10 Non-Dairy Foods To Help Build And Maintain Strong Muscles
Image Credit: Freepik

Building muscle requires eating foods high in protein and low in saturated fat. However, just eating protein is not enough. To build muscle optimally, you also need carbohydrates and healthy fats.  

Protein provides the amino acids your body needs to build and repair muscle. For most people, eating 1.4–2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is sufficient. But if you do intense resistance training, you may need up to 3 grams per kilogram. As per the National Library of Medicine, good protein sources include lean meats, eggs, fish, beans, lentils, nuts and dairy. According to the National Library of Medicine, carbohydrates give your body energy to exercise and train hard. They also help replenish glycogen, which provides fuel for your muscles. Aim to get 45–55% of your daily calories from carbs if you do moderate exercise. You can increase this amount if you train more intensely. Good carbohydrate sources are whole grains, fruits, starchy veggies and legumes.  

Healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts and fatty fish provide essential fatty acids and vitamins. They help you absorb nutrients and regulate hormones involved in muscle growth. A balanced diet with sufficient protein, carbs and healthy fats, along with strength training, provides your muscles with the optimal environment to grow bigger and stronger.  


Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein that can help support muscle growth and recovery. As per the National Library of Medicine, the protein in eggs contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need, including leucine, which plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis. Beyond just protein, eggs also provide other nutrients that can aid muscle building, like phospholipids for energy production, omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation, cholesterol to produce testosterone and vitamin D for calcium absorption and bone health.   

Image credit: Freepik


This nutrient-packed fish contains high-quality protein to help build and repair muscle tissue after strenuous workouts. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies suggest can boost muscle protein synthesis when consumed regularly. The omega-3s found in salmon may help reduce muscle damage and soreness, allowing for quicker recovery between workouts. Salmon is also loaded with important B vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, and cobalamin that assist in energy production and metabolism.   

Image credit: Freepik


Just half a cup of cooked soybeans gives you 16 grams of protein to build strong muscles. Soybeans also have healthy fats to nourish your cells. Plus, soybeans contain vitamin K, iron, and phosphorus. Iron is especially important because it carries oxygen through your blood to all your organs and muscles. Getting enough iron prevents deficiency, so your body can function properly.   

Image credit: Freepik


Beans offer a nutritious boost to any muscle-building diet. As per the National Library of Medicine, protein-packed varieties like black, pinto, and kidney provide around 15 grams per cooked cup, fueling the growth and repair of lean muscle mass. Beyond protein, beans deliver a wealth of other beneficial nutrients, including fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. Whether added to salads, soups, or stews, beans’ combination of muscle-friendly protein and other essential vitamins and minerals helps create the optimal conditions for building and maintaining a lean, powerful physique.  

Image credit: Freepik


With 40g of carbs and 8g of protein per cooked cup, quinoa delivers a powerful nutritional punch. The carbs supply ready energy for exercise, while the protein helps build lean muscle. Additionally, quinoa contains magnesium and phosphorus, which support muscle and nerve functions essential for movement. The fibre keeps you feeling satisfied too.   

Image credit: Freepik


Chickpeas are a nutritious legume packed with protein and carbs. Just one cup provides 15 grams of plant-based protein and 45 grams of complex carbohydrates, including a hefty 13 grams of fibre. Their impressive nutritional profile makes chickpeas a versatile addition to salads, curries, soups, and more.  

Image credit: Freepik


Peanuts are a nutritious snack that contains a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Just one ounce provides 7 grams of plant-based protein to help build muscle. Peanuts also have 6 grams of carbs for energy and lots of heart-healthy unsaturated fat. According to the National Library of Medicine, with 166 calories per ounce, peanuts can be a great way to boost your calorie intake. Their combination of macros and calories makes peanuts an excellent snack for active people looking to fuel their workouts and recovery.  

Image credit: Freepik


Buckwheat is a gluten-free seed that can be ground into flour and used for baking. It has become popular as a healthy food choice because it is packed with nutrients. As per the National Library of Medicine, buckwheat contains protein to build muscle, fibre to support digestion, B vitamins for energy, magnesium for bone health, manganese for antioxidant protection, and phosphorus for tissue and cell repair.   

Image credit: Freepik


One bowl of roasted almonds contains 6 grams of protein and is high in vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorus. Phosphorus helps your body convert food into energy to fuel itself. 

Image credit: Freepik

However, based on research by the National Library of Medicine, almonds are very high in calories, with half a cup containing over 400 calories. Though small, almonds provide protein, vitamins, and minerals that support your health and energy levels.   

Brown Rice  

Eating whole grains like brown rice before exercise allows your body to exercise harder and stimulates more muscle growth. 

Image credit: Freepik

According to the National Library of Medicine, brown rice protein supplements can build just as much muscle as whey protein during weight training.