Looking to build muscle and love pizza? Well, good news! Eating pizza can support muscle growth if done correctly. Pizza contains protein, carbohydrates, and fat – all nutrients important for building muscle.
However, not all pizzas are created equal when it comes to nutritional value.
Fast Facts: Yes, you can still build muscle eating pizza! Choosing pizzas with high-quality ingredients like lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables can provide a muscle-building meal.
The Importance of Protein for Building Muscle
Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. When you strength train, you create small tears in your muscle fibers.
Consuming adequate protein provides your body with the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild those muscles even stronger.
Most nutrition experts recommend eating 0.5-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily for muscle growth. For a 150-pound person, that equates to 75-120 grams of protein each day.
Pizza can contain a good amount of protein, especially if it includes:
- Lean meats like chicken, turkey, or ham
- Low-fat cheese
- Veggie toppings like spinach, peppers, and mushrooms
Going for a pizza packed with lean protein sources ensures you get quality protein to support muscle repair and growth.
The Role of Carbs for Muscle Growth
Carbohydrates are another critical nutrient for building muscle. When you lift weights, your muscles use stored glycogen for energy. Glycogen is the stored form of carbs in your muscles and liver.
As you deplete glycogen stores in your workout, your body needs to replenish them post-workout. Consuming carbohydrates after training helps restore glycogen so your muscles have ample energy for your next workout.
Pizza can provide an excellent source of carbs through the crust and any carb-containing toppings. Opt for whole grain crusts and load up on vegetable toppings to get quality complex carbs.
Complex carbs digest more slowly than simple carbs, providing a steady supply of energy to your muscles.
Whole grain pizza crusts and veggie toppings like mushrooms, onions, and peppers all contain beneficial complex carbs.
Healthy Fats Are Also Vital
While protein and carbs get most of the glory, getting enough healthy fats is also key for building muscle.
Dietary fats provide the building blocks your body needs to produce important muscle-building and muscle-repairing hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone.
The cheese on pizza contains monounsaturated and saturated fats. While saturated fat was demonized in the past, current research shows it’s not necessarily harmful in moderation, especially from nutritious foods like cheese.
Other ways to get healthy fats from pizza include adding avocado, olive oil, nuts, or nut butter. Combining pizza with a salad dressed with olive oil is another option.
Aim for 0.4-0.5 grams of fat per pound of body weight daily from unsaturated plant sources and lean animal proteins. On a 2000 calorie diet, that equates to around 44-55 grams of fat per day.
Nutrient Timing Matters Too
Nutrient timing can also impact your ability to build muscle from eating pizza. Consuming pizza immediately after a workout helps supply your depleted muscles with the protein, carbs, and fats they desperately need to recover and grow.
Post-workout, your muscles are super sensitized to absorb glucose and amino acids.
Eating pizza within the 1-2 hour anabolic window after training takes advantage of this muscle-building supercompensation effect.
Research also shows that spreading out your protein intake, rather than consuming it all at once, maximizes muscle protein synthesis.
So enjoying some pizza protein after your workout and then more later in the day can be an effective strategy.
Best Pizza Toppings for Muscle Building
Picking the right pizza toppings provides quality nutrients to support muscle growth. Here are some of the best options:
Chicken, turkey, ham, sausage, beef, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, anchovies, shrimp
Mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini
Extra cheese, olive oil, avocado, nut butter, pine nuts, pecans
Basil, oregano, garlic, spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes
Building a pizza with a foundation of lean protein sources, colorful veggies, and healthy fats ensures you get a well-rounded muscle-building meal.
Pizza Preparation Matters Too
How you prepare and cook your pizza also impacts its nutritional value. Here are some preparation tips for maximizing nutrition:
- Opt for thin crust instead of thick, dense crust to increase the protein-to-carb ratio
- Choose whole grain crusts over white flour
- Load up on veggie toppings
- Add extra cheese for more protein
- Cook pizza throughly to reduce unhealthy compounds that form when meats are charred or burnt
- Use healthier cooking methods like baking instead of frying
Preparing pizzas with nutrition in mind ensures each ingredient contributes to your muscle-building goals.
Incorporating Pizza into a Muscle Building Diet
It’s possible to build muscle eating pizza, but your overall diet matters too. Here are some tips for incorporating pizza into a muscle-building nutrition plan:
- Make pizza an occasional treat rather than a daily habit
- Focus on getting sufficient protein from high quality sources like lean meats, eggs, dairy and protein powder
- Round out meals with vegetables and complex carbs like quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes
- Time your pizza meals for after workouts when your body is primed to rebuild muscle
- Avoid overdoing calories, fat and sodium that could lead to fat gain
- Stay hydrated by drinking water with and between meals
By building your diet around nutrient-dense whole foods and making pizza a thoughtful addition, you can leverage it for muscle growth.
Sample Muscle-Building Pizza Meals
Here are a few pizza meal ideas that provide quality nutrition for muscle growth:
Post-Workout Recovery Pizza
Whole grain crust, topped with grilled chicken, spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, avocado and part-skim mozzarella. Served with a side salad.
Muscle-Building Breakfast Pizza
Whole wheat bagel thin crust, egg white base, turkey sausage, bell peppers, onions, tomato sauce and part-skim mozzarella.
Lean Pizza Bulking Meal
Thin crust with ground turkey, peppers, onions, spinach, oregano, part-skim mozzarella and parmesan. Served with sweet potato fries.
Anabolic Pizza Stack
Thin crust with shrimp, pineapple, spinach, red onion, banana peppers, mozarella, parmesan and ranch dressing for dipping.
Building balanced pizza meals with lean proteins, healthy fats, and vegetable carbs provides quality fuel for muscle gains.
The Bottom Line
Pizza can support muscle building when you choose the right ingredients and preparation methods. High protein options like meat, eggs, and low-fat cheese provide amino acids to build muscle.
Nutrient-dense vegetables supply complex carbs to fuel workouts and healthy fats to support hormone production.
Strategically timing your pizza meals for after workouts and spreading out protein intake maximizes your muscle-building results.
While pizza alone won’t build huge muscles, incorporating it wisely into a healthy, well-rounded diet can absolutely help you make lean gains over time. With some mindfulness toward nutrition, pizza can be part of a muscle-building lifestyle.
FAQ on Pizza and Muscle Growth
How much protein is in a slice of pizza?
Most slices of cheese pizza contain 10-15g of protein, depending on the size of the slice and amount of cheese.
What pizza toppings are high in protein?
Pepperoni, chicken, sausage, Canadian bacon, ground beef and extra cheese add more protein.
Is pizza bad for building muscle?
Not necessarily, if eaten in moderation as part of an overall healthy muscle-building diet. The carbs help fuel workouts and the protein aids recovery.
Should I eat pizza before or after my workout?
It’s best to eat pizza after a workout when your body can immediately use the macros for repair and growth. Avoid eating it right before as it may cause indigestion.
Is cold pizza as good for muscle growth as hot pizza?
Cold and leftover pizza is fine for muscle growth. The protein content doesn’t change. Just don’t make a habit of eating cold pizza every day.
Can I eat pizza everyday and still build muscle effectively?
It’s best to limit pizza to once or twice a week when building muscle. The fat and excess calories make it hard to meet macros eating it daily.