You’re never going to look the way you want if your diet isn’t in check. That’s just a fact, and the first step to mastering your nutrition is to figure out how many calories to eat and then how much of each macronutrient (protein, carbs, and fats) to consume.

You know you need to eat a lot of protein and that high-calorie fat should be kept to a minimum. But what about carbs? Is there such a thing as healthy carbs?

Carbohydrates get a very bad rap in the fitness world. But there’s an important place for carbs in your diet, especially if you’re looking to pack on serious mass.

Of the three main macronutrients, carbs are the most controversial. Some dieters think you should eat as few as possible, while others like to load up on them for more energy to train. We’ll make this easy for you—the M&F food pyramid suggests that you eat one gram per pound of body weight to lose fat and two grams per pound of bodyweight to gain. (Of course, you may have to play around with that number a bit depending on how fast you’re gaining or losing. Aim for a pound per week either way.)

The second key to carb control is to pick the right carbs. Elios French Bread pizza, as good as it may taste, won’t do much for your fat loss or muscle gain goals. We’re not telling you that you’ll never eat foods that taste good again. In fact, a lot of the carbs on the following list, such as mashed potatoes and pasta, are delicious. You’ll just have to be careful about loading up on the not-so-good extras such as pasta sauce, gravy, and cream cheese.

We have compiled this list of seven great high-carb foods 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, so time your carb intake wisely.

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