I hate the word 'Bulking'. But anyway, if you want to bulk correctly, read this guide
Overconsumption of calories. Calorie surplus. Bulking. Mass gaining phase. So many more names for it, but below are some very simple steps you can take that will help you gain weight the right way - PS, I HATE THE WORD 'BULKING'.
The first step we need to take is to establish our maintenance level of calories. This can be done easily by following a basic calculator online whereby you input your numbers and stats and will get given a daily amount of calories.
This, however, is by no means correct. What we need to do is follow this for about 10-14 days and measure your weight every morning as soon as you rise, after using the bathroom.
If weight stays consistent with small fluctuations, this is as close as you will get do your basal metabolic rate. This is the number you now use for every 10-14 days. If weight stays the same after 14 days, increase calories little by about 100-200.
Once maintenance calories have been determined, this is where we can do the opposite of a deficit to lose fat and increase calories instead. This is known as the surplus we all read about. This is known as being in a hypercaloric state (regenerative state).
To provide the body with ample fuel.
Creating an anabolic environment where the body is in a state of regeneration. Other effects of being in a surplus include decreased stress hormones circulating in the body, testosterone production will be in a good balance, an increase in protein synthesis, our thyroid gland will function efficiently and an increase in muscle at the end of the day.
So where should the calories come from?
This is extremely debatable as the argument of “clean” eating can be a little flawed. I’ll go into the main food groups a little later.
As a general rule, however, whole foods should be the foundation as they have necessary enzymes our body require to digest and absorb such foods efficiently. A quite popular approach is the 80/20 rule. Nutritionally dense whole foods should account for 80% of your calories, with the remaining 20% can be to your own liking, so long as calorie amounts are respected.
Now I know you will be wondering if a few extra hundred calories will all create lovely new lean muscle tissue. The answer is no. I must stress here that a little fat gain will be inevitable. There are no two ways about it. How much fat you will gain in the process is dependent on how serious you are about controlling the calorie surplus and monitoring the weight. So how much extra are we talking? Well, there is some debate as to how much extra is actually required, but a good place to start would be an increase of 200-300 calories.
From here, if weight doesn’t change positively after a fortnight (as I said above) or so, we can introduce slightly more calories. This may seem tedious, but if you want to add on lean muscle mass with a minimum amount of fat, then this approach would be ideal. As I said, gaining fat is inevitable, how much will be dependent on how well you can track and measure your progress.
We can now look at the different macronutrients that the body requires. These are extremely important to consider as they all have a variety of roles that contribute to new growth in the body whilst also keeping it functioning efficiently.
Protein. 4 calories per gram. Protein provides the body with necessary building blocks to repair and build new muscle tissue, provided ample training stimulus is present. Bottom line, we need protein in the diet. A distinction must be made however between complete protein sources and incomplete protein sources. If a protein source has a high biological value, this means our body can utilise the best of the best with the protein. Eggs, beef, turkey, chicken and even whey are just some examples. Individual requirements will differ. The more common approach to calculating needs is to take your weight in KG and multiply it by 1.2 – 2.2 Grams of protein. There is a sliding scale here so play around with it and come to your own conclusion, there wouldn’t be a need for any more as this would eventually be bathroomed out.
Carbohydrates. These will be very useful when it comes to building muscle as they are known as “protein sparing”. This means our protein intake can be at baseline because carbohydrates main role in the body is to provide fuel. In a carb-restricted diet, protein can be used as a fuel source which means our lean tissue can be compromised because there isn’t ample supply of energy elsewhere. Dietary fats can also be used as a fuel source if required in the body. Another key consideration with carbohydrate intake is a hormone known as Insulin. Insulin, produced in the pancreas, regulates blood sugar levels. Each time you take in carbohydrates you will get a rise in blood sugar levels, insulin opens up the cells in the body for nutrients to be taken in. Insulin can play an important role in the muscle building process as this will allow better update of nutrients, it is therefore known as an anabolic hormone. There has been recent literature suggesting insulin’s importance has been over-emphasised, but for our purposes, the basic role is all that mentioned above.
Fats. Thankfully we have moved on now in the last decade and understood its importance in the body. One of the more common associations with dietary fats in the body is its role in hormone function and testosterone production. Fats are the most calorically dense with a gram of fat holding 9 grams of calories. In a calorie-controlled diet, it would make sense if one were to reduce fats slightly, but complete restriction would not be recommended as hormone function would be compromised a great deal.
I will continue on the assumption that we now know our baseline calories and are now wondering what amounts of different foods we need to eat to meet those calorie requirements.
So how do we find the correct balance of each of the macronutrients above to aid us?
We can use clues.
Our body types, genetic structure, environment and even our heritage can provide clues. Gaining muscle is a slow and tedious process, FACT. This is what drives people away as they want results quicker, but you MUST work with your body and understand it.
The 3 body types that are defined are ectomorphs, endomorphs and mesomorphs. All 3 have different characteristics, however, it is unlikely you will fit into just one.
Usually, people can cross-over between them.
Typically, the ectomorph is known as the “hard-gainer”. We all know one, that person who can eat quite a lot and turn over food without gaining weight. A nutrition protocol that follows a higher carb approach would be beneficial for ectomorphs. Something along the lines of 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 20% fat can be fine. This is not set in stone however and you must be willing to measure weight changes and use the mirror as a guide. Calories WILL be your biggest challenge. If needs be, even utilise shakes and liquid calories if you can’t hit your target calories. As an ectomorph, you will eat through as much lean tissue as you gain, so management of calories is a must if you are to remain anabolic. As I said, fat gain will happen but you can, to a certain extent, control the amount.
Endomorphs are those who put on weight a little easier. The biggest factor in muscle-building for you guys will be Insulin. Your utilisation of carbohydrates will be of paramount importance, so your concern will be timing carbohydrates around the workout window and not having a huge influx of carbs with every meal. Focusing more on higher fats throughout your meals will work more in your favour. But a calorie surplus of around 200-300 may even suffice. Again, this is not an exact figure, but you guys will have to monitor your surplus a lot more closely.
Mesomorphs are the lucky ones. Uptake of nutrients into cells will be a lot better and you can get away with having just slightly fewer calories than the ectomorph but more than the endomorph. Naturally, you will have a higher level of testosterone in the body, therefore, you won’t burn through amino acids the same way as an ectomorph might. You guys are the lucky ones and a typical 40-40-20 split may work best. 40 percent carbohydrates, 40 percent protein and 20 percent fats.
So, guys, these are some of the essential considerations that men should be aware of when it comes to muscle building. A bulk, if you want to call it that, should be slow and gradual. It’s not a case of eating everything in sight. Here’s a little fun fact – whenever you put on fat, you create new fat cells. When you lose weight, you just shrink fat cells, which means it is easier to put on fat next time as you have more fat cells. Fat cells don’t go away….they just sit there waiting to get full.
Think about this next time you want to eat everything in sight!
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