Many athletes are looking to get on board with the “bulking” trend. Bulking involves gaining weight and overall muscle mass to support strength development. Most athletes interested in bulking understand the time it will take in the gym to achieve results. Yet, just as important is time outside the gym. Nutrition plays a key part in your clients’ bulking success.
Nutrition for bulking in simplest terms involves eating more calories than you expend. This keeps your body in a positive caloric balance. When the body is in a positive caloric balance it enters an anabolic growth state.
The easy part is understanding that you need to eat more calories than you burn. The hard part is knowing exactly how many calories that is. Unfortunately, it is not a cut and dry answer. Everyone’s body is unique. This lends to difficulty in standardizing the exact number of calories needed when bulking. Daily caloric needs depend upon several factors including age, gender, body weight, activity level, and genetics just to name a few.
Eating too few calories when training for bulking is one of the biggest mistakes your clients can make. Bulking does not lead to well-defined abs. Bulking leads to gaining weight and packing on extra mass to build overall strength. A general rule is to consume an excess of at least 2,500 calories per week. This should lead to about one pound of gained mass per week. The extra calories consumed are necessary for your clients desired results.
Formulas to calculate your client’s total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) can be helpful. TDEE is a measure of the calories required per day to support normal function. You can then add on extra calories from here to promote bulking. Such a formula can be useful to recalculate your clients’ weight as it changes during their bulking phase.
The most important part of bulking is getting your clients eating more calories. But just as important is what these calories consist of. What exactly should your clients’ high-calorie diet look like to help them gain weight and lean muscle in a healthy manner?
The body requires three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Determining the necessary macronutrient ratios is critical when bulking. Higher carbohydrate, moderate protein, and lower fat ratios have been shown to promote bodybuilding and muscle growth.
Recommended percentages of total caloric intake:
Carbohydrates supply a necessary energy source during training. When we consume carbohydrates, they are broken down and used to replenish glycogen stores within the muscle. When the muscles perform work, they rely on these glycogen stores to develop and create energy to perform the task at hand. Consuming adequate carbohydrates prior to training reduces glycogen depletion. This may aid in enhancing overall performance. Failure to consume adequate carbohydrates may impair strength training and muscle development.Protein
Protein supplies the building blocks in recovery and repair to form new muscle. Protein is made up of amino acids. These are often referred to as the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids play many important roles within the body. They are most importantly needed for growth and repair. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to function and grow properly. Although all 20 are important for overall health, nine amino acids are classified as essential. Essential means that they cannot be made by your body. Essential amino acids must be consumed through your diet.
Amino acids are composed of nitrogen. When you consume adequate protein your body experiences a positive nitrogen balance. This balance is the body’s total pool of protein available for use. A positive balance signals the body into an anabolic muscle-building state. Failure to consume enough protein will not signal this anabolic state. If your clients are not consuming enough protein, the body will use the protein available to simply maintain rather than build muscle. Encourage your clients to consume adequate protein to support new muscle growth.Fat
Fats can also supply energy to the body and support cell growth. Healthy fat consumption should never fall below 15% of total calories. Hormones are constructed from cholesterol and fat molecules. Consuming inadequate amounts of healthy fats can suppress normal hormone levels. Hormones are responsible for bodily functions such as growth and development. Irregularity in hormone levels can negatively affect your clients’ attempt at bulking. Be sure your clients are incorporating healthy fats into their diet.
Calorie goals are dialed in. Macros are set. Now it’s time to discuss what foods your clients should be eating to hit their bulking goals.
There are healthy and unhealthy ways to approach bulking. There’s a big difference in filling up on nutritious homemade meals or eating junk food all day to hit your macros. The best and healthiest option for your client is to eat for clean bulking. The following food options support healthy clean bulking.Key Proteins for Bulking
Supplementing with protein powder can be an easy way to get more protein into your clients’ diet. Two healthy options are whey protein and casein protein.