Often when you think of bulking on muscle, the first thing that springs to mind is the image of pumping iron at the gym. Diet doesn’t usually even occur to us.
Yet what you eat and when you eat it plays a huge role in successfully bulking up.
The first rule of success is that you need to increase your calorie intake to ensure that you are consuming more calories than you are burning during your workout.
The best source of calories, for building muscles come from from protein, carbohydrate and essential fats.
Don’t get carried away though, if you eat too many calories and don’t work out hard enough, you will end up wearing them in the wrong way.
What to eat while bulking?
In order to gain muscle mass you need to ensure you are consuming enough complete (whole), protein.
Complete protein is found in most animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs. It is also found in some plant products including; tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy beans (edamame).
Muscle cells are approximately 70-75% water, and between 15-20% protein. When you are working out and lifting weights to build muscles you are tearing and damaging the muscle cells.
In order for your body to keep producing muscle cells and rebuilding them, you need to keep feeding it protein.
Don't forget those carbs!
Carbohydrates also play an important role in the muscle building process.
Good sources of carbohydrates include whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, nuts, beans, green leafy vegetables and sweet potato.
Try to stay away from foods made from white flour or rich in simple sugars.
Carbohydrates are often associated with gaining body fat. Though they can be stored as body fat they are infact, an integral part of the muscle building and repairing process.
When carbohydrates are processed and stored in muscle cells its stored as ‘glycogen’. Glycogen is what provides you with the energy to do your workouts.
Without carbohydrates in the diet the body would not have the energy to work out hard enough or for long enough to build up your muscle tone.
However, if you eat carbohydrates at the wrong times, or don’t balance it with an active lifestyle, it will end up sitting in your body as extra fat, usually around the abdomen and lower back.
When should you eat?
It’s good to have a meal plan that you can stick to. So choose foods you enjoy eating that are high in complete proteins and carbohydrates.
The key is to eat less, more often and to focus on carbohydrates for breakfast and post workout meals only.
For dinner try to avoid too many carbs and focus on a meal rich in protein, like fish or chicken.
Try to eat a meal at breakfast, lunch, dinner, post workout and fit in some healthy snacks in between.
If you want to bulk up and lose fat, then avoid eating before bed. Your bodies no longer need the energy and it will be stored as fat.
For breakfast ensure you eat a carbohydrate, protein and fiber rich meal to get your metabolism going.
So in order to bulk up, eat a healthy balanced diet, rich in protein and carbohydrates.
Remember that even though you need to consume more calories when you are working out in order to bulk up, you don’t need to on your resting days.
When having resting days curb your carb intake so that you don’t store that extra energy as fat!