When you want to bulk up, you want to build muscle and become stronger. Unfortunately, if you bulk up incorrectly or make some bulking mistakes, you’ll find yourself gaining more fat than you’d like.
Luckily, as noted, not all bulking leads to fat gain. There are a variety of tips you can use and rules you can follow to keep fat gain to a minimum without sacrificing your positive bulking.
What Is “Too Much” Fat Gain?
The first thing to know is that minimal fat gain doesn’t mean no fat gain. Having a body fat percentage isn’t bad - our bodies need a little fat. So, how much fat gain should you aim for?
The fat percentage for bulking is a little different depending on your body. Generally, females should aim for 22-23% body fat, and males should aim for 15-16% body fat. As just said, though, everyone’s body is different. An extra bit of percentage on one body might look like they want, or it might be off their goal. You can safely adjust about 2% in either direction to find your ideal body.
There are a few ways to bulk, and two of the main ones are considered “CLEAN” AND “DIRTY” bulking.
First, let’s look into the dirty bulking. This is a method that many lean-to because the goal is to bulk up as fast as you can. To put this into terms of calories, if your regular intake is 2000 calories a day, you should try to increase that count by as much as you can quickly. Typically, this means increasing from 2000 calories to as much as 3,000 to 5,000 calories.
For many people, this is misinterpreted to finding those calories wherever you can. There is a big difference between finding calories in, for example, a bowl of chicken and rice than in bags of fast food.
Because dirty bulking is often done in a way that is unhealthy, it often leads to health problems not to mention fat gain. If you are going to try dirty bulking, you have to do it right. Look at it this way: if you were trying to cut your diet fast, you wouldn’t do it haphazardly.
Clean bulking is the slower version of bulking. Instead of jacking your calorie intake from 2,000 calories a day to 5,000 calories a day as quick as you can, the process is much more gradual.
To do a clean bulk, you would amp your calorie intake up a little at a time. For instance, you might start at 2,000 calories a day and then push that up 2,300 to 2,500 calories per day.
With this method, you would bulk slowly compared to a dirty bulk. In fact, you might only see a gain of 1 or 2 pounds a week. The good part of this is that the fat gain will be minimal. These few pounds a week will, if done correctly, be mostly lean muscle tissue.
How Much of What Should You Eat?
A big part of bulking is eating right. We already noted that finding your gains in fast food are likely to be fast gains. However, just saying “eat healthy” or “eat right” can be overwhelmingly broad.
Protein is tempting, and it can be great for you. Greatly increasing your protein intake to find your gains isn’t the way to go. You should keep your protein intake at about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, you should intake 170 to 255 grams of protein.
What you should focus on in your bulking is carbohydrates such as sugars and starches. This will not only help you gain bulk, but it will also generate glycogen which boosts your energy levels.
When Should You Eat?
When you are adding calorie intake to your diet, there are a few options as to how you get those calories.
While you might be able to intake all those calories in the standard three meals a day, it isn’t the best option you have. Instead, break that intake up into several meals over the course of the day. This will help your body metabolise these calories easier, and it’ll make a high-calorie intake much less intimidating.
Don’t Forget the Water
When you are bulking, don’t forget to drink water. This isn’t just because water is better for you than reaching for a soft drink either. Water is absolutely essential to the body. If you want your metabolism to work as efficiently as possible and minimise your fat gains, you should make sure to intake water throughout the day.
Check Your Gains
While these tips all work generally, it can’t be stressed enough that everybody is different. If you want to make the most of your gains, you need to keep an eye on your bodyweight. These differences are mainly important due to differing metabolism.
A general rule of thumb is that a change needs to be made if your bodyweight either stays steady or drops for 2 straight weeks. You can try adding 250 calories to your diet.