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5 Highly Effective Foods for Building Muscle Mass

These items will boost your supply of lean muscle, which is crucial as you age.

When it comes to building muscle mass, giving your nutrition and exercise regimen some TLC is essential. According to Medical News Today, performing resistance training and consuming sufficient protein (along with carbs to restock your glycogen) will help you sculpt lean muscle. To get your diet down pat, we chatted with Danielle McAvoy, MSPH, RD, senior manager of nutrition for Territory Foods, official prepared meals partner of Row House, who shares five highly effective foods for building muscle mass. Add them to your shopping list pronto.

Once you hit 30, you begin to lose anywhere from 3% to 5% of your muscle mass every 10 years, according to Harvard Health Publishing. That's why tweaking your diet and fitness routine to ensure you're building that muscle mass back up is a necessary step to take as you age.

Why is protein, specifically, so important for building muscle? Well, the amino acids—aka the "building blocks of protein"—aid in mending and preserving your muscle tissue, InBody explains. After wrapping up a run, strength training session, or workout class, protein swoops in to kickstart the recovery process, as your muscles tear a bit when you're exercising.

Keep reading to learn all about McAvoy's top-recommended foods for building muscle mass.


salmon filet on cutting board, foods for building muscle mass

"Salmon is an excellent source of protein and [it's] high in omega-3 fats," McAvoy explains. "This makes it good not only for supporting muscle growth, but it also calms inflammation post-workout."

The fatty acids in salmon support your heart health and help speed up your muscle build-up, All American Healthcare explains. This tasty fish is a protein king that's chock-full of nutrients.


high protein breakfast egg avocado toast

Whether you're scrambling them, adding them to your avocado toast, or enjoying them hard-boiled, eggs are such a simple, nutrient-dense food that can help you build muscle. "They are high in vitamin D, which helps regulate hormones that can influence muscle growth, as well as leucine, an amino acid that is particularly helpful for muscle growth," McAvoy says.

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Handful of almonds, foods for building muscle mass

Almonds may be tiny, but they're certainly mighty when it comes to packing a mean protein punch. "Almonds are a higher protein nut, with six grams of protein in a one-ounce serving," McAvoy explains. "Almonds are also high in vitamin E and B2, which are essential for producing the energy needed to exercise."


edamame with sea salt

Whether you enjoy it with a light dusting of sea salt or add them to a freshly tossed salad, edamame is a stellar source of plant protein. According to McAvoy, you'll reap the benefits of a whopping 18 grams of protein per cup of soybeans. "Edamame is also a rich source of folate, which helps the body build protein from amino acids," McAvoy adds.

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Last but certainly not least, adding quinoa to your diet is a smart choice if you want to build muscle mass. "Quinoa is a good source of protein and complex carbs, which are both important for muscle growth," McAvoy explains. "If the body doesn't have enough carbs to fuel exercise, it will break down protein for energy, which impairs muscle growth."

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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