A complete bulking meal plan to help you smash your plateaus.
For some people, the struggle to bulk up can be as tough, if not tougher, than trimming down. Genetics, activity, training program, lifestyle and diet choices all contribute to your ability to build muscle. Genetics are largely out of our control so let’s take that out of the equation and focus on optimizing the genetic situation that you have been handed. A bulking meal plan is a perfect way to go about this.
As listed below, there are several important factors to consider when you’re trying to pack on size:
- Energy balance
- Protein intake
The ability to grow muscle is dependant on being in a caloric surplus. Beginners may possess an ability to build muscle in a deficit, though it will be short-lived and more experienced trainers should always be aiming for a small-medium caloric surplus. Building muscle is NEVER a priority for your body. And as such it will always spend the energy you take in on the processes that keep you alive before spending it on body-optimization adaptations such as muscle building. This is the same reason you cannot perform as well when you don’t eat, your body automatically slows you down to preserve energy for the things that contribute to survival.
Therefore you have to ensure that you are, without a doubt, in a calorie surplus. If your weight is currently stagnant I would first suggest calculating your current daily calories and increasing your total by 200-400. 2-3 weeks into your bulking meal plan, check for any weight change and reassess whether to increase, maintain or reduce your energy intake.
Protein is the main component of muscle mass, and incredibly important in our bulking meal plan. Failure to consume enough daily protein can severely hamper your ability to grow. Plenty of studies have tried to pinpoint the optimum amount of protein intake for muscle building, with it likely falling between 1.6-2.5g/kg of body weight. Additional protein never hurt anyone so I always look to start clients at the higher end of the scale. Especially when they are trying to bulk up.
Lack of appetite is one of the main issues clients report when struggling to increase their calorie intake. There’s nothing fun about force-feeding, even in the name of bulking for building muscle. It’s always in everyone’s best interests to try and avoid creating a negative relationship with food. Therefore, you must have tools for promoting appetite, as well as avoiding appetite killers.
Increase your appetite
There are several natural ways to increase appetite. Weight training itself is a known appetite promotor, whilst highly palatable foods such as carbohydrates and fats can increase our willingness to eat and the amount that we chose to take in. Setting regular mealtimes will program your body to expect food intake, increasing the hunger sensation in preparation. Finally, starting your day with a big meal will go along the way to increase your overall intake. Unless you are training first thing in the morning, you will be missing valuable digestion time. If you are not used to eating in the morning, start small or start with a liquid.
Avoiding appetite suppressants
Avoiding appetite suppressants is the other side of the equation. Your bulking meal plan will be dead in the water if you can’t consume your calories. Excessive cardio cannot only limit muscle building capacity, but it can also reduce your willingness to eat for an extended period of time post workout. If your goal is truly weight gain, you should be limiting your cardio to short, high-intensity bouts. High fiber and protein intake are known appetite suppressants and whilst it is important to get adequate protein, it is best to not go crazy. After calculating your protein requirements you should seek to fill the rest of your calories with carbohydrates and fats. Avoiding calorie-less liquid around mealtimes will allow you to consume more food as your stomach is not being filled up with water.
Tricks to increase your calories
Easy ways to get more calories in when trying to bulk up.
- Blends, these help increase calorie density without increasing food volume
- Set eating times. This gives your body the time to actually feel hungry again
Recovery, recovery, recovery!!!
- Rest is one of the most important factors for my clients trying to pack on size. In the recovery phase, our bodies convert all of the protein and other goodies contained within our sustained calorie surplus, into muscle.
- Spend less energy
- Sleep more
Other factors to consider
- Staying hydrated. This one is obvious, a large percentage of our bodies are made up of water. Not being appropriately hydrated can directly prevent your body from recovering from an intense training regime properly. Drink at least 6-7 glasses per day if you can.
- Supplementation. This one isn’t as important as you might think. We can easily get the calories and nutrition we need from a well put together meal plan. Although post workout protein supplementation can be beneficial.
An example bulking diet by The Clean 5
These meals can be prepared in advance & eaten throughout the week. The Clean 5 app provides a brand new meal plan each week, tailored to your calorie goals, for just $5 (AUD) per week.
It’s really important to work out how many calories you need to consume, in order to slowly gain weight. As mentioned above, you need to ensure you are in a calorie surplus throughout your regime. As part of The Clean 5 app, we have a calorie calculator function that tells you exactly how many calories you need to consume, to put on muscle mass. You can then plan your entire diet through our app, using the 2 new meal prep recipes we upload each week. We make creating your bulking meal plan easy, with The Clean 5’s App.
Cereal of your choice + protein shake.
Boiled eggs, 1 tuna tin & 20g almonds.
Cheesy Chicken Pasta: Makes 6 serves. 573 calories per serving. 7g Fat, 75g Carbs & 52.5g Protein.
See The Clean 5 app for the recipe.
Beefy Burrito: Makes 8 serves. 446 calories per serve. 14g Fat, 54g Carbs & 26g Protein.
See The Clean 5 app for the recipe.