In a world full of sickness and disease, it’s crucial that we keep ourselves healthy. Obviously our muscle-building lifestyle gives us a leg-up (especially on leg day…lol!).
But there are some specific meals I’d like to point out that will help you boost your immune system even more. And of course, these meals will also help you pack on more muscle.
The meals you’ll have below are loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants. Not only will they boost your immune system but they’ll also help with muscle recovery from your workouts.
In addition, you’ll see that each meal is supporting by facts from reputable sources. Although many of these foods will look familiar, you’re going to learn how powerful they really are in boosting your immune system.
**Note: It’s important to understand that this post is not providing medical or professional advice.
The goal is simply to give you some healthy muscle building meals that may help lower your risk of certain diseases or getting sick in general.
Afterall, it sucks to miss the gym because you’re sick!
Immune Boosting Meal Plan
Your new meal plan includes 6 meals per day. This is a typical bodybuilding meal plan where you’ll be eating about every 2-3 waking hours.
*Despite all of the diet trends/fads, this is how most professional bodybuilders still eat!
Here’s how your meal schedule will look:
- Meal 1: 6 AM
- Meal 2: 9 AM
- Meal 3: 11:30 AM
- Meal 4: 3:30 PM – pre-workout meal
- Meal 5: 6:30 PM – post-workout meal
- Meal 6: 8:00 PM
This meal plan is designed assuming you train in the evenings. If you train in the early mornings or any other time of the day, just move your post-workout meal around accordingly.
For example, if you workout in the early mornings like me, you’ll just move meal 5 (your post-workout shake) to be meal 2. Everything else could stay the same.
Oils, Spices, and Seasonings
In addition to your meals, I’ll also include spices and oils that you can use so that your food isn’t bland.
Olive, peanut, avocado, sesame, flaxseed, and coconut oil are great options to cook with. This will give you some additional benefits in raising good cholesterol and lower bad, as long as you don’t overdo it.
In regards to condiments and seasonings, try to stick with low-sodium and no-added-sugar seasonings.
A great choice to spice up your food is to use hot sauce. Hot sauces have antioxidants and help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure, according to the article ‘Is Hot Sauce Good for You?‘ on smallaxepeppers.com. Especially the hotter ones like habanero, jalapeno, serrano and ghost peppers.
I also want to reiterate that the food listed for each meal below is supporting by facts from reliable and credible sources.
- Free-range eggs (whole)
- Steel-cut oatmeal
- Organic blueberries
Your first meal of the day is a simple muscle building meal packed with amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants.
Facts About These Foods
Free-range eggs have higher levels of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that supports your immune system. Free-range eggs also contain higher levels of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids than other eggs.
You can learn more about these facts and differences between free-range eggs and other eggs from the Medical News Today’s peer-reviewed article by Amanda Barrell ‘What To Know About Free-range Eggs.’
Steel-cut oats contain soluble fiber that stabilizes your blood sugar levels and helps lower cholesterol according to the Nuts.com’s ‘Benefits of Steel Cut Oats‘ (referenced from the Mayo Clinic).
This type of fiber contained in steel-cut oats, as opposed to insoluble fiber, is crucial for supporting digestive health.
Digestive health has a direct link to supporting healthy immunity per Ashely Duncan’s blog ‘Gut Check: Digestive Health Boosts Your Immune System‘ on NIFS.org. This has to do with the protection of microbes within your digestive system and the ‘good’ bacteria’s ability to fight off sickness.
Steel-cut oats can help increase your energy throughout the day. That makes it an excellent food to start your day with (you’ll need that energy to build muscle in the gym later!).
Organic blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and have several benefits such as lowering your risk for diseases (heart diseases and some cancers). Blueberries are also anti-inflammatory.
In fact, blueberries are the first food covered in Susan Seliger’s article ‘Superfoods Everyone Needs‘ on WebMD.com. She goes on to quote “Inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases, so blueberries have a host of benefits,” from Ann Kulze, MD.
TIP: You can add the blueberries to your steel-cut oatmeal!
Some people may skip breakfast, such as those who partake in intermittent fasting. However, breakfast is an important meal for bodybuilders and anyone who truly wants to build muscle.
Also, if you’re skipping breakfast you’re also not giving your body these nutrients and antioxidants it needs. So I do not recommend skipping breakfast.
