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Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
Emphasize nutrient-dense foods when selecting what kinds of carbs, proteins, and fats go into your diet. Remember, micronutrients are essential. If you want to build muscle optimally, meeting your macro quotas with pop tarts, bacon, and ice cream isn’t going to cut it. Stick to whole foods.
For protein that means whole eggs, beef, chicken, and fish. You need various kinds of amino acids to build muscle, so it’s a good idea to get in several different sources of protein.
Good sources of carbohydrates include potatoes, oats, and brown rice or white rice with assorted vegetables. These slower digesting carbohydrates don’t spike your insulin too much (chronic high insulin levels can lead to diabetes and insulin resistance) and provide fiber for a healthy digestive system. After a training session, you can use faster digesting carbs like cream of rice or rice cakes since glucose uptake in the muscle is enhanced and beneficial for recovery at that time.
Lastly, you should include healthy fats like nuts and seeds, avocado, and fatty fish like salmon for overall good health. Good fats improve heart health, control blood sugar, and are essential for hormone production and proper cell function.
Minimize Processed and Junk Foods
The fewer processed foods you have in your diet, the better. I’m not saying an occasional cheat meal will sabotage your muscle building goals, but as a bodybuilder, your primary concern should be eating for building muscle, not for pleasure. Bulking should not be an excuse to eat like a fat ass and crash your metabolism while gaining a bunch of body fat. It’s unhealthy and will lead to high blood pressure, inflammation, and insulin resistance, which is a terrible recipe when combined with other bodybuilding “supplements.” Not to mention your body will not build muscle as efficiently if you are chronically ill. Too much junk food will also slow down digestion because of the high fat content, making your following meals more difficult to consume. Use cheat meals sparingly and care for your health.
Overeating Can Lead to Digestion Issues
Overeating in general will cause digestion issues. There is nothing worse than staring down at a massive plate of food and still being stuffed from your previous meal. Remember, your body has a limited capacity for the amount of nutrients it can absorb and the rate at which it can build muscle. Eating over this limit will not speed up muscle growth; it will only lead to more fat gain and digestive issues.
Malabsorption is one of these digestive issues. If you find yourself going to the bathroom every hour with the runs, you aren’t properly digesting your food, essentially wasting it. You are going to have to do some experimentation with what foods agree with your digestive system and which foods do not. For example, some people do not tolerate eggs very well (eggs are a common food allergy). Some people do not digest certain foods very efficiently (brown rice sits in my stomach like a brick). If you eat the same thing every day, it’s easier to isolate which foods are giving you digestive problems. Simply substitute them out for something similar and see if that helps. Listen to your body and don’t force it to digest foods it doesn’t like.
Tips to Remember for the Next "Bulk" Season
Build and monitor a diet over the course of weeks and months. Quality muscle takes time to build. Consistency is key just like any other aspect of bodybuilding, so stick to your diet and make adjustments as necessary. Emphasize nutrient-dense whole foods and limit the amount of junk food that you consume. Quality food equals quality muscle gains. Better health markers due to healthy eating will also increase training performance and efficient muscle building. Keep these tips in mind next “bulk” season and see how much better you are able to add slabs of beef to your frame.