You know the drill. If you want to build muscle, you have to hit the gym. But those 50-lbs dumbbells won’t be enough to achieve the chiseled body you yearn for. You’ll also have to bulk up on nutrient-dense foods before you start scoring massive gains.
Yes, eating the recommended amount of food based on caloric intake is vital. At the same time, what and when you eat also carries weight in the bodybuilding conversation.
Ready to snack your way to muscle mass? Consider the gym-rat-friendly snack options below:
The Surprising Health Benefits of Snacking
Choosing healthy, muscle-building snacks to eat throughout the day can aid your muscle-building journey and your overall health in a few ways. To maximize the impact of healthy snacking, you’ll need to establish healthy snacking habits.
Learning how to stop overeating is an essential step in sculpting the body you want. If you find yourself overindulging in sugar treats and processed foods, you may be covering that hard-earned muscle with a masking layer of fat.
While many people believe that they need to cram all of their protein, nutrients, and vitamins into three square meals a day, with a few supplements thrown in for good measure, the reality is that strategic snacking matters in a bodybuilding diet.
For those gym nuts who prefer sets over snacks, consider the benefits of snacking below.
Snacking Boosts Your Metabolism
When you go for an extended period without eating, your body kicks into survival mode and starts storing fat as a backup energy source. When trimming down, this survival response can unravel months of heavy lifting.
Eating small, healthy meals several times a day kicks your metabolism into gear and keeps it revving. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you never want to get too hungry.
Snacking Can Increase Your Nutrient Intake
Most Americans don’t ingest the proper number of nutrients on a daily basis. Even if you make a concerted effort to eat the right nutrient-rich foods at every meal, it is difficult to hit your daily intake goals.
Healthy snacks provide extra chances for you to take in the nutrients your body needs to function and, crucially, build muscle.
Snacking boosts Energy Levels
Most serious fitness enthusiasts have experienced the dreaded afternoon drag. If you are putting forth your best effort in the gym, you are likely to undergo a sense of lethargy or fatigue at some point during the day.
Instead of taking a nap, try eating a healthy, protein-rich snack. You will be surprised how quickly your body perks up, and you regain the alertness and clarity you need to finish the day strong.
Snacking Can Aid in Muscle Recovery
One of the biggest benefits of healthy snacking is that it can help your muscles recover from strenuous gym sessions. When you work out, you break down the fibers in your muscles, which then build themselves back bigger and stronger than before.
Eating a well-chosen snack with plenty of grams of protein can aid this process. Think of protein and other essential nutrients as the building blocks your body uses to repair and build muscle fibers. You want to make sure your biological construction crew has plenty of bricks to use.
Five of the Best Muscle Building Snack Options
Obviously, not just any snack will provide the benefits listed above. Don’t think you can stock up on cheese puffs and Snickers bars to munch your way into contest shape.
You want to choose snacks that are nutrient-rich and heavy on protein. If you are going to consume calories, you need to make sure those calories provide some essential benefits for your body.
Here are a few healthy options for your daily snacks:
Eggs are one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet. A single egg contains significant amounts of Vitamin A, Folate, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2, Phosphorus, Selenium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, calcium, and zinc.
One egg also offers 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of healthy fats. With all of these nutrients plus a wallop of protein, you definitely want to incorporate eggs into your daily snacking regime.
Nuts are another superfood that should be a staple in every bodybuilding snack diet. A single serving of mixed nuts provides 5 grams of protein, along with significant amounts of fiber, Vitamin E, and several other essential nutrients.
Nuts are also stuffed with antioxidants, can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and may even reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. It’s no wonder these nutrient bombs are a must-have for healthy snacking.
Chickpeas, best known as the main ingredient in hummus, are another nutritional powerhouse you should incorporate into your muscle-building snack menu. These legumes are high in both protein and fiber and provide several other essential nutrients, including iron.
In addition to being a great choice for a muscle-building snack, chickpeas can help with digestion and blood sugar control and can even help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Unless you are a vegetarian or vegan, you should definitely work a significant amount of lean meat into your diet, especially if you are trying to build muscle. Lean meat is an excellent source of protein, along with several other nutrients your body needs.
Some of the best choices in lean meat are tuna, turkey, and skinless chicken. Even lean red meat can be a healthy option since it provides vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, and iron.
This dairy product provides an impressive 12-17 grams of protein per average serving. Along with this generous dose of protein, Greek yogurt offers a significant amount of calcium, Vitamin B-12, and potassium.
Greek yogurt is an excellent choice for workout recovery, providing plenty of amino acids for muscle repair. It is also packed with probiotics for healthy digestion and will keep you feeling satisfied for longer than other types of yogurt.
When paired with a comprehensive nutrition plan based on body type and goals, eating healthy, nutrient-rich snacks throughout the day can help you build the body you want to see in the mirror. Choosing the right snacks and eating them at the correct time can also make a world of difference in your muscle-building journey.
*Photos by Alexander Mils