The term ‘bulking’ refers to a process that is related to a gradual increase in the calorie levels in your body that you may intake with your regular diet. Such consumption of high levels of calories can take place if you combine your diet with high-calorie foods while undergoing heavyweight workouts like weightlifting. It is always important to know whether these heavy training and body-building practices are well suited for your body and are not affecting your health.
What is Bulking?
Bulking is a bodybuilding process that is for recreational purposes and is also considered a sport that causes muscle gains. Bulking is considered one of the most important phases and processes of bodybuilding. Those people especially men who take bodybuilding or bulking as a profession or competition, consider the phase of preparing as the most vital stage of their bulking or muscle-building process.
But this bodybuilding process involves the intentional consumption of foods with high levels of calories which will promote greater muscle building because the excess calories consumed after digestion helps to provide your body with the essential nutrients that regulate boosting your muscle size and increase muscle strength while weight training. The high consumption of calories in the diet thus leads to greater fat synthesis that in turn builds your muscles. (1Trusted Source)
Competitors also undergo a phase of cutting away the high-calorie intake a process of fat reduction or the fat loss phase, in which they gradually decrease the consumption of foods rich in high calories and increase performing aerobic exercises while training to lower the excess body fat that they had already gathered during the bulking phase. While training in the cutting phase, bodybuilders limit the calorie intake and even lower the number of fats in their diet than the amount required by the body which can sometimes hinder the process of healthy muscle building, as some experts claim that the frequent high and low intake of high calories and fat can lead to adverse health effects. (2Trusted Source)
This phase is mostly carried out to maintain muscle mass but not to gain further fat. A recent study has found that the average calorie consumption of muscle builders during the bulking phase is about 3,800 calories per day for men and 3,200 for women, whereas it sharply goes down to 2,400 and 1,200 calories during the phase of lowering calories, respectively. (3Trusted Source)
Bulking Determines Your Calorie Intake:
Bulking involves the intake of calories that are more than the amount your body needs through the regular diet. A calorie counter helps to regulate your daily calorie intake or muscle mass, and the index in calorie counter depends on several body factors such as weight, sex, age, height, and levels of physical activity that approximates your average daily calorie requirement. Studies have shown that consuming almost 10 to 20% more calories is permissible for maintaining your daily weight and developing a proper bulk physique. Your body needs high consumption of calories during the bulking phase for an average weight gain of 0.25–0.5% weight per week. (4Trusted Source)
For example, if your body requires 3,000 daily calories each day for bodybuilding or during bulking, you must try to consume at least 3,300–3,600 calories, but always keep in mind the exercise levels during your training period. If you are gaining 0.25–0.5% of your body weight per week while bodybuilding in the bulking process or your training period, you should adjust your calorie intake accordingly. (5Trusted Source)
Firstly, it is important to fix the actual number of calories you need during the bulking process. Then you should also determine your daily average macronutrient ratios. Macronutrients are important health nutrients with large molecules like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that tend to occupy a major portion of your diet. Carbohydrates and protein each contain 4 calories per gram, while it is 9 grams for fat.
Dieticians and experts say that it is important to have (6Trusted Source):
- 30–35% of your calories from protein
- 45–60% of your calories from carbohydrates
- 15–30% of your calories from fat
For example, if you decide you need to eat 3,300 calories per day, your diet will contain:
- 371–495 grams of carbohydrates
- 55–110 grams of fat
- 248–289 grams of protein
While you can adjust based on your dietary needs, the proportion of calories from protein should remain at 30–35% to support optimal muscle growth. You can use calorie-tracking apps to help you stay within your calorie budget and macronutrient ranges. (7Trusted Source)
Is Bulking Safe for You?
Several scientists say that the process of calorie gaining involved in bulking is unhealthy because it may not only increase the average fat mass of your body, particularly when your body contains too many calories in excess. The consumption of high-calorie foods by bodybuilders that contain reportedly low amounts of healthy nutrients including sweets, desserts, and fried foods is no doubt an unhealthy process that can lead to health adversities in later periods. These foods, especially when eaten as part of a high-calorie diet, can increase inflammation rates, promote insulin resistance, and spike the levels of fat content in your blood. However, proper bulking does not involve extreme overeating or does not lead to endless cravings. Bulking, if carried out healthily by maintaining proper excess of calories in the bodybuilding phase and eating nutrient-dense foods in the cutting phase, can lead to good results.
Things To Include in Your Diet:
It is always recommended by experts to have a nutrient-dense diet, with high levels of essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and quality protein that will be beneficial for your health.
Here are some examples of foods that should be included in your diet:
- Fruits: apple, mango, lemon, papaya, avocado, bananas, watermelon, pomegranate, berries, grapes, kiwi, oranges, pears, pineapple, and several others.
- Vegetables: green leafy vegetables like spinach, asparagus, cabbage, beans, sweet potatoes, eggplants, beets, broccoli, carrots, collards, cucumber, kale, mushrooms, and bell peppers.
- Cereal Grains: wheat, maize, rice with bread, cereals, corn, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, and corn flakes.
- Seafood: fatty fish, cod, crab, lobster, salmon, scallops, shrimp, tilapia, and tuna.
- Dairy products (fat-free): butter, curd, cottage cheese, cheese, milk, and yogurt or milk with cereals.
- Meats, poultry, and eggs: ground beef, round steak, pork, skinless steamed chicken, sirloin steak, turkey, and boiled whole eggs.
- Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, green peas, and pinto beans.
- Nuts and seeds: cashew nuts, peanuts, almonds, chia seeds, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
- Oils and nut butters: almond, cashew, and peanut butter, avocado pastes, canola, and virgin olive oils.
- Beverages without added sugar or any artificial sweeteners: coffee, diet soda, unsweetened tea, warm milkshakes and water.
Things You Need to Cut Out from Your Diet:
While bulking, you also need to remove some foods from your diet which includes the following: (8Trusted Source)
- Alcohol: Alcohol or high consumption of related hard drinks disrupt the body’s proper functioning and can hinder the muscle-building process, particularly when your intake a high amount of alcohol.
- Add sugar: Try to avoid a high intake of added sugar or artificial sweeteners directly into your diet because this can lead to several negative health effects if you have these in excess.
- Fried or ultra-processed foods: Totally renounce these kinds of foods during the bulking process because these can have negative effects in your heart and overall body.
Alternatives That You Might Intake:
Bodybuilders are often found to intake health supplements, which become particularly common during bulking that can help to regulate their overall muscle functioning and enhance performance.
Though there are a number of supplements for bodybuilders in the market, the most important are: (9Trusted Source)
- Protein powder
The Bottom Line:
Bulking is a competitive sport performed by bodybuilders. This sport requires a high intake of foods that are rich in calories. The excess of calories in the body helps in muscle growth and well maintenance of the body by deposition of fat in the muscles. But some experts consider the process, especially the surplus of high calories in the body during bulking and frequent cutting down the intake of healthy and necessary foods from the diet to be unhealthy.
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