Six Foods to Build Muscle Size and Strength

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Protein is a critical nutrient for building muscle. Experts agree that you should consume it post-workout to ensure that your muscles have what they need to rebuild and become larger and stronger.

The general rule of thumb is to consume approximately 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes after a workout. That's why most protein powders deliver just over 20 grams per scoop. For an additional muscle-building boost, follow the two-hour protein rule, which calls for a second 20-gram dose of protein two hours later.

Many foods are rich in protein, including lean meats, dairy, nuts and soy products. Below are six STACK-recommended items [with their servings sizes] that deliver around 20 grams of protein.

After practice or a game, you need a quick snack to supply your body with recovery-enhancing protein. Whether in the form of a pre-made beverage, protein bar or healthy snack, these high quality protein options are ideal for consumption after intense activity.

Gatorade Recover 03: Contains a mixture of protein, carbs and electrolytes that fuel recovery and promote increased muscle size and strength

  • Serving size: One bottle
  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 14g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Protein: 16g

EAS Strength Formula Nutrition Bar: Great for providing a quick burst of protein and energy

  • Serving size: One bar
  • Calories: 280
  • Carbs: 35g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Protein: 25g

Jack Link's Beef Jerky:
High in sodium, an electrolyte required to maintain fluid balance

  • Serving size: 1 oz.
  • Calories: 80
  • Carbs: 3g
  • Fat: 1g
  • Protein: 15g


While protein-rich snacks and supplements are valuable sources of amino acids, it's best not to rely on them exclusively. Be sure to add meat, fish or beans to a lunch or dinner for a quality source of protein and other nutrients needed for a well-balanced diet.

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast: Baked or roasted chicken breast is a nearly pure source of protein, with only a few grams of fat

  • Serving size: Half a breast
  • Calories: 142
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Fat: 3g
  • Protein: 27g

Salmon: Has a large dose of healthy fats to prevent breakdown of muscle protein

  • Serving size: 1/4 of a fillet
  • Calories: 177
  • Carbs: 0g
  • Fat: 10.5g
  • Protein: 19.5g

Black Beans: This energy-dense food has virtually no fat and is an excellent source of fiber, which aids in digestion

  • Serving size: 1 1/3 cup
  • Calories: 303
  • Carbs: 55g
  • Fat: 1g
  • Protein: 20g

Looking for more guidance in putting together a nutrition plan? Our Meal Plan Guide is full of sample menus and dishes, geared towards your own, specific goals.


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