Having a higher percentage of lean muscle mass has many advantages, it not only accentuates the physique and ultimately boosts self-confidence, Some health benefits such as strengthening the joints, alleviating chronic pain, increase overall metabolic rate and preventing chronic illnesses.
As it has always been cited, building lean muscles and getting rid of excess fat boils down to the 70 : 30 rule, where 70% comes from diet and 30% comes from exercise.
Consuming foods that are have high complete protein content will be beneficial. Complete proteins basically consist of the full range of 9 essential amino acids which the body cannot produce on its own. All animal based foods contain complete protein profiles, which also includes dairy and eggs. A big portion of plant-based foods, however, consist incomplete proteins. They include wholegrains, nuts, seeds, spinach, mushrooms. Soy, quinoa, buckwheat, are the few plant based foods which contains complete proteins.
Here are top 8, everyday foods that can aid us in our lean muscle building journey.
Eggs are rich in complete protein, heart healthy fats and vitamins. 1 large egg consist of about 6 grams of protein and low in calories. For a healthy individual, 2 whole eggs a day is recommended, but to further tap on this rich protein source but limit the cholesterol intake, you can further consume more by removing the egg yolks and eat the whites instead.
Eggs are also rich in a particular essential amino acid called leucine, which is touted to be beneficial for muscle recovery.
2) Chicken Breast
These slabs of white meat are not only packed with clean protein, they are almost fat free and low in calories.
When consuming chicken breast meat, avoid deep frying and consider healthier cooking methods such as steaming or lightly stir frying. Also, try to avoid the skin.
Salmon can be considered a superfood as it not only is rich in protein content, the omega 3 fatty acid is good for the heart and may help you achieve quality sleep.
A study found that Omega 3 Fatty acid also help enhance the body’s insulin sensitivity, which in turn reduces the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas. This reduction of insulin helps in decreasing fat storage in the body.
Soy bean is a very good choice, especially for vegetarians, as it contains complete proteins. It is a versatile food source as it can be used to produce toufu, soybean beverage, bean curds etc.
5) Greek Yoghurt
Greek yoghurt contains a combination of rapid digesting whey protein and slow absorbing casein protein. This ensures that the body is consistently fuelled with protein that can aid in post workout recovery and lean muscle growth.
It is important to avoid overly processed yoghurt that has a combination of artificial flavourings and sugar.
6) Turkey Breast
Similar to chicken breast, they are rich in protein but virtually no fat or carbs.
It is also high in B vitamins which helps the body better process it’s fats and carbohydrates, and enable the proper functioning of the body when exercising.
It also contains zinc, which helps in protein synthesis.
This is one of the few plant based foods that contain all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source.
It also contains the right amounts of carbohydrates for energy production and fibre for a healthy gut and weight management.
8) Protein Powder
Protein powders are great go to supplements when you need a boost in protein intake. Dairy based protein such as whey (concentrate, isolate or hydrolysed) and casein protein are the most popular in the market. These protein supplements can bolster your daily protein requirements significantly.
There are also plant and animal based protein sold in the market.
Daily Recommended Protein intake
The recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein intake of an average adult hovers at around 0.8g/kg of body weight daily.
For weightlifters or bodybuilders who seek to build and maintain muscle mass should have a protein intake of 1.5 to 2.2 g/kg of body weight per day (5). For a 70kg individual, it would add up to 140 grams of protein a day, which is equivalent to 2.5 chicken breasts.
Endurance athletes (running, swimming etc.) should consume about 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg per body weight of protein daily. For a 70kg individual, it would add up to 91 grams of protein a day, which is equivalent to slightly less than 2 chicken breasts.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)
By : Alvin Ho
B (Eng), MBA, Certified Allied Healthcare/Fitness Professional (EIMS), Master Fitness Trainer / Fitness Nutrition, Resistance & Endurance Training Specialist (NFPT)