26 Foods That Help You Build Lean Muscle

11. Tilapia

Although it doesn’t have as much omega-3 fatty acids as salmon, tilapia is another protein-packed seafood item.

A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving provides around 21 grams of protein, along with good amounts of vitamin B12 and selenium (31).

Vitamin B12 is important for the health of your blood cells and nerves, which allows you to perform the exercise you need in order to gain muscle (32).

12. Beans

Many different varieties of beans can be part of a diet for lean muscle gain.

Popular varieties, such as black, pinto and kidney beans, contain around 15 grams of protein per cup (about 172 grams) of cooked beans (33, 34, 35).

What’s more, they are excellent sources of fiber and B vitamins, in addition to being high in magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

For these reasons, beans are a good source of plant-based protein to add to your diet.

What’s more, they may play a role in long-term health and disease prevention .

13. Protein Powders

While any good diet should focus on whole foods, there are times when dietary supplements can be beneficial (37).

If you struggle to get enough protein from foods alone, you could consider adding protein shakes to your daily routine.

Dairy protein powders, such as whey and casein, are some of the most popular.

However, there are other options too. Some protein powders use soy, pea, beef or chicken protein.

You can find a variety of protein powders online.

14. Edamame

Edamame is the term for immature soybeans. These developing beans are found in pods and served in a variety of dishes, particularly those of Asian origin.

One cup (155 grams) of frozen edamame provides around 17 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. It also contains large amounts of folate, vitamin K and manganese (38).

Among other functions, folate helps your body process amino acids, the building blocks of protein (39).

In fact, folate may be important for optimal muscle mass and strength, particularly in the elderly (40).

15. Quinoa

While protein-rich foods are a priority for building lean muscle, it’s also important to have the fuel to get active.

Foods with carbohydrates can help provide this energy (41).

Cooked quinoa contains about 40 grams of carbs per cup (185 grams), along with 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and hearty amounts of magnesium and phosphorus (42).

Magnesium plays an important role in the function of your muscles and nerves, both of which are used every time you move (43).