Dr. Lin's work not only elevates physical capabilities but also empowers individuals towards holistic well-being.
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