By Myprotein Writer Tyler Stark
As the winter months are upon us, many will be beginning their annual bulk. Most will start to pig-out for the post-workout meal at fast food joints and buffets, but what many don’t realize is that this is all possible without adding excess body fat throughout the process.
Below I’ll spell out what exactly you should be eating in order to gain size and mass, without getting a gut in the process.
A Fundamental Bulking Rule
First and foremost, in order to gain weight you must be eating a surplus of calories that is greater than the amount the body putting out. So bottom line, eat more calories than you exert.
Carbohydrates For Bulking
Carbs are a scary word to many because most relate carbs immediately to fat gain. In order to gain weight, carbs (and a lot of them) are going to be a staple in your diet. Things like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes and oatmeal are all perfect examples of things to include in a bulking diet.
The low GI content will help keep your blood sugar levels in line, avoiding spikes and crashes. Your carbohydrates should make up anywhere from 45%-50% of your daily calories on training days. On non-training days, aim anywhere from 35%-40%.
So if your not new to the fitness and nutrition scene some of you may have heard of carb cycling, but what actually is carb cycling, and is it essential for bulking?
Carb cycling is where you go 4-5 days of your normal carb-heavy diet and then really drop the carbohydrate percentage down around 10%-15% to let your metabolism recuperate and to let all other bodily levels even out. Scheduling these around your off days from the gym is ideal- this way you don’t have to fuel your body with as many carbohydrates.
Carb timing is also very important. There are two times during the day that carbohydrates are very essential- pre-workout and post-workout. With this said loading up on a sugary starch before is never a good idea. Still have your low GI carb source for pre workout and your post workout meal/shake should include some faster absorbing carbs such as banana with oatmeal or some white rice to really support those downed insulin levels from training.
Protein When Bulking
Proteins are probably the most essential macronutrient that you should include in your diet whether cutting, maintaining, or bulking. With the clean bulking plan you should be taking in around 35%-40% of your daily caloric intake. Things like red meat, chicken, fish, canned tuna/sardines, eggs/egg whites, milk, cottage cheese and whey/casein protein powders. Things like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and peanut butter/nut butters are also great additives to your protein intake as well as getting some healthy fats in.
Obviously things like fatty red meat and sausages are things you will need to monitor during this phase in order to keep your fat intake to a minimum. Red meat has a series of benefits whereby it is not only a good source of protein but also of iron and other minerals.
However, too much red meat can provide hefty levels of saturated fat which can raise cholesterol and blood pressure. Additionally excessive amounts of red meat has also been associated to various types of cancer- anything in excess is not good for us, so follow the “everything in moderation” concept. As with carbohydrates, these should be consumed through the entirety of a day in 5-7 smaller meals in order to help with absorption and digestion.
Pre workout meals should include proteins but something lighter such as a whey shake with water or some tilapia or tuna that is easier on the stomach to digest for the hard training session ahead. Post workout protein should consist of a whey protein that is fast absorbing to get the nutrients flushed back into the muscles from all of the wear and tear they just endured from the workout.
Fats for Bulking
Fats are probably overlooked as a dietary need, especially healthy fats. Within the clean bulk your healthy fat intake should be around 10%-15% of your daily caloric intake. These good fats include egg yolks, all varieties of nuts, olive oil and avocadoes. These should be the only fats consumed in your diet in order to keep your body fat low while increasing overall muscle mass.
A couple of tips to follow are to avoid these fats post workout because they slow down protein digestion where we want as fast absorption as we can get and also to increase these fats on non-training days. Healthy fats are a key factor in promoting the growth of natural testosterone in the body, which in turn increases muscle mass when used appropriately.
Supplements For Bulking
Supplements on a bulking diet aren’t quite as essential because of all the food you’ll be consuming but there are some that are definitely a must. Whey protein should be something you consume at least twice a day pretty much year round.
A pre-workout with around 150 mg of caffeine is a good idea to get your mind right and put all the fuel in your body in tune with your mind and trash some weights. Creatine is the other must just because of its anabolic properties; it will aid in recovery, weight gain, strength and focus gain.
A Take Home Message
Following a diet plan incorporating the above concepts with a rigorous weight lifting plan and smaller doses of cardio will attribute to some incredible muscular gains regardless of your stage in life or in the fitness world. Stick to the plan, stick to only good meals (zero cheat meals) and you will have one of the healthiest bulks of your life.