Monday, February 8, 2016

Building Your Own Bulking Diet

This diet will assist with maximal muscle gain in the shortest amount of time. Appropriate exercise is also needed, of course!


Muscles need calories to grow. Without extra calories from food, muscles don't have the nutrients they need to get bigger. Too many calories, on the other hand, add fat to the body. This is why bodybuilders often diet in a bulking-cutting cycle, generally centered on their competition seasons. The bodybuilding season depends on which federation you compete in. To see which federations have their competitions in which times on South Africa, click here. The bulking stage allows people to eat all the calories they need without worrying about possibly overdoing it, rather adding fat mass to the body instead of eating too little which will hamper muscle growth. For people who don't compete, they often bulk in winter (when everyone is so fully dressed that their extra fat is often hidden) and cut in the spring (to get summer-ready, when their physiques are generally more exposed like during holiday, at the pool or with summer clothing).

What NOT to do on a bulk:

  • Eat whatever you want
Some people think that being on a bulk means that you can eat whatever you want. This is not true. The point of a bulk is to eat foods that will lead to optimal muscle gain, and just eating whatever you feel like is not the most optimal. You will need to measure your calorie intake, balance your macro nutrients (protein, carbs and fats) right and eat at the best times when the muscles need specific nutrients the most. The difference between eating according to a good plan and eating whatever you want could be a significant amount of muscle.


What TO do on a bulk:

  • Choose the best quality foods
If you can afford it, eat as much organic, free range, unprocessed and natural food as possible. For example, apples are rated on of the most toxin-contaminated foods. Some of the toxins sprayed onto apple trees seep into core of the fruit itself, which is poisonous. To explain the damage that these poisons can cause, significant amounts of farm workers who pick these fruits from the trees get sick from it. In some cases, over half of all the illness they experience is because of exposure to these toxins. Will this make a difference in your body's ability to grow muscle INSTEAD of fighting off these toxins? Definitely!
  • Weigh your food

Weighing your food allows you to make sure that you are eating the right amounts of calories and the right balance of macro nutrients for optimum muscle growth.

  • Eat often
Eat often so that your body always has the nutrients it needs to stay in an anabolic state (the state in which the body is building muscle). When the body is deprived of the nutrients it needs, it often goes into a catabolic state (the state in which it will break down muscle for nutrients). You do this by making sure that you have the right nutrients at the right time. For example, having enough carbohydrates along with proteins before and after training sessions for recovery and growth (muscles require carbs to fill their glycogen stores. This glycogen is the muscle's primary source of energy for anaerobic exercise) and having protein just before bed (so that your muscles can keep building while you are sleeping, where most muscle growth takes place. It is important to have use-able protein in your system at this time because your body cannot store protein. The muscles are used as a store of protein, which you DON'T want your body to tuck into. When your body takes protein from muscle, it breaks the muscle down in order to use its protein). Eating often also raises your metabolism, so that your body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy. Try to eat every two to three hours. 

Macro Nutrients

Here is more information about the different types of macro nutrients that you should eat per day. Aim for a balance of around 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat. This is based on the nutritional value of the food, not the food itself. For example, egg whites contain 11 grams of protein per 100 grams of egg whites. Eating 200 grams of egg whites is equal to consuming 22 grams of protein. 

Carbohydrates

Aim for around 3-3.5 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight, or around 1.5 grams of carbs per pound of weight. Most carbs should be in the form of complex, low-GI and fibrous carbs. These carbs take longer to break down in the body, which means it won't spike your blood sugar levels and burn out quickly. Fast-acting, quick carbs are however the best around your workout (just before, during and straight afterwards), because they are converted to energy so quickly. By taking fast carbs just before or during your workout, you have the energy needed to physically perform your workout and glycogen stores can be maintained. By taking fast carbs after your workout, you take your body out of its 'stress' mode and put it into 'rebuild' mode faster, leading to better recovery. Complex carbs should be used during the rest of the day though, as they provide slow-release energy that your body can steadily use for constant muscle growth and other daily needs.

Sources of Complex Carbs

  • green vegetables
  • oats
  • whole wheat pasta
  • whole-grains
  • potatoes (and sweet potatoes)
  • pumpkin
  • beans, peas, legumes, lentils

Sources of Simple Carbs

  • fruit
  • cereals
  • pasta
  • white bread
  • berries
  • fruit juice
  • chocolate
  • honey
  • yogurt
  • jelly

Proteins

Aim for around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or around 1 gram of protein per pound for international readers. Protein is needed almost all the time. Faster digesting protein is great for breakfast because your body has gone eight hours without it and as a pre-workout meal and as a post-workout meal because your body will need protein as soon as possible to recover and start building muscle as a response to exercise. Slow-digesting protein is best used before bed so that while you sleep, your body has a constant flow of protein to build muscle. Throughout the rest of the day, you can vary the types of protein you take. Whey protein is fast digesting and casein protein is slow digesting (these are protein supplements that you can buy, mostly as protein shakes). 

