For many guys, bulking up is a scary thought because there’s always a string attached. It seems that everyone wants to add lean mass, but they are terrified of the thought of gaining just a couple of pounds of body fat. After all, they think that there’s no reason to gain 20-30 pounds if most of it is fat.
Gaining Muscle Without Adding Fat
The big question is how can you bulk up without adding unwanted fat? The simple answer is by being precise and careful and paying attention to timing of your meals.
In order to build muscle, you must increase your caloric intake. However, if you eat too much, you’ll begin your fat-storing process. The key is to find the balance in eating just enough to start gaining muscle, but not so much that you’ll get fat.
One of the ways you can do this is to control portion sizes. Depending on your size, for most of your meals- not including your post-workout meals- you should be getting 40 to 60 grams of protein, and 40 to 80 grams of carbs. A bigger guy, 225+ pounds should be aiming for the higher end. Dietary fat should be low, with the exception of healthy fats which can be 5 to 10 grams per meal.
Another way to stay lean while you are bulking up is timing of your meals. When you eat supports gains as well as controls your body fat levels. If you are attempting to gain quality mass, you should be increasing the size of breakfast and your after training meals. These are the two times of day when your muscles are craving more calories/nutrients.
You need the calories/nutrients at breakfast because your nutrients have been depleted after sleeping and after your workouts because your muscles need to be replenished to begin the process of recovery. Giving your body what it needs during these encourages optimum muscle growth and keeps body fat down.
Basically, smart muscle growth- without body fat- depends on manipulation of your caloric intake. Sure, in order to gain mass, you need to eat more- but the timing of your meals will determine whether you are going to gain fat or muscle. If you have large breakfast and post workout meals, and smaller portions for your other meals, you’ll boost your caloric intake and make sure that those calories go to where they are needed- your muscles.
Tips for Eating on Non-Training Days
In order to grow, your muscles need some rest days- but on these rest days, you should not be chowing down on the same amount of carbs you do on days that you are working out. This is where most people get themselves in trouble. They keep eating a high-carb diet on days they’re not burning through the carbs.
The result is an increase in unwanted body fat, especially around their midsection and lower back.
In a lean mass meal plan, you’ll find that it gives you an equal amount of protein and carbohydrates for most meals. You’ll be eating 6 times/day instead of 3- which gives your body the critical nutrients it needs to drive muscle growth. Again, timing of the meals is focused on your workouts.
On days that you train, you’ll increase your carb intake, especially for your post-workout meal. If you have your post-workout meal at any other time of the day, you’ll likely end up gaining fat- but following a workout, it encourages muscle growth.
The majority of your carbs should be consumed early on in the day and meals later in the day should be primarily protein. This provides your body with the amino acids needed and negates the carbs that it doesn’t really need. In addition, since your insulin sensitivity slows down as the day goes on, avoiding carbs prevents fat gain.
Your protein consumption stays basically the same whether you are training or not, so a decrease in carbs also means a decrease in calories. On the days that you work out, you need about 18 to 20 calories per pound of bodyweight- but on days that you do not work out, you only need about 12 to 14 calories per pound.
Science of Timing
When it comes to diet, cabs are the most mismanaged nutrient. Think about it- eating a couple of bagels or 3 cups of pasta or rice at one time sounds like it might pack on the pounds- but if you have some lean protein right after your workout, it won’t.
While it’s true that carbs are often stored as body fat, when consumed after workout, it triggers hormonal changes that rebuild muscles. Of course, if you do consume too many carbs and just sit around, some of those are likely to become body fat.