To add more mass, try adding these underrated foods to your plate.
By Team Iron Man
If putting on muscle were simply a matter of eating a lot, there would be a lot more jacked guys and a lot fewer fat guys. The journey of adding muscle is fraught with obstacles, especially when it comes to nutrition. While you’re probably overly familiar with chicken breast, tilapia, and ground turkey, we’ve compiled a list that includes some undercover muscle-building foods. These novel foods are esoteric in nature, providing valuable nutrients either not typically found together in such abundance or are highly specific in their muscle-building properties and favorable effects on the body. These won’t build muscle on their own, but if you have your macronutrient bases covered, they can help speed the journey to a bigger, stronger you.
These seeds are actually a complete protein, a significant source of chlorophyll and fiber and contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Whole hemp seeds contain albumin and edestin (both proteins, the latter found only in hemp seeds), which quickly get to starving muscles. Hemp seeds also contain fiber and minerals, most notably zinc for your immune system and phosphorus and magnesium for bone health.
A 2009 study published in the journal Nutrition brought to light the anti-catabolic powers of this spice, noting that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) may enhance recovery of damaged muscle tissue. As if that’s not reason enough to consume it, consider that turmeric is a potent antioxidant, aids in fat metabolism, works as an anti-inflammatory, and is a powerhouse when it comes to reducing the risk of many types of cancers. A study done at Kansas State University found that seasoning meat with turmeric reduces heterocyclic amines (cancer-causing chemicals that form in foods cooked at high temps) by up to 40 percent.
This fruit seed contains all eight essential amino acids. It also gets points in the areas of immune health with its antioxidant content; improved digestion and hunger management thanks to its high fiber level; and blood glucose management due to a compound called d-chiro-inositol (a natural metabolite that is part of the vitamin B family), which increases insulin sensitivity. Several studies have shown that buckwheat, which is gluten-free, effectively slows the rate of sarcopenia, which is the natural age-related decline of muscle strength and mass.
Want a better pump? Beets are also one of the richest sources of those same nitrates found in spinach that benefit mitochondria. A study published in the European Journal Of Applied Physiology showed an increase of skeletal muscle protein synthesis with the supplementation of betaine, a chemical compound so named because it was originally discovered in sugar beets. Another benefit is its detoxifying effect: Beet consumption has shown to improve liver function. Beet juice also contains vitamin C, iron, potassium, and copper.
A study published in the British Medical Journal reported that the consumption of cocoa increases nitric oxide production, while another study confirmed that its rich flavanol content is responsible for these impressive effects. Vasodilation occurs through an increase in nitric oxide stimulated by the flavanols, carrying more oxygen to your muscles to provide a bigger pump during training. A third study found that a specific phenol, called epicatechins, helps reverse muscle wasting. Cocoa’s impressive antioxidant content, as well as its ability to reduce inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity, should seal the deal.