What Is Bulking And How Does It Apply To Muscle Gain?

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Obi Obadike

Obi Obadike

Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert, CFT, SFN, M.S. Founder & CEO – Ethical Inc.
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What is bulking and how does it apply to muscle gain? Bulking creates a caloric surplus to support muscle mass and muscle growth. If your goal is to bulk up and try to add additional muscle to your body, then you will need to consume additional carbohydrates and protein to accomplish that fitness goal.

When you are consuming excess calories to bulk you will build muscle and increase body fat. It is almost impossible to think when you are bulking up you are only going to consume muscle and not gain any bodyfat.

What is bulking and how does it apply to muscle gain? Photo credit: iStock-Dragonvanish

The main goal of a bulking phase is to consume more calories than your body needs to maintain its weight. The number of calories depends on a lot of factors like your age, sex, physical activity, etc. Your metabolism will also determine the amount of your daily calories your body needs.

Your intake protein intake is critical during this bulking phase and the amount can be up to 2.2 grams of protein per pound for bulking up. If you do have a goal of bulking up it is important to make sure the foods, you consume are healthy nutrient dense foods.

If you consume a lot of processed foods during this bulking up phase it can increase your risk for a lot of chronic diseases. And poor nutrition increases the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, etc.

Some healthy carbohydrates to consume during the bulking phase are:

  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grain Pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Beans

Some healthy proteins to consume during the bulking phase are:

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Steak
  • Salmon
  • Eggs

You never really hear about the everyday average person that wants to bulk up unless they are a bodybuilder or a skinny underdeveloped young teenager. It is just not common for most people to want to gain weight.

From my experience as a health and wellness professional most people who set out a goal of bulking up typically end up gaining an unnecessary amount of fat. What is the point of bulking up if all that you are doing is just gaining fat.

Some of the foods you want to avoid when trying to bulk up are foods that contain added sugar, alcohol, sugary drinks, and high fatty foods.

It is important to remember that although you must have a calorie surplus to gain muscle you need to incorporate strength training workouts. Those strength training workouts can be bodyweight training, dumbbell workouts, resistance band workouts, weight lifting machines.

You can always eat a lot of calories but if you don’t do any strength training workouts all those surplus calories lead to fat gain. Most bodybuilders that are trying to bulk tend to consume 25 to 27 calories per pound so if they weigh 240lbs you would consume 6,000 calories daily. That is a lot of calories, and most people would have a difficult time eating that much food.

“If your goal is to bulk up and try to add additional muscle to your body, then you will need to consume additional carbohydrates and protein to accomplish that fitness goal.” Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert Obi Obadike

The Bottom Line is bulking up typically for bodybuilders or someone who has a desire to want to gain weight and considerable amount of muscle. The problem with bulking up is when you attempt to do it most of the time you will gain an unnecessary amount of fat. It is not the easiest thing to do because you are force feeding your body an unnecessary amount of food.

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  1. Spendlove, J., Mitchell, L., Gifford, J. et al. Dietary Intake of Competitive Bodybuilders. Sports Med 45, 1041–1063 (2015).
  2. Helms ER, Zinn C, Rowlands DS, Brown SR. A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2014 Apr;24(2):127-38. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2013-0054. Epub 2013 Oct 2. PMID: 24092765.
  3. Chappell, A.J., Simper, T. & Helms, E. Nutritional strategies of British professional and amateur natural bodybuilders during competition preparation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 16, 35 (2019).

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