So, you want to build lean muscle mass? This involves two things: hitting the gym and lifting some free weights as well as making sure to eat more food. If either one of these components of the equation is missing, you simply won’t see the results that you are hoping for. This said, when looking at the food component specifically, one critical element is getting some muscle building protein in. It’s with this protein that you will maintain strength for those workout sessions and are able to quickly repair the damage that is created to the muscles after each and every workout that you do.
But, which protein sources are best? Which meat will help you pack on muscle the fastest? Let’s go over some of the top picks for muscle building meats so that you know which ones you should be focusing on.
Topping the list is grass-fed steak. Steak is an excellent source of protein that’s slower to digest so will keep protein synthesis elevated for hours to come after you eat it. Grass fed steak is also going to contain some healthy fats, including CLA which can help enhance your body composition, assisting you with getting leaner as you build muscle. Steak also provides a rich source of zinc as well as iron — two minerals that are important for keeping your energy levels up for those intense workouts that you have planned.
While there will be some saturated fat in grass fed steak, not to fear. If you do purchase the grass-fed variety, this saturated fat may be slightly less than other varieties and can actually help keep your testosterone levels higher, which will then favour greater overall muscle growth. So, if you have a craving for red meat, give in to it. Just be sure that you choose the grass-fed variety.
Alternatively, another great red meat variety to consider eating if you can get a hold of it is bison. While not as readily available as regular steak, bison is an extremely lean source of protein and will work well with any muscle-building program. For a 100 gram serving, bison comes in at just 2.42 grams of fat, which is almost as lean as chicken, which offers 2 grams of fat for the same serving size. This can make bison a great option for eating around the workout period as well since you want to keep your total fat intake lower.
Bison is also low in cholesterol, containing less cholesterol than chicken as well as beef, but yet also offering more iron than both. Bison will provide you with a rich source of vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, along with vitamin B6 as well, helping you meet your daily quota for micronutrients.
Learn Sports Nutrition
Delve into the complex world of sports nutrition and discover how to fuel the body from the inside out.
The next meat option is turkey breast, which many of us tend to consume around the major holidays and that’s it. It’s time, however, to make turkey a more regular part of your diet plan. The nice thing about turkey is that you can make a large turkey one lazy weekend and be eating leftovers for days to come. This can help make meal prep easy.
Turkey, provided you do choose the white meat, will contain less fat than all the red meat varieties and is on par with that of chicken. As such, it’s nearly 100% pure protein. If you opt for the red meat of turkey, you will take in more fat. However, do note that this meat does tend to be higher in minerals including iron, zinc, as well as folate. The one thing that you do want to do however is avoid turkey that has the skin still on it. The skin will be nearly all fat content without much nutritional value, so removing this is important if you want to keep health in mind. Likewise, avoid serving turkey with gravy as well, which is another source of fat that you don’t want.
→ RELATED READING:
- How to Replenish Electrolytes With a Homemade Electrolyte Drink
- Active Recovery Workouts: How to Optimise Your Rest Days
Chicken is a common go-to for many of those seeking muscle mass gains and for good reason. It’s lean, it’s highly versatile, and it’s relatively cost effective as well. Chicken breast is one of the leanest meat varieties that you can buy so it should be a staple in your overall diet program. Just like with turkey, you will want to lean towards consuming chicken breast over chicken thigh, which is higher in the dietary fat that you likely do not want to be taking in.
Chicken should also have the skin removed in order to minimise the dietary fat content and should be grilled, broiled, or baked without butter to keep the nutritional benefits intact. Purchasing free range chicken is typically your best bet because this variety will have a healthier source of fat. As most people are currently taking in too many omega-6 fatty acids (which can be found in grain fed chicken) and not enough omega-3s, choosing grass fed is important.
Want to learn more?
So, there you have a closer look at the top meat choices that you should consider if your goal is to build lean muscle mass. Remember that none of these meat options will be considered healthy if not prepared using lower calorie, lower fat cooking techniques, so be sure that you're taking how you make your meals into account. Most meat tastes great grilled, and for keeping fat and calorie content down, it’s one of the best options. Join Shaw Academy's top-rated online Sports and Exercise Nutrition course today and broaden your knowledge of muscle gain and exercise nutrition.