5 High Protein Foods to Eat for Muscle Growth

Food is quite literally our life energy source, think of it like high octane gas that fuels our brain and body. Eating specific foods may help when looking for muscle growth to occur. Our brain needs about 130 grams a day of carbohydrate to function optimally. It’s important for any nutrition plan to include all the major macronutrients and micronutrients. Our body also need amino acid-rich sources of protein for muscle growth to take place. Amino acids are considered the building blocks that eventually help form proteins. Almost all foods contain some source of protein. Amino acids are important because they play a big role in protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.

There are 20 different amino acids that are grouped together making up three separate categories. The body makes 12 of these amino acids and we get the other 8 from food we eat. The cool thing is our body produces thousands of different proteins using just these 20 amino acids. Amazing!

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Non-essential amino acids do not need to be included in the diet. Nine out of the 20 amino acids are essential, but adults only need to obtain eight of them: valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan. The ninth amino acid, histidine, is only essential for infants. Your body doesn’t store amino acids, so it needs a regular daily supply of these essential building blocks.

Essential Amino Acids

Essential amino acids need to be included in the diet. There are handful of amino acids as you know but the one I’m going to mention here is leucine. “This amino acid directly contributes to muscle protein synthesis. It affects the ability to recover from both stress and exercise. Leucine facilitates cell growth as well as the formation of sterols which are used in the process of forming hormones like estrogen and testosterone.” Make sure the amino acid, leucine, is also in that whey protein shake you drink post workout. This will improve your chances for muscle growth. Research has shown just 1.5 grams of leucine can provide adequate stimulation for muscle protein synthesis. Other research has shown that 3 grams of leucine alone stimulates protein synthesis in young men.

Conditional Essential Amino Acids

You usually hear about essential and non-essential amino acids only. Conditional essential includes 8 amino acids that are specifically needed in the body under certain conditions like stress, exercise, aging, etc.

Some of the Best Protein Sources for Muscle Growth

1. Beef, Pork, Wild Game (especially if it’s grass-fed)

2. Poultry (i.e. chicken, turkey)

3. Eggs (the yolk contains most of the nutrients; also 185 mg cholesterol)

4. Fish & Seafood

5. Dairy (i.e. cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt)

**Additional food sources like Tempeh, Tofu, Beans, and Nuts.

A few healthy food high in protein. Meat, fish, dairy products, nuts and beans

Did You Know…

Did you know that foods like broccoli (3 grams), baked potato (4 grams), avocado (4 grams), and a cup of quinoa (5 grams) also contain adequate amounts of protein. Add these healthy food options as “sides” with the main course mentioned above. They will also help meet your daily protein requirements to ensure muscle growth.

Great Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Stew (bonus recipe, contains 38 grams of protein)

What you’ll need to turn this into your dinner for tonight:

Canola oil (2 Tbsp)
Cubed lamb stew meat (2 lbs.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
One (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef broth

How to Make It:
1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the lamb, season well with salt and pepper, and cook until well browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, and cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas, apricots, green olives, tomatoes (with their juices), reserved lamb, and beef broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lamb is very tender, 60 to 90 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Feeds 6

Nutrition per serving: 495 calories, 38g protein, 46g carbs, 10 g fiber, 16g fat (Credit: Paul Kita, Men’s Health Magazine)

How Much Protein Do I Really Need?

The average, healthy adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram per body weight. BUT, if your strength training and want to add muscle mass, that number needs to increase. According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a more optimal protein intake “is 1.2 – 1.7 grams of protein per kg of body mass.” These recommendations were published by Precision Nutrition, found in The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, 3rd edition pp. 216. They offer a great online nutrition certification course BTW, I actually took it a few years ago. One other organization, the International Society of Sports Nutrition, uses 1.4 – 2.0 grams of protein per kg of body mass as their guideline.

Questions for you. What do you consider the best choice for protein intake? How much protein are you taking in on a daily basis? For muscle growth to actually occur, sufficient protein requirements need to be met. Also important are adequate training stimulus and plenty of recovery (between workouts and sleep). Think of it as a three pronged approach. Enjoy! Eat Well.

Stay Strong in 2022 with the Award-winning Jefit App

Millions of members (9.7 million to be exact) are having great success using the Jefit app. Check out some of his amazing instagram posts. Jefit is a fitness app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Looking to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain this Year? …Start Now

We all know the upcoming holiday season can be a time to fall into “relax mode” with respect to our exercise and diet routines. Change things up a bit for this new year. Start to get into your pre-holiday routine now by watching your caloric intake and begin adding in more movement throughout the day. Don’t use the excuse of busy schedules, attending parties and traveling, be the culprit this time around. This is your year to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain.

