It’s that time of year when most people aren’t too concerned about a beach-ready body. Why? Because this time of year the focus is on building quality mass to show off next summer. But it’s not all sunshine and roses; a bulk gone bad can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, like too much fat gain, or even no weight gain at all. Here’s a few #realtalk tips to help you on your bulking journey.
YOU MIGHT BE BETTER OFF CUTTING
If you are anywhere around 20% body fat or more, chances are you’re probably better off leaning out first before attempting to build a lot of mass. If your body fat levels are this high, you most likely don’t have the optimal hormonal environment in your body for building quality mass. For example, your insulin sensitivity may be less than optimal. This means all the extra carbs from a bulking diet are more likely to be stored as fat rather than absorbed by muscle cells for growth and recovery. A good rule of thumb is to make it down to at least 15% body fat before starting a bulking phase.
YOU’RE PROBABLY NOT EATING ENOUGH
Most people who claim to be bulking are really not eating enough total calories in a day. The average individual with a generally sedentary lifestyle (office worker or student) needs to consume 16 to 18 times their bodyweight in calories in order to gain weight. So if you weigh 170 lbs., you multiply that by 16 to 18 to get a total of 2,720 to 3,060 calories needed per day. Try measuring your daily calories to see if you are meeting this minimum, and then slowly ramp up over time if you are not seeing the scale move.
YOU’RE EATING TOO MUCH JUNK
A lot of people use the “I’m bulking” excuse to rationalize eating copious amounts of unhealthy junk food. Doing so will certainly lead you to gain weight, just not the kind you were looking for. Your goal of a bulk phase is to gain the least amount of fat while maximize the amount of lean muscle tissue growth. To do so, focus on eating quality muscle building foods and only use high-calorie processed foods to meet caloric demands when in a pinch.
YOU’RE FORGETTING ABOUT MICRONUTRIENTS
When going through a bulk phase, it’s easy to get caught up in how many daily calories, carbs, fats and protein you need to eat daily for growth. Forgetting about the important micronutrients needed for the body to function properly isn’t a good idea. The problem is that micronutrient-dense vegetables, like broccoli and kale, can be hard to eat during a bulk phase because of how fibrous and filling they are. An easy way to ensure you’re getting a solid dose of micronutrients every day is to drink a large smoothie made of fruits and vegetables. Just add a scoop of 100% Whey Protein Plus and you’ve got a high-protein, nutrient-dense shake!