One thing that helps an athlete to be more durable and more athletic is gaining muscle. Unfortunately, gaining lean mass isn't that easy for many athletes. Many athletes are lean to begin with. On top of that, they end up in a constant state of breakdown and calorie burn due to the amount of sport activity that's required. 

More functional mass means greater ability to produce force. This translates to better speed, agility, balance and more. It's also easier to absorb contact or impact from sport with necessary lean mass. Often, athletes tend to eat like their non-athlete peers. Their non-athlete peers can get away with eating insufficient calories and low intensity calories. An active athlete looking to gain muscle can't get away with that. If you want to be an athlete, you have to eat like one! 

Here are 5️⃣ Foods that will help an athlete support muscle gain:

1️⃣ Avocado - Adding half of an avocado to a meal brings healthy calories, fats, potassium and other key nutrients to help spare muscle breakdown. 

2️⃣ Pastured Butter - Athletes who strive for a low fat diet aren't helping themselves. A strict low fat diet can cause muscle promoting hormone levels such as testosterone to drop. Pastured butter packs a big calorie punch with plenty of healthy fat calories. Consuming enough healthy fats helps to promote appropriate levels of testosterone and growth hormone. Both keys to muscle maintenance and gain. 

3️⃣ Beans/Legumes - A great source of protein and fiber, beans can help you to meet protein needs. Beans also provide tons of vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, and iron to promote muscle function, recovery and growth. 

4️⃣ Olive Oil - Many athletes don't get enough calories to support muscle gain. Adding a few tablespoons of olive oil to any dish can improve flavor and quickly bump calories up to muscle supporting levels.

 5️⃣ Nut Butters - High in protein and calories to help spare muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth.


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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge.  He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

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