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11 Nutrients Your Body Needs to Get Strong and Build Muscle

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Nutrition and physical activity are essential for gaining lean muscle mass. While it’s important to challenge your body through exercise, you won’t make any gains without nutritional support. In fact, your progress is more likely to stall if you don’t eat enough protein, carbs, and healthy fats.

When it comes to building strong muscles, protein is the nutrient of choice. Not only does it do most of the heavy lifting, but protein keeps you fuller for longer. But, some proteins and nutrients are better than others. Here are 11 nutrients you’ll need to add to your workout routine.

1. B Vitamins

Eggs are packed with high-quality protein, fats, and vitamin B. Vitamin B helps improve energy, brain function, eyesight, cell health, cardiovascular health, and muscle tone. In males, vitamin B improves testosterone levels, which can help them increase their strength and endurance.

2. Protein

Since our bodies don’t produce protein, it’s considered an essential nutrient and is required for muscle growth and repair. As a muscle-building staple, chicken breasts have 26 grams of protein with every 3-ounce serving and are filled with amino acids needed for optimal health.

3. Creatine

Creatine is one of the best muscle-building supplements because of its three amino acids: methionine, glycine, and arginine. Numerous studies support taking extra creatine as muscle-building supplements due to its ability to increase exercise capacity.

4. Calcium

Foods like fortified milk, cheese, cereals, tofu, spinach, and broccoli contain the building blocks of strong bones and teeth: calcium. As a mineral, calcium is responsible for triggering muscle contractions, which convert to ATP and keep your body moving before and after the workout.

5. Magnesium

If you’re feeling more tired than usual, you may have a magnesium deficiency. Not only that, but magnesium is also considered a de-stressing mineral because it’s essential for preventing cramps, heart diseases, cardiovascular disorders, insomnia, and aiding in muscle relaxation. 

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is either absorbed by our bodies from the sun or taken as a supplement, especially in the winter. Regardless of how you get your daily dose, vitamin D improves your mental health, reduces anxiety and depression, and produces strong biceps, glutes, and everything in between.

7. Potassium

Most commonly found in bananas, broccoli, and sweet potatoes, potassium is a key electrolyte that aids with muscle contraction and carries nutrients to your muscles. Potassium neutralizes sodium by allowing your kidneys to flush out the excess, reducing your risk of hypertension.

8. B12

B12 is a misunderstood nutrient. While prehistoric humans used to get their B12 from unwashed produce, it’s now only readily available through supplementation. Yes, even meat is supplemented. Without B12, our body can’t produce enough red blood cells or metabolize fats.

9. Carbohydrates

Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates aren’t bad for you. Carbs are one of our three macronutrients next to protein and fat and are needed for muscle repair. Carb loading is especially helpful if you’re doing cardio work, so eat your fruits, whole grains, and veggies!

10. Beta-Alanine

Muscle cramps are the bane of every muscle-builder’s existence, but beta-alanine makes that problem a thing of the past. Beta-alanine fights lactic acid buildup, which could lead to cramping and fatigue. You can find beta-alanine in several pre-workout drinks or protein snacks.

11. Iron

To pump iron, you need a lot of iron. Spinach is one of the best sources for iron per gram, but other leafy greens, like kale, and lean meats, like turkey, are also optimal. Iron helps regulate your metabolism, brings oxygen to muscle tissue, and promotes an overall healthier immune system.