Our first step is to become mindful in respect to individual triggers during holiday events or family gatherings. It has been reported that the average person will consume an extra 619 calories a day during the Holiday season which figures out to about a five-pound weight gain over the holiday season! If you got off on the wrong foot with Thanksgiving, there is no better time to get back on track and re-focus. 

The average person has the potential to consume 4500 calories or more coupled with 200 grams of fat (that equates to 1800 calories alone from fat) over the course of a typical Thanksgiving day. Be aware that those numbers increase for Christmas day!

Avoid the Weight Gain with These Tips

Reports have shown that it doesn’t get easier a month later when the “average person eats more than 7,000 calories over the course of a typical Christmas day. Research carried out by Associated British Foods came to that conclusion. That’s more than three times the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily caloric intake.”

Try the tips below if you feel like your a bit off course and have been eating too much and not moving enough; get a jump on it now by trying a few of the following:

  • Increase the volume or intensity of your daily exercise (both strength training and cardio).
  • Wear a pedometer and work on increasing your daily steps over the course of the next 30 days. Add an additional 500-1000 steps to your weekly step count.
  • Get out of the house for a quick 15-minute walk each night following dinner during this Holiday season.
  • Watch the extra (empty) calories from soda, juices, alcohol, etc. Try adding a glass of water in between drinks – if possible, avoid alcohol. The average person consumes an additional 450 calories a day through drinking soda, sports drinks and alcohol.
  • Avoid any late night snacking.
  • Reduce your added sugar for the Holiday season.
  • Start each morning off with 16-ounces of water (before your morning coffee).
  • Try daily meditation (10-minutes/day with the Headspace app).

During this holiday season, think of exercise as a way to prevent weight gain. If you’re looking to lose weight, the key is to increase your activity level above and beyond what you’re currently doing. In addition, be more mindful of your caloric intake, especially a few hours after dinner. Happy Holidays!

Try Jefit App for the New Year

Try the best strength training tracking app on the market today. It continues to win many awards in 2022 for best app as it has done in previous years. Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Try These Nutritious Breakfast Options to Energize Your Workout

Let’s face it, we really are what we eat. We’re all aware of how important it is to properly fuel our body for sustained energy throughout the day. A nutritious breakfast or first meal is critical to this way of thinking. Choosing healthy food options can do wonders for both our mind and body. When used optimally, meaning, food quantity and meal timing, food fuels our brain and muscles like nothing else. No meal is more important, however, than that first meal of the day. This is your first food option in the morning or at noon if you’re into intermittent fasting (IF). How you initially fuel your body after waking, from a fasted state, will set the tone for the rest of the day.

You may have been like me in the past where you were focused on consuming food every 3-4 hours. It may have been important to eat healthy and often to build lean muscle and/or maintain blood sugar levels. As the body ages, eating habits may, however, change. Some people have a tendency to change eating habits, spacing their meal frequency further apart. Not eating for longer periods of time (12+ hours) has been shown through research to be a positive change. The body uses a combination of macronutrients to fuel the brain (carbs) and body (carbohydrates, fats and some protein). Not eating for longer periods of time will adjust the ratio of how the body utilizes carbohydrates and fats for fuel. A higher percentage of stored fat (instead of more carbs) typically get used when doing IF.

What Are Macronutrients and Micronutrients?

Macronutrients are large molecules that our bodies need to function optimally. The big three are carbohydrates, fats and protein. Water and fiber are also considered macronutrients. Conversely, micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, are molecules that we need but in much smaller quantities. Both are very important and all are needed to help your human body function properly.

The authors actual breakfast this morning (you guessed it, oatmeal)

Nutritious Breakfast Options

Eating eggs or egg whites in the morning may be your thing. Maybe its cold cereal or a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana. All, other than the cold cereal, are healthy, nutritious breakfast options. A combination of macronutrients in a breakfast or snack are important to fuel the body for long periods of time. One key macronutrient is fiber. Many breakfast options, like cold cereal, have minimal or no fiber. Eating fiber helps with gut health, it keeps us feeling satiated and will help reduce the sugar and fat cravings.

A healthy, nutritious breakfast option to give a try is oatmeal. Where not talking instant oat meal out of a package either. Try the type that you cook on the stove (for 5-minutes). It’s loaded with all the macronutrients including fiber. You can add things like nuts and fruit that will increase total calories but also the amount of fiber and protein. The following is a calorie breakdown of a typical bowl of oatmeal that I typically eat. Following that, are additional add-ons like fruit and nuts.

