body builder

Choosing the right way to eat to build muscle can be a little overwhelming.  But once you start eating the way you need to, it will become second nature to you. 

The following is a list of good foods for you to eat in each of the categories you need to concentrate on:


  • White meat chicken or turkey
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned salmon
  • Fresh Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Soy
  • Red meat like steak or roast

Complex Carbohydrates

  • Oatmeal
  • Potatoes
  • Yams, Sweet potatoes, Acorn squash
  • Rice
  • Legumes
  • Corn


  • All water based veggies
  • Lettuce, Cabbage, Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Bok Choy, Leeks
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Radish
  • Zucchini Squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Peas


  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Orange
  • 1/2 Grapefruit
  • 3 Small Apricots
  • 1 Banana
  • 1/4 Melon
  • 1-Cup Berries, Grapes
  • 1 mango, small papaya


  • 1 yogurt
  • 1-Cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1-Cup non-fat milk (I use vanilla soy milk instead!)
  • 1/2 Cup non or low fat cheese

Wheat Products

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 bagel
  • 2-Cups pasta
  • Whole wheat tortillas

Snack Foods

  • Rice cakes
  • Non-wheat cereals
  • Plain popcorn
  • Raw Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit


A good diet is well-rounded and contains some of each of the food groups.  You should also include a supplement in your diet which we will get to in a later section.  As we’ve said, you should be eating 5 or 6 smaller meals every day instead of three large ones.  Space your meals about 2 to 2 ½ hours apart.  Try out a few of these meal plans to start out with.


Meal 1 – Breakfast

Vegetable omelet (3 egg whites, 1 whole egg, 1 cup veggies)  You can also add some chicken or lean beef if you want.

Meal 2 – Snack

One cup yogurt or a protein shake

Meal 3 – Lunch

6 oz Chicken

Small raw vegetable salad

1 bagel

Meal 4 – Snack

1 piece fruit

3-4 oz Chicken

Meal 5 – Dinner

6 oz fish

1 – Cup grilled veggies

1 – Cup brown rice


Meal 1 – Breakfast

3 packs instant oatmeal

1 banana

1 cup of yogurt

1 cup of cottage cheese

Meal 2 – Snack

Protein shake

1 large baked potato

Meal 3 – Lunch

8 ounces chicken breast

2 cups pasta

1 apple

1 cup yogurt

Meal 4 – Snack

1 can of tuna

1 – 2 cups broccoli

Meal 5 – Snack

Protein shake

1 cup brown rice

Meal 6 – Dinner

8 ounces broiled fish

1 cup veggies

2 cups rice


Meal 1 – Breakfast

Breakfast burrito (3 egg whites, 1 whole egg scrambled, 1 cup onion/green pepper mix, salsa)

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup berries

Meal 2 – Snack

Protein shake

1 cup raw veggies

Meal 3 – Lunch

Salmon burger on whole wheat bun (canned salmon, 1 egg white, onions cooked in a non-stick fry pan)

1 large potato cut into strips, brushed with olive oil, and baked in oven until crispy

1 garden salad drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar

Meal 4 – Snack

Protein shake

1 cup yogurt

Meal 5 – Dinner

8 ounces chicken breast, cut into chunks, fried in olive oil and seasoned with oregano, garlic salt, and basil

1 cup cooked tomatoes

2 cups pasta

1 cup broccoli/cauliflower mix

Meal 6 – Snack

Protein shake

1 cup melon

1 cup yogurt


Of course, these are only suggested meal plans.  You can mix it up as you want to.  It’s a good idea to plan ahead and pre-cook your meals.  Keep vegetables cut up in the refrigerator so you don’t have to work too hard at meal time.

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There’s really no need to measure carefully for the portions suggested.  This isn’t an exact science!  Eyeball your portions and consider the following chart:

Portion                                             Size

1 oz. meat                                          Matchbox

3 oz. meat                                          Deck of cards

8 oz. meat                                          Thin paperback book

3 oz. fish                                            Checkbook

1 oz. cheese                                       Four dice

1 med. potato                                    Computer mouse

2 tbsp. peanut butter                      Ping pong ball

1 cup pasta                                         Tennis ball

1 bagel                                                Hockey puck

Recipes are always good to have on hand, so here’s a few to try on for size.


You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to cook nutritional meals that can complement your body building program.  Cooking can be a great way to gain control of your eating and pick what you put into your foods like salt and fat.  Meals can be as simple or as complicated as you like.  Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Cereal Casserole

  • Your favorite cereal
  • Skim milk
  • Honey
  • 1 cup yogurt

Fill half the bowl with cereal.  Add milk until it reaches the top of the cereal.  Add yogurt.  Top with more cereal.  Add more milk.  Drizzle with honey.

Protein Pancakes

  • 1 cup of Oatmeal
  • 11 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 packet of sugar free Jello any flavor

Stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle onto hot non-stick fry pan.

Tuna or Salmon Patties

  • 1 can tuna or salmon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of parsley
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed

Mix potatoes, tuna, onions, salt, pepper and parsley.  Shape into patties.  Fry in olive oil until brown and heated on both sides.

