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Does Tuna Help You Gain Muscle?

by Sabrina Stapleton

About Sabrina Stapleton

Sabrina Stapleton has been writing since 2001 with her work focusing on academic writing in the field of health and fitness. Stapleton holds a Master of Arts in physiotherapy as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in sports rehabilitation and physiotherapy from Kings College University.

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Tuna is a fish that is low in calories and high in protein — and also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart. The properties present in tuna aid in the build-up of muscle tissue in the body, and are good for those wishing to lose weight. Understanding how tuna can assist in the muscle-building process may help you maximize your resistance training efforts. Consult your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise regimen.

Significance

Weightlifting causes small tears in the muscle fiber, which are then repaired as your body generates new protein strands to bind to damaged fibers. This gives your muscles a larger appearance. The body needs ingested proteins to help generate this additional muscle; this is how muscle-building and protein-rich tuna are connected.

Types

Tuna is available in different forms: canned in oil, water or salt or separately as a fillet. You can eat canned tuna as a snack on whole-grain crackers or bread. Tuna fillets with vegetables can make a nutritious evening meal.

Intake

Adults should consume 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight, the Harvard School of Public Health advises. This equates to about 15 percent of the recommended daily calorie allowance. If you want to build muscle, you must consume extra protein — approximately 20 to 25 percent of your daily calorie allowance. One 172-g can of tuna contains 41 g of protein, the PEERtrainer website calculates; at one sitting, a person could thus consume more than two-thirds of his daily protein allowance.

Effects

A lack of protein in your diet will cause the body to take protein from the muscles and not from fat, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — something you don't want if you're aiming to gain muscle. Tuna’s high protein content aids in building and maintaining muscle stores. The university also notes that the consumption of tuna alone will not build muscle; you must take up activity, such as resistance training, that will cause muscle tears that protein from ingested tuna can repair.

Warning

Consuming excess tuna can cause harm to the body if you do not have healthy kidneys, the Harvard School of Public Health warns. Tuna also contains a small amount of mercury, which can cause harm if consumed in great quantities. Consume tuna twice a week; it should serve as one protein source among many and not as the extent of a muscle-building daily diet, "Time" magazine adds.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.