Want toned, lean muscles? (Duh, of course you do.) Chances are, you plan to hit that goal through exercise, aiming to strengthen muscles with a full body workout. Work your arms, legs, back, and core a couple times a week and BOOM … MUSCLES. Right?
The formula for strong, lean muscles is simple, but it’s not that simple. There’s one important factor that you may be forgetting: diet.
That old saying “abs are made in the kitchen” definitely holds true, at least partly. You may already know that getting enough protein is key for building and maintaining muscle, but getting the right kinds of protein is critical as well. For example, fried chicken has protein, but it’s also full of fat, which isn’t going to bring you much closer to your guns and buns of steel. Your protein sources needs to be lean and mean, just like your newfound muscles will soon be.
Enter your new muscle-building formula: Regularly eat these 10 lean protein-packed foods + strength training at least two days a week.
1. Eggs: 6 g of protein per egg
2. Salmon: 17 g of protein per 3-oz serving
3. Soybeans: 20 g of protein per ½ cup
4. Chicken breast: 26 g protein per 3-oz serving
5. Low-fat Greek yogurt: 20 g protein per 7-oz container
6. Shrimp: 20 g of protein per 3-oz serving
7. Beans: 15 g of protein per cup
8. Edamame: 19 g of protein per 1 cup
9. Teff: 10 g of protein per 1 cup (cooked)
10. Almonds: 8 g of protein per ¼ cup
Most adults need about 0.8 g of protein/kg of body weight (that’s about 52 g a day for a 140-lb person). However, the more active you are, the more you may need, so if you’re lookin’ to add muscle, aim for 1.5-2 g of protein/kg of body weight (about 95-127 g a day for a 140-lb person).
Importantly, don’t eat your protein all at once: Divvy it up between breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and you’ll be well on your way to muscle town.