How do you know when you should bulk vs. when you should cut?
Are you a healthy body weight? What are your long term goals? Are you training for an event, or gene...
| June 7, 2021
Read time: 3 min.
People often talk about the struggle of dieting, but rarely discuss the difficulty of getting enough calories in during a bulking phase. Make no mistake, hitting your calories when you’re already full is just as difficult as being hungry in a dieting phase. Here’s 5 tips and tricks to keep you on track.
1. Complete Digestive Enzymes
Eating in a surplus can often lead to gas, indigestion, and all around feeling heavy. This is a big problem in bulking, when you have another meal to get in, but you’re already feeling full from your previous meals. A complete digestive enzyme supplement can help reduce the stress of digestion on your body. I personally like Opti-Digestaway from Optimum Health, which contains HCL, bile salts, plant and animal based enzymes. Most people actually underproduce stomach acid, which makes the HCL content so valuable. Bile salts help with fat digestion, and the enzymes help digest protein, fats, and carbs. Overall, this supplement is an invaluable tool to utilize during a bulking phase.
2. Low Volume Food
This is not the time to be eating large salads and a lot of potatoes. If you’re struggling with being full, eat more low volume foods. Low volume foods pack a lot of calories, but aren’t particularly filling. White rice, pasta, dried fruit, raw honey, real maple syrup, avocado oil, olive oil, and granola are just some options. I would also like to explicitly note that taking in simple sugars does not automatically make you gain body fat - only your overall calories will dictate your rate of weight gain. If you’re gaining weight too quickly, taper your calories back. A weight gain of 0.5-1lb per week is pretty typical for a gaining phase.
3. Liquid Calories
Intraworkout carbs, juice, and shakes are incredibly helpful for getting in extra calories. There’s also ‘weight gainer’ protein powders on the market which pack a lot of calories to help increase your calories. These aren’t necessary though, and it would be better to get your calories from whole foods. Protein powders are great, but they’re still a processed food.
Alternatively, you can easily make your own ‘gainer’ smoothie using whole foods like avocado, hemp hearts, oils, juice, fruit, and a basic whey protein powder. This will increase the micronutrient content of your shakes, unlike some of the weight gainer protein powders, which are mostly relying on sucrose and other processed simple sugars, without the micronutrient content.
4. Avoid Intermittent Fasting
This is not the time to skip breakfast. It’s a lot harder to get in the sufficient calories if you miss breakfast, so save fasting for your cutting, or maintenance phases instead.
5. Keep Cardio Low
Look, cardio is essential for heart health, and should be a part of everyone’s programming. When you’re in a bulking phase, however, more cardio means you need even more calories. So keep cardio to 1-2 sessions per week maximum, or you’ll struggle to keep up with your calorie demands. Plenty of time to add in more cardio when you’re cutting.
A final note on bulking would be to make sure you’re being painfully consistent. It’s easy to let a few days of under eating get away from you, and can offset your surplus quickly. Track your food, weigh and measure it. If you’re never hungry during a bulking phase, then it’s likely you are successfully in a surplus. Like weight loss, weight gain isn’t easy. Anything disturbing homeostasis is going to be uncomfortable. Mentally plan to feel discomfort.
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