WHEN YOU think of foods that build muscle, what’s the first nutrient that comes to mind? We’d bet cold cash your answer was protein. But building muscle is about more than just maximizing muscle protein synthesis—you also want food that will up your energy to work out longer, decrease inflammation to help your muscles recover faster, and shred fat to uncover every ripple.
So what foods have the macro and micronutrients to do all this? Superfoods.
There’s no scientific definition of a superfood, but most nutritionists consider the category to be superstar food that far exceeds basic nutritional content. “To me, superfoods are quite simply the cleanest, most powerful, antioxidant-rich, phytonutrient-rich, vitamin-rich foods that have been shown to provide health benefits,” says Manuel Villacorta, R.D., founder of the Whole Body Reboot App and author of Peruvian Power Foods.
Because working out is so taxing on your body, it opens the floodgates for free radicals and oxidative stress to wreak havoc. “Mangos are bursting with over 20 vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, the latter of which can help protect the body against the production of free radicals and other effects of oxidative stress,” Villacorta says. That means the tropical fruit can help your system and muscles recover faster—and get you back in the gym sooner. Plus, mangos are a source of quick-digesting carbohydrates, he adds, making them perfect for an immediate, rapid energy boost before a workout. Eat them raw, add to smoothies, or use them to top off a bowl of yogurt, Villacorta recommends.