Eating enough of the right nutrients to gain muscle can be challenging. Choosing the right snacks can make this easier.
While the nutrients that are lacking can vary from person to person, to gain muscle most people need to pay attention to their protein and calorie intakes.
Nice amounts of vitamins and minerals are also welcome in snacks. Partly because they influence muscle gains in one way or another and partly because they are generally considered healthy.
1. Beef jerky
Beef jerky comes down to dried meat. This snack is also typically salted and/or has spices and herbs on it.
When it comes to the gaining muscle part, the protein, vitamins, minerals, and calories in beef jerky will be helpful. This snack also positively stands out in that beef jerky is easy to take with you.
That being said, there are also things to keep in mind to keep beef jerky a healthy snack.
First of all, you want to keep your salt intake in mind. While this is an essential mineral, there is also a way to overdo it. If you already consume a lot of salt, you may want to choose some of the other snack options.
Additionally, some brands add sugar and other sweeteners to their beef jerky. You generally want to avoid these if you are trying to keep things healthy.
Lastly, it is true that a small calorie surplus seems to be helpful for gaining muscle (1). At the same time, it is possible to overeat beef jerky and gain excess body fat which is not good for your health.
2. Some protein bars
As their name implies, protein bars are compact snacks that are made to help you increase your protein intake. Since protein is so important for gaining muscle, protein bars can be a good snack option.
However, if you want to keep things healthy, you want to be careful about what protein bars you choose to eat.
Many brands use ingredients high in carbohydrates that digest fast and add extra sugar on top of that. These things are generally considered unhealthy.
Nuts are great food options for a variety of fitness goals. Most people will find them a great snack for gaining muscle.
Some nuts are higher in protein than others but most options contain at least decent amounts of this nutrient. On top of that, they also contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and calories that are considered healthy.
One thing to keep in mind is that people with a lot of muscle mass sometimes struggle with eating enough calories. Since nuts are relatively filling they may not be the best snack choice for these individuals.
On the flip side, it is also possible to overdo it with nuts in terms of calories. Not all of these calories get absorbed into your actual body but many people can still overeat nuts (2).
Cheese is not the best snack to take with you on a hot day but in many situations, it is a convenient option that definitely can help you gain muscle.
There are plenty of cheeses high in protein that also contain nice amounts of vitamins, minerals, and calories. These things can come in handy when trying to build more mass.
One thing to keep in mind is that not everyone deals well with dairy products. If this applies to you, cheese may not be that healthy compared to the other snacks on this list.
Additionally, cheese can be somewhat filling. For some people, this will be a benefit. For others, a downside.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds may not be the most well-known snack but they definitely offer helpful nutrients and in turn, a variety of health benefits.
More specifically, 100 grams of roasted pumpkin seeds contain 18.6 grams of protein, 446 calories, 18.4 grams of fiber, and a variety of helpful micronutrients (3).
As you may be able to tell from the amount of fiber, you want to keep in mind that pumpkin seeds are relatively filling.
If you are trying to bulk up but struggle with eating enough calories, pumpkin seeds are likely not the best snack choice.
On the other hand, pumpkin seeds could be helpful for individuals who struggle with hunger or people who struggle with keeping their calorie intake in check on a lean bulk.
6. Boiled eggs
If you are somewhat experienced with the fitness world you likely already know the power of eggs. However, it can be easy to forget that hard-boiling them transforms eggs into a convenient snack.
The nice amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals also make eggs good for gaining muscle.
One thing to note is that eggs used to be thought of as unhealthy because of their above-average cholesterol contents.
However, recent studies imply that the cholesterol you eat does not necessarily influence blood cholesterol (1).
You may still want to avoid eggs if you or your family members have a history of high cholesterol but for others, they could be a good snack choice.
7. The right protein shakes
Someone who is new to the fitness world may be surprised by how many different types of protein shakes and recipes there are.
Some of these can be great snacks to build muscle while also providing you with valuable nutrients at the same time. Others can add a lot of unhealthy ingredients to your diet while still leaving you short on protein.
The main guidelines for keeping your protein shakes healthy are avoiding high-sugar protein sources and ingredients, avoiding ingredients that are not (that) processed, and using healthy protein shake ingredients.
Something else to keep in mind is that protein shakes take a bit more preparation time and effort compared to many of the other snacks. On busy days this can be a downside.