Muscle and fitness enthusiasts can get a little crazy and overly cautious when it comes to carbohydrate consumption – and rightfully so. The type of muscle building foods, specifically carbohydrates, you consume can make or break your physique.
In this article we’ll look at five less common carbohydrate foods that provide an alternative to the muscle and fitness enthusiasts’ typical staple diet of brown rice, sweet potatoes and oatmeal. Start rotating these less popular nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources into your muscle building diet so you continue to increase your muscle gains with ease.
1. Black beans
Why it’ll make you grow: Just one cup of black beans (dried) yields 227 calories, less than one gram of fat, 41 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of protein. For skinny guys who require more calories to pack on some weight, beans give you a great bang for you buck. Beans are one of the few foods that give you a combination of high carbohydrates, proteins and calories, void of the fat, all in the same food source.
Lately I’ve been eating at Chipotle, my new favorite Mexican restaurant, and getting the chicken bowl with cooked rice, brown beans, black beans and guacamole – a powerful muscle-building meal that provides you with all the nutrients you need to get you out of those medium sized t-shirts in no time.
If black beans don’t get your taste buds juicing, then consider kidney beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans, or pinto beans. Green beans are the only type of bean low in calories and better to use as a vegetable source, not a muscle-building carbohydrate source.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Why it’ll make you grow: Whether you get your dark leafy greens from kale, Swiss chard, collard green or spinach, these are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. Known for their extremely low caloric value, they are packed with an encyclopedia of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, making it even more critical to make greens a part of every meal.
Dark leafy greens are also excellent sources of natural nitrates, which increase levels of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to working muscle which results in all-out training sessions feeling less brutal.
Dark leafy greens take the top of the class when it comes to Vitamin C, an antioxidant involved in the production of carnitine. Carnitine is required for fat oxidation. Strive for at least five servings of dark leafy greens every day. Once that becomes a natural routine, boost it up to 10 servings for optimal health and performance.
Why it’ll make you grow: Just one cup of cooked quinoa will give you 254 calories, four grams of fat, 47 grams of carbohydrates, and nine grams of protein. This is easily one of the most nutritionally charged types of grains and has been historically noted for being the main power food for the ancient Incan armies.
Unlike rice and pasta, quinoa contains a full complement of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source, so if you’re a vegetarian this is a no-brainer option to meet your needs.
Quinoa is nutritionally high in manganese, folate, fat fighting fiber, iron and magnesium, a mineral that is shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can keep fat gain at bay. Compared to refined carbohydrate sources like white rice or white pasta, quinoa digests slower, providing more sustainable energy and less chance of fat storage.
Why it’ll make you grow: A serving of four perogies contains 190 to 210 calories and the calorie count rises when you include higher-fat cheeses or meats such as bacon. I prefer the traditional Polish variety stuffed with mashed potatoes and cheese. This will give you about 41 grams of carbohydrates, seven grams of protein, 4-8 grams of fat and 2-4 grams of fiber.
The best part about perogies is that they pack a lot of calories into a small meal, they taste amazing and they give your body a break from all the standard oatmeal, sweet potatoes and brown rice that become too common and boring in the quest for muscle mass.
I’m no Italian chef so I keep my preparation strategy simple – all I do is boil them in water and then lightly fry them in a bit of olive oil. This can make an amazing post workout meal when you combine them with some cottage cheese to achieve a higher protein intake.
5. Ezekiel 4:9 Cereal
Why it’ll make you grow: This organic sprouted whole grain flourless cereal contains all organic sprouted ingredients including whole wheat, malted barley, whole millet, whole barley, almonds, whole lentils, whole soybeans, whole spelt, filtered water and sea salt. It’s so healthy, I’ve used it has a diet food as well. You can choose from three different flavors: Almond contains almonds, Golden Flax contains organic golden flax seeds and Cinnamon Raisin contains organic cinnamon and raisins. Use all three!
According to Food for Life, the creator of Ezekiel 4:9 Cereal, most grocery store breads contain whole-dry or milled grains. Food for Life takes whole grains and allows them to sprout before processing them instead. This process lets the grain release enzymes, which increase the nutritional value of the grain.
You will not find dough conditioners, artificial additives, flavors, colors, or preservatives in any of Food for Life products. Nutritionally, this is the only acceptable cereal for muscle and fitness enthusiasts because they are far superior to the processed and sugary cereals you normally find in a grocery store.
Just one cup of Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal, Almond flavor, jams a whopping 76 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein. Mix your cereal with your favorite chocolate or vanilla protein powder and you have one heck of a tasty and nutritious post workout muscle building meal.
Expanding the size of your muscles simply requires you to expand your food options to prevent boredom and offer your body a variety of nutrients to add to your muscle building diet and keep your muscles growing from week to week.