After dieting and getting lean all summer, it’s now time to stop starving and start eating. But where should you start? The word bulking conjures up images of stuffing mass amounts of food into your mouth for extended periods of time.
Bulking works, but it works best in two week spurts. During times of over-feeding, the body becomes a growth machine. Fat storage activity in the body doesn’t instantly kick into overdrive when bulking begins. When you over-eat, it takes a while for the body to transition to “fat storage” mode. During this transition period, your body is a muscle building machine.
Is it best to eat dirty or clean calories? Generally, it doesn’t matter. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. But with that said, healthier, non-processed foods allow the body to function better, so clean bulking keeps the body running more efficiently. It is very difficult to eat enough calories on a clean bulk.
I recommend eating clean most of the time, but allowing room for pizza, chips and ice cream.
1.Whole Milk and Cottage Cheese
Whole milk is a great way to stock up on protein, calcium and add extra fat and calories to your diet, with around 150 calories per glass. Consuming cottage cheese and whole milk provides a good source of protein to help build muscle, whilst the fat and carbohydrate helps restore muscle glycogen stores and maximise your muscle-building potential.
Try consuming whole milk with your post-workout protein shake or enjoy a pot of cottage cheese before bed. Cottage cheese with nuts and a scoop of Chocolate Nut Impact Whey Protein is a firm favourite.
2. Nuts and Nut Butters
It’s time to get nuts about nuts! We’re sure you already know nuts are energy-dense and full of healthy monounsaturated fats. It’s for this reason that nuts and nut butters are perfect for bulking. Small servings of nuts can provide a large amount of calories in addition to protein and fat, with up to 300 calories per 50g.
What’s more, nuts and nut butters are packed full of essential micro-nutrients and minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, all of which are essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy nutritional status and building muscle mass. Try snacking on a handful of nuts when the hunger kicks in, or for the ultimate snack cover a banana in peanut butter.
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Keeping in the theme of healthy fats, salmon and other sources of fatty fish should be part of your bulking diet. In fact, eating at least one portion of fatty fish per week is recommended.
Salmon is full of monounsaturated fatty acids which are super-healthy and great for clean bulking. In addition to this, the large dose of omega-3 fatty acids we get from fatty fish can help improve joint care and cardiovascular health. During intense training try and consume at around 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, which are perfect for adding healthy calories and fat to your diet.
Apart from adding a healthy source of calories to your diet, eating avocado during bulking season also means you’ll be consuming a high amount of antioxidants and vitamins including vitamin E, which helps to improve cardiovascular health and your overall well being.
5. Whole Eggs
If you’ve been binning the egg yolks, stop! Whole eggs are great for getting a good source of protein and fat with around 75-90 calories per egg.
Many people consider eggs to be unhealthy due to their saturated fat content and high cholesterol, but did you know eggs are high in healthy cholesterol? And unless you’re eating 12 eggs a day, the saturated fat content shouldn’t be a problem. Get in a good source of fat and protein by making a whole egg omelette or some delicious scrambled egg.
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6. Lean Beef
When it comes to getting a great physique, lean sources of protein are most people’s number one choice, with many individuals lowering their intake of red meat. But consuming red meat is great for bulking for many reasons. For example, red meat is a source of fat and protein, which when consumed regularly can help the growth of muscle mass.
What’s more, red meat is high in heme iron. There are two types of iron generally consumed in the diet – heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is much more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron. Getting an adequate amount of iron is essential when building muscle and training hard.
7. Coconut and Olive Oil
When adding fat to your diet, coconut and olive oils are a great addition.
Making small changes such as using more coconut and olive oil in cooking and meal prep is a great way to add healthy fats and extra calories to your diet, without leaving you too full.
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8. Sweet Potato
When it comes to bulking, most people think protein, protein and fat- but really, carbohydrates are a must. Forget cutting carbs to a minimum – now is the time to enjoy your meat and potatoes. Sweet potatoes are jam-packed full of carbohydrates with the average potato providing around 40g of carbs and lots of vitamins and minerals.
What’s more, if you’re doing a clean bulk and avoiding refined sugar, sweet potato is great for satisfying a sweet tooth and can be incorporated into lots of protein recipes, such as this sweet potato protein brownie recipe! Try adding a portion of sweet potato to your meals and reap the bulking benefits.
Oats are another great source of complex carbohydrates that can really give you a helping hand during bulking season.
Oats are an amazing source of fibre and complex carbohydrates that can not only aid digestion but more importantly provide a sustained release of energy – perfect for a pre-workout meal. In addition, oats can add a healthy source of fat and calories to your diet without leaving you feeling too full.
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10. Dark Chocolate
Last but not least, chocolate. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is a great way to fix your sugar cravings.
What’s more, chocolate with over 75% cocoa content is full of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats. For the ultimate bulking treat, try a banana covered in peanut butter and melted dark chocolate.