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Packing on slabs of muscle while keeping your summer shreds as intact as possible requires you to up your calories (sensibly). And while you’ll be eating more of all the macros—carbs, fats, and proteins—in your quest for new mass, we recommend prioritizing protein. One study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that individuals who ate a diet with 25 percent of their calories coming from protein significantly gained weight while increasing their resting energy expenditure (calories burned at rest) and lean body mass.
Instead of downing chalky protein shakes, though, you should consume whole foods to get most of your protein fix; they’re both nutrient-dense and more satiating (not to mention tastier). And one of the best ways to prep your protein is by braising. The basic idea behind this technique: cooking tougher, less pricey cuts in liquid for several hours over low heat to break down their connective tissue and reap meltingly tender mains. You’ll brown your meat first and sauté some veggies, begin a sauce, and then throw everything together in the oven for a few hours.
For best results, don’t rush. As with effective reps, take it slow for maximum impact. Stop cooking the meat too early, and you’ll end up with tough, hard-to-eat flesh. All the recipes here pack at least 60 grams of protein per serving, so they’ll have optimal flavor and plenty of the muscle-building good stuff. Plus, you can make these in batches beforehand and have meals for the week. Any way you slice it, these five recipes will ensure you bulk up better while keeping your taste buds satisfied.
Dina Cheney is the author of six cookbooks, including Year-Round Slow Cooker: 100 Favorite Recipes for Every Season.
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