By Flex Staff
For all but those in precontest mode, carbs should comprise the bulk of your diet as they create an environment for growth by stimulating insulin release.
FLEX has compiled this list of seven great high-carb bites that bodybuilders--especially hardgainers--can use to enhance muscle recovery and pack on muscle mass. Keep in mind, these foods are best for bulking and aren't considered to be foundational carbohydrates for precontest bodybuilders or those trying to rip up.
1. BREAKFAST CEREAL
Benefit: Convenient high-calorie food Breakfast cereals with at least two grams (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. For the best results, 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.
Benefit: Versatile Bagels are a concentrated source of carbohydrates (a medium-sized bagel 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 snack. Fiber in the cereal makes the end product 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 makes an excellent offseason food. 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-acting carbs in your postworkout meal because they generate a greater insulin surge and are great for 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.
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 use white rice with raisins as a side dish with meals. The combo can also be added to a meat-vegetable-nut stir-fry for a tasty meal that's perfect for muscle building.
Benefit: Condensed source of carbs For bumping up carb intake, pasta has always been a great choice. 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.