6 Drool-Worthy Grains for Impressive Muscle Gains

Updated on October 3, 2017
Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

A food blogger by day and a TV show addict by night, Kiki runs on popcorn, Gilmore Girls marathons, and #movienights.

Start munching grains for maximum gains.
Start munching grains for maximum gains. | Source

As various recently dubbed “superfoods” crowd the supermarket aisles, certain quite nutritious grains are still behind the trend, remaining somewhat obscure as to how they can benefit our bodies. And, yes, we get it! A grain-based meal doesn’t sound like the tastiest dinner option. But, if we focus on their muscle-building properties instead, we'll see that there's more to grains than meets the eye. So, let’s quit yapping and take a look at the top six grains for impressive muscle gains.

1. Amaranth

Believe it or not, it's not long that the century-long grain we know as amaranth got the attention it deserves. Besides tasting awesome, this tasty grain is chock full of protein as it packs 9 grams per cup. So, it comes as no surprise that amaranth can help increase muscle growth compared to other mainstream grains such as maize. Talk about a natural way to buff!

What's more, amaranth is packed with fiber, covering about 21 percent of the daily recommended value. Carrying away the byproducts of muscle development, amaranth's fiber contributes to muscle growth as much as protein does.

2. Teff

Despite its tiny size (they are about the size of poppy seeds), Teff grains have turned into the next big thing in the gluten-free world. Despite being mostly known for its starch content, Teff is also rich in protein. More specifically, one cup of this tiny grain contains as much as 51% of the daily recommended value.

Protein aside, these funny-sounding grains are also every bodybuilder’s secret weapon thanks to their high calcium content. According to one study, low muscular calcium levels are likely to cause fatigue. So, the tiny Teff grains pose as an excellent way to avoid muscle exhaustion while hitting the weights. We guess they were true: great things do come in small packages.

3. Freekeh

A great addition to any risotto meal, Freekeh is wheat harvested earlier than usual. From then on, the grains are roasted and, thus, pack a smoky flavor that jazzes up your muscle-friendly meals. But, that’s not all that makes Freekeh freakin’ awesome! This ancient grain is about to knock quinoa out of the rice cooker as it is super high in fiber and protein (hello, muscles!) and super low in fat. To put it simple terms, Freekeh is a smart option for those who want to make their gym time worth as they can both lose weight and enhance muscle mass. So, ready to get your Freekeh on?

4. Fonio

Let’s be honest! Brown rice and oats can get boring fast. But, what are you to do when you have muscle gains in mind and don’t want to nullify your efforts for the sake of a single bite of junk food? Fonio is the way to go. This relatively unknown grain not only tastes amazing, but it can also support your muscle building goals. How come?

Fonio is home to two important amino acids: cystine, which is involved in primary detoxifications processes in the body such as getting rid of toxins from the liver and methionine, which helps the liver process fat as well as contribute to the production of another amino acid, taurine. What do these mean for your body? For a muscle-building protein to be synthesized and muscle growth to occur, these amino acids need to be available. A modest serving of Fonio takes care of just that.

5. Quinoa

By now you’ve probably realized that size doesn’t matter when it comes to grains and muscle gains. Quinoa is another one from the bunch that fits this pattern by fitting on top of a pin’s head and still helping you crush it at the gym. Plus, its nutty flavor and rice-like texture make it an ideal weight-friendly substitute for your everyday meals.

But, let’s see why the nutritional makeup of quinoa makes this grain all that unique. To begin with, experts claim that quinoa is one of the very few grains that can provide all nine amino acids that our bodies can’t produce themselves. On that note, quinoa contains significant amounts of Lycine, which is the amino acid responsible for repairing damaged tissue. How’s that for a post-workout meal?

6. Farro

Quite similar to Quinoa, Farro grains are one of the healthiest carb swaps you could include in your diet. Apart from being a rich source of fiber, Farro is mainly known for its complex carb content. In their turn, the carbs in Farro help you sustain your energy levels and turn this grain into a bona fide pre-workout meal. Heck, even Roman soldiers had picked up this fact and used to consume Farro for that sole purpose.

Grains are so versatile that it’s super easy to incorporate them into your diet. Even though most people add them in savory dishes, don’t be scared to look up some of the sweet versions as well (think breakfast). Just because you are on the fast track to building your muscles, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge your palate.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers


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      • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

        Kierstin Gunsberg 

        2 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

        Thanks for this article, Kyriaki! This summer will be two years since I gave birth to my second child and I've been working my butt off (for serious) to get fit, healthy, and strong after spending almost three straight years of my life pregnant or postpartum. Now that I've got the healthy eating and exercise routine down I'm looking to gain muscle and strength and this guide to great grains for muscle gain is exactly what I was looking for. I like to mix these types of ingredients into my smoothies before blending so all I can taste are the yummy berries and creamy yogurt.

      • Kyriaki Chatzi profile imageAUTHOR

        Kyriaki Chatzi 

        2 years ago

        @Leonard; It's perfectly normal to lose muscle as you grow old. That is why such nutrition tips and a little bit of exercise can work miracles.

      • Leonard Tillerman profile image

        Leonard Tillerman 

        2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

        Thank you for this article. I have not even heard about most of these. I find as I am aging my muscle is disappearing. :(

      • Kyriaki Chatzi profile imageAUTHOR

        Kyriaki Chatzi 

        2 years ago

        @thumbi7; Thank you for taking the time to comment, thumbi7! I hope this article gave you some insight on the topic along with the warm feeling of nostalgia.

        @Flourish; The variety of grains out there is dizzying. So, I am glad I was responsble for helping out discover, at least, some of them. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image


        2 years ago from USA

        How interesting! I have only heard of one of these so I learned a lot. Don't know if I could find these at my local grocery store but it would be interesting to try them.

      • thumbi7 profile image

        JR Krishna 

        2 years ago from India

        Interesting information.

        I feel nostalgic looking at the first image.

        Thank you :)


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