If you’ve reached the point in your fitness journey where you want to eat more and gain some size but are worried about getting fat, this post will go right down your alley. We are going to talk a little bit about bulking. I am going to share with you the 3 biggest mistakes people tend to do when they setup their bulking diet, specifically when they setup their macros.
If you want to maximize your gains you actually want to spend more time bulking than you do cutting. This will put you in a muscle building state, so it makes perfect sense to set your bulking so that it lasts as much as possible.
Let’s get to it!
Mistake #1 – Too many proteins
The number one mistake you will see in many guys, especially in smaller guys who have a hard time putting in any weight, is that their protein intake is too high. It is extremely easy to make this mistake when you are a beginner. Every bodybuilding nutrition focused article will tell you what protein is good for muscular development (which is true).
Now, eating more and more protein might seem like the logical solution when you have a hard time building muscle. In reality, after certain thresholds more protein doesn’t really do you any good. It actually makes you feel fuller – which is great when dieting, but on a bulking situation eating too much protein will actually make it harder for you to consume the necessary amount of food to be in a surplus.
What we generally recommend is when someone is moving away from a cutting or maintenance diet to bulking is to start replace some of their low fat protein sources such as chicken breast, low fat cheese, low fat fish, with more fattier sources.
So instead of going for the low fat variation of the cottage cheese, you can get the one that has 4 grams of fat or so. It will make things easier, because you will need to consume less food (if food consumption is an issue) and you can also eat tastier food. So you can combine these foods as you want as long as you get it 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight or even less than that.
Higher amounts of protein intake prevent losing muscle mass. When you are on a surplus there is pretty much no risk of losing muscle – so a higher protein intake is not really that important any more.
So keep in mind that protein is very, very filling and it also has a very high thermic effect. That’s why the calories you are getting from protein will not be causing as much as a surplus as the calories you take from carbs or fats.
Mistake #2 – Improper carb to fat ratio
Another thing that you can get wrong when bulking is not eating the right amounts of carbs or fats. First, you will have the guys who will do is set a really low fat intake, hoping that somehow they will minimize fat gain during their bulking process.
Then, I’ve also seen many guys taking the low carb approach. There is such a big noise around the low carb diets these days, but the truth is they are not optimal for muscle growth at all.
These two wrong approaches to setting your carbs and fats intake will ultimately make it harder for you to take in the amount of calories that you need to support muscle growth.
High carb low fat
In this approach, if you go very, very low on fat you will have to compensate with a really high amount of plain carbs. We are talking about 1 pound of rice or 1 pound of potatoes.
It is not going to be very easy for you to get in that amount, so having a more balanced approach where you go a little bit higher in the fats, while also eating a decent amount of carbs and have your macros more balanced, it will probably be a good idea. While doing these, you should also keep eating around 1 gram of protein per pound.
This is going to give you a good starting point to get into a surplus. Of course, latter on you can start tweaking your diet a little bit so that you actually enjoy your bulking diet.
Low carb high fat
This approach is not necessarily bad for getting in the needed amount of calories, because fats have a high caloric content. However it is not a good approach if you are working out hard in the gym, if you want to get in more volume, more sets, and more reps and lift heavier and heavier weights.
Carbs are the primary source of energy your body is using throughout the day. The amount of glycogen inside the muscles will be determined by the amount of carbs you are eating, so if you are following a low carb diet, the glycogen level will drop.
This will result in poor workouts which will translate to sub-optimal muscle growth rate. When you are bulking, your goal is to gain mass and besides eating a surplus of calories, another important component to it is to train hard and lift more weights. A low carb diet will not allow you to do that.
If you still want to eat slightly fewer carbs, what you can do is go low carb on your rest days and eat plenty of carbs on your workout days.
Mistake #3 – Not eating healthy foods
The third and last mistake we are discussing is something that is commonly overlooked by many people. I did this mistake when I first started out too. In bodybuilding you will see everybody talking about calories and macros, but very rarely people look at where they are getting those calories and macros from.
So, what I want to say here is to avoid eating too much highly processed food. If you manage to get around 80% of your calories from healthy whole foods you can have a treat every now and then and get the rest of the calories from foods that might not be very healthy, but you enjoy eating. This will probably not going to do that much harm.
This approach will give you much more benefits when it comes to your health and long term you are getting yourself ready for the next cut. So, instead of thinking about how much junk food you can get away with, you should be thinking how you can include more tasty but healthy foods into your diet and get more high quality nutrients.
Another “side effect” of eating too much junk food is that you get used to that type of food and the taste it has. So when you are going to diet down again, you will have a hard time sticking to your caloric deficit because you will not be able to restrict your intake and you taste receptors will work against you.
You will find all foods to taste bad and you will be more likely to binge eat and include junk food in your diet again. If you train your brain and taste sensors to expect that kind of food all the time you are going to make it very difficult to just eat a simple meal when it’s time to cut.
So just try to think a couple of steps ahead and prepare yourself for the next cut while you are still bulking.
Over to you
So that’s pretty much it, just remember these 3 things next time you start bulking. Keep your protein intake at about 1 gram per pound, make sure to balance out those macros a little bit to get a very wide range of foods and lastly but not least, do not ignore the quality of the food you are