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  • Writer's picturemyegge

Top Foods for Growing and Maintaining Muscle Mass

Whether you're a professional athlete striving for peak performance or a dedicated fitness enthusiast aiming to build strength and endurance, nutrition plays a crucial role in achieving your goals. When it comes to enhancing muscle growth and maintenance for optimal sports performance, fueling your body with the right food is essential. In this detailed guide, we'll explore the top foods that can help you grow and maintain muscle mass, supporting your athletic endeavors every step of the way.

Lean Protein Sources

Protein is the cornerstone of muscle building and repair, making it essential component of any athlete's diet. Opt for lean protein sources that are low in saturated fat and rich in essential amino acids, such as:

Chicken Breast: A versatile protein source that's low in fat and high in protein, making it ideal for muscle growth and repair.

Turkey: Another lean poultry option packed with protein and nutrients like iron and zinc, crucial for muscle function.

Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Cod): Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein, fish can support muscle recovery and reduce inflammation.

Eggs: A complete protein source containing all essential amino acids, as well as vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and choline, important for muscle function.

Greek Yogurt: High in protein probiotics, Greek yogurt promotes muscle growth while supporting gut health.

Protein Supplements: Protein supplements can be a fantastic way to increase protein intake. However, it is important to note that not all proteins (or supplements) are created equal. Altius uses Thorne proteins, as they are coprised of quality ingredients and go through third-party testing to verify that what is on the label is in the container and that they are banned-substance free. Check out this protein here!

Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates serve as the primary fuel source for high-intensity exercise, providing energy to power through workouts and support muscle glycogen stores. Opt for complex carbohydrates that offer sustained energy release and essential nutrients:

Whole Grains (Brown Rice, Quinoa, Oats): Rich in fiver, vitamins, and minerals, whole grains provide long-lasting energy and support muscle recovery.

Sweet Potatoes: Packed with complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and antioxidants, sweet potatoes are an excellent choice for replenishing glycogen stores and supporting muscle function.

Beans and Legumes: High in both carbohydrates and protein, beans and legumes offer a balanced source of energy and essential nutrients for muscle growth and repair.

Healthy Fats

While protein and carbohydrates are essentials for muscle growth and energy, healthy fats play a crucial role in hormone productions, inflammation regulation, and overall health. Incorporate the following sources of healthy fats into your diet.

Avocados: Rich in monounsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals, avocado supports muscle repair and reduces inflammation.

Nuts/Seeds: (Almonds, Walnuts, Chia seeds): Packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber, nuts and seeds are nutrient-dense snacks that promote muscle recovery and satiety.

Authentic Olive Oil: A staple of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is high is high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, offering anti-inflammatory benefits and supporting overall health.

Dairy Products

Dairy products are rich in calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients that support muscle growth, bone health, and overall athletic performance. Incorporate the following dairy options in your diet:

Milk: A complete source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, milk supports muscle repair, bone health, and recovery post-exercise.

Cheese: High in protein and calcium, cheese provides essential nutrients for muscle growth and strength.

Cottage Cheese: Packed with casein protein, cottage cheese is an excellent option for promoting muscle recovery and preventing muscle breakdown overnight.


In addition to solid foods, proper hydration is essential for optimal muscle function, performance, and recovery. Water is critical for numerous physiological processes within the body, including nutrient transport, temperature regulation, waste removal. Aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day, especially before, during and after exercise, to support muscle function and overall hydration status. Some general guidelines for fluid intake:

  • Minimum daily hydration: 1 ounce for every 2 pounds bodyweight.

  • During exercise/activity: 4-8 ounces of fluid for every 15-20 minutes of activity, though these ranges can vary based on temperature.

Fueling your body with the right combination of nutrient-dense foods is essential for growing and maintaining muscle mass, supporting sports performance, and achieving your athletic goals. By incorporating lean protein sources, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, dairy products, and staying adequately hydrated, you can optimize muscle growth, recovery, and overall athletic performance. Remember to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to tailor your diet to your specific needs and goals, ensuring you're getting the optimal nutrition to fuel your success on and off the field.


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