Adding bulk takes more than just lifting weights. Most of the struggle involves eating the right foods and taking in the proper amounts of nutrition. Without a clean and healthy diet, you cannot expect to get noticeable muscle gain without throwing a lot of unwanted fat into the mixture.
The keyword above is “clean”. Simply consuming a huge amount of calories wherever possible is not a clean or healthy solution. The latest fad diet being promoted on television is not usually a good answer either. The only real solution is to understand the nutritional requirements of the body, the demand that bulking places on those requirements, and then to find healthy foods to meet the demands.
A Diet with Clean Calories
If you want to gain muscle, then adding extra calories to your diet is one of the first steps. The exact amount of calories you need to take in is determined by your age, sex, and size. Most people who lack muscle mass need to take in at least an extra 1000 or 2000 calories each day. The average bulking diet aims for around 3500 calories each day.
Whether you need 100, 500, or 2000 extra calories each day, you have to pay careful attention to where these calories are coming from. Eating burgers, fries, and pizza is not a safe solution. The calories your body needs to gain muscle mass come in three different categories. There are fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Carbs provide energy for the body. Proteins help build muscle. Fats perform a few different jobs such as improving cell function and helping the body absorb vitamins.
The body requires these three types of calories in differing amounts. Your diet should be broken down into 20 percent fat, 40 percent carbs, and 40 percent protein. This will help you gain muscle without packing on too much additional fat. Many people break their diet down into 5 to 7 meals each day, each with the same ratio of fats-to-carbs-to-protein.
Healthy Sources of Proteins
Protein should be a part of every meal. It is used to repair muscles and thus, allows them to grow larger. The majority of muscle growth occurs during sleep. Protein should be spread evenly throughout each meal to allow for adequate repairs to be made during the day and night.
While carbs and fats have healthy and unhealthy variations, all protein is considered healthy. However, not all foods with protein are healthy. Perhaps one of the healthiest and most useful sources of protein is chicken. A skinless chicken thigh or breast is loaded with protein, and not too many bad calories, and it can be prepared in a variety of healthy dishes.
Lean beef and bison are both great alternatives to chicken and allow for some variety in your bulking diet. Eggs are a healthy source of protein for breakfast. Most nuts are great non-meat sources of protein as well. Adding skim milk to any meal will provide a noticeable protein boost.
One final source of protein you can add to your diet is grilled fish. Not only does it have plenty of protein, but certain types of fish are loaded with essential fatty acids (EFA) that will contribute to your daily fat intake goals.
The Right Carbs
Most foods contain some amount of carbs. What is important is eating the correct amount of carbs as well as the correct type. Carbs that are used immediately are converted to energy. This is the energy used to work out and perform cellular functions in the body. The rest of them are stored in the body as fat, which is what you do not want to happen. Thus, the key is eating just the right amount of carbs to build muscle and no more.
As for the types, there are simple carbs and complex carbs. Your goal should be to add food to your diet that contains complex carbs. You find these in beans, vegetables, and whole grains. Simple carbs are made of only sugar molecules. They provide quick energy but are not healthy. Green vegetables, oats, potatoes, and beans are all healthy sources of complex carbs. Add these foods to your meals to help meet your daily carbohydrate requirements.
The Other Twenty Percent
The final twenty percent of a safe and clean bulking diet belongs to fats. As with carbs, there is a type of fat you want to avoid and some types that are good. Saturated fat is a bad kind of fat. You can find this in some oils and highly processed foods. You want either monosaturated fats or EFAs in your diet.
EFA is readily available in various forms of fish (salmon) and leafy vegetables. Monosaturated fats can be found in olive oil and some nuts. Coconut oil is another excellent option to add to any clean bulking diet. Remember, these should account for the smallest percentage of your daily intake.
Many foods listed above contain some carbs, some proteins, and some fats. Fish, for example, crosses all of the lines, which is why it can be a very powerful addition to a safe bulking diet. Remember to calculate the different types of calories found in each food you add to a meal. If you find that you are putting on too much fat while bulking, it usually means you are taking in too many carbs.