Shawn Smith talks about proper lean bulking in his latest article.

My Lean Bulk Diet Program

Offseason. Improvement season. Whatever you want to call it. This is the time to actually gain muscle. This is the time to step your game up. Do you want to add pounds of muscle to your frame? Then you’d better have a good meal plan to follow in the offseason.

If you are looking to gain muscle, you are going to need to be in a calorie surplus. I make sure I am eating just enough calories to gain weight slowly. I use the mirror, the scale, and my training performance to assess whether or not I’m taking in just the right amount of calories. Too little and I’d lose bodyweight and my training performance would suffer. Too much and the rate of fat accumulation would be too high for my liking. Many might call this strategy a “lean bulk”. I eat just enough calories to make small, steady improvements in muscle mass while keeping the levels of body fat relatively low. The end result is me feeling better, healthier, looking better, and not having to diet as hard when it comes time to prep for a competition. Here is my current “lean bulk” plan, and reasons why I chose the food I did:

Meal 1

230g cooked chicken breast, 75g infant rice cereal, 2 slices Ezekiel bread, green vegetables

+ Animal Pak Multivitamin

Meal 2

230g cooked chicken breast, 75g infant rice cereal, 2 slices Ezekiel bread, green vegetables

+ Animal Omega

Meal 3

230g cooked chicken breast, 75g infant rice cereal, 2 slices Ezekiel bread, green vegetables

+ Animal Pump (30 minutes before training)

You’ll notice meals one through three are the same. This is because I like to keep things simple. I choose foods that I enjoy and that don’t give me any digestive issues. Digestion is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of a diet. Poor digestion leads to poor absorption of nutrients which will most definitely affect your ability to gain muscle!

Chicken breast is my primary source of protein. It’s lean, cheap, easy to cook, and digests very well for me in large amounts. I bake my chicken breast in the oven and shred it up in a food processor to make it easier to eat and digest. I mix the shredded chicken breast with infant rice cereal. Infant rice cereal is basically ground rice powder with added vitamins and minerals. I use this instead of rice because of its ease of preparation and because it’s very easy to eat. I add 2 slices of Ezekiel bread and green vegetables to these meals in order to increase my fiber intake and slow down the digestion of meals.

I take Animal Pak with my first meal in order to fill in some of the nutritional gaps I may have in my nutrition program. A certain ratio of Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s are required for optimum health and to build muscle, so I take Animal Omega to supply these fatty acids. Pre-training I take Animal Pump to aid in blood flow and maximize muscle pumps. I omit the red pill (this contains caffeine) because I prefer to train without the aid of stimulants.

Meal 4

2 scoops Animal Whey, 120g infant rice cereal, 100g blueberries

Muscle cells should be starved of glycogen after intense training, and as a result, are more efficient at taking in amino acids and glucose. A protein source that is very high in amino acids and a carb source that will easily break down into glucose is needed here. Whey protein and infant rice cereal does the trick! I use 2 scoops of Animal Whey Brownie Batter flavor and 120g infant rice cereal mixed with water for a tasty post-training meal. I add frozen blueberries as a source of more carbs and antioxidants. I keep dietary fats very low in my post-training meals so everything is digested quickly.

Meal 5

230g extra lean beef, 120g rice (measured dry), green vegetables

If I had to pick one source of protein to eat for the rest of my life, it would be beef. Beef protein is great for building muscle because it contains high levels creatine, iron, B-vitamins. I use a very lean source of beef so that I have more calories to put towards carbohydrates. I use short grain sushi rice as my carb source in this meal. I prefer a short-grain rice versus long grain rice because it’s not as dry. I use rice and rice-based foods as my main source of carbs because it digests very well for me. Green vegetables are added as a source of fiber and phytonutrients. My vegetable sources are almost always green, leafy vegetables which tend to be high in Vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for bodybuilders because it helps fight the calcification of blood vessels.

Meal 6

2 scoops Animal Whey, 85g oats, 1 can of sardines, sauerkraut, 1 Tbsp macadamia nut oil

+ Animal PM

My meals thus far have been relatively low in fat. I prefer higher ratios of protein and carbs in comparison to fat because I perform and look my best with things set up that way. The added fats I do consume are from healthy sources: sardines (omega-3s) and macadamia nut oil. These sources of fats are important for heart health, which should be of primary concern for competitive bodybuilders. Since I’m adding fats to this meal, I use a very low-fat source of protein (whey isolate) to fill my protein needs. I prefer to have a carbohydrate that is high in fiber to slow down digestion, so I use oats. Sauerkraut is added for probiotics. Eating sauerkraut regularly will boost your levels of digestive enzymes and probiotics, leading to enhanced digestion!

My macros and calorie count for my meal plan is as follows:

Total Calories: 4,596

Protein 439 grams 1756 calories 38.2% of total calories
Carbs 521 grams 2084 calories 45.34% of total calories
Fats 84 grams 756 calories 16.45% of total calories

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