There’s still time to bulk before you begin your cut for the summer months. Bulking sounds fun at first, until you’re so bloated it’s uncomfortable from eating so much food. You can’t stomach another meal of 12 oz of sweet potato, 8 oz of steak, and 2 cups of broccoli… you need HELP. And this is exactly what this article is about: the simple science of getting in more calories.
It doesn’t have to be hard, and gaining the “good kind of weight” (Muscle!) takes time. Remember: take the weight gain slow and controlled. The more fat you gain equates to more fat you’ll have to lose come contest time. Even if you’re not competing, it’s generally not a good idea to just eat everything in sight. More fat means decreased insulin sensitivity, and decreased insulin sensitivity means the harder it is to lose fat and build muscle. Remember: keep it lean.
Bulking: Why Do It?
Most people often associate bulking with just getting fat. Know that this is not what we’re talking about here: what we’re going for is putting on size without a lot of fat, and this is done by being in a slight calorie surplus to grow.
As a natural weightlifter, putting on muscle takes time and patience. Eating in an extremely large calorie surplus isn’t any more effective than being in a slight one, but you will gain more fat. Also: To gain muscle effectively, you MUST be in a calorie surplus. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing bicep curls till you’re red in the face, you need to be eating enough to support those gains. Nutrition is essential for muscle growth and development.
Getting In More Calories
Let’s have a look at how you can get in more calories:
1. Increase Meal Frequency
This one’s simple. Let’s say you’re eating roughly 3000 calories per day. Eating that with only Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, at approximately 1000 calories per meal may not be the most effective way to consume the calories you need. It is better to go for moderate sized meals with healthy snacks in between. Also: don’t skip breakfast if you already find it hard to eat enough.
Why not try some of these snacks to help you eat enough calories:
✓ High Protein Bar – 30g of protein & 24g of carbs
✓ Oats & Whey Bar – 23g of protein & 38g of carbs
✓ Protein Brownie – 23g of protein & 27g of carbs
2. Make A Meal Plan
Meal plans are effective. There’s no doubt about that. They allow you to ensure you’re hitting your calories every day, and also hitting a desired macronutrient target. Generally, if you’re trying to gain weight, I would recommend eating more often than less (Although – meal timing is irrelevant.
3. Drink Calories
This is definitely a big one. Getting all your calories from food alone can be really difficult, not to mention expensive. This is where using a protein shake can be a great way to increase your daily calorie intake quickly. Total Oats & Whey is a great product for gaining mass. It contains 27g of premium quality whey protein and 20g of carbs.
4. Eat More Calorie Dense Foods
Some of my favorites include full fat Greek yogurt, red meat, bananas, whole eggs, whole grains (think bread, pancakes, bagels, etc), pasta, peanut butter, and granola.
5. Don’t Overeat Veg
This could possibly be the first time in your life you’ve been advised not to eat vegetables. Vegetables are important for overall well-being and health. However, they also fill you up fairly easily, and are generally low in calories. What I would recommend is still eating vegetables, but in lower serving sizes.
6. Make It Taste Good
You’re not gonna want to eat if you’re struggling to swallow each mouthful. Eat foods that you thoroughly enjoy eating, and make them taste good as well. Eating shouldn’t be a chore, you should enjoy it. SO, learn how to cook. This is a perk of being a bodybuilder: you gotta make all that food! Instant master chef.
Take Home Message
To gain muscle effectively, you must be in a calorie surplus. Why? Being in a calorie deficit impairs the body to synthesize muscle proteins, it impairs workout performance, and hinders hormone levels. However, eating more doesn’t have to be difficult: use these tips, and I guarantee you’ll be doing just fine! Just stay in a slight calorie surplus each day and focus on gaining strength on all of your compound lifts, and you’ll be gaining muscle just fine. As always, stay strong.