Learn how to lean bulk with these 6 easy steps
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Wanna know how to lean bulk ?
There is still considerable debate going on as to the effectiveness of bulking in fast muscle growth.
Let’s face it.
When you try to bulk up, there’s the inevitable fat gain that comes along with it.
Some say that you can’t bulk and NOT gain fat at the same time, while others say it is possible.
So…who is right?
Well, to be honest, both schools of thought pose valid and correct points. YES, it is necessary to eat more food in order to build more muscle. YES, it is also bad to rapidly increase your body fat percentage since it can be detrimental to muscle building.
The solution for this complex problem lies in CLEAN BULKING, and the rationale behind this method lies somewhere in between the two schools of thought that we mentioned above.
How to lean bulk by clean bulking? Let’s dig into this issue a little deeper, shall we?
3 Common Bulking Mistakes
As we have mentioned earlier, there are some pretty disappointed folks out there who said that bulking is “ineffective”. Most likely, these poor individuals have made one or more of the common bulking mistakes we have listed down below.
Mistake No. 1: Eating too many calories.
Let’s put it on record, okay. You actually do need to eat the RIGHT AMOUNT of calories when building muscle. I mean, where will you get the energy needed when you do those intensive exercises, like weightlifting? BUT, you don’t need to eat more calories than what you need in a day.
Studies have shown that you achieve muscle gain by just eating around 110 percent of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Even if you eat 120 or 130 percent more, the muscle gain will still be the SAME! What you do gain though is MORE FAT!!
By strictly observing that 110 percent figure of your TDEE, you will rapidly gain muscle while keeping fat gain to a minimum. In contrast, if you eat 120 or more of your TDEE, you will see yourself gaining fat a lot faster. Unfortunately, this comes with the downside of slowing down muscle growth.
This is due to two factors. First, there is a decrease in insulin sensitivity. The hormone insulin aids in the transport of nutrients into every cell of your body. If your insulin is at the right levels, you will see a better response from your body, like building muscle and preventing fat gain.
With reduced sensitivity to insulin, you are unable to burn fat properly and you also suppress protein synthesis. The result of this is faster fat (and weight) gain and difficulties in building muscle.
The second factor is that you see testosterone levels fall and estrogen levels shooting up. Why do these sex hormones matter? You see, testosterone is the hormone that drives muscle growth. On the other hand, estrogen drives fat storage. See the opposing actions between these two hormones?
What does this mean then?
Simply put, if you eat more than 120 percent of your TDEE, you create a condition in your body wherein…
1) You slow down muscle growth.
2) Increase fat storage
3) Increase your difficulties in losing all that fat once you’re done with bulking.
Mistake No. 2: Eating too much junk food.
Who can resist the temptation of junk food? I’ll be honest enough to admit to moments of weakness.
When we think about food in general, we always think in terms of the major food groups-protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Then, throw in your calories as well. Let’s not forget though that food is also a great source for micronutrients, like vitamins, minerals and vital trace elements, which are needed to maintain good health and functioning of the body.
The problem with junk food, like candies, chips, fast and processed foods, and some varieties of health foods and health bars, is that they are packed with calories but have zero to very low amounts of micronutrients.
Studies have already proven that eating too much junk food can cause a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and infertility. They also can cause nutritional deficiencies.
While you may think that looking good is your main goal for muscle building, you should consider changing your goal to achieving a healthy body through healthy eating. By doing so, you ensure that you get all the nutrients you need and you also prevent the suppression of your immune system which can cause disease.
Mistake No. 3: Too much cheating
Two things happen when you “cheat”.
Regardless of whatever foods you cheat on, you end up consuming more calories than you normally would (this is because your body is literally “starving” for these foods).
Next, there is a tendency for you to eat more junk foods (and you even justify your eating more of them by saying that it fits your macronutrient needs.
We’ve already discussed junk foods. So, let’s take a closer look at consumption of more calories than normal.
Cheat meals or cheat days exist as a sort of “reward” for sticking to your diet and/or that intense exercise regimen.
Some fitness experts say that cheat meals serve the purpose of increasing your caloric intake after enduring days or a full week of cutting calories (a technique known as refeeding).
