With the right nutrition and supplements, you can reap the rewards of your hard hours in the gym. Here are our ten top tips for building bulk.
Protein provides the main building blocks for the muscle. Ignore the RDA for protein (just 70g) if you are serious about building muscle mass – your intake must be much higher. For an 80kg person that means 160-200g of protein is needed per day, or 2-2.5g of protein per kg of body mass per day.
Advice: Get as much protein from your regular meals as you possibly can. We know this can be impractical – so give serious thought to protein powder supplements to help you on your way.
Carbohydrates are second only to protein in the pursuit of bulking up. They provide large amounts of easily accessed energy, protecting your amino acid store. An 80kg person requires 320-520g of carbohydrate per day – that’s 4-6.5g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass per day.
Advice: Carbohydrate intake in your regular meals is more practical than protein. However, the required intake is still phenomenally high so try a weight gain supplement to make your life easier.
3. Useful fats
20-30% of your total daily calories should come from fats. Diets with a substantial fat content provide the body with lots of excess energy so your body won’t raid the amino stores for fuel.
Advice: Red meat provides a source of fat in addition to quality protein. Mixed nuts, olive oil and fatty fish are great sources of monounsaturates. You can also try alternatives such as meat source protein powder.
4. Count your calories
To pack on quality muscle mass you must take in more calories than you burn. If you have followed rules 1, 2 and 3 correctly, you should be on target to achieve this. An 80kg individual requires 3200-3600 calories per day – that’s 40-45 calories per kg of body mass per day.
Advice: Meal Replacements (MRPs) are an efficient way of increasing your calorie intake and also provide a well-rounded macronutrient profile.
5. Eat frequently
Keep in mind the types of foods you should be eating, but try and keep meals at a similar calorific level.
Resist super-sized portions, which often result in excess energy turning to fat. Try to consume similar sized meals every 2-3 hours (6 per day), and keep in mind that an 80kg individual requires 500-600 calories per meal.
Advice: Protein bars and ready-to-drink (RTD) protein products make it easier to reach these guidelines. They are very convenient and allow you to measure your calorie intake easily.
6. Know your GIs
High GI carbohydrates cause blood glucose and insulin levels to increase rapidly. These include: chocolate, white bread and white rice.
Low GI carbohydrates are digested much slower so bodily glucose and insulin remains relatively stable. Try multi-grain bread, muesli and brown rice.
Advice: Focus on low GI carbs which provide a more sustained glucose and insulin release. This supports chronic muscle mass development. After a training session get a mix of both high and low GI carbohydrates in addition to your protein. There are carbohydrate ‘recovery’ supplements designed specifically for this.
7. Supplements were born in the gym… use them in the gym!
Before your workout, consume a minimum of 20g fast acting protein such as whey protein isolate. If you need energy to really push yourself in the gym, try a pre-workout supplement. These are designed specifically to get you in the mood for lifting big and building muscle.
Take an RTD or protein bar into the gym with you to consume between your sets. If you don’t fancy a snack during training, mix yourself up a BCAA drink to use instead of water as this will help prevent muscle tissue breakdown during training.
After working out, use a protein supplement with a multi-stage release protein blend. These provide a sustained flow of amino acids and take full advantage of the post-training anabolic window.
8. Get your breakfast right
On average, we starve our bodies for 9 hours every night as we sleep. When we wake up we need to ensure our bodies receive vital muscle building nutrients fast. Aim to get 20-30g of whey protein in your breakfast meal.
Advice: Mornings are often frantic and most people are usually in a rush. Breakfast supplements are available which are designed specifically to provide you with the perfect ratios of protein and carbohydrates in a quick and delicious meal.
9. Build Muscle while you sleep!
As soon as you start counting those sheep your body will be without food for around 9 hours. If you don’t prepare properly for your night’s sleep all the hard work you’ve done in the gym will pretty much be in vain.
To feed your muscles overnight, consume 30-40g of micellar casein protein before bed.
Advice: Other supplements that are great for pre-bedtime use include ZMA and L-Glutamine. Some products even combine all these night time muscle builders into 1 quality protein blend.
Get your loading phase and maintenance phase doses right:
Loading phase: 5g of creatine monohydrate 4 times per day for 5 days.
Maintenance phase: 5g per day.
Creatine supplements increase strength, muscle mass and muscular endurance. They are vital for building the lean muscle you want.
Advice: Numerous types of creatine supplements are available, from creatine ethyl ester (which requires no loading phase) to kre-alkalyn. However, creatine monohydrate is the supplement with the most scientific backing.