Winter is the time when many bodybuilders choose to add more muscle. Bulking up during winter is made easier by the fact that you are already consuming more calories, but that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you like. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a bulking meal plan that will provide you with the gains you desire.
Consume Plenty of Protein
If you want to build muscle, you must consume an adequate amount of protein in your diet. Bodybuilder Bob Chicherillo recommends going no more than three hours without consuming some form of protein, whether it is in the form of protein bars, shakes, or lean cuts of meat. When your bulking meal plan contains enough protein, you can ensure you have the right nitrogen balance in your muscles, and that you are taking in all the amino acids you need for muscle repair. One gram of protein per pound of body weight is ideal for bulking.
Don’t Forget your Carbs
Carbohydrates provide energy for your body, especially after a workout when they go to work raising your insulin level and increasing the amount of glycogen in your muscles. Sports nutritionists recommend simple carbohydrates right after a workout, because they are fast digesting and work nicely with the amino acids in a protein shake to help drive protein synthesis. Complex carbohydrates such as those found in pasta are recommended throughout the day for a constant source of energy. This is especially important because a lack of sunlight can wreak havoc on your energy levels, leaving you feeling too tired to exercise.
Include all Types of Fat
As study performed at Pennsylvania State University showed that men who consumed more dietary fat had higher levels of resting testosterone than others. Testosterone is essential for helping build muscle and promoting tissue regeneration, and is therefore needed for bulking. All types of fat should be included in a bulking meal plan for winter, even saturated fats that are often thought of as being unhealthy. Author Mary Enig claims that saturated fats help the body retain more Omega-3 fatty acids. They also help convert Omega-3s into Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), something that is essential for brain health. That doesn’t mean you can consume as much fat as you like-ideally, you should limit your saturated fat intake to no more than one-third of your total daily fat allowance.
Sample Meal Plan
Although there are many variations, a sample bulking meal plan may include:
- Three scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and berries for breakfast
- Mixed nuts/dried fruit as a mid-morning snack
- Chicken or turkey, brown rice, and broccoli for lunch
- Whey protein shake mid-afternoon
- Salmon and avocado for dinner
- Tuna and cottage cheese for an evening snack
Fitness author Michael Matthews recommends a calorie surplus of 5 to ten percent during your bulking phase.
A bulking meal plan for winter doesn’t have to be difficult to follow. Simply increase your caloric intake and ensure you have an adequate amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat if you want to enjoy some tremendous gains during the off-season.