Spicy Chicken Ole

  • 8 ounces chicken breast cut into chunks
  • 1 can diced tomatoes or 2 medium fresh tomatoes diced
  • 1 can spicy chili hot beans
  • 1 medium onion chopped

Sauté chicken breast and onions in some olive oil in a frying pan.  Stir in tomatoes and chili beans.  Cook uncovered for ten minutes.  Sprinkle with low-fat shredded Cheddar cheese.

Lightning Fast Fajitas

  • 1 lb. flank steak cut in strips or small pieces
  • 1 large green pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 red pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut in strips
  • 3 cloves pressed garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Sauté garlic in a bit of lemon juice for 1 minute in large wok or skillet. Add beef and chili powder and cook until beef is cooked near to the temperature you desire. Add peppers and onions and cook until vegetables are mostly soft, raising the heat for a short time if you like the vegetables slightly charred. Spoon into whole wheat tortillas.  Top with salsa or fat-free sour cream if desired.

Chicken Cacciatore

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomato
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 3 pressed garlic cloves
  • ¼ tsp. thyme
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 tbsp. parsley
  • Dash of pepper
  • Cooking spray

Spray pan with cooking spray and heat. Brown chicken and set aside. Add chopped onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook until the onion is tender; about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook over low for 15 minutes; stirring occasionally. Add browned chicken, cover and cook on low for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes. Serve. Top on whole wheat pasta or brown rice if desired.

Pan Broiled Fish

  • 1 lb. Fish filets
  • One 14 oz. Can diced tomatoes w/ basil, garlic & oregano

Arrange fish filets in a single layer in skillet. Cover with tomatoes and liquid. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, or until the fish easily flakes with a fork. Serve plain or over brown rice.

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Broiled Fish Dijon

  • 6 fish filets
  • 1 ½ lbs small zucchini, cut lengthwise into halves
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. low-calorie Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp. drained capers
  • Paprika to taste

Rinse fish and pat dry. In a separate bowl, stir together mustard and garlic. Arrange fish and zucchini in a single layer in a large pan. Drizzle with lemon juice. Broil on top rack for 5 minutes. Turn fish over, spread with mustard/garlic mixture. Continue to broil for 5 minutes or until zucchini is lightly browned and fish is cooked. Sprinkle with paprika and capers. Serve. 6 servings

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and dried
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 8 oz. low fat ricotta cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, slice in half and flattened

Combine the onion, spinach, egg, and cheese mixture in a bowl. Put a dollop of the mixture into each chicken breast. Tie the chicken breasts together with butchers twine, or put toothpicks through them. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Optional: Garnish with lemon slices.

Ground Turkey Breast Sauce

  • 1 lb. ground turkey or beef
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped portabella mushrooms
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce

Brown the meat with the red pepper flakes. Add the chopped onion and mushrooms. Put the all spice, salt and pepper in. Pour the spaghetti sauce in. Serve over your favorite type of noodle.

Lemon Pepper Tuna

  • 1 can tuna
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Spray a fry pan with no calorie non-stick cooking spray.  Add tuna and sprinkle with seasoning.  Cook tuna to desired doneness.  Eat plain or on a bed of pasta.  This is also good cold.

Worcestershire Tuna

  • 1 can tuna
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • No-Fat or Low-Fat Cheese (optional)

Spray a fry pan with no calorie non-stick cooking spray.  Add tuna with an amount of Worcestershire Sauce that you like.  Cook to desired texture.  Add cheese if you like and let it melt after turning the burner off.  You can eat this on some whole-wheat bread, plain, or over some brown rice.

Chicken, Rice & Beans

  • Cooked Shredded Chicken Breast
  • ½ – 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • ¼ can red beans
  • 2 tbsp. barbecue sauce

In large bowl or Tupperware, combine rice, beans, and chicken. Add barbeque sauce and stir together until well-coated.

Egg Salad Sandwich

  • 3-4 boiled egg whites (may keep 1-2 yolks)
  • 2 tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. yellow mustard
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 slices 100% whole wheat bread
  • Shredded lettuce or spinach leaves
  • ½  can tuna (optional for more protein, or just use more egg whites.)

Chop egg whites and add to medium bowl. Add mayo, mustard, black pepper, and tuna. Mix well and spread over bread. Top with lettuce or spinach leaves and second slice of bread.

Tuna Casserole

  • 3-4 cups cooked pasta
  • 1-2 cans tuna (drained)
  • ½ cup low fat cottage cheese (drained)
  • ¼ cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp. low fat mayo
  • Ground black pepper
  • ½ cup canned peas (rinsed & drained)

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until well-mixed.  Microwave for approximately 1 minute when ready to serve.

