Hardgainer foods: nine carb foods bodybuilders can use for mass production
Offseason bodybuilding nutrition is all about quantity and quality. To some degree, the more you eat, the more muscle you can add. Of course, there is a point of “expanding returns,” at which eating more than your body requires will simply lead to the accumulation of bodyfat.
When it comes to packing on size, you need to consume plenty of quality carbs, protein and healthy fats. Carbohydrates should make up the bulk of an offseason mass plan because they create an environment for growth by stimulating insulin release. The nine foods listed below are good high-carb choices that bodybuilders — especially hardgainers — can use to enhance muscle recovery and to pack on muscle mass. Keep in mind, these foods are for hulking and are not considered to be foundational carbohydrates for precontest bodybuilders or those trying to rip up.
1 Breakfast Cereals
Benefit: Convenient high-calorie food
Breakfast cereals with at least two qrams (g) of fiber per serving can be converted into good offseason bodybuilding foods. Fiber slows digestion, making cereal a good source of energy that can be eaten at any time. Double the serving size, mix in one rounded scoop of whey protein and enough milk to bring the carb content to about 60 g and the protein content to 30 g. Two good breakfast cereal choices among many are Quaker Oatmeal Squares and Healthy Choice Almond Crunch with Raisins.
Jay Cutler, Laura Creavalle and Mike Francois have relied on bagels as high-carb snacks to complement protein shakes or to make sliced turkey, cheese or grilled chicken breast sandwiches. Bagels are a concentrated source of carbohydrates (a medium one has 40-50 g). They also make offseason mass nutrition easy — no cooking or serious food-prep time needed. For added benefits, choose varieties with more whole grains, such as pumpernickel and rye.
3 Bran Muffins
Benefit: A mass builder with fiber
You can determine a quality bran muffin by reading the label, but your best bet may be to make your own. Purchase any high-fiber cereal that has a muffin recipe on the side of the box. Substitute honey for sugar, add two or three scoops of whey protein to the mix, and you have a high-carb protein-rich muffin. Fiber in the cereal ingredient makes the resultant muffins low glycemic or “slow burning,” which is ideal for bodybuilders who struggle to stay relatively lean while bulking up.
4 Cream of Rice Cereal
Benefit: Extremely easy to digest
Cream of Rice is easily digested, and it makes an excellent offseason food for packing in the carbs. Two-thirds of a cup mixed with water yields 65 g of easy-to-digest carbs. After cooking, add a banana, a cup of cottage cheese and some Equal or a few pinches of cinnamon, and you have a well-rounded meal with 30 g of protein and 90 g of carbohydrates.
5 Mashed Potatoes
Benefit: Strong insulinogenic carb
When you’re trying to grow, you. need fast-diqesting carbs in your postworkout meal. Fast-acting carbs generate a greater insulin surge than slower-acting ones, and the fast variety are superior at rapidly restoring glycogen levels. At 42 g of carbs per cup, you can eat two or three cups of mashed potatoes without feeling overly stuffed or bloated.
Mashed potatoes are also good for eating at other times of day. They’re one of the least filling of all carbohydrate foods, so they’re an excellent choice for hardgainers or those who don’t have a large appetite.
6 White Rice with Raisins
Benefit: Nonfilling high-glycemic carbs
Two cups of white rice mixed with a handful of raisins provide 115 g of carbohydrates — an ideal postworkout combo to help resynthesize muscle glycogen. As with mashed potatoes, you can also use white rice with raisins as a side dish with meals. Add white rice with raisins to a meat-vegetable-nut stir-fry for a great meal that’s also good for muscle building.
Benefit: Condensed source of carbs For bumping up carb intake, pasta has always been a great way to go. Four ounces (dry measure) yield 90 g of carbs that are easy to eat and won’t fill you up, so you’ll be ready to eat again within three hours. Adding meat and vegetables to pasta makes a complete meal that is high in carbohydrates, protein and calories.
8 Fat-Free Pop-Tarts
Fat-free Pop-Tarts might not be the first food you think of when you’re considering a bodybuilding diet, but they can play a role in a mass-gaining diet. You can carry these quick-digesting carbs in your gym bag and eat them immediately after training to kick start recovery. They have approximately 40 g of carbs. no fat, and they’re fortified with B vitamins.
9 Fig Newtons
Benefit: High in carbs and fiber
Desserts as a rule are off limits for bodybuilders. But some desserts are better than others. Fig Newtons yield about 14 g of moderate-burning carbohydrates per cookie. Moderate-burning carbs make a good pretraining snack. Fig Newtons are also somewhat high in fiber content. Eat these cookies after a food meal early in the day or with a protein drink between meals.
To order Chris Aceto’s training and nutrition book, visit www.chrisaceto.com or call (207) 934-7812.
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