December 20, 2019
Health and fitness culture typically places an emphasis on shedding pounds and reducing inches, but for some people, bulking up is the ultimate goal of a diet and exercise routine. Whether you’re looking to gain muscle for an upcoming sports competition or simply interested in becoming visibly stronger, a diet built for bulk requires its own unique regimen to ensure you’re gaining muscle without adding unhealthy fat.
Because you’re likely spending a large portion of time building muscle at the gym, it’s important to fuel your body with plenty of nutrients that encourage healthy bone strength and muscle growth. The more calories you’re burning while working out, the more you need to eat—but filling up on whatever’s in front of you won’t give your muscles what they need to recover and grow. Instead, increase your intake of lean meats and fish, like pork tenderloin, chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, and cod. This protein will not only increase muscle mass, but will also prevent muscle loss as you lose weight.
Unlike people looking to slim down, you’ll also want to include carbs and starchy vegetables in your meal plan to ensure energy levels stay high before a workout session. Healthy options include whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal, or starches like potatoes and corn. To reap the most benefits, you should also include carbs in your post-workout routine to restore your glycogen levels.
Although carbs and protein get the spotlight in the fitness industry, fats are vital for hormone regulation and muscle building. When bulking up, fats should make up about 20 to 30 percent of your daily calorie intake. Focus on healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil.
As hard as you may try, fitting in all the necessary nutrients isn’t always feasible, especially if you’re trying to balance a gym routine with work and other obligations. For on-the-go fuel, reach for a nutrition supplement that can allow you to perform your best without sacrificing the time it takes to prepare a meal. Look for supplements like creatine, beta-alanine, HMB, and branched-chain amino acids. Though they can’t offer you every nutrient your body craves, they can still benefit you if you’re trying to bulk up on a tight schedule.
While understanding healthy options for increasing muscle mass can be difficult to navigate, knowing which foods to avoid is much easier. Don’t indulge in too much junk food and dessert, and limit or completely cut your alcohol intake. Sugar should come from natural sources like fruit, so ditch the donuts and grab something sweet and nourishing instead. Above all, talk to your doctor and nutritionist to ensure you’re following a plan that’s right for you, and that you’re gaining muscle in a healthy, sustainable way.