The Ultimate Bulking Guide
Sports nutrition expert and GoNutrition's new product wizard Tommy Gaughan explains how to create the perfect bulking diet.
What is bulking?
Bulking is the term used to describe when someone is trying to pack on as much size and mass as possible with little concern for fat gain, however ideally we would keep this to a minimum.
Who should consider bulking?
Bulking is often associated with bodybuilders, who will bulk off-season to pack on as much muscle as possible, and then go on a strict fat loss diet before competition.
Bulking is a technique also used by other professional athletes such as rugby players or American footballers off-season, who will find it difficult to build muscle during the season when there is limited time for recovery and therefore they cannot train using maximum loads.
Ultimately anyone looking to quickly build size and mass should consider a bulking diet and training programme aimed specifically at this goal.
Do I need to eat more on a bulking diet?
The body grows on calories. Therefore in order to bulk it is necessary to have a calorie surplus, which means you must consume more calories than your body burns. It's important to monitor your calorie intake and your results and adjust your diet according.
What foods should I be eating?
Unfortunately bulking is not quite as simple as loading yourself with takeaways and junk foods, or we’d all be walking out of the local Chinese looking hench.
The key is to a successful bulking diet is to eat the right the nutrients to support your training regime. This means a high protein diet supported by high quality carbohydrates and fats, and the right supplements of course. If you're looking for a bundle that includes everything you need, then look no further than our Bulk Up Bundle
How much protein should I take when bulking?
It is important to consume 1.5-2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight when on a bulking diet, though many bodybuilders will take more. For 75kg person that's a minimum of 112g of protein per day.
What are the best protein sources for bulking?
Great protein sources for your bulking diet include oily fish, such as salmon or tuna, chicken, beef, pork, eggs and nuts.
Whole foods should form the majority of the diet but protein supplements such as whey and milk protein or liquid egg whites can help you reach this target too.
Are fats important on a bulking diet?
Fats form an important part of the diet when bulking and, containing 9 calories per gram, they really help you achieve that calorie surplus. Fats also help to regulate growth hormone levels which are essential for lean muscle growth.
What are the best sources of fats when bulking?
Oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados are great food choices on a bulking diet and are packed with unsaturated fatty acids.
Contrary to popular believe saturated fats such as medium chain triglycerides are also important. You get plenty of these through animal meats, but organic virgin coconut oil and organic butter are great choices for cooking and adding flavour.
What role do carbohydrates play when bulking?
Carbohydrates provide the energy required for building muscle and therefore form an important part of a bulking diet.
It's best to stick with low GI (Gylcemic Index) carbohydrate sources for main meals, such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and green vegetables.
These will provide a sustained energy supply to fuel recovery, muscle repair and growth whilst ensuring muscle glycogen stores are topped up for your next session.
What about high GI carbohydrates?
High GI carbs, such as maltodextrin and dextrose can also play an important role when bulking, particularly around training. They offer an instant energy source to fuel your workout and also increase blood flow to the working muscles to help deliver other nutrients such as amino acids for recovery.
What macronutrient split should aim for when bulking?
The term macronutrient split refers to the ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. In truth there is no right or perfect split as everyone is individual. The key is to find out what works best for you.
40:40:20 (protein:carbs:fats) is a good starting point. The key then is to monitor your progress and tweak your diet accordingly.
Do I need to change my training?
With all the extra calories you will be consuming it's important that you get you training right, or all your gains will be in unwanted fat, instead of lean muscle. While training for bulking is a separate blog in itself here are a few simple tips:
Overload is essential for lean muscle gain. Look to perform 3-5 sets of your 6-8 rep max.
Focus on compound lifts
Compound lifts, such as squats, deadlifts and chest presses, incorporate larger muscle groups and induce a larger testosterone response.
Don't overdo the cardio
While a little cardio can be good limit this to 2-3 30 minutes session as week. You need the extra calories to go towards muscle gain. Too much cardio will defeat the object.
Just as important as the training itself is rest. It is when you are resting that your body will recover and grow. Don't overdo the training and ensure that you get a solid eight hours sleep per night.