Nutrition cannot be overlooked. It is a deciding factor in what your body will look like. Without the proper nutrition you cannot build muscle, gain any strength, nor burn fat. Your body needs the fuel for the fire. In order to have energy you have to feed the furnace with good sound nutrition. Building and repairing the muscle requires proper protein and carb intake.
Let’s face it nutrition plays a big role in our daily lives. And if it doesn’t it should. Nutrition cannot be overlooked. It is a deciding factor in what your body will look like. Without the proper nutrition you cannot build muscle, gain strength, or burn fat. Your body needs the fuel for the fire. Feed the furnace with good sound nutrition, build and repair the muscle with the proper protein, carb, and fat intake ratios.
One of the most challenging aspects of bodybuilding or weight training, in my opinion, would be the bulking phase. When bulking the idea is to put on as much lean mass as possible. Which in essence would seem rather easy. Just eat clean but eat a lot more. The problem with that is we also run the risk of gaining more fat cells.
Gaining muscle and minimizing fat in the process can be done by first figuring out your daily caloric intake for maintenance and then creating a surplus that will adjust as the body changes. When bulking our plans have to be fluid and adaptive. Knowing our maintenance calories can allow us to determine an amount that will help to increase our size and strength while utilizing any stored fat as energy.
A great tool for determining these numbers is Calorie Calculator – Daily Caloric Needs also if you haven’t read the article Learn to Calculate Your BMR and Asses Your Daily Caloric Intake take a look. I go in depth more about the daily caloric intake and the differences for a surplus or a deficit.
Once we have determined our maintenance caloric intake we can move forward from there … literally.
A suggested caloric surplus is usually around 200-300 calories. Having too little of a surplus will cause us to bulk at a slower rate. However on the opposite end having too much of a surplus puts us at risk of gaining more fat faster. It is not realistic to think that one can gain muscle without gaining fat. Depending on your choice you can bulk cleanly by watching the foods you eat and your calorie intake or your can bulk haphazardly aka dirty by just eating tons of food.
Anything that is worthwhile usually takes time, so my best suggestion is bulk as cleanly as possible, eat good whole foods, this way when it comes down to cutting your not driving yourself nuts trying to drop pounds and pounds of fat. Not to mention being in relatively great shape all year long is a plus for any bodybuilder.
If It Fits Your Macros . . .
Now that we have an idea of what our calories look like we can go ahead and adjust our macros to fit. It has been suggested that we consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Consuming more in moderation will not be a bad thing, most likely the body will use the excess as energy. With that being said don’t go overboard, because remember anything in excess can get stored as fats.
The remaining macros we need to consider are fat and carbs. Fats can be increased to about 1/2 a gram per pound of bodyweight. Where as carbs should fill up the rest of our macro scale.
Putting all of this to play is simple. Lets assume we are a 215 lb male. And we need to ingest 3200 calories a day. With our simple rule of thumb based on our body weight our protein and fat macros would be 215 g (based on body weight) and 108 g (based on body weight) after simple calculations we are left with approximately 342 g for carbs.
Once you have established a starting point be sure to keep an eye as to what is going on. If after some time your not gaining weight then your maintenance intake was off and you need to adjust accordingly. If your gaining to much weight to fast, again you need to adjust accordingly. Eventually you may hit a plateau and that will also be another time to adjust your intake as well.
To sum it up, figure out your maintenance level of calories, establish your surplus, base your essential macros off your bodyweight, make sure you stay in a surplus and don’t go nuts.
Gain Weight – Macros Made Simple
A great video that explains everything I just wrote about is Gain Weight – Macros Made Simple by Brandon Campbell of Campbell Fitness .
Have you ever wondered how everyone gets so muscular and shredded? Well they had to bulk first. Bulking is usually the beginning stage of any bodybuilding adventure. It can get very confusing and super mysterious. Eating the wrong foods can lead you down a path of body fat mayhem.
Gauge your own bulking strategy by learning from my experiences and the experiences of others. In this article you will read about my different viewpoints of eating and some of my trials and tribulations. Along with my concluding statements of how you can put together a program that works for you based on your own idea and needs.