Old Fashion Oats Calorie Breakdown

Food Calories/Macronutrients
1 Cup Oatmeal150 calories/27 grams CHO/4 grams Fiber/5 grams Protein
1 Cup Almond Milk40 calories/1.5 grams CHO/3.5 g Fat/1.5 g Protein
1/2 Cup Walnuts392 calories/8 grams CHO/39 grams Fat/4 grams Fiber/9 grams of Protein
1/2 Banana45 calories/11 grams CHO/1 gram Protein/6 grams natural sugar
1/2 Cup Blueberries41 calories/10.5 grams CHO/1.7 grams Fiber/0.54 grams Protein/7 grams natural sugar
TOTAL668 calories/58 grams CHO/9.7 grams Fiber/17 grams Protein

There is sugar in this breakfast option, yes, but it’s natural occurring sugar found in fruit, as opposed to added sugar. Most of the fat comes from the walnuts, this can be optional, keep in mind their a healthy source of fat. To add a little more protein, substitute the walnuts with almonds. The big takeaway though – it contains about 10 grams of healthy fiber and 17 grams of protein. Bonus, adding in a scoop of healthy peanut butter (like this morning) will bring that protein number to 24 grams. Eat healthy, fuel up for your day and workout with smart, nutritious food choices like the ones mentioned here.

A Second Quick Option

When you don’t have the time in the morning to cook your breakfast, try this quick nutritious breakfast option. All you need is a blender and a few ingredients. Add 1-2 cups of almond milk, a scoop of whey protein powder, a banana or other fruit, nuts and sprinkle in some cinnamon and turmeric. This is a perfect high protein drink that will help you start your day off right. It also works as a pre/post workout option. You can go crazy and add the oatmeal to the mix.

Use the Jefit App

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC Magazine, Men’s Health, The Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle. Stay strong with Jefit!

Are Protein Supplements Really Worth Your Money?

Are the protein supplements you take post workout even worth your money? More importantly, are they helping you build muscle? Let’s take a look.

For the human body to build muscle, the body must be in what is known as an anabolic state. If this is not the case, muscle growth will simply not occur. In very basic terms, anabolism requires energy to grow and build while catabolism uses energy to break down. Hormones also play a vital role in both processes. Specific hormones associated with the process of anabolism are growth hormone, insulin, and testosterone, to name a few. There are other hormones like cortisol (known as the stress hormone) and glucagon that are associated with the process of catabolism. When it comes to bodybuilding, think of anabolism as the building up of muscle tissue while catabolism is the breaking down of muscle tissue.

Right from that last sentence you can see if you are putting in all this energy and time to build muscle mass, you DON’T WANT TO BE IN A CATABOLIC STATE, yet many people are. Too much cardio, inadequate protein intake, lack of sleep or recovery, and elevated stress, keeps the body in a catabolic state. To give the body the best chance for muscle growth to occur, the body must be kept in an anabolic state. For this to happen, you need a sufficient training stimulus, surplus of calories (especially protein), less cardio and stress, and plenty of sleep.

Are You Getting All Your Amino Acids?

Amino acids are basically building blocks that help (synthesize) form protein. There are actually hundreds of amino acids but only 20 appear in the genetic code. Of these 20 amino acids, 12 are considered non-essential while 8 are designated as essential, meaning they need to be supplied in the diet. One essential amino acid to keep an eye on is leucine. Again, the body does not produce this so it must come from the diet. Another way to ensure you get adequate leucine is through daily nutrition and protein supplementation. A protein supplement, with 2-5 grams of leucine, taken post workout will help your muscle building cause. Leucine, is a branch chain amino acid, that is responsible for “triggering” protein synthesis.

Protein Needs in the Diet

An average adult may need only 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight but anyone involved in strength training needs more. But how much more? That honestly depends on a litany of things like, training, age, gender, body size etc. Research shows that protein intake to promote muscle growth needs to be more in the area of 1.2 to 1.9 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

“Even the American Dietetic Association, Dietician’s of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine state that protein intake must be > 1.6 grams per kg/day for gains in muscle mass.”

Journal Strength & Conditioning (2007).

Importance of Nutrient Timing During Strength Training

There has always been what’s considered a “window” for protein intake post workout to optimize results. The optimal window was considered to be 45 minutes to 1 hour post workout. Research has since shown this is not necessarily true. Research reported taking a protein supplement 3 hours versus 1 hour post workout showed no difference. As long as you’re getting some of your daily protein in during pre and post workout you’ll be good. In addition, it would be beneficial to take it a minimum of 25-30 grams of protein with each meal. Some people may need to add in an additional small meal in order to meet their daily protein requirement.

This article, along with suggested research, is favorable towards protein supplementation in order to optimize protein synthesis and promote gains in muscle mass. With any increase of protein should come an intake of water to prevent any possible long-term issues associated with your kidneys. Adequate protein is important, yes, but other key components include adequate training stimulus, challenging enough for adaptation to take place, and of course plenty of healthy calories and ample recovery between bouts of exercise. Finally, muscle growth occurs away from the gym. Getting enough sleep is vital, so make sure you get plenty of it. Good luck. Stay Strong!

The Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.