The Best Sources of Protein for Bulking

The Best Sources of Protein for Bulking


best protein sources

If you want to tone your muscles and gain muscle mass, you need to focus on high-quality food. If you just eat more, you'll get in the way of your progress and potentially harm your long-term health. 

There are a variety of protein sources you can eat when bulking. They’re also excellent sources of the other macronutrients you need to maximize your growth and achieve your goals faster.


To bulk, you need to be in a calorie surplus. This means eating more than you burn each day. You need 250-500kcal above your maintenance level so your body has enough energy to create new muscle mass.

Unfortunately, your body needs more than just high-protein foods to build muscle. You need the right balance of macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates.


Healthy fats — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — play an important role in bulking. They have been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis and are essential for storing vitamins A, D, E, and K. Healthy fats should make up 30-35% of your daily calories.


Protein, of course, is crucial for building muscle. However, you might be surprised to learn it should only make up 20-25% of your caloric intake. Your body can't use a limitless amount of protein. The excess either turns into fat or is excreted.

Your optimal daily protein intake should be 1.6g per 1kg of your body weight. This 1.6g should be divided into three meals with 0.4g each.


There's a common misconception that you don't need carbohydrates for building muscles. But carbohydrates fuel the tough training sessions required to build muscle. They also help you recover from training. They should make up 40-50% of your daily calories.

Keep in mind that not all carbs are the same. Complex carbohydrates are higher in fiber and have a lower glycemic index (GI). Opt for low-GI carbs if you want to lose or maintain body weight. Choose high-GI carbs if bulking is your primary goal. 

What to Eat

Whole Eggs

Whole eggs have high amounts of protein and fat. You may think the yolks are bad for you due to the fat content and cholesterol, but this is a misconception.

While eggs contain a fair amount of saturated fat, they actually have more unsaturated fat. Cholesterol isn't bad for you either, and your body adapts to how much you consume, so your blood cholesterol levels are left mostly unaffected. You'll be just fine eating three whole eggs a day.

High-Protein Dairy

Whole milk is a great way to stock up on protein and calcium and get extra fat and calories into your diet. Try including whole milk in your pre or post-workout protein shake or meal. It will give you the energy you need for your workout and recovery. 

When your daily intake is really lacking some protein, Greek yogurt is your best choice. Just 8oz of it gives you 23g of protein. And it has less sugar and lactose than regular yogurt.

Cottage cheese is also a good source of protein, with one cup containing around 25g.

Nuts and Nut Butter

Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. They're also a good source of fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals. Because of this, nuts are great when consumed in small servings. 50g of nuts can provide you with up to 300 calories. 

Help yourself to a controlled portion of nuts when you get hungry but mealtime is still a few hours away. Nut butters are also good with fruits for a tasty and nutritional snack.

Oily Fish

Oily fish — salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and eels — are rich in protein and healthy fats, making them highly beneficial for bulking. You can also enjoy the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids. This can help reduce muscle soreness and improve your range of motion.

Having 2-3 servings of oily fish per week is great for your health and for clean bulking.

Red Meat

Red meat, when consumed regularly, helps with the growth of muscle mass. It's also high in heme iron, which is a type of iron that's easily absorbed by the body. Your body uses it to the red blood cells and proteins that distribute oxygen throughout your body.

White meat is a lean source of protein and might be better for you when you're in the cutting phase. So when you're bulking, red meat is the way to go.


Avocados are well-known as superfoods. Eating them provides you with monounsaturated fatty acids. This is great for bulking, of course. However, the high amount of antioxidants, vitamin E, and low sugar content mean they're also beneficial for maintaining your overall health.

Coconut and Olive Oil

Both coconut oil and olive oil are great sources of monounsaturated fats. Use them in your cooking and meal prep to easily add healthy fats and extra calories to your diet.

Look Good While Bulking Up

Make sure you’re well-equipped when you’re working out with Iron Rebel’s high-quality fitness apparel. We have men’s weightlifting tank tops and women’s powerlifting clothing for maximum style and comfort in the gym, whether you're building up muscle or slimming down.

Browse our shop now and buy fitness apparel and gear online.

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