The Body Is An Art Form
Sculpting a piece of art takes several stages. First the idea. Then the sketch. As well as all the stages of production. Bodybuilding is much the same. We go through stages bulking, cutting, contest prep, etc. Each of those stages are an art form in their own regard. The combination of multiple sets of skills, equations, practices and theories. All put to the test.
Choosing The Clay To Shape Your Sculpture
When looking at bodybuilding from the perspective of a sculptor, one must consider that bulking is much like choosing the clay to begin sculpting a new work of art. Your food is your clay. What we do in this stage of the game effects that latter portions of our journey.
With much debate on eating styles, times, diets, fads and trends in the industry today I don’t want to write and explain another so called diet I want to talk about my own experiences trying several methods. I think that understanding results from another person’s experiences gives an insight on developing their own attempts at success.
Do This Do That, Huh?
With the internet being flooded on a daily basis with an immense amounts of information, its no wonder our heads spin when it comes to computing all these new tidbits of data. I know that in all my years of working out I have always had a challenge with food.
In my many stages of transitions I decided that experimenting with foods is probably a good idea to see how my body will grow along with the progressive overload of demand. Through the years I have tried a couple different approaches. Low Carb – High Protein, High Protein – High Carb, Vegetarian, and what I like to call Balanced Bulking—what I am currently experimenting with.
Low Carb – High Protein
In the early stages of me working out I wanted to be lean like a runner. I never was really fat. A little pudgy like most teens and young adults. Athleticism was not high in my vocabulary when I was younger. In an effort to achieve this leanness I began a high rep, moderate weight, training program. The efforts focused predominantly on endurance and breath control.
Having such a high aerobic demand actually helped a great deal to get me down to a low body fat percentage. I can admit I wasn’t stage quality but I was fairly well cut and defined. My main food sources were lean meats, fibrous carbs, low glycemic fruits, and complex and simple carbs (early in the day around my training times).
Things seemed to work well. And I stuck with that diet for a while until my goals had shifted. I was desiring to gain a little more mass but maintain my leanness. In doing so I decided that upping my carbohydrate intake would help to boost my lean muscle growth.
High Carb – High Protein
Looking ahead for a lean Gladiator-esque physique I knew that the change of my eating style was utterly appropriate. Go figure. A friend of mine had enlightened me on the concept of upping my carbs and calorie intake to build the body mass. Known among many as a caloric surplus.
At first this had frightened me. But it did make sense. So it had to be done. I basically continued to eat the same way I was eating I just started to introduce more carbohydrates and larger portions of proteins. I did also begin to include cheat days. Once a week I would have anything I wanted. Basically creating a caloric spike.
The cheat days were always fun. Usually a pizza and some Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream did the job. By consuming a larger portion of food all around I did notice that my body was changing but very slowly. I was not very educated on lifting at this time so I didn’t think to consider the importance of training styles in combination with foods. So I continued with what I call “Magazine Routines”.
Following this diet for a few years helped to give me a pseudo athletic figure. Courses changed once again but this time I ended up stepping out of the gym for nearly a year.
The Vegetarian and Me
In my article Vegetarianism and Bodybuilding: My Personal Experience I talk about my leave of absence from the gym and my crusade to regain the shape I was once in. I came back full force and decided vegetarianism was the best bet coupled with hardcore juicing.
Still somewhat uneducated in my training styles I returned to the “Magazine Routine” route and lifted as a veghead. My body changed fast. I lost weight and began looking fit in a short period of time. For me that a was awesome. But during that time I started to research even further into the world of lifting due to my obsession with the squat.
Finding 5×5 routines and Starting Strength enlightened me to a whole new world. During the middle of my vegetarian stint I flipped the script again and made the decision to dedicate the next years of my life bulking and building a mean Grecian physique. As a vegetarian bodybuilder I experienced putting on extra fat and storing water from the such high amounts of sodium in the food.
Not liking this feeling lead me to rediscovering my food choices and brought me to what I call today Balanced Bulking.
What Does Balanced Bulking Mean?
Having went through several phases and juxtapositions of goals I decided it was time to get back to the basics and reconfigure. My results were not emulating my end goal and I was downright frustrated. So out of every problem comes a solution.
