Most people think lifting weights is the most important aspect of gaining muscle mass, but it is actually your diet that determines how much muscle mass is gained. If the body does not receive the proper ratio of macronutrients or adequate calories, bulking will be severely limited.
Being a bulking diet does not mean eat whatever you want. Eating processed and refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and excessive sugar is not good for anybody, let alone one who is trying to gain quality muscle. The bulking diet should be centered around whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. These foods have the proper nutrients needed to add lean muscle mass and minimize fat gain when combined with a proper weight lifting routine.
Protein, carbohydrates and fat are all essential for bulking, and severely limiting one of these macronutrients will hinder the body’s ability to gain muscle mass at an optimal rate. The ratio of macronutrients that is best for bulking is 40/30/30, that is 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.
Males should eat 18 – 20x their bodyweight in pounds. So if you are 175 pounds, your caloric needs should be within 3150 and 3500 calories per day.
Females should eat between 15 – 17x their bodyweight in pounds. So if you are 120 pounds, aim for 1800 to 2040 calories per day.
To determine the amount of protein to eat, multiply your total daily calories by .30, then divide by 4 to get the amount in grams of protein to eat daily. For example, if your calorie intake was 3200, then 3200 x .30 = 960 / 4 = 240g protein.
To determine the amount of carbohydrates to eat, multiply your total daily calories by .40, then divide by 4 to get the amount in grams of carbohydrates to eat daily. For example, if your calorie intake was 3200, then 3200 x .40 = 1280 / 4 = 320g carbohydrates.
To determine the amount of dietary fat to eat, multiply your total daily calories by .30, then divide by 9 to get the amount in grams of dietary fat to eat daily. For example, if your calorie intake was 3200, then 3200 x .30 = 960 / 9 = 106g fat.
Below is a sample meal plan based of a bodybuilding bulking diet on a calorie intake of 3200 daily. You can adjust the portion size of the meals to fit your ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat, along with your calorie content.
Meal 1: 1 cup oatmeal, 8 egg whites, 1 egg with yolk Meal 2: protein/carb shake, 2 tbsp. peanut butter Meal 3: 1 can of tuna or 1 chicken breast on whole-wheat bread/pita, small green salad Meal 4: fatty fish on whole-wheat bread/pita, 2 tbsp. peanut butter Meal 5: protein/carb shake Meal 6: chicken breast, brown rice, green vegetables Meal 7: ½ cup cottage cheese, 20 almonds
On days that weight lifting is performed, it is best to eat six or seven meals a day to supply a constant supply of nutrients to the muscles. However, on non-weight lifting days feel free to eliminate one meal so excessive calories are not consumed and to minimize body fat gain.