Other sources of protein

  • diary
  • eggs
  • fish
  • meat
  • seafood
  • beans
  • soy

Fats

Fat is an important part of your bulk diet that is often neglected. They aid anabolic (muscle building) hormone production and use, improve insulin activity, are more calorie dense than carbs (carbs and proteins offer 4 calories per gram, but fats offer 9 calories per gram) and are a very rich source of energy. Aim for around 1.4 grams of fat per kilogram, or 0.7 grams of fat per pound, of body weight. Be sure to get these fats from healthy food choices, like the ones listed below.

Sources of fats

  • avocados
  • nuts
  • peanut butter
  • seeds
  • fatty fish (like salmon, tuna, trout and sardines)
  • diary

Please note that as I'm sure you've seen above, most foods have more than one macro nutrient. Diary products are an example. If milk has 1 gram of fat and 3.4 grams of protein per 100 grams, then drinking 200 grams of milk gives you 2 grams of fat and 6.4 grams of protein towards your daily goal. 


Micro Nutrients

Micro nutrients are nutrients which are not needed or used as much as the three macro nutrients needed above but are also very important. These include minerals, fatty acids, vitamins, phytonutrients and trace elements. For example, you can read about the importance of minerals here. In order to get these micro nutrients eat fruit, vegetables, greens, and varied food sources to make up your diet plan. If you feel like you are not getting enough of these micro nutrients, you can take a good multi vitamin as well. 

Total calories per day

An easy way to calculate the total amount of calories you should be eating per day is your body weight in kilograms x 36. For example, a person that weighs 80 kilograms should eat around 2 880 calories a day. 

Firstly, this is not set in stone, as some people will bulk up easier than others. Hard gainers (people who struggle to gain muscle) should eat above this whilst easy gainers (people who put on weight easily) should eat just below this on a bulk.

Secondly, it is easy to work out how to split your macro nutrients after calculating your total calorie goal. For example if a person weighs 80 kg and wants to go on a bulking diet, they can start by consuming 2 880 calories per day. If they are bulking nicely after a few weeks, they stay with this calculation until the end of their bulk. If they aren't bulking enough they increase their calorie intake and if they are bulking too much they decrease the total calories consumed per day. If they are happy with the 2 880 total, they can split that into carbs, proteins and fats. Proteins and carbs contain 4 calories per gram and fats contain 9 calories per gram. 

For their carbohydrate goal: 50% of 2 880 calories = 1 440 calories. 1 440 divided by 4 = 360 grams of carbs per day
For their protein goal: 30% of 2 880 = 864. 864 divided by 4 = 216 grams of protein per day
For their fat consumption goal: 20% of 2 880 = 576 divided by 9 = 64 grams of fat per day.

Therefore the average person who weighs 80 kilograms will aim to consume 360 grams of carbs, 216 grams of protein and 64 grams of fat per day to bulk.

Final tips

  • Vary your choices of foods
Vary the foods you take that make up your macro nutrients and calories to get nutrients from a variety of sources. Protein from different sources, for example, will assist in giving a complete scope of nutrition and will assist in maximum health. Some forms of protein can be higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, while others can be higher in calcium (two very essential micro nutrients).

  • The bulking diet is not suitable for people who don't exercise
 This diet plan is made to ensure that muscle has all the nutrients it needs to grow to its potential. Eating a diet like this without exercise can have a negative impact on kidneys (too much protein which is not used), body composition (too much calories that are not being burned) and so on.

  • This is a guide, not set in stone
The reason why I say this is because everybody is different. For example, people with fast metabolisms struggle to put on weight and are naturally skinny. They should eat even more calories to keep up with all the burnt calories that their bodies keep churning out. On the other hand, people with slower metabolisms would slightly reduce the carbohydrate, fat and therefore calorie intake in total as their bodies will turn more of this into body fat without using it for muscle growth. People who are more inclined to build muscle easily can reduce all these macro nutrient quantities because their bodies grow muscle more efficiently.

Remember to start with this guide and tweak it until you find the perfect fit for you. Record your results to keep accurate and keep it for your next bulk. Stay Strong!