This article is a subset of our muscle building diet guide.
Preparation is everything. A big reason for diets falling apart is not having the proper food available. While there are always external factors, the lack of preparation is often the culprit and most of these situations can usually be avoided.
Bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts keep protein and nutrient-rich foods at home so they always have healthy food they can resort to for a post-workout snack! The following tasty snack ideas are ones that can be prepared almost instantly making them a solid option for you at any time of the day.
Load up on healthy snacks that you can take on the go. Any food that contains vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, or proteins makes fits the criteria for muscle building snacks. Eat the foods that work for you, not against you!
6 of our favorite bodybuilding snacks
Bodybuilders looking to build muscle need to make sure they're eating enough protein, consuming vitamins and minerals, eating the all nine essential amino acids, and getting adequate sleep.
Each of these snacks are healthy options that are fully utilized by your body and can be prepared in under 5 minutes.
|High protein breakfast ideas|
|Name||Convenience||Nutrition benefits||Good before workout?|
|Oatmeal||instant oatmeal from packets||Fiber, protein, complex carbs, stay full longer||Yes|
|Fruit||Apples, bananas, oranges||Vitamins, minerals, replenishes liver glycogen||Yes|
|Nuts||Single serving nuts||protein, fiber, healthy fats||No|
|Sweet potato||Sweet potato, microwaved||keeps you full, great energy source||Yes|
|Protein Shakes||Protein powder supplements||High in protein, BCAAs||Yes|
What we like:
- Contains healthy complex carbs and protein
- Keeps you full longer and provides energy
- Can be made in 1-2 minutes
- Can be mixed in with add-ons
We love oatmeal. While protein is important for muscle building, carbs and healthy fats are vital for optimal mass gain. Carbs are our main source of energy and should not be forgotten in your muscle-building diet.
We love oatmeal. It keeps you fuller longer and gives you the energy to get your morning started. Researchers from Louisiana State University found that eating oatmeal in the morning makes you fuller for longer than cereal of the same calorie size. This is because oatmeal has a soluble fiber called beta-glucan which thickens with liquid in your stomach.
We have no problem with instant oatmeal. Instant oatmeal usually contains a few grams of added sugars but it can be prepared within 1-2 minutes. Instant oatmeal is still a much healthier alternative than other 1-2 minute snacks. We are huge believers in making diets easy to follow. Diets are often broken when they are too restrictive and the overall benefits of steel-cut oats vs. instant oats aren't significant.
Oatmeal is one of the best go-to carb sources. It's a great source of energy and keeps you full for long periods of time. The best part is that oatmeal can be mixed into so many recipes making it a versatile superfood suitable for most diets.
What we like:
- Nutritious vitamins and minerals
- Can be prepared quickly and taken on the go
- Replenishes liver glycogen levels
- Can provide instant energy before a workout
Fruit sometimes gets a bad wrap by bodybuilders because of its naturally higher sugar content. This is understandable because fruit increases the size of fat cells when liver glycogen levels are full. While this is true, the idea of fruit making you fat is taken way out of proportion. Any food will make you fatter if you are in a calorie surplus. It is impossible to gain weight while in a calorie deficit.
Fruits are most beneficial when you eat them in the morning or before a workout. Fruits by nature contain sugar. Sugar from fruit is a great quick source of quick energy that will help you power through your workouts.
Different fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for muscle gain.
Citrus fruits like orange and grapefruit are rich in vitamin C that helps protect nitric oxide from being broken down by free radicals. Apples contain polyphenols that help increase strength and promote fat loss. Cherries and blueberry have anthocyanins that reduce post-workout inflammation and enhance recovery. Watermelon contains citrulline that promotes blood flow and nutrient delivery.
What we like:
- Contains healthy monounsaturated fats
- Can be taken on the go!
- Contains both fiber and protein
- Can be added to many other foods
For lunch, they work perfectly in your favorite salad. For dinner, eat a small handful with your vegetables or on the side. We like almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, or any combination trail mix.
Nuts and seeds are essential for a muscle-building diet because they contribute a wealthy amount of essential nutrients, healthy fats, and protein. You can add a 1oz serving of nuts into your cereal, or yogurt with fruit.
Walnuts support heart health and aid your body's production of nitric oxide, which is important for maintaining the elasticity and dilation of blood vessels.
Peanuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat which can help boost testosterone levels. They also contain more protein than most other nuts. Opt for raw unprocessed peanuts instead of processed nut products like peanut butter.
4. Sweet potato
What we like:
- Low-calorie food
- High in potassium
- Low fat
- Can be microwaved in minutes
Sweet potatoes are popular for bodybuilders because they are low in calories. Bodybuilders gravitate towards lower calorie foods because they help them maintain calorie deficits which ultimately leads to fat loss. Low-calorie sweet potatoes keep you full for fewer calories because of their high fiber content.
Additionally, they are high in potassium which is very important for muscle control, electrolyte balance, and nerve function.
Sweet potatoes are popular carb sources in a standard bodybuilding diet. They're full of complex carbohydrates making it the perfect energy source for those hitting it hard in the gym.
5. Protein shakes
What we like:
- Extremely high in protein
- Can be prepared in minutes with water
- Low in unhealthy fats
- Contains BCAAs
Protein shakes made this list to no surprise but we couldn't leave them out. Protein shakes make it significantly easier to hit daily protein goals. Not too many foods contain pure protein and protein is often the hardest macronutrient to find in snack form.
All bodybuilding diets are high in protein because protein is the key building block in muscle. Protein comes from a handful of different food groups and each type has slightly different effects when taken. Most protein powders contain over 20 grams of protein per serving.
Most whey protein powders come in tubs or as protein bars. If you're looking for higher quality supplements, consider daily protein packs from PersonalStacks which are made custom for each individual.
6. Greek yogurt
What we like:
- High in protein
- Can be mixed with fruit or granola
- Single serving containers
- Probiotics support gut health
Greek Yogurt is another protein dominant food with tons of nutritional benefits. The best part is that it is often prepared in single-serving containers making it one of our favorite snacks.
Greek Yogurt improves bone health, reduces appetite and hunger, and improves gut health. Additionally, it contains high amounts of casein protein that helps build muscle mass overnight when paired with resistance training (study, Trommelen).
Greek yogurt has twice as much protein for the same amount of calories making it a popular snack for bodybuilders. If you're not into yogurt, then consider cottage cheese as a similar alternative.
When is the best time to eat bodybuilding snacks?
Healthy snacking can be done at any time of the day so continue to snack as needed. We incorporate these snacks into our meals too, using the 80/20 strategy to maintain our daily nutrition goals.
Snacking ultimately helps keep hunger levels in check between larger meals. Healthy pre-workout and post-workout snacks keep you fuller longer and supply your body with the nutrition it needs to grow. Mix that in with some high protein snacks and you're good to go.
If you are looking for a muscle building snack before or after the gym, consider our protein stack. These daily serving packs are customized to each individual and contain all of the necessary vitamins and minerals to hit your goals.
Food quality does not get enough attention as it deserves and we believe that a high-quality protein-rich diet is very important for building muscle. Don't forget veggies on the side! If you need help creating a meal plan for either weight loss or muscle growth, check out our 4-step muscle building diet.