Great Carbs to Fuel Lean Muscle Gains
BEANS/LENTILS/PEAS: A great source of slowly digested carbohydrates and protein, beans, lentils and peas improve digestion and elimination, reduce cholesterol, and give you energy. They are full of proteins, antioxidants, folic acid and potassium. Complex carbs also contain significant amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. Beans are especially high in soluble fiber, and a daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18%, decreasing the risk of heart disease. Most legumes also contain protease inhibitors, which can suppress cancer cells and slow tumor growth.
Toss beans or lentils together with some rice or quinoa or spread them on a taco or nacho. Also for great soups boil either black or white beans, peas, or lentils — green, French or red are great – with your favourite veggies. High in calories, beans, lentils and peas also make a great way to get more calories to build muscle effectively.
GRAINS: Grains include a whole range of foods such as breads, cereals, pasta and rice. They contain valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables, as well as lots of vitamins, iron, minerals and fiber. Research shows a diet high in whole grains may help prevent heart disease, some cancers, obesity and diabetes.
For weight loss and strength, you need healthy grains. That means eating whole grains and staying away from refined grains like white rice, white bread, and white pasta. Instead eat grains in their natural state which are an abundant source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Such grains include grown rice, quinoa, barley, millet, teff and amaranth. Let’s look more closely at two that are especially good for bodybuilding: quinoa and barley.
Quinoa: A cross between oats and rice, quinoa is a mini-grain cultivated in the Andes. It is an excellent carbohydrate that also meets your protein needs. And, unlike rice, quinoa is a complete protein source so you don’t need to combine it with other foods to get the full spectrum of amino acids. This is important for the process of muscle building to take place. Quinoa is also very high in manganese, magnesium, and iron.
One cup of cooked quinoa contains:
- 254 calories
- 4 grams of fat
- 47 grams of carbohydrates
- 9 grams of protein
You can eat quinoa in many ways, including as a cereal, as a rice substitute, in soup (lentil/quinoa soup is a real treat), thrown into salads, part of a casserole, or as side dish.
Barley: Often found in soup, barley is another very good source of carbohydrates. It is also very high in selenium, which helps to prevent your body from damage by free radicals.
Barley has a rich, nut-like flavor to it and can easily be used to replace rice in most of your dishes. For a real treat, try mushroom barley soup.
One cup of cooked barley has:
- 193 calories
- 0.6 grams of fat
- 3.5 grams of protein
- 44.3 grams of carbohydrates
How Much Carbs Do You Need?
In a mass building phase, strive for 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight.
The great thing about a Vegan diet, is the fact that I eat organic foods. When it comes to carbohydrates, I only eat organic whole-grain breads which provide plenty of fiber and low-glycemic carbohydrates that keep blood sugar levels even. When in a mass building phase, I strive for 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight which comes out to 360 to 540 grams per day. I usually aim for the lower amount.