Bulking is a common term often heard by gym bros; all it refers to is a steady increase of your calorie intake alongside intense weight training in order to tack on muscle mass. The general consensus is that it is effective but whether or not it is healthy is still up for debate. The extra calories are meant to provide your body with enough energy and fuel to promote a muscle mass increase. That being said, body fat also accumulates during a bulk, leading to ‘a cut’ where the calories are decreased to burn off the fat and leave more defined muscles. So the question is: how do you bulk up effectively? Read on to find out.
Working Out Your Calorie Intake
As mentioned above, bulking requires increasing your calorie intake. You first need an understanding of your basic calorie intake needs, which you can work out using some form of calorie calculator. They take into account your height, weight and activity level. The number they give is the number of calories that you will need to consume in order to maintain your current physique. To bulk, you should increase this number by between ten and twenty percent.
After you have worked out your calorie intake, you can start to think about your macros. Macro is short for macronutrients which is an umbrella term for your protein, carbs and fat. The larger food groups that make up your diet. For the most part, protein and carbohydrates tend to contain around four calories per gram, while fat is over double, usually containing around nine calories per gram. Each of these is vital for your diet.
You can determine your own macro amounts, but most people, when making up their daily calorie intake, tend to do roughly half carbs, a third protein and the remaining eighth from fat. Carbohydrates give you energy, and proteins are instrumental in building muscle mass which is why they tend to be the two biggest contributors to the diet. Luckily, Ingredient Optimized have a list of the best bulking foods as well as a range of protein-packed products.
Foods to Include in Your Diet When Bulking
While some might simply view bulking as consuming a surplus of calories, there is certainly a right way and a wrong way to approach it. Bulking the right way will help to minimize the effect that the extra calories will have on your overall health. Ideally, you should be looking to incorporate foods that help you to reach your nutritional needs; this means foods high in vitamins and minerals and healthy fats and protein.
Fruits and vegetables should obviously be on your list. They are not only good for you, but they often are a high-density, low-calorie food, which means you can eat more of them without eating too much into your daily calorie intake. In addition, there are a lot of options out there when it comes to fruits and veggies, which means even picky eaters should be satisfied.
Your carbohydrate intake can come from a variety of sources, including grains and legumes. Most of the time, legumes can also be counted as one of your five a day as well as being a carbohydrate. There are also a lot of grains to choose from, and depending on your preferences, you can choose white or wholemeal versions, although there is often a calorie difference between the two which you might want to bear in mind.
Your healthy fats encompass a range of foods, including dairy, oils, seeds, nuts and nut butters. These are often seen as fun foods. The body does need them, too but in smaller doses. They can often feel like a treat, and they help to break up the monotony a little. Finally, there is protein which can come from a number of sources like eggs, meat, fish and poultry.
Foods to Avoid or Limit When Bulking
Although the goal of bulking is obviously to tack on mass and to do so, you need to increase your calorie intake; there are still some foods that you should avoid or limit because while they contain calories, they are lacking in nutritional value. Generally, you will want to avoid alcohol, foods and beverages with added sugar and deep-fried foods or junk food in general. Of course, they don’t need to be avoided completely if you don’t want to, but you should try to limit your intake as much as possible.
Bulking is an effective method used by gym-goers to increase muscle mass. However, it isn’t only for bodybuilders or gym bros, as you might think; anyone can do it. That being said, there is a healthy way to bulk to ensure that you have all of your nutritional needs taken care of. To bulk, you simply need to increase your calorie intake while continuing your workouts and focussing more on weight training. Bulking is often followed by a cut which is essentially the opposite; your calorie intake is lowered to put you in a deficit.