Athletes and sports person are, no doubt, one of the most health-conscious people out there. From intensive day-to-day workouts to taking care of proper nutrition and hydration, diet plays a very efficient role in building muscle strength and overall physical fitness.
Protein is a key micronutrient required to strengthen muscles and build endurance among athletes. Alongside, a rich amount of other nutrients, mainly carbohydrates, are also required in optimum amounts.
People involved in high-intensity training require a blend of proper vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Building and strengthening muscles require more consumption of proteins and carbohydrates in particular.
Here are the 10 best foods that athletes must consume in their diet in order to gain muscle strength and endurance.
10 best muscle-building foods
Eggs are known to be the complete protein food. They are rich in vitamins, choline, iron, phosphorus, etc. The nutrition facts of eggs come as a wonderful surprise for those who are not really acquainted with its importance for a sports diet.
Being a perfect food for maintaining testosterone levels in men, eggs play a significant role in strengthening muscle cell membranes.
According to a study, participants who ate 3 whole eggs every day during their strength training program showed twice the times the gains in muscle mass and endurance as compared to those who consumed only one egg a day.
Eggs, also being a rich source of cholesterol (which is usually considered an evil food ingredient), helps in decreasing the LDL (bad cholesterol) which is linked with triggering atherosclerosis.
Salmon is one of the most popular choices of athletes in strengthening muscles mass. It is a rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids).
People who are into more omega-3 rich fats endure more muscle strength. Salmon, in that case, also helps in enhancing insulin sensitivity thus boosting muscle protein synthesis and amino acid uptake.
Additionally, omega-3s have been found to blunt muscle and joint breakdown and help in their timely recovery.
- Whey protein
Whey protein supplements are a total craze in the health arena. Looking over to their numerous positive sides, they deserve to be the hero.
Whey proteins are one of the easiest and fastest ways to provide protein source to the body and that too, at a cost-friendly side.
Athletes and sportspersons and even gym beginners consume whey proteins in a powdered form as one scoop in the shakes right after their workout. This instantly helps in muscle mass gains.
With whey protein, the controversy lies in the amounts and the quality of the protein. Excessive amounts may be harmful to you and can cause muscle cramps. It is much better to consider whey protein supplements as your boost rather than a core part of your diet. Prefer real, natural food for that purpose.
Spinach, a green leafy vegetable, may not be a taste-friendly food but it is one of the best choices when it comes to focusing on the overall health of an individual.
Spinach is a powerhouse of antioxidants and contains glutamine in rich amounts. It helps in muscle growth, immune function, and GI health also enhancing the overall metabolism.
Spinach also contains octacosanol (found in a wheat germ) and beta-ecdysterone, a phytochemical that promotes protein synthesis.
To delve deeper into the best antioxidant sources, read 5 Best Antioxidant Drinks Suggested By Nutrition Experts.
One of the major nutrients in broccoli is a phytochemical that converts into diindolylmethane, a natural chemical, which favors reducing the estrogenic effects like fat gain and water retention. Instead, it helps in enhancing the anabolic effects of testosterone resulting in muscle growth.
Broccoli also has sulforaphane, which is an antioxidant providing anti-inflammatory property. This helps in easy and quick joint and muscle recovery.
Oatmeal is mainly a carbohydrate-rich food, its USP being low glycemic index (GI). With minimal processing used in its making, oatmeal calls for a perfect go-to food for muscle strength.
The benefits of oatmeal being a low-GI diet include:
- More fiber and a better micronutrient profile
- Enhanced satiety
- Reduced hunger
- Reduce your energy intake after that (second meal effect)
- Loss of weight
Oatmeal is also considered one of the best sources of carbs for muscle preservation which helps in long-term sustained muscle strength.
- Brown rice
Brown rice has emerged as one of the most healthies options to consume, not only for sportspersons but also for people who believe in consuming healthy food.
Brown rice is a great source of complex carbs and aids in lowering cholesterol levels. It also contains fiber, potassium, and calcium all of which are important for helping in continuing with high-intensity workouts.
- Grilled chicken
Chicken is one of the best animal foods with a very high protein content thus directly helping in muscle repair, endurance, and muscle strengthening.
The lean part of chicken is the chicken breast which is low in saturated fats and thus does not raise cholesterol levels or increase heart risks.
Apart from protein, chicken also contains iron which is a well-known nutrient known to boost blood pumping levels. It also contains zinc which is one of the most essential nutrients required to maintain good immunity.
Fruits are generally taken as a pre-workout snack for carbs because they are slow digesting. Contrary to this, watermelon is a fruit that can be consumed in your post-workout nutrition plan as well since it’s fast digesting.
Watermelon is high in the amino acid citrulline which converts into arginine. This arginine is responsible for increased nitric oxide levels which highly enhances muscle strength and growth.
- Cottage cheese
You might not be very well aware of the fact that cottage cheese is almost completely pure casein protein.
Casein is one of the best sources for muscle maintenance as it is a slow-digesting protein. This favors the people who have to work for longer hours without having to eat anything.
Other than that, cottage cheese, as we all know, is a great source of Vitamin B12 and calcium thus strengthening bones as well.
Overall, diet is exclusively the core of overall fitness, whether you are into sports or not. The right kinds and amounts of food in your diet works wonders for muscle mass and can sustain long-term training and workout sessions.