How to eat to gain muscle & mass
Based on your test results you will need to tailor your eating to increase your mass, which will in turn enable you to train harder with more energy.
Your goal may be to make the weight for a certain sporting event, or it may be to increase your muscle mass in order to make strength and endurance gains. You might even be in bodybuilding training and want to use your off season in order to grow to your maximum potential.
In order to bulk effectively it’s not just a case of packing in as many calories as you can handle from which ever source you choose. Slamming in cakes, burgers and sugar-laden treats will achieve mass but it will mostly just be fat.
This is not what you want.
Here’s how to craft your very own healthy bulking food plan…
Step 1: Work out your body’s caloric needs for maintenance
The best way to begin is by working out how many calories your body needs to maintain its existing weight and muscle mass. Use the below equations to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR – how many calories your body burns at rest):
BMR= 66 + (13.7 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age in years)
Or approximately 11 calories per pound of body weight.
BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kg) + (1.8 X height in cm) – (4.7 X age in years)
Or approximately 10 calories per pound of body weight.
Step 2: Eat based on a calorie surplus
Firstly, to begin crafting your food plan to effectively and safely bulk up, you will need to consume a calorie surplus. This means you need to take in more than what you are consuming.
Most bulking plans work on the principle of consuming 250-500 calories more than your maintenance levels (at least to begin with.)
You can work out how many calories you need per day based on this principle by using this awesome free calculator. This will take into account weight, age, height and how active you are and present you with your daily calorie requirements.
Step 3: Sort out your nutrient ratios and daily meals
To gain lean mass and bulk effectively based on your goals, your macro nutrient ratio should be broken down in roughly the following fashion:
- 25% protein
- 50-55% carbohydrates
- 35% healthy fats
These ratios don’t just mean eat whatever you want within these brackets. You will need to keep your choices healthy.
You need to be consuming a balance of lean proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates. In order to do this effectively you will need to find out what balance of macro-nutrients you require to gain mass safely while keeping body fat at manageable and safe levels.
One you have your number of calories you need to consume for mass gain (from step 1) you will then need to get your nutrient ratios. Once you get these you will be able to plan your meals so you are really nailing your nutrition.
Step 4: Mass gainer protein shakes
Protein shakes are a staple part of the bulking food plan. They are an extremely effective way of consuming the amount of calories you need in one serving as well as the right amount of carbohydrates.
What’s more is that they are quick and easy to make! You can purchase specific mass gaining shakes and they are always handy to have in the house and use before and after training.
Step 5: Monitor your weekly progress
Realistically you can hope to gain around 1-2 lb of muscle per month, with the rest being a mixture of water and fat.
When you are undertaking a bulking food plan it’s vital to monitor your progress every week. Ensure you get weighed and record your measurements (lean muscle mass and body fat percentage.)
If your lean weight and body fat isn’t changing, or worse it’s going down then you will need to increase your calories further to account for your energy expenditure.
In order to consume your daily calorie targets it’s a good idea to keep track of your calorie intake using an app such as Myfitness pal, and plan, plan, plan! So make sure you know what you’re going to eat and when.
Example Female Bulking Plan
Starting Weight: 9 st 7
Height is 5,46 ft
Daily Calorie requirements for cutting: 2300
Nutrient ratios per meal: 47g Carb/23g Protein/10g Fats
80g oats + 1 scoop of protein + unsweetened almond milk + one teaspoon of peanut butter
1 tin of Tuna with green and leafy veg
50g dry weight basmati rice
One teaspoon of mayo
Pre-workout shake – 1 scoop of whey with water & 80g oats
11g of Brazil nuts
Post workout Shake – 1 1/4 scoop of diet whey + large banana
100g Salmon or mackerel with 200 grams cooked sweet potato & green leafy veg
1 scoop of whey protein with water
11g Brazil nuts
Example Male Bulking Plan
Starting Weight: 16 st
Height: 5” 11 ft
Daily Calorie requirements for bulking: 3500
Nutrient ratios per meal: 87g carb, 43g protein, 19g fat
120g oats + 1 2/3 scoop of protein + unsweetened almond milk + one teaspoon of peanut butter
Pre-workout shake – 1 2/3 scoops of whey protein mixed with water. Blend with 120g of oats and one tablespoon of ground flaxseed.
Post workout Shake – 1 2 / 3 scoop of whey protein + 70 grams of dextrose and one small banana. Add one tablespoon of flaxseed.
200g Salmon or mackerel, with 120 grams basmati rice and lots of green, leafy vegetables.
1 2 / 3 scoop of casein protein with water. Add one tablespoon of peanut butter and 120g of ground oats.