Mention muscular performance and many of us still conjure up images of Arnold Schwarzenegger during his first career as a bodybuilder. While such figures remain iconic, our current understanding of muscle wellness shows that nutrition plays an equally crucial role as exercise.
Superfoods are one such source of essential nutrients, offering a foundation to support muscle health and ensure optimal nutrition for both intensive training and recovery phases. In this guide, we’ll show you the top eight dietitian-backed superfoods to support healthy muscular performance, helping you navigate the path to a well-rounded fitness routine.
Top 8 Superfoods for Muscle Health
Superfoods have become a bit of a buzzword for anyone interested in nutrition and improving the quality of their diet. Fitness experts believe that there is not one single food that beats all others, but some foods pack a bigger punch than their peers. Here is a closer look at those superfoods, according to a dietitian.
Yes, our list starts with a vegetable! Beetroot is not only a great source of vitamin C, iron, and fiber. Its biggest benefit for bodybuilders and others looking to support muscle health is the number of dietary nitrates it contains. They are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which may support exercise performance and reduce inflammation. Both of these processes play essential roles in achieving muscular goals.
Mushrooms for muscle maintenance? Cordyceps may not be the most intuitive ingredient you would reach for when prioritizing muscle strength, but this mushroom has proven to be a powerful ally in adjusting to high-intensity exercise. It is a mainstay in Chinese medicine, where it is usually ground into a powder. Besides supporting athletic performance, cordyceps may also prevent and reduce oxidative stress during your workout and aid with sleep quality.
3. Spinach and Kale
Ever since Popeye became a household name, spinach has been associated with strength and fitness. But spinach is not the only leafy green vegetable that supports muscle functionality. Kale is another superfood that offers promising effects; both are full of iron and high-quality protein.
Kale's vitamin K content may also help fight inflammation, which protects your joints and other tissues from injury. Kale and spinach are excellent ingredients in healthy salads; you can blend them to make a delicious green juice, or you can try them in some greens powder blends.
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like wild salmon have long been a favorite with anyone looking to support muscular performance. Fish supplies your body with complete proteins and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, crucial components of a healthy diet.
As one of the best-known healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids can assist in muscle fitness. Recent studies found that regular supplementation of these fats could limit the loss of healthy muscle mass. Eating fish regularly is the simplest way of accessing these good fats. However, if you prefer, you can also get your fish oil from supplements.
Beef may not be a regular on lists of superfoods, but it would be hard to talk about muscle health without mentioning lean meat. Why beef? Because it is rich in creatine and delivers high-quality protein. Beef also contains anti-inflammatory fatty acids that may support your recovery.
Plus, beef contains vitamins and minerals like B12, iron, and magnesium, all of which are critical to natural muscle function, but anyone avoiding red meat may prefer other sources.
6. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is another great source of protein for anyone looking to aid muscle fitness. Apart from containing this macronutrient, it is an excellent source of calcium, which contributes to bone health and muscle strength. Yogurt also provides your body with probiotics for digestive health and B vitamins, a group of nutrients that assist with red blood cell production.
7. Nine Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. While our bodies need 20 different varieties to function optimally, some are considered indispensable. These nine essential amino acids contribute to our overall health, including supporting muscular function. What sets these vital nutrients apart even more is that they cannot be created from other amino acids in our bodies. As a result, we need to source them through our diet. Soy protein and animal protein are excellent sources of all nine amino acids.
No list of superfoods for muscle maintenance would be complete without seeds, such as chia and sesame seeds. According to research, chia seeds have been shown to have potent antioxidant properties while helping to decrease inflammation. Although they seem small, their omega-3 fatty acids and high fiber content make them one of your best friends when it comes to supporting muscular performance.
Why You Should Optimize Your Diet with Superfoods for Muscle Health
Lean muscle mass is not only built in the gym. Targeted training and gradual overloading of your muscles indeed increase their size. However, a muscle can only grow if you are adequately fueling its growth and allowing it adequate time to recover.
Over the past few decades, bodybuilders and scientists have moved on from the Arnold Schwarzenegger diet of the past. In fact, even the great man himself has transitioned to a mostly vegan diet. Protein shakes and protein powder have become essential parts of a balanced diet for muscular performance.
We also now know that it is important to eat enough to support our muscles’ natural processes. Without sufficient nutrition, muscle tissue growth may stagnate, and you may even lose muscle. Adding superfoods to your diet makes it easier to focus on nutritious foods for muscle health while supporting regularity and overall wellness.
Consider Trying Super Greens
Sourcing quality superfoods from a balanced diet would be ideal, but few of us manage that. If you struggle to eat a well-rounded diet regularly, consider adding a high-quality dietary supplement like Super Greens to your regimen.
This all-natural greens powder is made with organic vegetables and features 20+ whole-food ingredients like kale, broccoli, dandelion leaf, nopal cactus, and more to help increase your daily nutrition. Super Greens is designed to help support gut health, immunity, and energy levels so that you can live life to the fullest, even on your busiest days.
FAQs on Superfoods for Muscle Health
Still wondering if superfoods are good for muscle health? Here are some popular questions and their answers.
Do I need to eat superfoods for muscle gain?
Muscles are not built in the gym alone. They require the right fuel to grow, and nutritious foods such as superfoods can play an important role in helping you achieve your muscular goals. While superfoods aren’t the only sources of muscle-supporting nutrients, they’re one powerful way to aid in muscle fitness.
I thought muscle gain relies on eating a lot of protein. Is that wrong?
It is correct that muscular performance relies on eating a sufficient amount of protein, but there is more to a healthy diet than protein alone. Adding healthy unsaturated fats, a selection of powerful greens, and other vegetables is just as important for weight maintenance and muscle functionality.
Which superfoods support muscle health?
Integrating a wide variety of superfoods into your diet is the most effective approach to fostering muscle strength. Protein is a key part, as well as beetroot, cordyceps, kale, spinach, essential amino acids, and a range of seeds in order to get a variety of nutrients.
How can I ensure I cover all the superfoods I need for optimal health and muscle function?
While many of us aim for a perfectly balanced diet, few people manage to achieve that ideal. To avoid missing key nutrients, consider a high-quality food supplement. Products such as Super Greens contain a range of superfoods with powerful nutrients, which may also support immune system health and natural energy balance.