The key to growth is to understand the massively important role that diet plays.
As well as decent nutrition, a good bulking diet will almost always include several key supplements, essential for hitting your macros consistently.
First let’s talk about food. Food is the most commonly overlooked aspect of a new trainers regime, a mistake that often costs months or even years worth of potential gains to be lost due to the time wasted.
In the beginning, I vastly underestimated the role that consistently hitting my macros played in building a great physique. As a result, I wasted many years wondering why the gains were so painfully slow. The benefit of this experience, however, is that you can learn from my mistakes.
But I'm not hungry
This is where many fail from the outset. The idea that you must eat - even when your body is telling you not to - takes some getting used to. It can be even more daunting when realising that, to make excellent, consistent gains, you may need to almost double your daily food intake. This is where the importance of a schedule shines through.
If you're struggling to get all of your meals in, write down a list of everything you need to eat in the day, and then write down a plan that works around your schedule, assigning your various meals to various time slots in the day. It sounds obsessive but the bottom line is, it really does work!
But what should I be eating?
By now you will probably already have heard about a typical bulking diet consisting of a 40/40/20 split of carbohydrates/proteins/fats. For a 70kg male, 3500kcals per day is a reasonable target, whilst those who are heavier will need to up this accordingly.
Here are some great ideas of where to get each of your macronutrients from.
• Fruit & Veg
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Whole Milk
• Oily Fish
As you can see, there is some overlap in macronutrient sources with certain foods. For example, whole milk is an excellent source of both proteins and fat. It is also very popular due to its ease of consumption - it is common for a bulking diet to include over 4 pints of full fat milk per day, especially when used to mix your whey protein shakes. Consuming food with overlapping macronutrients, such as whole milk, is an easy way to meet your daily targets.
There are a few supplements that are incredibly popular amongst bulkers due to their immense kcal contents and ease of consumption. Two of the main benefits of supplementation are the relative ease of fitting them into your diet. For example, a mass gainer shake mixed with whole milk can easily contain upwards of 500kcals, and not only is quick to consume, it’s also cost effective.
It is generally cheaper kcal for kcal to get your nutrients from shakes, especially with the massive selection the bodybuilding community has to choose from, and the price competition between brands this creates. However, don't fall into the trap of thinking they are the preferred nutrient source - they are called supplements for a reason. They should only be used to supplement an already healthy diet.
A mass gainer is designed to pack a large amount of kcals into an easily ingestible shake, boosting your macronutrient intake, whilst being incredibly convenient for the user. There are many types available to suit the needs of the individual, some contain a relatively even split of proteins, fat and carbs, whereas others contain predominantly carbohydrates.
Which you choose to use will depend on which area of your diet you feel you need help with the most. Having trouble getting enough protein in? Look for a mass gainer with high protein content. Having trouble finding enough carbs to get into your diet? A mass gainer with high carb content will likely be of more use to you.
Whey protein is arguably the most popular supplement in the bulker’s arsenal, due to the high protein requirements of the average trainer, and the high cost of protein rich food sources such as chicken and steak.
As with all supplements, there are many options available to suit your individual needs. Whey protein concentrate is incredibly popular due to its affordability, and most high quality whey concentrates will contain upwards of 75% protein content.
Whey protein isolate on the other hand is perfect for lactose intolerant trainers who still need a convenient way of getting their protein in, without the lactose found in concentrate. Isolates generally contain more protein gram for gram than concentrates, with good quality isolates often containing upwards of 80% protein content.