Top foods to eat to get those legs swimsuit-ready!

Everyone wants to have a great pair of healthy, toned legs. These powerful lower body muscles make you strong and help accelerate fat loss, boost hormones, and improve overall balance in the body. 

Apart from exercise to build strong leg muscles, a proper diet can also improve your legs' health. The right combination of the macronutrients: protein, carbohydrate, and fat, can help build strong, enduring leg muscles.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, protein should comprise about 10 to 35 percent of total calories in our diet. Carbohydrates should be the predominant macronutrient. Nearly half of our calories should come from healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, low-fat milk, fruits, and vegetables.
Fat should be consumed moderately, comprising about 25 to 30 percent of our overall diet.

Here are some of the top foods to eat to develop strong leg bones and muscles (and swimsuit-ready legs):

Yogurt

Yogurt is a well-known healthy snack and can be fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium, which helps strengthen the bones. It's rich in calcium, and an 8-ounce serving of low-fat yogurt contains around 9 grams of protein. Yogurt can be one of the best choices to meet your daily calcium goals.

Milk

Milk

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There's a reason why milk is known as a balanced diet. It is rich in protein and contains all the essential amino acids that the body requires to make strong muscles. An 8-ounce glass of skim milk can also provide almost 30 percent of our daily calcium intake. Like yogurt, milk can also be fortified with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which adds more nutritional value to your meal plan.

Oily fish like salmon, tuna

Salmon is a high-quality protein-packed fish. It's also rich in calcium and vitamin D. A serving of 3-ounces of sockeye salmon can provide more than your daily dose of vitamin D. This oily fish is also a very prominent source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential in building and repairing lean muscles in your body.

Like salmon, tuna fish is also a great source of protein and vitamin D. One can of tuna meat is loaded with almost 42 grams of protein. Tuna is also low in calories and rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You can choose skipjack and canned light tuna, which are both relatively low in mercury, as part of your healthy diet.

Leafy Greens

Spinach

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Leafy greens, especially spinach, are one of the healthiest foods. A 3-cup serving of spinach provides over 300% of the daily need for bone-supporting vitamin K. Cooked spinach is also a source of 6 percent of your daily calcium intake. It also has folate, potassium, manganese, zinc, fiber, and more. These nutrients support building muscle mass, bone density, and the body's inflammatory response. Even more, a 100-gram serving of spinach contains a whopping 3 grams of protein!

Apart from spinach, here are other greens that are beneficial for leg health:

  • Butterhead lettuce—2 cups supply 85 percent of your daily vitamin K and some iron
  • Collard greens—a rich source of calcium 

Lean Meats

Lean meat can be one of the best sources of protein to build muscles. Check out this list: 

Poultry lean meats: skinless white chicken breast, ground turkey, turkey breast  

  • 4-ounces of chicken breast provides 27 grams of protein
  • 3-ounces of 99 percent lean ground turkey serves almost 21 grams of protein

White fleshed fish: cod, haddock 

  • 3.5 ounces of such fish provides almost 20-25 grams of protein

Pork and beef lean meats: pork and beef tenderloins, eye of round steak, loin chops 

  • Grassfed, eye round steak is the leanest cut beef  
  • 3-ounces of 95 percent lean ground beef contains creatine and iron, and almost 24 grams of protein
  • 3-ounces of pork tenderloin contains nearly 13 grams of protein
  • Lean red meats pick labels with "Choice" or "Select" instead of "Prime" 
  • Lean pork choices either "loin" or "chop"

Bison: leaner and higher protein content than beef

  • 3-ounces provides 24 grams of protein
  • Densely packed in omega-3 fatty acids

Eggs

eggs

Photo by Monserrat Soldu from Pexels

Eggs are loaded with calcium, protein, and vitamin D. One egg provides almost 12 percent of your daily protein intake and contains 8 essential amino acids needed for muscle recovery.

If you're working out to build strong legs, consider eating whole eggs rather than only egg whites. Research shows that whole egg consumption contributes to a more significant protein fiber repair and recovery than egg whites. A post-workout meal of scrambled eggs and veggies can be the perfect choice for toned legs.

Beans

When it comes to building strong muscles, beans and legumes can be an excellent choice for vegans and vegetarians. Beans contain both protein and carbohydrates needed to fuel and repair muscles. One cup of black beans contains 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber.

They are also rich in folate, a B vitamin that helps muscle growth, and copper, which strengthens tendons. Some of the highest protein-containing beans you can add to soup and salad are lima beans, kidney beans, soybeans, and black beans.

Fruits and Vegetables

Avocados

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A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can keep leg arteries free of blockages, help in calcium absorption, and maintain bone mass.

Vegetables: avocados, okra, plantains, and fruits

  • Vitamin K impacts the bone-building process by regulating the osteoblasts and osteoclasts cells inside bones: asparagus, avocados, bell peppers

Fruits: 

  • Calcium absorption: blackberries, clementines, dates, dried apricots
  • Vitamin K impacts the bone-building process by regulating the osteoblasts and osteoclasts cells inside bones: blackberries, blueberries, uncooked figs

Nuts

Nuts

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Nuts and seeds are an essential part of a healthy diet. They are considered one of the best sources of plant-based protein. Following are some of the most nutritious nuts and seeds you can incorporate into your daily meal:

Pistachios: small, green nuts contain plenty of protein

  • 1-ounce contains 6 grams of protein
  • A higher ratio of essential amino acids when compared to other nuts

Almonds: high in magnesium which builds strong, enduring muscles

  • A quarter cup of raw almonds can provide 8 grams of protein
  • 75 mg of calcium per serving (equivalent to 1/4 cup of skim milk)
  • Raw or dry roasted nuts give you maximum benefits

Walnuts: beneficial fats help in reducing joint stiffness and pain, known to lower C-reactive protein (CRP)—a marker of inflammation linked to arthritis 

  • 1-ounce contains 4 grams of protein
  • Half-a-dozen walnuts give recommended daily dose of omega-3 fats
  • One of the healthiest nuts  

Peanuts: actually legumes, a great post-workout protein powdered snack, or grab a jar of peanut butter

  • 1-ounce contains 7 grams of protein
  • 12 percent of daily magnesium requirement

Cashews: creamy, tasty nuts form collagen, a key component of bones and connective tissue; a good source of protein

Other nuts: hazelnuts, macadamias have several nutritional benefits 

  • Hazelnuts - helps in the absorption of calcium for stronger bones 
  • Macadamias - rich in phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium, all of which help bone mineralization

While spring is almost knocking on the door, check out these delicious, yet healthy spring recipes. They are easy to make and perfect to have at the beach or after a walk or hike.

It is never too early to start caring for your body and getting ready for swimsuit season. A proper diet can make legs healthier and stronger than ever, as well as good looking! It's best to work with your doctor and dietician to get the perfect meal plan for boosting leg health. Also, check for allergic reactions when incorporating a new item into your diet.

Have you made any healthier swaps on your menu? Please share with us in the comments.