Balanced Bulking to me was the proper pairing of your various food groups. Much like we were taught a long time ago in grade school. Many of my ideas came from the combining ideas and concepts from several of the documentaries I watched and articles I had read.
I thought to myself, everything needs to seek some sort of balance. So why would I eliminate something from my diet or lifestyle when my body is searching for a nutrient balance. Having that thought in mind I set out to couple up a diet plan to my workout style and observe my results over a course of several weeks.
How Can You Bulk Up And Build Mass?
I can’t tell you exactly what to do. I’m not aware of your body chemistry. But I can make some suggestions and point out some concepts or ideas. No one is going to know your body better than you.
Choose foods that are as natural as possible. Try to avoid anything processed. Eating organic can get very expensive but, try your best to get the best possible food items your budget will allow you.
By selecting the leanest cuts of meat you eliminate a lot of the bad fats that go into your body. Remember you do want fats to help with your shaping and definition but only the good kind. The meats will sometimes be a little tougher but you can marinate them in citrus or any flavor of vinegar you might like.
Eat a large amount of fruits and veggies. Many of your nutrients will be in your fruits and veggies. If you can support your local economy and buy from a farmers market. If not try and find the best possible produce your budget allows. Consuming fruits and vegetables in high amounts never affected me in a negative manner. Only on one occasion my skin did have an orange tint from eating a large bag of carrots in one sitting.
Don’t skip out on your cheeses. Why would you want to keep such a wonderful and delicious item away from yourself? Eat some cheese. Keep it in moderation but I think its beneficial and is a great way to balance out the calories and still meet some of your daily requirements.
Snacking is always a great idea. I keep a container of sliced up veggies, some trail mix, 90% dark chocolate or rice cakes handy. Having healthy snacks around during the bulking phase helps fight the urge to slip off the diet.
The most suggested complex carb sources always seem to be oats, sweet potato, brown rice, or some time of pasta. I tend to stick to the basics and keep within this group range. I do bring in some breads and bagels every now and then. I think those are good items to keep as staples in your main diet. But branching out and trying new things is how you make it your own.
Another piece of advice, drink whole milk. It really helps.
Bulk Your Way
By selecting a balanced diet based on incorporating predominantly whole foods based items your journey to a much larger and lean physique can and will become possible. Keeping a close eye on what goes in is a direct reflection of what will come out.
Always keep in mind your end result and goals.
Apples have always been touted as a great pre workout snack. Consuming an apple within 30 minutes prior to working out is a great way to get some low-glycemic or slow-digesting carbs in. Due to the fact that apples are high in fructose the liver must convert the apple to glucose aiding in the slowing of digestion. Another key factor in apples digestibility is the high fiber content.
Apples provide additional benefits along side carbs and fiber. Studies done by the Nippon Sport Science University and the University of Arts and Sciences discovered that ables provide benefits similar to green tea by increasing strength and endurance, and decreasing body fat.
The teams gave make rats apples or placebos for three weeks. During that time frame the researchers studied body fat, strength, and muscle fatigue. Reported earlier in 2007 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the rats given apples had 30% less body fat as opposed to the placebo group. The genes that spur fat-burning within the rats activity was increased due to the consumption of apples.
More than 70 obese male and female subjects were given an ample percentage of apples or a placebo as well for a 12 week period. LDL, total cholesterol, bodyweight, and abdominal fat were measurements taken to provide the data for the study. By the end of the study the subjects who consumed the apples had a significant loss on abdominal fat and bodyweight, as well as lower cholesterol and LDL levels.
Try supplementing your diet with apple polyphenols which come in capsule or pill form. Best taken with breakfast and dinner, as well as a large apple pre workout with your pre workout shake.
An apple a day keeps the fat away!
What’s All This About BMR and Calories
By figuring out how much fuel your body needs to maintain its current weight will tell you how to gauge how many calories you need to either loose or build. Building muscle and losing fat are quite simple. Once you know how much energy your body needs you can then judge how much you either need to cut by creating a deficit or how much you need to add by creating a surplus.
Calculating Your Basal Metabolic Rate
How exactly do you calculate your caloric intake? With a simple formula called the Harris-Benedict principle you can can assess your basal metabolic rate aka BMR.
BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to function. We use about 60% of the calories we consume each day for basic bodily functions such as breathing. Other factors that influence your BMR are height, weight, age and sex.
