Health and fitness culture typically places an emphasis on shedding pounds
and reducing inches, but for some people, bulking up is the ultimate goal
of a diet and exercise routine. Whether you’re looking to gain muscle for
an upcoming sports competition or simply interested in becoming visibly
stronger, a diet built for bulk requires its own unique regimen to ensure
you’re gaining muscle without adding unhealthy fat.
Because you’re likely spending a large portion of time
building muscle at the gym, it’s important to fuel your body with plenty of nutrients that encourage
healthy bone strength and muscle growth. The more calories you’re burning
while working out, the more you need to eat—but filling up on whatever’s in
front of you won’t give your muscles what they need to recover and grow.
Instead, increase your intake of lean meats and fish, like pork tenderloin,
chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, and cod. This
will not only increase muscle mass, but will also prevent muscle loss as
you lose weight.
Unlike people looking to slim down, you’ll also want to include carbs and
starchy vegetables in your meal plan to ensure energy levels stay high
before a workout session. Healthy options include whole grains like brown
rice and oatmeal, or starches like potatoes and corn. To reap the most
benefits, you should also include carbs in your post-workout routine to
restore your glycogen
Although carbs and protein get the spotlight in the fitness industry,
fats are vital for hormone
regulation and muscle building. When bulking up, fats should make up about
20 to 30 percent of your daily calorie intake. Focus on
like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like
avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil.
As hard as you may try, fitting in all the necessary nutrients isn’t always
feasible, especially if you’re trying to balance a gym routine with work
and other obligations. For on-the-go fuel, reach for a
that can allow you to perform your best without sacrificing the time it
takes to prepare a meal. Look for supplements like creatine,
branched-chain amino acids. Though they can’t offer you every nutrient your body craves, they can
still benefit you if you’re trying to bulk up on a tight schedule.
While understanding healthy options for increasing muscle mass can be
difficult to navigate, knowing which foods to avoid is much easier. Don’t
indulge in too much junk food and dessert, and limit or completely cut your
alcohol intake. Sugar should come from natural sources like fruit, so ditch
the donuts and grab something sweet and nourishing instead. Above all, talk
to your doctor and nutritionist to ensure you’re following a plan that’s
right for you, and that you’re gaining muscle in a healthy, sustainable