- Chicken breast
- Jasmine Brown rice
Next, you’ll have what’s considered a common muscle building meal for many professional bodybuilders. It’s a straight-up lean protein source with rice and vegetables but you’re going to also have some added nutrition from fruit (and you’ll read why this fruit is included below).
Facts About These Foods
Chicken breast is this meal is mainly for the lean muscle-building benefits from protein. But you can add spices like turmeric, black pepper, and ginger to help boost immunity.
Jasmine Brown rice contains some fiber, iron and, B vitamins. It also has fewer calories than regular white rice. The article ‘5 Health Benefits of Jasmine Rice‘ written by Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA, on the epainassist.com website points out that Jasmine rice is packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients. This may help reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Spinach is considered a superfood and an obvious choice for boosting your immune system with its high amounts of vitamins A, C, and E.
It also contains vitamin K which strengthens our bones, which is essential for bodybuilders and weightlifters. You can learn more about how vitamin K strengthens bones in Mark Richen’s article ‘Vitamin K Plays Key Role in Bone Health‘ on the American Bone Health website.
An apple will be your sweet dessert, so to speak. The benefits of apples are backed by endless amounts of research. The takeaways are the antioxidants and how they regulate immune responses per Kerri-Ann Jennins R.S., M.D. in her article ‘10 Impressive Benefits of Apples‘ on healthline.com.
She also points out that you should also eat the skin it contains polyphenols and half of the apple’s fiber source. So an apple a day, well, you know the rest!
- Sirloin from grass-fed beef
- Carrots and cauliflower
It’s time to dig into a hearty and filling meal. You’re going to get plenty of protein to build muscle with a grass-fed sirloin. And you’re also getting more essential nutrients to go with it.
Facts About These Foods
It goes without saying that beef, in general, is an excellent source of muscle-building protein. But there are far more benefits with 100% grass-fed beef.
Grass-fed beef has higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants, and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) than other types of beef. CLA will give your immune a boost, but it’s also perfect for reducing inflammation, another important factor for anyone who lifts weights. This is according to the article ‘Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Healthier? Here’s Everything You Need to Know‘ by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD on health.com.
Quinoa is often used as an alternative carb source than eating rice. Quinoa has more fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients than most grains and seeds. In fact, quinoa is a staple in many plant-based diets.
Per the article ‘Health Benefits of Quinoa’ on the Medical News Today website by Megan Ware, RDN, L.D, quinoa contains a wide range of amino acids that support building muscle and immune activity. This article was reviewed from a medical perspective by nutritionist Megan Ware, RDN, L.D.
Carrots are high in beta carotene, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. It’s safe to say that carrots are a superfood! Add cauliflower and you get B and C vitamins.
You can read about the contrast of carrots vs. cauliflower on the foodstruct.com website and you’ll see how eating these foods together have a powerful impact on your immune system.
- Greek yogurt
Rather than a cooked meal, this can be considered as a wholesome muscle-building mid-day snack. It’s also great for a pre-workout meal because you’re not weighing yourself down with a full meal.
Facts About These Foods
Greek yogurt is loaded with calcium and probiotics, both of which are important to your immunity and digestive health. And according to Lana Burgess’s article ‘Is Greek Yogurt Good for You?‘ on medicalnewstoday.com, Greek yogurt also plays an important role in bone health and boosting metabolism.
Nuts have the ability to help reduce heart disease by lowering your LDL cholesterol per the article ‘Healthy Nuts: Health Benefits For Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Peanuts And More‘ on the huffpost.com website.
Nuts can also have testosterone boosting benefits, according to the reference above.
Oranges are known for their high content of vitamin C. But they also contain powerful compounds called flavanones, per the Nicola Shubrook’s article ‘The Health Benefits of Oranges‘ on bbcgoodfood.com.
Also stated in the article above, oranges could also help lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure.
- Whey protein
- Almond milk
- Creatine monohydrate
- Optional: add frozen organic dark berries
This meal is meant to be your post-workout meal. It’s a high protein shake with some simple carbohydrates to kick-start the recovery process so that you can start building more muscle from your workout.
Facts About These Foods
Whey protein has long been and continues to be a post-workout staple for bodybuilders and weightlifters for decades. And there’s a good reason why.
