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The No-Bull Guide to Bulking

Forget the myths. Here’s the truth about when, what, and how much to eat to build muscle. Hint: It’s less than you think.

Timing is nothing
For the past decade, bodybuilding hype has stressed the importance of the so-called “pre- and post-workout windows.” The idea here is that ingesting protein and carbs up to an hour before weight training and within an hour after training will result in better absorption of these nutrients for superior muscle growth. Some product marketers and so-called nutrition experts have even threatened that your workout will be a complete waste if you don’t ingest protein and carbs at these times.

But the science to back this notion doesn’t exist. A 2013 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found no significant benefit to rushing protein intake within one hour before or after training. In other words, as long as you eat the food you need over the course of a day, you’ll have no trouble growing muscle.

That said, it’s still a good idea to have a protein-rich shake after training. It may not offer any extra muscle-building benefit beyond that of eating later, but it will provide a convenient and easily digestible meal to tide you over until you do eat again.

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The Best Bulking Foods
Make this list your go-to menu to gain muscle without fat. Protein is the main ingredient of muscle tissue, carbs power your workouts and prevent muscle breakdown, and fat supports hormones like testosterone that help muscles grow. The following are the healthiest sources of each nutrient.

Proteins: Lean meat (any kind), including chicken, beef, and turkey, Fish and seafood, Eggs, Protein powder

Carbs*: Potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Rice, Fruit

Fats**: Avocado, Nuts (all kinds), Seeds (all kinds), Oils (including olive and coconut)

*NOTE: We’ve excluded grains and vegetables from this list. Grains such as oats and wheat contain compounds that make them difficult to digest for many people and can cause stomach upset and bloating. However, if you feel you do fine on these foods, you're welcome to consume them in small doses, but make starches such as potatoes and rice your main carb sources.
green vegetables, on the other hand, should be consumed liberally, but because of their very low caloric value, aren't to be counted toward your daily calorie and macronutrient totals.
**Most of your fat intake should come as a by-product of your protein foods. For instance, egg yolks contain protein and fat, as do even the leanest cuts of beef. However, if you need extra fat to hit your allotment for the day, you can pick from this list of foods.

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