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What Is The Best Food For A Lean Body? Find Out Now!

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Eating healthy is a crucial component of fitness. While we most often end up prioritising exercising and going to the gym, the nutrition bit goes for a toss. Whether you are aiming for a shredded look or you are planning to bulk up, physical activity and diet go hand-in-hand in order to accomplish your goals faster.

With age, maintaining a healthy and fit body becomes extremely challenging. It is tougher still to maintain a lean body that has the perfect composition of fat mass and lean body mass. This is because as we reach our forties and fifties, we tend to lose out on precious muscle mass and gain fat mass instead. To prevent this, one needs to think about what foods to eat for a lean body because the type of food you eat determines fat accumulation in the body.

Read on this article to know more about what constitutes a lean body and how to get one with the help of a nutritious diet.

What is Meant by a Lean Body?

Having too much body fat not only increases the risk of cholesterol but also makes you highly vulnerable to heart diseases and diabetes. That is why having a lean body is ideal for a healthier life. So what is a lean body?

A lean body comprises organs, skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, muscle and water minus body fat. Basically, it includes the weight of everything that cannot be shed such as bones or organs. Often, terms such as lean body mass and muscle mass are used interchangeably. As you age, a lean body should be a more desirable fitness goal for the health-conscious and here are a few reasons why:

  1. It prevents obesity
  2. Protects you against insulin resistance
  3. Keeps your bones healthy and strong by minimising pressure
  4. Puts less pressure on your joints thereby, reducing the chances of developing arthritis and osteoarthritis
  5. Keeps your heart healthy

In addition to regular workouts, let us delve into what is the best food for a lean body.

I often advised my patients to start including karela juice in their weight loss. Karela (bitter gourd) is a rich source of many nutrients. It is also believe containing low calories and high fibre. These nutrients might help in reducing weight loss and maintaining a lean body.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Best Foods to Eat for a Lean Body

The secret mantra to building lean muscle is to consume protein low in fat content. However, the trick is to strike the right balance with carbohydrate and fat-rich foods for your daily source of energy to carry physically exerting activities (aside from your strenuous workout sessions). Here are a few foods that fitness enthusiasts (vegetarians and vegans) swear by to build lean muscle:

1. Eggs

Eggs are a wonderful source of riboflavin, folic acid and vitamin A, E, K, B12. Eggs boost your body’s ability to synthesise proteins, especially after an intense workout routine. Consuming hard-boiled eggs aid in muscle recovery due to their amino acid content. Contrary to mass perception, the egg yolk is not laden with fat; it only contains about 5 grams of fat which is referred to as a source of good or healthy fat.

2. Cottage Cheese 

Cottage Cheese, locally known as Paneer in India, is a beloved protein source that features widely in an array of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. About a cup of cottage cheese (preferably low-fat) has the potential to provide your body with 28 grams of protein intake. Cottage cheese is packed with nutrients such as leucine, an amino acid necessary for fitness enthusiasts and athletes to build muscle and riboflavin, a type of vitamin B-12. Riboflavin is water-soluble and helps to convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates into energy. Men require about 1.3 milligrams of this vital vitamin, while women require about 1.1 milligrams daily. Additionally, cottage cheese is a rich source of phosphorus and calcium which contributes to strong and healthy bones, very important for people looking to commit to a life of fitness. This makes cottage cheese one of the best foods to eat for a lean body. 

3. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is another ideal food for a lean body. Not only rich in protein, but it also contains a beneficial balance of casein protein (which is slow digesting) and whey protein (which is fast-digesting). This combination fastens the development of lean mass. Greek yogurt with fruits, honey or oatmeal is a great breakfast option. If you are into snacking from time to time, you can also satisfy your hunger with a bowl of Greek yogurt, which is a much better option as a food for a lean body than traditional yogurt. This is due to the higher protein content.

4. Soya

While soya has all this time been considered as a substitute for milk-based or meat-based dishes for vegetarians and vegans, it doesn’t really have to be that way. Non-vegetarians too can add soya beans to their daily diet if they are looking to achieve a ripped look. Although a plant-based protein, soya contains all types of amino acids making it a ‘complete protein’ source and one of the best foods to eat for a lean body.

