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What Foods Should I Eat to Get Bigger Muscles?

by Kelli Cooper

About Kelli Cooper

Kelli Cooper has been a writer since 2009, specializing in health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University and is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.


Increasing muscle mass requires a firm commitment to diet and exercise. Your body uses the nutrients in food for myriad functions, including building muscle. Fitness experts have identified certain foods as being particularly helpful for building muscle and adding them to your diet can help in your body-shaping efforts.

Animal Proteins

Protein foods are one of the most vital components of a muscle building diet; they contain amino acids, the building blocks of protein that play a crucial role in muscle formation. Your body cannot produce all of them on its own and can only acquire some through your diet diet. Animal foods represent optimal sources as they contain all of these amino acids in the proper proportion. You want to choose the right foods, however as many animal proteins have large amounts of saturated fat. Egg whites, lean cuts of red meat, skinless chicken and turkey breast, fish and low-fat or fat-free dairy are ideal. Try to include these foods at every meal to optimize muscle growth.

Healthy Fats

You need adequate amounts of healthy fat, which influences hormonal processes necessary for muscle growth. Rich sources of healthy fats include olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, fatty fish that includes salmon and tuna, avocados, flax seed and hemp seed.

Complex Carbohydrates

WomensFitness.net, a website that provides content by doctors, personal trainers and other health professionals, recommends eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates to build muscle. Complex carbohydrates break down slowly, providing your body with a steady supply of glucose, your body’s main form of energy. Giving your muscles the glucose they need to function will support you during intense strength-training sessions. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include whole grains and legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, navy beans and lima beans.


While you might not think about vegetables when it comes to building muscle, they can help in many ways. They provide a rich source of antioxidants, which can reduce free radical damage that interferes with muscle growth. Eating large amounts of protein and other foods touted for building muscle can create too much acid in the body, which can negatively impact muscle mass; eating vegetables, which have a more alkaline profile, can counteract this potential damage. All kinds of vegetables will prove beneficial, but WomensFitness particularly recommends allium vegetables, including garlic, onions, chives and scallions.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.