Top 15 Foods To Boost The PUMP and Build Muscle

We all have a Hype Man (or woman) in our lives. That friend who always says, “You got this!” “You rock!” and encourages you to reach your true potential.

Maybe you already have that position filled, or maybe you don’t. Either way, the pump can take step into that role whenever needed. Because really, what’s the pump other than your own personal hype non-gender specific being? 

It’s actually a lot of other things. 

Most of you know what the pump is, but for those of you who don’t…

Referred to as cell swelling by scientists, the pump is that feeling after a set of bicep curls, when blood pools into working muscles, creating a buildup of intramuscular blood plasma. Blood plasma seeps out of capillaries and into the spaces between the blood vessels and the muscle cells. This creates an extracellular pressure gradient, which causes plasma to flood back into the muscle.

Got a little nerdy on you for a second there. My (in)sincerest apologies.  

It’s important for you to know the whole “cell” part though. That knowledge will be crucial when I let you in on a (not so) classified cheat code later in this article. Because this cheat code works on several levels, including a cellular one. (If anyone doesn’t know what I mean by cheat code, it’s basically the same thing as one of those “life hacks” clickbaity websites talk about. Only difference is that cheat codes actually work.) 

Benefits of the PUMP

Before I tell you the secret, though, I want to make sure we’re on the same page. You need to know the astonishing benefits of the pump (cell swelling)

  • Transport nutrients to aid in recovery
  • It’s closely aligned with internal validation and what the avocado toast eaters call “self-love”
  • Satiates even the most insatiable egos
  • Encourage hypertrophy (muscle growth)
  • Can improve cardiovascular health
  • Provides motivation — unlike your hype gym partner who bailed…again.

Astounding, right? 

Here’s the problem: to get a truly epic pump the body needs to be primed. 

Many people fail here. 

The two biggest culprits for pump failure…

  1. Dehydration: muscles are like grapes. Hydrated, they’re plump and juicy. Dehydrated, though…shriveled raisins. 
  2. Poor blood flow: Remember, to achieve the pump requires blood to pool into muscles. It needs to travel quickly from point A to point B. Think of your blood vessels like freeways, and your blood like that sweet new electric sports car. That sports car is made to go fast. If there’s a traffic jam, that’s impossible.

To achieve the pump every time, we have to solve those two problems.

Today, we will be solving those two problems. By the end of this article, you will learn what foods are best for hydration and for blood flow. As well as one simple cheat code for optimizing your pump.

PUMP Factor #1: Foods For Blood Flow

Cinnamon: Animal studies have shown cinnamon improves blood vessel dilation. (2)

Pomegranate: High in polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates. Nitrates are potent vasodilators. One study found that subjects who consumed 1000mg of pomegranate extract 30 minutes prior to working out increased blood, and consequently exercise performance. (1)

Garlic: A powerhouse of health benefits, one of them being better flow-mediated vasodilation. One interesting study had 42 subjects consume garlic twice daily for three months. Results: they experienced a 50% increase in blood flow through the upper arm artery. (3) And really, is there anywhere more important than the upper arm for experiencing the PUMP?

That’s a rhetorical question. Of course there isn’t — okay, maybe glutes or quads.

Salmon or other fatty fish: Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Among nearly every other benefit known to man, omega-3 fatty acids promote the release of nitric oxide (i.e. vasodilation). (4)

Beets: These are as close to healthy cheat codes for the pump as you can get. In my younger years, I remember seeing the local gym-deity drinking what I thought was some clumpy red wine prior to his workout. I’m inquisitive about pretty much everything, and back then would look for any way to justify my drinking “habits.” I asked him whether it was Pinot Noir or Cabernet, and if the red wine antioxidants were what gave him such great pumps. He gave me his secret. Beet Juice.