Fiery Chicken Deluxe

  • 8 oz chicken breast
  • Tabasco sauce (or other favorite hot sauce)
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp crushed, dried jalapeno peppers
  • 2 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp Cajun rub/spices
  • 1 ½ cups of frozen green beans
  • 5 oz red potatoes

Combine the hot sauce, cayenne pepper, salt with chicken in a container and really roll the chicken breast around in the mix, then let it sit in the refrigerator for 3 – 10 hours (the longer, the juicier it will be).

This works best with a Foreman-style grill. Pre-heat, then slap the chicken on and cook for 7 ½ minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, stab the red potatoes and cook in the microwave for 4 ½ minutes or until soft in the middle.

Take the potatoes out, and put the green beans in for 2 – 3 minutes.

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Smash the potatoes and sprinkle on a pinch of salt and the crushed jalapeno peppers.

Sprinkle the other pinch of salt on the green beans.

Grilled Chicken Asparagus Rolls

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 asparagus sticks
  • 2 slices of low fat turkey bacon
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Once the chicken breast is washed trim the fat from it. Cut chicken into two to four thin slices, depending on how thick you would like your roll to be. Put chicken slices in the container; add the salt and pepper, mustard and honey. Let it marinate for 25 minutes.

Give the asparagus a quick wash. Snap off tough ends of asparagus and remove scales with vegetable peeler. Place one slice of turkey bacon on each slice of chicken breast. Place one asparagus stick on the top and start rolling it.

Once the roll is ready, use a couple of wooden picks to secure the turkey bacon – ensure the picks are placed in such a way the chicken meat maintains its shape around the roll. You can grill rolls than for seven minutes on the electric grill at 375 degrees, or bake them for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Three Minute Scallops

  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Dried parsley
  • Juice of ½  lemon
  • 1 lb. Fresh bay scallops, rinsed and patted dry.

Heat wine in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add parsley and lemon juice. Cover and cook 1 minute.

Add scallops and cook 1 minute or until scallops turn from translucent to opaque.

Makes 2-3 servings

Garlic Roasted Vegetables

  • 6 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 6 parsnips, peeled and quartered
  • 6 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into 6-8 wedges
  • 1 large garlic bulb, broken into cloves and peeled
  • 1 tbsp. dried rosemary, or 3 tbsp. fresh, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme, or 3 tbsp. fresh
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil

In the Oven: Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine all the vegetables in roasting pan, drizzle with oil and stir to coat. Roast for about 1 hour 20 minutes or until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

On the Grill: Turn barbeque to medium. Combine all the vegetables into a tinfoil bag, drizzle with olive oil and stir to coat. Roast for about 30 minutes or until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

Great with meat, chicken and fish.

Chicken Salad Roll-ups

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cooked
  • 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp. dried fruit bits
  • 1/8 cup celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup nonfat yogurt
  • Fresh Leaf Lettuce

Dice chicken, and place in mixing bowl. Combine with sunflower seeds, fruit bits, celery, and yogurt. Spread a little chicken mixture on lettuce leaf and roll up tightly. Repeat until mixture is used up.

Serve immediately, or wrap roll-ups in plastic wrap for later use.

Makes two servings

Fish in Foil

  • ½ lb. halibut, cut in two pieces
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 4 small zucchini, julienne
  • 1 carrot, julienne
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. each fresh dill and parsley
  • Dash of freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut two 12 in. square pieces of foil. Place a piece of fish on each square of foil. Top each piece of fish with tomato, green onion, zucchini, and carrot.

Sprinkle each with wine, herbs, and pepper. Fold foil edges together, sealing with a pleat.

Bake for 15 minutes. Makes two servings.

Muscle Building Shake

  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • ¾ cup egg whites
  • ¾ cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup cranberry juice

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Drink.

Workout Energy Salad

  • 1 cup lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 tomato, sliced
  • ¾  cup sprouts
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 avocado, cubed
  • 1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Dash each of thyme, parsley, basil

In a medium-sized salad bowl, combine lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomato, sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, avocado, and sunflower seeds.

In a screw-top jar, mix olive oil with lemon juice and herbs. Shake vigorously, and pour over salad.

Muscle Density Broccoli Salad

  • ½ pound cooked steak, cut in strips
  • 1 cup broccoli, cooked and chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, cooked and cut
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup nonfat yogurt
  • ½ tsp mustard
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • ½ head of lettuce
  • ½ tomato, sliced
  • Fresh parsley

In large salad bowl, combine steak, broccoli, green beans, celery, mushrooms, and onion.

In a screw-top jar, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, mustard, and pepper, and shake until thoroughly mixed for the salad dressing.

Arrange salad on a bed of lettuce leaves. Garnish with tomato slices and parsley.

Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • ¼ cup frozen cherries
  • ½ cup Egg Beaters
  • 1 Banana

Toss all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Nutrition is very important when you are trying to build up muscle mass.  You don’t necessarily have to be dieting, but you do have to be conscious about what you are putting into your body so that you can maximize your workouts.

By Chris Wright

Chris has spent many years working and teaching in the IT field. He enjoys spending time outdoors and learning about new topics. He likes playing golf, spending time at the beach and working on classic cars and woodworking projects.

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