It is a great source of iron, phosphorus, vitamin k, omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats. For the health-conscious, there are different ways you can consume soy-based products:

  • Soya milk
  • Soya bean stir fry/curry/kebabs
  • Tofu
  • Baked soy crisps
  • Roasted Edamame 

5. Peanuts

Nut lovers will be elated to know that peanuts can contribute greatly to your body-building dreams. A versatile and much more cost-effective option, as opposed to other nut variants in the market such as almonds, walnuts and cashews, peanuts, can double-up as a great snack and meal option. Roasted, unsalted nuts can be had an hour before your workout or after as a post-workout snack. You can even consume a peanut butter sandwich for your lunch or dinner. A peanut butter and banana protein smoothie work great as a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner option. In terms of nutrition, half a cup of peanuts contains 17 grams of protein and about 16 grams of carbohydrates. Peanuts are high in the amino acid leucine (more than any other plant-based product) and packed with fibre, thereby, curbing unnecessary binging tendencies. 

Based on my experiences, tofu is a good source of plant-based protein, iron, and other nutrients. Additionally, it is also low in calories and fat. Therefore, it might be useful in attaining and maintaining a lean body.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

6. Roasted chana and roasted gram flour (Sattu)

Perfect snacking option, easily available and easy to carry. Munch on some roasted chana to manage your hunger pangs. Sattu drink (without added sugar) can be a refreshing beverage with good protein content. Squeeze some lemon, add your favourite seasonings and relish.

7. Pulses

Include a variety of pulses (soak well before cooking) in your diet. They offer multiple nutrients and protein content for building a healthy body.  

8. Protein Powders

Many of us struggle to include protein sources daily into our diet due to lack of time, lack of energy to cook new meals after a long day at work and erratic work schedules which might not make it possible to have your daily meals in the way you would prefer to have it. In such situations, supplements in the form of protein powders can be a lifesaver. There are many dairy or plant-sourced protein powders available in the market such as casein and whey which are organic and healthy. For people who are non-vegetarians can also find something to their liking.

9. Quinoa

Quinoa is rather a disputed protein source because there are either haters or lovers. However, incorporating quinoa can be beneficial to your health in many ways as a cup of cooked quinoa not only contains 8 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates but also contains a good amount of phosphorus and magnesium. 

10. Buckwheat 

Another food item nowadays consumed by health enthusiasts across the world as a food for the lean body is buckwheat. Buckwheat is a type of seed that can be ground into powder form and used in place of traditional flour. About a cup of buckwheat flour gives you 8 grams of protein along with carbohydrates and fibre. Additionally, buckwheat contains manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. These minerals and B vitamins help the body to stay healthy while enabling you to engage in physically exerting muscle-building and toning workouts. 

11. Almonds

While we focus on major food sources for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are also minor ones that can also significantly play a part as an important food for a lean body. One such item is almond. About a cup of almonds can provide 16 grams of protein, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin E. You can have almonds as a snack, you can add them to your morning oatmeal, muesli or granola or even incorporate almonds into your diet in the form of almond flour which is readily available in stores now. 

12. Brown Rice

When someone starts their weight loss journey, the battle with carbohydrates becomes a rather difficult one. While some extremists tend to completely cut carbs out of their life, other people who love their rice opt for a middle path and settle for brown rice which is nutritious, tasty and filling. About a cup of brown rice provides 8 grams of protein and sufficient carbohydrates required to carry out your daily activities. Recently, research has revealed that rice protein similar to whey protein can be extremely helpful for muscle building.

Also Read: What is Edamame: A Comprehensive Research-Based Guide on Its Benefits


When you are trying to work towards a lean look, your training will invariably involve two phases, one is the bulking stage and the other is the cutting stage. In the bulking stage, you need to develop the muscle and in the cutting stage, you need to shake off the fat while ensuring that the muscle mass stays intact. If one goes by the BMI statistics, the ideal lean body mass considered to be healthy is somewhat ranging between 70-90%.

To get into this range, you must progressively add more muscle to your body bit by bit. This can only happen when you work out regularly, add more items to your diet from the best foods to eat for a lean body list provided above and get restful sleep every day to string everything together. For more information about customised daily meal charts and workout plans, you may also consider speaking to a nutritionist or a professional fitness expert.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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