Many serious bodybuilders understand that the body cannot gain muscle and lose body fat at the same time, due to this many bodybuilders go through bulking and cutting phases in their bodybuilding routine. During bulking phases the person increases their calorie intake in an attempt to gain weight. This article will discuss the concepts of the bulking phase.
The Right & Wrong Way To Bulk
Like everything there is a right and wrong way to bulk. Some people believe that if they just eat everything it will increase their muscle mass. This isn't correct. Bulking "clean" should be the goal during a bulking phase. Bulking clean means to increase your calorie intake but not from fatty junk foods. You increase your quality high protein food intake. You still eat your proper food, just more of it.
On a bulking diet I eat a high calorie breakfast consisting of eggs, milk, oatmeal, and sometimes a protein shake. I eat a pre-workout meal, and a very high calorie post-workout shake. This ensures maximum energy for working out, and maximum recovery after a workout, which will aid in gaining weight. My post workout shake currently consists of protein powder mixed in skim milk with dextrose sugar added. This offers me 50g of protein and 75g of carbs. Some people also recommend a meal right before bed to ensure the muscles do not starve overnight. This is quite different than during a cutting phase when it is not recommended that a person eat for a few hours before bed.
I do believe that it is important to eat before bed during a bulking phase however. Just make sure it is a high protein, low/moderate fat, low carb meal. Whey protein is not ideal here as it is quick absorbing by the body and you would want something that could last you the night. Slow absorbing protein such as milk or cheese might be a better idea here. You could then consume your whey protein shake with breakfast for an extra protein boost.
1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is required as a minimum amount of protein to eat in a day for any bodybuilder. During a bulking phase make sure your protein does not drop below this level. This is both on your workout and non-workout days. Your body needs just as much protein during your off days. Some argue that your body needs even more as this is the time when your body is recovering and it is the only time your body is actually building muscle. Try to acquire as much protein as possible from real foods and not protein shakes. Shakes are all right as a protein source but actual food contains vitamins and nutrients that whey protein alone does not have.
Weight gainers are another popular source of calories by a lot of thin bodybuilders attempting to gain weight. I personally would recommend staying away from weight-gainers. I have quite a few reasons for this. First weight gainers are high priced. In Canada weight gainers are in the area of $80-100 for 10 lbs. Regular whey will cost $50 for 5lbs but the serving size for regular whey protein is half of that of the weight gainer and offers the same amount of protein. So the 10lb of weight gainer will last the same time as a 5lb of whey protein for close to twice the price.
The only real difference between the two types of protein is the sugar. And this is a major issue because many people argue that the great thing with many weight gainers like Nlarge2 for example is that it offers you a high amount of sugar after a workout to restore the muscles when they need it. This would be a good argument if Nlarge2 contained a sugar that was actually useful post-workout. The sugar found however is fructose, which is useless for helping the muscles after a workout.
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The sugar you need post workout is Dextrose, which can be bought cheaply online and can easily be added to a quality protein source to be used post workout. Weight-gainers also contain such a high amount of sugar that they should never be used before going to bed as your body will not have time to burn off the extra sugar and will need to store it as fat. It is also recommended that due to its potency a serving of N'large be split up into several smaller servings and consumed over time throughout the day.
Well if this is done the amount of protein consumed at each sitting is also reduced and the usefulness of the weight-gainer continues to drop. Due to the high amount of sugar, and that fact that it contains a useless sugar for post-workout needs, it would seem that weight-gainers have very little use in the average bodybuilders day and should be avoided.
I believe during a bulking phase that cardio should be kept to a minimum. Cardio will burn away calories needed to add weight. Some people worry that the added calories combined with a lack of cardio will cause fat gain, but this isn't the case. If you are bulking clean and gradually, there will be little added fat gained during this time. Cardio will merely cancel out the effects of the added calories. Save the running for the cutting phase.
Quick Tips To Keep In Mind
- Increase your calories clean, keep the junk food out, look for calorie rich food with calories coming from protein not sugar.
- That being said sugar is very important post-workout, just make sure its dextrose sugar, which can be bought at a rather low cost in pure powder form and is easily added to your whey protein shake after a workout.
- Make sure you eat a good meal first thing in the morning, eggs, milk and oatmeal are all good ideas for breakfast, and it is truly the most important meal you will have during the day.
- It is a good idea to have a slow absorbing protein meal before you go to bed. This will ensure your muscles don't starve during the time you are asleep and unable to feed them. Cheeses are a good idea and whey should be avoided as it is quickly absorbed and will not be around long enough to keep you going throughout the night.
- Keep high amounts of cardio in your cutting routine as too much cardio will interfere with your weight-gaining goals by burning away all your precious calories.