For years I spent a lot of time in the gym trying to get “ripped,” or really develop the tone in my muscles. My workout program changed frequently, but I could not quite the get results that I wanted. Aware that nutrition was important, it did not quite “click” with me. Eventually, I started paying more attention to the foods I ate. Without surprise, reducing portions and eating the right foods helped me lose surface fat and improved my ripped look. Choose the right diet to build muscle and the same will be true for you.

Resistance training and aerobic conditioning are only half the battle in your quest to get more ripped. To improve your muscle tone you must control your calories and eat higher quality foods. Specifically, choosing foods that are nutrient-rich will help your muscles grow and develop. Avoiding fatty, processed foods will help you rid subcutaneous fat, or the fat underneath your skin so that your muscles will be more defined. Do your best to include these foods in your diet to build muscle tone.

Your Diet to Build Muscle Should Include:

Fruits and Vegetables

In your diet to build muscle, including at least half a plate of fruits and vegetables with each meal is of utmost importance if you are seriously wanting to get ripped. You almost have to become a fanatic about eating meals with its fair share of green. No more plates that are “all brown,” or filled with only carbohydrates. At most meals, make this your habit… Overall, you should at least eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Lean Meats

“You are what you eat” is in full effect here. In order to replace and repair damaged muscle fibers from your workout, you must eat lean meats including fish, poultry, and low fat red meats. Medline Plus, of the National Institutes of Health, states that you should eat at least 2 to 3 servings of lean meats per day, with each serving being the size of about a deck of cards. Follow this principle in your diet to build muscle to make sure the muscles underneath your skin have enough of that protein building block to keep you cut.

Legumes

Legumes are probably the best kept secret when it comes to getting leaner. Think of legumes as “packets of protein” that not only will help with muscle growth, but will also aid in digestion and weight loss due to the high fiber content in beans. Try to eat a serving (1/2 cup of dried beans) or two each day to get ripped.

Carbohydrates

Carbs are not evil. The intake of too many carbs, however, is a different story. If you are actively lifting weights and doing some sort of cardio, you need to eat your fair share of carbohydrates to keep your muscles full of energy. This nutrient is basically the fuel that keeps your workouts effective, so you need them in a well-balanced diet to build muscle. In fact, about 50% of your daily intake of calories should come from carbohydrates. But beware… Complex carbohydrates, AKA brown rice, whole wheat breads and pastas are much healthier for you than white rice, white bread, sugary foods, etc. Complex carbs are like an “extended release” fuel source that can also help you lose weight over the long term. Definitely choose to eat more complex carbs if you are serious about improving your overall physique.

What kinds of foods do you include in your diet to build muscle? Share your thoughts below.