When the temperature drops and the sun sets earlier, the idea of working out often admits a disgruntled “too much effort” from the common gym junkie. For those a little more fitness obsessed, winter tends to mean one thing and one thing only: bulking season.
With the lack of beach days forcing you to bear all, and minimal impromptu parties popping up in the calendar, there’s relatively no need to be sporting a chiseled six pack all year round. Hence, why winter is the best time of year to dedicate time to building as much lean muscle mass as possible. For those new to the concept it’s worth clarifying that bulking does not directly translate to bodybuilding (aka you won’t walk away looking like the Michelin man).
How do I start?
First thing’s first, to put on muscle you will need to eat a lot more food. The reverse formula for what it takes to lose weight, bulking requires you to consume more energy than the body needs, while simultaneously giving this energy something to do ie. performing regular and strenuous physical activity to build muscle mass.
The amount of food you need to eat differs from person to person, taking into account your current physique and fitness goals, which is why I recommend always seeking guidance from your healthcare professional. For some it might mean adding an extra tub of yogurt to your morning cereal, others need to incorporate another meal each day, but you want your wellness journey to be tailored specifically to you.
Wait… won’t I get fat?
While it might be a reason to fret for some, gaining fat is all a part of the bulking process. However, you don’t want to fall into a pattern of simply eating more for the sake of gains, it’s all about quality and considered food decisions.
Start to increase your calories via small steps, prioritising more full fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean meats to substantiate each meal. Other calorie dense foods to pop on your radar include avocado, sweet potato, and nuts.
Hot tip: swapping Vegemite on toast for peanut butter will boost your energy and protein intake without upping the amount of bread, so you’re less likely to feel too full.
So, do I double down on protein?
Contrary to popular belief, bulking requires more than just protein (so stop slamming down those shakes). The best sources of protein to incorporate into your diet today should be: eggs, nuts and seeds, beans, legumes, lean meat, and seafood. Again, there are so many factors at play here to determine just how much you need, including gender, body size, and training regime.
If you’re feeling amped up and ready to reshape your body, but lacking inspiration in the kitchen department, my go-to suggestion is investing in one of the many meal delivery programs available across Aus that support your fitness goals. Companies like MACROS for example provide plans labelled ‘sculpt’, ‘perform’, and ‘gain’, all pre-portioned and dietician-approved to suit your lifestyle. The best part? It’s delivered straight to your door, which means more time for working out and less fuss for meal prep.
Scrap what you heard about devouring whole pizzas, gallons of milk, and numerous cheeseburgers, bulking is far less scarier than it sounds, and can in fact be a welcome shift to your usual fitness regime.