Naturally I looked it up. Sure enough, beet juice improves oxygen flow in muscle tissue, stimulates it, and increases nitric oxide levels. I still don’t have his 20” arms, but the pump from beets is pretty dope.(5)

Turmeric: If you’ve read literally anything about healthy nutrients, you know about Turmeric and the compound found within, curcumin. Aside from being a powerful tool in alleviating inflammation and oxidative stress, it can also increase nitric oxide production. 

Here’s a fun fact for all you naturopathic enlightened beings: Both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have utilized turmeric for the pump. (6) Although they probably didn’t call it the pump — they weren’t that woke. 

And, for all you who disavow anything not grounded in science (modern man’s dogma), one study of subjects taking 2,000mg of curcumin daily showed a 37% increase in forearm blood flow and 36% increase in upper arm flow.(7) In other words, the subjects had to go out and buy new t-shirts since they ripped their sleeves during the 12 week study — last part is speculatory.

Peanut Butter: Fellow peanut butter addicts rejoice! As a superb source of iron, magnesium, and potassium, peanut butter can seriously help with blood flow. 

To make it even more beneficial for the pump, spread it on a slice of sprouted bread (rich in l-arginine and complex carbs), laden it with sliced strawberries for hydration as well as some raspberries for those antioxidants, and you have yourself a magnificent pre-workout snack.   I’d site some studies here, but I’m fairly certain my own self-experimentation wouldn’t be recognized as a “credible source” so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t give you a massive pump. At least you had an excuse to indulge in the greatest gourmet dishes in all of history — as well as perhaps one of mankind’s most astounding achievements.  

Spinach: On the opposite end of the deliciousness spectrum, we have leafy greens, like spinach. Spinach is packed with magnesium, which is pro-blood flow. Also, leafy greens are high in nitrates, which converts to nitric oxide, leading to better pumps. (8)

RAW Citrulline: If you feel like bypassing finding a food that’s rich in the king of nitric oxide boosting amino acids — L-Citrulline — you can always just stock up on some Bucked Up RAW L-Citrulline. It’s flavorless, so you can mix it into your existing pre-workout.

Pump Factor #2: Hydration + Electrolyte Balance

If your goal is to achieve maximal pumps, hydration is of critical importance. 

When looking at foods and drinks to improve hydration, things to look at are the water content in what you’re ingesting as well as if it’s rich in electrolytes or not. 

Electrolytes are a word that gets thrown around a lot, but it’s not often explained much. We’re just told it’s good for performance and health as if we’re expected to make purchases such as carby sports drinks just because someone said to…and we usually do, so, good going sports drink companies. 

To put it simply, electrolytes are electrically charged minerals; cells, muscles, and organs require both fluids and electrolytes in order to work properly. And by work properly, I’m of course referring to muscle contractions and nutrient delivery for better pumps. Electrolytes help regulate the balance of fluid in the body. Some types of electrolytes:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium 
  • Magnesium 
  • Sulfate
  • Chloride

Electrolyte Rich Foods

Watermelon: With a water content of 92%, watermelon is top notch for hydration. It also contains magnesium for that ever-important electrolyte balance.(9)

Cucumber: Water content — 95%. As well as being made up of 95% water, cucumbers also deliver some pump-positive nutrients; potassium and magnesium. (10) You can easily add them to your diet with salads, or throw them in your water with some lime and enjoy the perfect refreshing summery beverage. Admittedly, this method isn’t the best way to get all a cucumber’s nutrients, but if you’re like me and excel at tricking yourself into thinking someone’s totally healthy, it’ll probably work all right. Wait…something, not someone. Paging Dr. Freud.

Strawberries: Not only do these succulent delicacies contain 91% water, they also provide several antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and manganese.

Celery: I know. They’re not delicious. Get over it. These bland veggies boast 95% water content and they come packed with potassium. On top of their hydrating properties, celery can also help remove toxins from the body, which may or may not lead to helping you rid toxic people from your life.

To solve celery’s serious lack of taste, just do what subpar Americanized mexican fast food restaurants do with their subpar burritos. Smother away. Using peanut butter, not cheese or red sauce. This simultaneously makes celery edible and further boosts pump-potential. 

