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If you’re fed up with chewing on chicken, struggling through plates of egg whites, and necking disgusting protein shakes, it’s time to revamp your diet with some alternative muscle-building foods.

Your typical bodybuilding style diet revolves around a limited number of foods –

Tuna, egg whites, protein shakes, chicken, perhaps the odd bit of steak, oats, rice, sweet potatoes, and a few veggies here and there – that’s pretty much it. The trouble with this, while these foods can no doubt be used to build muscle, is that it becomes extremely repetitive and boring to eat the same foods day in, day out.

What if there was another way?

Great news – there is!

Building muscle comes down to 4 things:

  1. Getting adequate calories
  2. Consuming adequate protein to maximize muscle protein synthesis (around 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body-weight)
  3. Eating enough carbs to fuel workouts and drive recovery
  4. Ensuring your fat intake is high enough for optimal muscle-building hormone production.

Provided you meet these four guidelines, any food can be considered a muscle building one.

That being said, muscle-building foods are specifically judged to be those that are relatively high in calories (as you need an excess of calories to bulk up) as well as containing some protein, and being relatively natural.

That’s not to say low protein foods and processed foods can’t be part of your diet, they should just be the minority, not the majority.

As so many people prioritize protein-based foods in a bulking plan, let’s take a look at alternative protein sources first. We’re stepping away from your grilled chicken breast, cottage cheese and post-workout shakes, and venturing into the unknown –

1. Salmon

While often touted for its high content of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, salmon rarely makes it into a list of top bodybuilding foods.

Salmon, however, is awesome.

With a protein content that rivals chicken breast, and more calories and healthy fats, salmon should be in any wannabe musclehead’s diet. If you have more time on your hands, bake or stir fry a salmon fillet, or buy the tinned stuff as a change from tuna.

2. Edamame Beans

The notion that soy is detrimental to muscle gains is a false one.  Research has even shown that soy may even have a positive impact on muscle mass.

Edamame beans are soy in its natural form, and at 17 grams of protein per cup, it’s worth thinking about them for a snack, or as an addition to oriental dishes, alongside meat-based protein, such as in a chicken or prawn stir fry.

3. Kangaroo

Kangaroo certainly fits the bill of alternative, but it’s worth tracking some down either at a local butchers, farmers market, or even online. 

Kangaroo is extremely lean (around the same as pork tenderloin) meaning it can easily fit into your diet.

Like beef, you can buy it in steak form, or ground or minced, ready to be used in pasta dishes, chillies, or even formed into homemade roo burgers.

4. Quark

It may sound like some sort of weird offshoot between a dog’s bark and a duck’s quack, but quark is a muscle-building superfood.

Quark is a soft cheese that can be used in sweet or savoury dishes. Its nutritional profile isn't too dissimilar to cottage cheese, but it’s a bit higher in protein and lower in carbs.

Use it on bagels, in salad dressings, or try out a protein cheesecake.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • "Soy-Dairy Protein Blend Increases Muscle Mass, Study Shows"
  • Mindmap by
  • Photo courtesy of spilltojill by Flickr :

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