Whey protein has a complete amino acid profile. And according to Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, for MDLinx.com, whey protein is absorbed faster which makes it’s perfect for consuming after your workouts when you need to replenish your muscles. This is based on his article ‘Clinically Proven Health Benefits of Whey Protein.’
Almond milk has some heart-healthy benefits and can control your blood sugar as long as you get the unsweetened version (this is important!). It also contains 50% of the daily recommended vitamin E, per the article ‘Why is Almond Milk Good for Me?‘ by Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN on WebMD.com.
Almond milk also makes our smoothies and protein shakes taste awesome and adds a nice texture to them.
Bananas will give you a hefty dose of vitamin B6 which helps produce red blood cells, metabolizes amino acids, and helps maintain a healthy central nervous system according to ‘6 Good Reasons to Eat a Banana Today‘ on the healthxchange.sg website. Each of these benefits support boosting immunity.
Of course, bananas are high in carbohydrates with the natural sugars found in fruits. If that’s an issue you can enhance the banana for another lower glycemic carb source (some will put oats in their protein shakes for carbs).
Creatine monohydrate expands your muscles to that they can hold more water, thus building bigger and stronger muscles. Although this post isn’t covering supplements, this is something I recommend taking post-workout.
Here’s an interesting quote from research done on creatine:
“Creatine, the organic acid that is popularly taken as a supplement by athletes and bodybuilders, serves as a molecular battery for immune cells by storing and distributing energy to power their fight against cancer, according to new UCLA research.”‘Creatine powers T cells’ fight against cancer’ University of California – Los Angelas Health Sciences, sciencedaily.com
There are many reputable brands that carry creatine monohydrate. One of my go-to brands is Optimum Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate (this links to the product on Amazon).
- Sweet potato
This will be your last meal of the day. Your carb intake will be slightly lower than your other meals throughout the day. You’ll have a healthy source of protein with vegetables that are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. In fact, this could be deemed as the perfect immunity boosting meal.
Facts About These Foods
Salmon is a well-known food for bodybuilders and strength athletes. This oily fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and can also increase white blood cell count.
In fact, the nkytribune.com let’s salmon as one of the top foods for boosting your immune system in their article ‘These eight food tips can boost the immune system and help avoid illness during flu season.’
Sweet potatoes can give your immune system quite the boost because they’re loaded with antioxidants and help prevent damage from free radicals per Ocean Robbin’s article ‘Are Sweet Potatoes Good for You? Everything You Need to Know‘ on the Food Revolution Network website.
They’re also a fibrous vegetable containing vitamin C and B vitamins. Sweet potatoes digest a little slower and have a higher profile of vitamins and antioxidants than regular white potatoes.
Broccoli is considered to be a superfood by many health experts and it’s an easy addition to any meal (on that note, feel free to add broccoli to some of your other meals here!).
Per the article ‘Health Benefits of Broccoli‘ on healthyeating.org, broccoli gives you as much vitamin C as an orange but without the added sugars and calories. It’s also fibrous, contains B vitamins, and is an excellent source of beta-carotene, all of which are crucial to supporting a healthy immune system.
Cheat Meals Guide
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional cheat meal. It’s unrealistic for most people to stay on a strict diet all of the time.
Just set some rules in place for yourself when it comes to cheat meals. Here are some guidelines to help you:
- Plan your cheat meals ahead of time; this will help you stay on track (you don’t want one cheat meal to lead to several cheat days)
- Make sure that you are still getting adequate amounts of antioxidants and vitamins in your other meals that day
- Try to stay within your macros for that day as best as possible; I actually have another post that talks about how to fit your daily macros here: Flexible Meal Plans for Building Muscle Mass
Gain Muscle While Boosting Your Immune System
Boosting immunity is critical for building muscle. If you have a weak immune system, you’re going to be prone to disease and illness. And if you’re sick, you’re not going to be able to workout to build muscle.
As we can see above, it all comes down to our meal plan and the types of foods we eat. If you’re eating junk like processed foods or foods that are high in refined sugar, your body isn’t going to get the nutrients and antioxidants it needs.
So that’s a strong case for eating healthy and organic. Not to mention that foods like the ones in this meal plan will also give you the energy to workout harder and the ability to recover from your workouts to gain more muscle.
Try this meal plan; start it today! Go to your local farmer’s market to pick up your fruits and vegetables. And make sure you have a quality source for your meats, grains, and eggs.
If this meal plan and food information helped you, please share this post on your social media page.
Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,