Here’s what foods you should be eating to boost muscle strength

Having healthy strong muscles isn't just about spending time in the gym but also relies on diet

A basket filled with green vegetables
(Image credit: Getty)

If you are working toward building stronger muscles then it is easy to get caught up in looking for visibly bigger muscles and using this as a means of measurement. Growing stronger muscles can actually begin in the kitchen, starting with eating nitrate-rich foods.

The most common method people use to develop muscular strength is resistance training, a form of exercise that involves making your muscles work against a weight or some form of resistance. Examples of this are bodyweight exercises, weightlifting, or adding best resistance bands into workouts. 

In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, a team of researchers at Edith Cowan University discovered that eating nitrate-rich vegetables such as beetroot and leafy greens (kale, spinach, arugula and lettuce) can improve muscle function.

Analysing health data from 3,759 Australians the research team found that participants who consumed the most nitrate from their diet had stronger lower limb strength, faster walking speeds, and improved muscle strength for participants who didn't exercise.

Kale cooking in a frying pan

(Image credit: Getty)

Rob Hobson head of nutrition at Healthspan explained that when you consume nitrates from foods like leafy greens and beetroot your body converts the nitrates into nitric oxide. And this nitric oxide has a positive effect on exercise performance.

"Nitric oxide helps blood vessels to relax and expand which makes it easier for blood to flow through them. When more blood flows to the muscles you can get a surge of nutrients and oxygen which enhances muscle power and hence performance," added Rob.

So next time you go to work out at the gym, complete a YouTube workout from home or go for a run remember to consider how you are fuelling your body to feel strong and perform at your best.

Eating a diet full of nitrate-rich vegetables could really benefit the way in which your muscles build strength and remain in a healthy state. 

Not only this, but leafy greens also have various other health benefits to offer. They're full of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber and are low in calories making them a perfect side to eat with protein when trying to lose weight.

If you want to learn more about what vegetables are good for a cleaner diet and how best to serve them check out our guide to the best vegan cookbooks.

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.