As a savvy workout fan, you know that there is link between the foods that you eat and the effectiveness of your exercise plans. This is particularly true when it comes to building muscles. Many a quest to enhance muscle tone and mass has been derailed by inadequate nutrition. While protein shakes may get a lot of attention, you'll be pleased to know that foods such as lentils can also help you build muscle.
If you want to build muscle mass, you need to work hard in the gym. And to give your all in the gym, you need energy to fuel your workouts. Lentils offer a concentrated source of energy, with 1/4 cup of dry lentils providing 120 calories. That amount of calories alone is enough to fuel about 20 minutes of weight training. Eating calorie-dense foods such as lentils will help you ensure you have enough energy to exercise and sufficient calories left over for muscle growth.
Protein and Amino Acids
Protein is a key nutrient when you're trying to build muscle. That's because this nutrient supplies your body with amino acids, the building blocks of muscle tissue. Each 1/4-cup serving of uncooked lentils contains 10 g of protein. Like other plant sources of protein, lentils do not provide all of the essential amino acids your body can't make on its own, but eating other sources of protein such as dairy, meat and other plants will supply the required amino acids.
Lentils are also full of carbohydrates, another important nutrient for muscle growth. Each 1/4-cup serving of uncooked lentils contains 20 g of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy, and research published in the April 2013 edition of Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care notes that consuming carbohydrates after exercising can support muscle recovery and growth.
Vitamins and Minerals
Lentils contain some vitamins and minerals that can contribute to your muscle gains. This type of food is rich in B vitamins, which support a healthy metabolism and the conversion of food into energy for your activities. Additionally, lentils are rich in potassium, a nutrient that research from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicates may help support improved muscle growth in women.
- LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate: Lentils Nutritional Facts
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: Ingestion of Carbohdyrate During Recovery in Exercising People
- Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Potassium Bicarbonate Reduces Urinary Nitrogen Excretion in Postmenopausal Women
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images