Bodybuilding involves building muscles through proper nutrition and weightlifting. Bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain a well-proportioned lean and muscular physique.
Bodybuilding involves two phases – bulking, during which bodybuilders consume a carb and protein-rich, high-calorie diet accompanied by heavy lifting to gain weight and build muscle as much as possible. Bulking phase comes to the cutting phase, during which bodybuilders aim to reduce body fat without losing muscles to develop a lean shredded physique.
In this blog, we will specifically discuss the bulking phase. Creating a calorie surplus of at least 500 calories per day over your maintenance calories is recommended when it comes to bulking. But the biggest misconception about bulking is that you can have an indefinite intake of carbs, sugar and sodium just to load calories.
The selection of food matters a lot for a clean bulk. With wrong food choices, one might end up with ‘dirty bulking’, gaining minimal muscles and massive visceral fat. Healthy bulking is eating an excess of quality foods to minimize fat gain, maximize muscle growth, and keep your joints, heart, and metabolism functioning flawlessly.
Here are some top foods you can include in your bulking diet meal plan.
Whole Eggs: Whole eggs are perfect for getting a dose of good quality protein and healthy fats. One large egg approximately provides 70 calories along with all essential amino acids. You need not worry about the saturated fat content of yolks, as studies have shown that they do not raise our blood cholesterol levels unless the quantity is as high as 12-15 eggs a day.
Dairy: Milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese are excellent food sources to stock up on protein, calcium and calories to your diet. Their high calorie and protein content help build lean muscles and stock up glycogen stores. You can have your post-workout protein shake with milk. Prefer eating cottage cheese at bedtime for overnight muscle recovery and growth.
Rice: This high GI (Glycemic Index) food is considered one of the best foods for adding extra calories and gaining weight. You can combine it with veggies and chicken breast or pulse for a power-packed protein and carb-rich food, essential to build muscle mass.
Oats: Oats are a fantastic source of complex carbohydrates, making them a wonder food for bulking. Oats, rich in complex carbs, help maintain energy levels for a long, and their high dietary fibre content supports better digestion and absorption of nutrients. Bulking phase involves heavy lifts for which you need a constant supply of energy.
Sweet Potato: Bulking requires plenty of carbs, which should come from healthier sources. Sweet potatoes are suitable for clean bulk as they are jam-packed with low GI carbs, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Protein Shake & Mass Gainer: Bodybuilders aim to gain muscle mass during bulking; hence protein needs are also high. Protein shakes and gainers with or in-between meals are superb to fulfil these increased needs. For example, whey protein contains all essential amino acids that act as building blocks for new muscle synthesis. You can also use weight gain or protein powders to prepare nutrient-dense recipes like smoothies, pancakes, protein balls and bars. A single scoop of protein usually provides 20-25 grams of protein and help increase total calories.
Nut Butter: A small serving of nuts and nut butter like peanut butter, almond butter, and walnut butter can supply many calories, proteins, omega-3 fats, and micronutrients like magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium, etc. They promote a healthy nutritional status and muscle building.
Fatty Fish: Fatty fishes like salmon, sardine, tuna, and mackerel provide a high number of calories as they are filled with good fats and protein. Their high omega-3 fat content keeps our heart and joint healthy and robust to support heavy weightlifting.
Chicken and Lean Meat: Chicken and lean meat are the most preferred protein sources as they both are high in protein quality and quantity with the right amount of calories. 100 g of chicken provides approximately 20 grams of protein, all amino acids, iron, vitamin B12, B6 and magnesium vital of muscle growth.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a terrific choice for muscle building. Coconut oil contains fats in the form of MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) that are absorbed and digested quickly and differently than the other fats in your diet. They are a readily available source of energy and not stored as fat.
Remember, it is vital to maintain a healthy macro and micronutrient intake to reap the maximum from your training. Ensure you eat a good variety of most of these foods on the list, along with fruits and greens.