Bulking is the process of eating more calories than your body needs to put on weight and build muscle with resistance training. You might follow that up with cutting, a process that involves eating fewer calories and doing more cardio to burn the fat.
Many bodybuilders adopt this practice to experience a wide range of potential benefits. Some of these benefits might be building muscle, losing fat, and making you feel better about your body.
Whatever your reasoning, you may be ready to try bulking to see if this health practice works for you. However, there can be value in brushing up on your food knowledge before you begin. When the time comes to start your bulking journey, consider including these macronutrients in your diet.
After reading a useful guide to dirty vs. clean bulking, you may have seen carbohydrates mentioned multiple times. Carbohydrates are an essential energy source while you’re training. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down for use in your muscles to replenish your glycogen stores.
These stores can be depleted during any muscle training activities, but consuming carbohydrates before you train may reduce just how much glycogen you actually lose. If you don’t consume enough carbohydrates, you may find that your muscle development and strength training suffer.
Best Carbohydrates to Consume While Bulking
Everyone’s carbohydrate-rich food preferences vary depending on whether you’re following a ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ bulking plan. However, some foods are certainly preferred over others, such as:
- Whole grain bread
Vegetables don’t tend to have the same volume of carbohydrates as many other food types, but they are an excellent source of complex carbs. They are also crucial for your health and wellbeing during this intensive training program. When you consume vegetables, you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs to support growth and repair.
Some vegetables also stand out more than others, such as sweet potatoes. This root vegetable is packed full of carbohydrates and other nutrients and is a favorite post-workout meal for many since it can restore your glycogen levels with minimal effort.
Don’t forget to include plenty of fruit in your diet, as well. The natural sugars may help you achieve your bulking goals, and many fruits contain helpful antioxidants and nutrients that protect against cell damage. Both fresh and dried fruit may be something you consider adding to your diet.
If you’re looking for a quick carb fix, include old-fashioned oats, rice, and whole grain bread into your daily menu. They can provide you with extra calories and energy while being vessels for other ingredients like fruit, vegetables, and spreads.
We’re often told to limit fat in our diets to avoid weight gain, but when your goal is to bulk up, fat is something you may decide to actively include. Fat is crucial for supporting healthy cell growth and giving your body energy. When you don’t consume enough healthy fats, your hormone levels can suffer, and your body may not be supported in its growth and development.
Best Fats to Consume While Bulking
As challenging as it might seem to eat healthily and consume fat, it may be possible with foods containing healthy fats, such as:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
Many of these high-fat foods can be eaten on their own, as part of a dish, or added to complete meals. Coconut oil and olive oil can be used in dressings or added to foods, while nuts make a nutritious and delicious snack. Nuts are also packed full of nutrients and contain monounsaturated fats.
In recent years, avocados have also gained quite a following in a wide range of diets. They are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids and may reduce inflammation. Their high levels of vitamin E and antioxidants may also support your cardiovascular health during training.
Whether you’re bulking up or just trying to eat healthier, eggs may form part of your diet. They are affordable, versatile, delicious and an excellent source of protein and healthy fat. Eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even as a snack.
When you’re bulking up to feel and look healthier for your own benefit, protein is one of the most crucial macronutrients to include in your diet. Protein aids in muscle recovery while also assisting with the formation of new muscles.
Protein consists of amino acids, which you may hear referred to as the building blocks of protein. They all play essential roles in your body, and there are at least 20 different amino acids required to perform various tasks. Our bodies can create many of these amino acids, but at least nine have to come from the foods we eat.
Best Protein to Consume While Bulking
You can consume the protein your body needs through powder, food, or both. Whey protein and casein protein both have the nine essential amino acids our bodies need, and most brands may also assist with muscle tissue growth and muscle repair. Whey protein is low in lactose, so it may be an excellent option if you have lactose sensitivities. However, you can also get protein through the food you eat, such as:
- Lean beef
- Dairy products
Lean cuts of meat are high in protein with zinc, iron, and b12. Chicken breast may also be a preference since just three ounces of chicken may contain over 20 grams of protein. When you tire of chicken and beef, seafood can be an excellent source of low-fat protein, while salmon is higher in fat but contains both protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Complement these ingredients with beans that have plenty of dietary fiber and dairy products like yogurt and cheese with calcium, protein, and vitamin D.
How Many Calories to Consume While Bulking
When you decide to take your bodybuilding to the next level with bulking, you’ll likely research the foods that may benefit you on your journey the most and the amount of exercise you need to do. However, you also need to determine your caloric intake to get the most value out of the process.
According to reviews involving competitive bodybuilders, the average calorie intake during the bulking phase is 3,200 for women, compared with 1,200 during the cutting phase.
When the time comes to start bulking, it’s crucial to do your research. Your body needs macronutrients to function at its best, and these food types above may help you remain healthy and on track to reach your fitness goals.