Step 1: Calculate your BMR with the following formula:
65 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
Please note that this formula applies only to adults.
Step 2: Incorporate activity into your daily caloric needs, with the following calculation:
Sedentary : BMR x 20 percent
Lightly active: BMR x 30 percent
Moderately active (You exercise most days a week.): BMR x 40 percent
Very active (exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods.): BMR x 50 percent
Extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training.): BMR x 60 percent
Add this number to your BMR.
The result of this formula will be the number of calories you can eat every day and maintain your current weight.
Tailor Your Diet For Your Goals
By knowing how much fuel you need helps in a major way. Training at the gym with intensity and pushing yourself to the max requires a good bit of nutrition. Make sure you feed the furnace and stoke that fire! Keep a log of what your eating. If you haven’t read Setting The Building Blocks: An Overview Of Nutrition swing on by and take a look.
Getting Started With Your Diet
Most people coming to this site are, for the most part, going to be new to weightlifting and all that applies to it. And some of you may already know a few of the ins and out but, your just looking for some more information. Either way I respect your quest for knowledge and I’m glad you came here to Barbell Academy.
Getting started with a weightlifting routine can be rather tricky. I mean shoot, just trying to figure out the exercises and what kind of routines to try is a whirlwind. If you haven’t checked it out I recommend Barbell Academy’s Starting Strength routine. It’s a great overview for beginners and really is a solid foundation for sculpting your dream body.
What The Heck Should I Do About Food?
I bet the thought behind food is to just slap a bunch of meat and veggies on a plate, eat a few big meals and call it a day. Wrong! How’s that going to work? You see the thing is your body is like a car that needs gas getting ready for a long road trip. You stop at the station fill up the tank and head forth on your trip. About 100 or so miles down the road, boom, you gotta stop for gas again.
So think of your meals and food in the same regard. When you wake up to eat breakfast you put that first tank of gas in the car. Typical American diets wait until lunch to eat the next meal. And then again at dinner. My friend if your waiting that long to fill up your tank you are running on fumes.
Eat More, Eat Frequently.
By eating smaller meals throughout the day your body has sufficient fuel to function through the 9 to 5 rigors as well as help you recover from that nasty beating you got by the barbell. Not to mention your metabolism will get moving into high gear.
Allowing yourself 5 to 6 small meals with the right amount of macro-nutrients can help you pack on the lean muscle and shred that unwanted fat. Don’t get carried away. Your diet takes as much work as training. Keep a careful eye on whats going into your body. Stay away from processed crap and base your intake on a whole foods diet. What I mean by that is get your foods in the most natural state you can. Eat your fruits and veggies.
Eat Enough To Achieve Your Goal.
Like it takes gas to get going on a road trip, it takes food to get going on a body trip. But you gotta know how much. So much information out there leads people astray. They think they can cut carbs, eat high protein, or whatever. Well lets get serious here. How in the heck do you think that’s going to work. Cutting out anything from your diet leads to deficiencies. Any type of deficiencies lead your bodily functions not chugging along like they should.
Out of all the articles, books, magazines, and conversations had with friends it seems like the consensus is as follows :
Get your macro-nutrients in at each meal.
Muscle builds on proteins and carbohydrates. Getting the right amount is super simple. Take your body weight and divide it by 2.2. Okay, now you have your weight in kilograms. Multiply that number by any figure between 1.8 to 2.3 to figure out your protein intake. Then take that number and multiply it by anywhere from 3 to 5 which is going to give you your carbohydrate intake.
Depending upon your goal and the amount of calories you need to consume during that time frame of your training will determine the amount of protein or carb your going to need. Once you have a general idea of your macro-nutrient intake your going to need to know how many calories you need to either maintain your current weight. From that point you can configure your deficit or surplus for either burning fat or building muscle.
For a breakdown on how to calculate your BMR which will give you your calories for the day check out this article Learn To Calculate Your BMR And Asses Your Daily Caloric Intake.
There you have it, a very general overview on how you need to be fueling your diet. Remember this is a journey that lasts a life time. It takes work and it takes serious effort. Be patient and don’t give up. Experiment and decide what works best for your body.