The problem is cheat meals have no beneficial effects during bulking. It also has the nasty side effect of letting you gain fat faster.
This is what usually happens when you hit your favorite restaurant after a diet. Even if you have faithfully observed your meal plan for the week, you gain double or triple the number of calories you have lost because that rich, tasty meal you ate at the restaurant is overloaded with calories!
If you want to avoid the potential fat gain, but still be able to eat your favorite foods in moderation, then CLEAN BULKING is the solution.
Clean Bulking Defined
Clean bulking is a form of dieting that serves the purpose of maximizing muscle growth while minimizing fat gain through the regulation of caloric intake and getting most of these calories from nutritious foods.
Regulation of caloric intake is very important because you need to ensure that you are eating more calories than you actually burn.
If you eat few calories than you burn while muscle building, there are a number of side effects…
1) A caloric deficit causes an impairment in the synthesis of muscle proteins.
3) You have poorer workout performance, simply because you are not providing your body with enough energy.
Ideally, when you undergo clean bulking, you should ensure that you are eating 10 to 15 percent more calories than you burn off on a daily basis.
In our definition of clean bulking, we emphasized the fact that you should get majority of the calories from nutritious foods.
The reason for this is that healthy and nutritious foods contain all the essential nutrients, including the micronutrients, to keep your body healthy, boost your immune system, and recover faster from intensive training.
The recommendation here is getting 80 percent or more of your calorie needs from whole and/or minimally processed foods.
You might want to consider adding these foods listed below to your regular diet…
Bananas and Berries
Fish (like cod, tuna, halibut, and sea bass)
Chicken and turkey
Lean beef, lamb and venison
Whole grains (like oats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice)
Seeds (like sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax)
Baked and/or sweet potatoes
Clean Bulking in 6 Simple Steps
So the question comes to mind, how to lean bulk? There are six simple steps to clean bulking. Let’s go over these steps one by one…
1) Calculate your calories (TDEE).
It is important that you first determine your TDEE. Thankfully, there are many online calculators that can help you come up with this figure.
2) Calculate your macros.
Once you have obtained your TDEE, you have to know how much macros you need to consume.
Ideally, you should eat between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight to provide your body with the necessary building blocks for muscle building.
Limit your fat intake to 0.3 grams per pound of body weight, as this is sufficient for your general health and hormone synthesis. The remaining calories should be used on carbs.
We’ve already discussed this before in past articles. If you lower your carb intake, you cause your muscle glycogen levels to drop so that you create an environment inside your body that is not conducive to post-workout muscle repair and growth.
Also, lower carb intake causes an increase in cortisol levels and a decrease in testosterone, which again have a detrimental effect to post-workout recovery.
In addition, a low carb diet lowers your muscle strength and endurance. This makes it even more difficult for you to achieve progressive overloading of your muscle required for muscle growth.
3) Formulate a meal plan and stick with it.
If you want to achieve greater success at clean bulking, you should be able to formulate a good meal plan and stick with it. Meal planning ensures that you get the right amounts of proteins, carbs, fat, and calories on a daily basis.
4) Practice intelligent cheating.
Is there really such a thing as “intelligent cheating”? Yes, there is such a thing and it will help ensure that you don’t go overboard with the calories.
Make sure that you cheat only once a week.
Make it a point that your daily caloric intake should not exceed 150 percent of your normal consumption. On your cheat day, keep your intake of fat to below 100 grams.
Now, if you have every intention of eating all your favourites on your cheat day, before that big dinner, make it a point to eat only protein.
The result of this is that you have eaten fewer calories before your cheat meal. Even when you eat your cheat meal, you don’t have to worry that you will go beyond your required number of calories.
5) Make necessary adjustments on your food intake depending upon your body’s response.
A good clean bulking plan means that men should gain 0.25 to 1 pound and women 0.25 to 0.5 pounds in a week. If your weight gain is greater than this, reduce your carbs and fat intake by 100 to 150 calories. If your weight gain is less than this, you need to eat more by adding 100 to 150 calories of protein and carbs.
Always monitor your weight at 7 to 10-day intervals.
6) Observe patience.
Muscle building through clean bulking doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of discipline and patience to see results. Just stick with the plan and you will see your efforts rewarded with a great body.