Himalayan Rock Salt: Salt in general is good for electrolyte balance since sodium is an electrolyte (so long as you aren’t eating the typical salt-heavy, potassium null diet). Himalayan Rock Salt, however, takes your hydration game up about eighty notches.

This precious pink salt is a mine of electrolyte benefits. (11) It’s rich in over 80 essential minerals, including; potassium, magnesium, sulfate, calcium, and chloride.   

Avocado: Avocados are as close to diamonds as a food can be; both in the awe they inspire and the sacrifices made to acquire them. Having recently earned the moniker “blood avocados,’ there’s a reason westerners allow the negative impacts of avocado farming (e.g. pesticide use, monoculture, deforestation, human rights violations, and farmers getting killed by the drug cartel) to continue. No, it’s not just for Instagram. 

The reason we turn a blind eye is because avocados are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. They act as a nutrient booster, enabling the body to absorb more fat soluble foods. They have more than 25 essential nutrients, including potassium and magnesium. They’re full of healthy fats, which can boost blood flow. And let’s not forget…guacamole. 

Pumpkin Seeds: An excellent source of the electrolyte, magnesium (74 milligrams in as little as two tablespoons). 

Exogenous Ketones: Okay, this isn’t technically a food, but exogenous ketones supply a massive amount of magnesium as well as other minerals that can aid the pump. Even if you aren’t on the keto diet, this supplement hack can simultaneously up your workout game and help preserve muscle mass.

Mix n’ Match: Blood Flow and Hydration Foods

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to race to your local grocer and stock up on all of these foods at once. For one, that’d cost a grip. For two, talk about a pain in the ass. 

My suggestion: treat yourself like your own personal lab rat and experiment. Try pairing a little watermelon with pomegranates pre-workout. Drink some beet juice and chop up some cucumber to put as a side dish with your salmon. 

Don’t worry about the sea salt; you can find Himalayan salt in any Bucked Up pre-workout. And for some of the aforementioned foods that take time to start showing results, check out extracts, or multivitamins that contain some. For example, Bucked Up Immune Support boasts a solid amount of Turmeric Extract.

And, if all that experimentation still isn’t enough, there’s one method I’ve found works wonders…

Take The Shortcut

Oftentimes shortcuts appear in life; some are great while others can set us back in the long run. Luckily, the shortcut I suggest belongs in the former grouping. It won’t fully replace proper nutrition, but it can close the gap between proper and perfection.

The shortcut I recommend is that you embrace the future. Accept the PUMP-OCALYPSE. It succeeds where many other pump products fail. 


Bucked Up’s PUMP-OCALYPSE solves those two problems — dehydration and blood flow* — the way a simple janitor approaches the chalkboard.

Pump caffeine free pre-workout

Using two powerful cellular hydrating ingredients (Betaine Anhydrous, GlycerPump), PUMP-OCALYPSE doesn’t just hydrate muscles. It HYPERHYDRATES them.* Grapey AF.

As for blood flow. PUMP-OCALYPSE is loaded with three different ingredients (Agmatine, Arginine HCL, L-Citrulline) to widen and relax blood vessels,* clearing the freeway for FAST transportation, and portentous pumps.

In case that wasn’t enough…

We added Peak O2. This Scientifically developed blend of mushroom strains has been clinically shown to increase strength and power output.*

That’s right. PUMP-OCALYPSE isn’t just a short term investment for looking your best. It’s a long-term one too. Every pump achieved in the gym with PUMP-OCALYPSE is a step toward more strength,* which means double the gainz!

You do want gainz, right?

Good. I thought so. Now click here. Go on, you can do it. I believe in you. You’re the best. You know how to make the easy decisions.

(Hmmm…I don’t make such a bad hype man myself)

But seriously. Go get your PUMP + GAINZ on. Learn more about flexible dieting.