Even though mainstream health wisdom condemns carbs now more than ever, bodybuilders know that the high-carb, low-fat diet is their best friend when it comes to both appearance and performance. Your muscles want glycogen and you better let them have it if you’re hoping for a skin stretching pump and new muscle growth! Of course, not all carbs are created equal, and we’re sure you’ve read all about the superiority of slow-digesting, complex carbs over the fast-digesting, high GI ones.
But that’s not the end of the story for bodybuilders, because they are actually required to enjoy a bunch of simple carbs at certain times of the day in order to facilitate performance and speed muscle recovery. Specifically, consuming high GI foods within the first 30 minutes after training will help you replenish depleted glycogen levels in the muscle by elevating your levels of insulin, which is responsible for driving crucial nutrients into your starving muscles. Consuming them with a protein shake right before a workout for the purpose of fueling your workout is also highly recommendable.
So here’s a list of six excellent high GI carbs that bodybuilders can rely on to enhance recovery and stimulate optimal muscle growth. Just keep in mind that it’s all about timing and moderation – you’re not supposed to build your whole diet around these foods or consume them in large quantities while cutting.
Breakfast cereals are a great source of energy that doesn’t require a lot of time to prepare and eat. Besides the good amount of carbs, they pack plenty of healthy fiber which will help slow down your digestion a bit. Here’s how to make cereals even cooler: throw in a scoop of whey protein.
#2. Bran muffins
Bran muffins are a smart, healthy replacement for regular muffins which can be made from oats or wheat and usually deliver between 3-6 grams of fiber per muffin. There are a few quality bran muffin brands out there, but the best option is to make them at home. All you need is cereals, honey and a few scoops of whey protein and presto! You have a healthy, carb-loaded, protein-rich snack with the addition of fiber which will again, slow down digestion.
#3. Cream of rice cereal
Cream of rice is an easily digested, fat-free snack option that provides plenty of carbs, vitamins and minerals. Prepare it with water, a few banana slices, cottage cheese and perhaps some cinnamon and you get a complete, cost-efficient meal with a great nutritional value. And it tastes amazing too!
#4. Mashed or baked potatoes
Potatoes have a high glycemic value and are one of the premium primary sources of carbs for hardgainers. One potato provides 26 g of total carbohydrates, 2 g of dietary fiber and 1 g of sugar. In addition, potatoes offer a great deal of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B6, potassium, niacin and magnesium that improve the body’s ability to develop and maintain muscle mass.
#5. White rice
White rice is an excellent source of carbs that can help you gain mass while staying lean. Two cups of white rice provide around 90 g of quality carbohydrates, and that number can go up if you combine it with raisins, dried fruits or some starchy vegetables. It’s pretty much the perfect muscle-building side dish.
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Pasta is one of those foods that are stacked with carbs but are not especially filling, and the hardgainer’s struggle is one of the few lifestyles where that’s considered a great thing since it makes you ready to eat again after a few hours. But pasta isn’t all carbs – 100 grams of whole wheat pasta provides around 80 g of carbs and 15 g of protein, which makes it a nice source of additional protein.