First off lets get some things straight. To put on muscle you’re going to have to put on some fat. If you want to try and stay lean when your bulking you’re going to end up not adding much weight, probably over trained (from lack of calories) and very, very frustrated. “You cannot put on muscle and lose fat at the same time under normal circumstances!”
Calories In Vs Calories Out
Now I know some people have done it and it is possible but usually it only works for people that are untrained, very obese, or on steroids. Assuming the majority of my audience is drug-free with bodybuilders I think those three are out. Bodybuilding is not a two way street, it’s a one way, your either bulking or cutting. I don’t care how many crunches you do…when your bulking your six pack is going to be blurry. Deal with it. By working abs 2, 3, or a hundred times a week like some people do, your doing nothing but taking energy away from your other training and overtraining your abs. I only mention this because most people these days freak out over their abdominals.
“To put on weight you must consume more calories than you expend as you will not put on weight if you don’t.”
This is why cardio is totally useless when bulking (besides maintaining cardiovascular health). All it does is take calories away from muscle building. Now, with all of that out of the way I am going to show you how to maximize your muscular gains with minimal fat gain. Depending on your metabolism you should take your weight and multiply it by 15-20 and that will give you your calorie goal for the day. So for instance, since I weigh about 200lbs my goal caloric intake for the day should be about 4000 cals.
A lot of people drastically reduce their protein intake when bulking and it is true you do need less protein during bulking than you do when cutting. However, if you are training intensely you still need a lot more than most people.
I would recommend at least 1g per pound of bodyweight.
Carbs are very protein sparing and they give you energy to fuel your workouts, so you need a lot of them. Carbohydrates also increase your glycogen stores in your muscle cells. High muscle glycogen levels are associated with increased protein synthesis and anabolism. Carbs also stimulate a greater insulin response than any other macronutrient. An insulin spike after your workout has been clinically shown to increase your protein synthesis and recovery.
Sugars elicit the greatest insulin response so consuming sugar after you workout can have a very anabolic effect. However this does not mean that you should eat sugar all day. I’m sure your asking yourself “why not, if sugar stimulates insulin and insulin is anabolic, why not try to stimulate insulin release all the time?”
First of all hormones don’t work that way. If you continually bombard your body with sugar it will react by decreasing its insulin sensitivity. Over a long period of time this can lead to type II late onset diabetes. (Obviously not good). Also, insulin is very anabolic but it is also the most fattening hormone in the body when it is over-secreted. The reason you can get away with a large insulin spike after your workout is because your body needs most of the calories you are giving it for muscle repair and glycogen storage. Because of this your body will most likely not store those calories as fat. During the rest of the day however you should try to stick with complex carbohydrates.
I recommend consuming at least 2.5g-3.5g of carbs per pound of body weight.
Fats are involved in hormone production and also have a protein sparing effect. About .3g-.4g per pound of bodyweight good fats are about all you need in the off season. I know a lot of guys that consume massive amounts of fat when bulking. My question is why? Your body can’t do anything with the extra fat. If you are having trouble putting on weight take those extra calories and add them into your protein count for the day. If you are still having trouble making gains add more carbohydrates.
They are both more usable by the body than fats and are more adept at helping the muscle building process. Only as a last resort would I add in extra fat.
Your breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day, besides your post workout meal. I normally eat 30-40g protein at breakfast, 70-80g carbs, and about 10g fat.
Post workout is definitely the most important meal of the day. After your workout you have two goals: refuel and rebuild. You need to refuel your glycogen stores and rebuild the damaged muscle tissue. I usually drink 30g whey protein with 100g simple carbs. I take this meal in liquid form because it is easier for the body to absorb. Then an hour later I have 75g complex carbs with 2 glasses of milk.
Night Time Eating
Before bed is also very important. You will be going 8 hours without protein so you will want a slow digesting protein, I usually drink 4 glasses of milk because it is rich in casein (a slow digesting protein) The carbs in the milk will spare the protein while you sleep. Even though milk says all the carbs are sugar, milk sugar digests slowly, slower than oatmeal actually, so they will stay with you throughout the night.
Don’t Go More Than 3 Hours Without Protein
You want to keep a positive nitrogen balance and eating every 3 hours ensures this. This is where the dedication part comes in to play. Many times I’ve brought protein shakes to college parties so I could get my protein fix. I also bring weight gainer shakes to my rugby games to prevent myself from going into calorie deficit. If you play football, hockey, soccer or any kind of sport that requires you to burn a lot of calories you’ll need to make sure you account for these burnt calories in your daily totals.
Try mixing a weight gainer up with water and put it in your bottle (your coach won’t be able to see it this way).
Eat 6-8 Meals
This gives your body a steady stream of nutrients and it also tricks your body so it stores less fat.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drink at least a gallon of water per day. When your cells are hydrated, your protein synthesis increases. The opposite reason is why drinking alcohol decreases your protein synthesis, because alcohol dehydrates your cells. So if you’re going to have a couple of drinks at least take water with you and sip on that as well.
Lift hard, eat big, and grow bigger!
Author: Layne Norton