When it comes to building strength, there are foods that are better suited for that than other foods. What makes these foods better suited for building strength are the various properties they come with. For example, fats are thought to help with the production of testosterone and testosterone helps with building muscle and strength. With that said, in this article we are going to look at the best bulking foods for anyone looking to gain muscle and bring their strength to the next level.
Amounts Of Food You Need To Bulk Up
The process of bulking up requires you to create a calorie surplus. A calorie surplus is the opposite of a calorie deficit which is the process used for weight loss. To build muscles, you need to consume more calories than your body expends, this creates a calorie surplus and this leads to gaining muscles, gaining fat or gaining both muscles and fat. To prevent gaining fat, you need to accompany your calorie surplus diet with strength training
There are two ways you can use to create a calorie surplus. Both of the two ways require you to first know your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is the amount of calories your body needs while at rest. There are various online calculators that can help you calculate your basal metabolic rate. A health expert like a dietician or a nutritionist can also help you with. Another method you can use to find out your BMR is by using the formula highlighted below (2):
- For men, BMR = 66.47 + (13.75 * your weight in kgs) + (5.003 * size in cms [height] ) – (6.755 * your age)
- For women, BMR = 655.1 + (9.563 * weight in kgs) + (1.85 * size in cms [height]) – (4.676 * your age)
When you have your basal metabolic rate, you can create a calorie surplus by:
- Adding 500 to 1000 calories to your BMR (1). Example,if your BMR is 2000 calories, your new calorie intake should be somewhere between 2500 calories and 3000 calories.
- Adding 10% of your BMR to your diet (1). For example if your diet is 3000calories, 10 % of that is 300 and so your new calorie intake should be 3300 calories.
Both these two methods create a calorie surplus which is essential for bulking up.
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Macronutrient Quantities Needed For Bulking Up
There are three main macronutrients and these are carbohydrates,fats and proteins. These three macros play a specific role when it comes to building lean muscles and that is why you need to make sure you consume them in the quantities described.
Proteins are very important to a person who wants to build lean muscles. They are important because they contain amino acids which are the building blocks for muscle growth. Proteins are important for building muscles and strength. They are also important for repairing worn out muscles and preserving existing muscles. After an exhausting workout, proteins help with muscle recovery.
If you are trying to build muscles and strength, 10% to 35% of your total calories should come from proteins (1).
Carbs are important for providing energy. Energy is important while you workout as it makes you able to do your exercises effectively for maximum results. Carbohydrates also prevent the body from breaking down the muscles you currently have so that it can provide you with the energy you require to work out. This is among the reasons you have to eat more than your basal metabolic rate when you are bulking up. You cannot be as effective as you need to be in the gym if you don’t provide your body with enough energy. The more active you are, the more carbs you should take in compared to less active people. 45% to 65% of your total calories should come from carbohydrates (1).
Fats are usually left out when people are talking about bodybuilding and this should not be the case as fats help provide energy and are very crucial for the production of testosterone. Testosterone is important as it helps in building muscle mass and strength in men. 20% to 35% of the total calories consumed by a person who is bulking up should come from fats (1).
Types Of Bulking Up
There are three main types of bulking up. These three types of bulking up depend on what you eat during this process. Here are these three approaches to building lean mass:
- “Clean” bulking (4). Just as the name suggests it focuses on more healthy food options. When you bulk up using the clean approach, you try to pack on as much lean muscles as you possibly can while being very strict on the amount of fat you consume as well as sugar. This is the healthier approach to building strength and muscles. When on a clean bulk you avoid fast foods like pizza, hamburgers, fries and you also avoid junk foods like cookies, chips, candy and so on.
- Regular bulking (4). This type of bulking is usually recommended for an average person with an average metabolism. In this approach, you try to pack on as many lean muscles as you possibly can while being moderately strict on the amount of fat you consume as well as sugar.
- “Dirty” bulking (4). In this approach, you try to pack on as many lean muscles as you possibly can without caring what you consume. It should be called an everything goes approach because you eat anything that is edible. People using this approach usually consume a lot of fast foods and junk foods. This diet is recommended for people who have a very high metabolism and usually don’t have a problem when it comes to cutting weight during the cutting season. This diet is the easiest to maintain among the three since you eat anything you want. This approach is likely to cause an average person a lot of weight gain.
Best Foods To Eat When Bulking
We shall concentrate more on the best foods for clean bulking and regular bulking, These two approaches are healthy and more recommended than the dirty bulking approach. With that said, here are the best bulking foods:
Best Protein Foods For Bulking
When going for beef, it is important to go for lean cuts. Since beef is known for increasing the risk of various cardiovascular conditions due to its saturated fat levels, you should try to eat lean beef in moderation (1). You should also try as much as possible to avoid processed beef.
These are plant protein sources that are really good for your heart since they have no cholesterol. They also come with so many nutrients like zinc, folate, iron and potassium (1). Beans also have a high fiber content which helps prevent constipation.
Yogurt, Milk and Cheese
Dairy products are great sources of proteins. That is not all, dairy products contain calcium and vitamin D which helps with the formation of strong bones and teeth (3). Strong bones make working out easier.
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Seafoods are a good source of protein. The fact that seafoods are usually low in fat, it means they are good for your heart which is another advantage of eating seafood (3).
Best Fats And Oils For Bulking
Here are fats and oils that will help in building mass:
Avocados are excellent sources of healthy fats and also contain various vitamins like vitamin E that are important to the body (1). Avocados are also packed with many calories which helps in your efforts to create a calorie surplus.
Olives and Olive Oil
Olives are quite important when you want to build muscles and strength. They help decrease inflammation, they also contain healthy fats and vitamin E. That’s not all, olives contain oleic acid which is useful for maintaining a healthy heart (1).
Best Carbohydrates For Bulking
Here are good carbs to help you build lean muscles:
Whole Grain Bread and Crackers
Whole grains and crackers help provide the body with complex carbohydrates and these complex carbohydrates help provide steady energy (1). They also have high quantities of fiber and various vitamins and mineral salts which are important for the body.
They are an excellent source of carbohydrates (1). Remember you need carbs to help you provide your body with the required energy for working out. Oats also add to your calories helping you create that calorie surplus.
Rice is eaten almost everywhere in the world. It is a good food for adding lean muscles as it provides high volumes of carbohydrates per serving and it is also quite filling (3). Brown rice is the whole grain version with all the fiber that white rice lacks.
The Bottom Line
The foods highlighted above are the best bulking foods. It is important to accompany your bodybuilding diet with an effective strength training workout program for maximum gains. It is also quite important to consult a health expert before choosing which bulking approach to use. Try to combine the various foods highlighted to get the most out of them.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 16 Healthy Bulking Foods For Hard Gainers (With Meal Plan) (n.d., fitbod.me)
- BMR Calculator (2019, diabetes.co.uk)
- Bodybuilding Nutrition: What to Eat for Bulking (n.d., issaonline.com)
- What Are The Best Foods And Supplements For Bulking? (n.d., bodybuilding.com)