best foods to build muscle

The 16 Best Foods to Build Muscle 💪

Building muscle is all about training, eating, and sleeping. In this post, we cover the best foods to build muscle.

This ranking is based on the TBS Food Assessment Method for Muscle Gain, developed by us. It compiles the most important factors to consider when searching for foods to build muscle, and it gives an easy and accurate identification of the best foods for muscle gain!

whole milk

Whole Milk

Whole milk, based on the TBS Food Assessment Method, is the best food to build muscle. It is a great source of high quality protein, the most important macronutrient to build muscle.

Whole milk improves your training performance and recovery (study). The albumins and other amino acids present in whole milk seem to be benefitial for your muscle health (study)



Eggs are one of the staples of bodybuilder’s diet, and they have their reasons. They provide high quality protein, dense calories, and a long list of vitamins and minerals present in the yolk.

Eggs are high in leucine, an amino acid particularly important for muscle gain (study). They are also high on vitamin B, important for energy production (study)

Not to mention the versatility and ease of cooking eggs. Anytime, anyhow, and almost anywhere.

turkey breast

Turkey Breast

Turkey breast is a great source of protein, rich in vitamins and minerals, and is low in fat.

Compared to chicken or other similar products, turkey breast provides larger amounts of b-complex vitamins and choline, essential for muscle contraction and energy production.

As a substitute of turkey breast, chicken breast provides a similar nutritional profile, and will do the work as well as turkey breast.

whey protein

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the best protein source, as well as one of the best foods to build muscle.

Taking whey protein prior, or after the training session enhances muscle building and improves the recovery process (study).

Compared to other foods, whey protein has a very rapid digestibility and provides a very complete amino acid profile. This makes it one of the best foods to build muscle


Soy Derived Products

Edamame, tofu, tempeh, and natto have one thing in common; they all derive from soybeans.

Soy is a high quality plant-based protein source. It is calorie dense, and shows to have similar effects on muscle building to those produced by whey protein (study)



Chicken meat is affordable, and of very high quality protein. It’s easy to make, and versatile, which makes it one of the staples of bodybuilding.

Breast, legs, wings,… they all provide different protein and fat ratios. Depending on your calorie and macronutrients needs, one of those will be preferrable.



Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body, and rice is a clear example of what carbohydrates are.

Rice is a clean and popular carbohydrate source. It provides 80g carbohydrates and 7g protein per 100g of uncooked rice.

It is easy to make and goes well as a garnish to almost any plate you are making.


Lean Beef

Beef is packed with high quality protein, B vitamins, minerals, and creatine (source). The use of lean beef with training increases muscle strength and muscle mass(study)

On the shelves there are available beef products with different lean percentages. The choice will depend on your calorie and macronutrients goals.

white bread

White Bread

White bread, although is not high in nutrients, provides easy to digest calories. This, in a muscle gain phase, can come very handy, as muscle building requires of a lot of energy.

If you need calories, go for white bread. You won’t even notice you ate, and it will help you build muscle over time.



Tuna, together with salmon, are the two most consumed fish. A can of tuna is a great wat to get protein while cutting on meat.

Not only high in protein, but tuna also provides high amounts of omega-3, vitamin A, and B vitamins, important for muscle building (source)



If you want to build muscle, you need to put calories on your diet. Nuts are one of the most dense calorie foods out there.

A handful of nuts can provide 100-200 kcal, while giving you some protein and healthy fats. Nuts are also high in B-vitamins, folate, and vitamin E (source)

greek yogurt

Greek Yogurt

Dairy products are generally great options to build muscle. Greek yogurt, as a dairy product, provides very high quality protein and amino acids, as well as healthy fats.

When it comes to building muscle, Greek yogurt can be a great option. Its high in calories, and the proteins are very easy to digest (study)



Omega-3 fatty acids help you reduce inflammation, improve muscle recovery, and gain muscle strength (study)(study).

Salmon is one of the main sources of omega-3. It’s also high in protein and calories, making it a great food to build muscle.



Pasta, together with rice, is one of the most popular carbohydrate sources. It’s easy to digest, versatile, and it goes with basically anything.

This makes pasta a great choice to build muscle. Adding pasta to your diet is a healthy way of adding calories and building muscle mass.



One cup of canned chickpeas contains 15 g of protein, 45g of carbs, and 13g of fiber. This combination of healthy carbohydrates and protein is the perfect recipe to build muscle over time.

Chickpeas and other legumes are a great choice to build muscle. It is a vegan protein source high in nutrients.

olive oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the best way to add calories to your diet without increasing the food volume. As a pure fat source, it provides 9 kcal/g.

It is a very dense calorie food with healthy monounsaturated fats (study). Compared to other fats, olive oil has the best and healthiest fatty acids profile. This will help regulate your hormones and build muscle (study).


To build muscle one needs a diet high in protein and calories. The best foods to build muscle are those with a high calorie and protein profile, and readily digestible.

Chicken, lean beef, whole milk, chickpeas, and soybeans are some of the best foods to build muscle.

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