Almonds are the seed of a species of tree that is native to the Middle East and South Asia. One cup of these delicious nuts contains approximately 24g of muscle building protein, 24g of carbohydrates, 56g of healthy fats and a whopping 12g of fiber.
Not only is this superfood a great choice for fitness buffs because of the stellar macros, but these nuts give you a mountain of health benefits too:
- They are an excellent source of Vitamin E which is important for keeping your immune system strong.
They are an excellent source of many minerals including, but not limited to;
- Iron – provides oxygen to your muscles and supports a healthy metabolism
- Calcium – essential for bone growth.
- Zinc – helps keep your immune system strong.
- Magnesium – helps maintain muscle function.
- Packed with B-Complex Vitamins – which help with cell metabolism. Meaning they help your muscles maintain their structure and grow.
- Are a gluten-free option for people with wheat allergies or celiac disease.
So, how can these little power-packed nuts help you build muscle? With protein being one of the primary components in building muscle, almonds are a great ‘go-to’ source for that. Plus, they are an easy snack to pack on the go!
They are also an excellent source of monounsaturated fats (aka MUFA’s). The MUFA’s found in almonds help you control your appetite. They also help to control both your insulin levels and blood sugar levels; two factors that, if too high, can contribute to the storage of body fat.
Almonds used to be found only as whole nuts, but times have changed and they're now available in a variety of forms and flavors:
- You can buy them as whole nuts, slivered, chopped or ground.
- They are available in raw, blanched, roasted and toasted varieties. A roasted or toasted nut will have a bit more of a nutty taste to it versus a raw or blanched nut.
- They are available plain, lightly salted, salted, cinnamon coated, habanero pepper flavored, chipotle, pumpkin spice and so many more flavors. The flavored varieties are normally found with the other nuts and snacks at your local grocery store.
- If you're a fan of peanut butter, then you should give almond butter a try. Just like peanut butter, you can buy spreadable almond butter at any local grocery store. As with whole almonds, almond butter can be found raw, roasted or flavored from companies like Nuts N More who give their fortified butters a double dose of protein with added whey.
- You can purchase almond milk which is great for making smoothies, oatmeal or having a bowl of protein cereal for breakfast. Just be cautious when buying almond milk because many companies add a lot of unnecessary sugars. You want to look for the unsweetened variety which can be found either on the shelf in the health food section or in larger cartons in the refrigerated section with the other dairy free milk.
- As mentioned above, almonds are available ground. This is also known as almond flour or almond meal. Almond flour used to only be available in specialty stores, but you can now find it in the health food section of almost all local grocery stores. Almond flour/meal is excellent in baking protein packed muffins, breads, pancakes, etc. Almond flour works especially well when baking with whey protein powder, which has a tendency to dry out your baked goods. It is also an excellent choice if you are following gluten free or lower carbohydrate diet.
The good thing is that because there are so many options when adding almonds to your meal plan, you don’t have to rely solely on eating them out of a ziplock bag while on the run! Here are 12 tasty ways that you can add these powerful nuts into your daily muscle building plan:
Create your bowl of morning oatmeal by mixing oats, protein powder, and almond milk. Top oats with crushed almonds such as Blue Diamond Toasted Coconut Almonds for extra flavor and crunch!
2. Crispy Chicken
Toss almond flour with your favorite seasoning. Dip your chicken breast strips in egg white and then roll in your seasoned almond flour. Bake at 375 until desired doneness.
3. Chocolate-Covered Almonds
Toss your almonds in melted dark chocolate to create a chocolate almond treat.
Make a fresh batch of homemade apple spice muffins (or any other flavor) by replacing ¼ cup of regular flour with ¼ cup almond flour. The combinations of flavors for muffins are endless: blueberry, banana nut, pumpkin spice, etc.
5. Pancakes & Waffles
Make flavorful pancakes and waffles using a combination of almond flour, protein powder and eggs.
Layer 1 tortilla with Nuts N More Almond Butter, sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Heat in a nonstick skillet until golden and gooey.
Combine layers of greek yogurt, fresh fruit, whole grain cereal and toasted almonds for a power packed snack. You can even add some shaved dark chocolate for a double dose of superfoods.
8. Be Like Elvis - Sort Of
Get funky like the king with your lunch time sandwich: Spread almond butter on whole grain bread, top with sliced banana and cooked bacon. Toast it up until golden and your taste buds are SINGING!
9. Apple Crunch
Dessert couldn’t be more comforting! Chop up 1 apple and sauté in coconut oil over medium heat. Sprinkle with cinnamon and oats. Sauté for additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and top with crush almonds for crunch and a dollop of whipped cream.
10. Chicken Salad
Power up your lunch with a hearty chicken salad. Combine greek yogurt, mayo, chopped celery, shredded chicken breast, garlic powder, slivered almonds and dried cranberries for a salty and sweet lunch time treat.
11. Side Dish
Whip up a healthy Asian Slaw as a side dish. Shred cabbage, scallions and cilantro. Create a dressing of oil, vinegar, stevia and soy sauce. Toss your veggies with your dressing and top with toasted almond slivers.
Bake up a batch of deliciousness using this recipe for Almond Butter Cookies as a healthy dessert option.