A combination of strength and endurance training helps you gain muscle mass over time. What you put on your plate during meal and snack times also matters. Pack on the calories to bulk up more effectively, but choose your calories wisely. Sticking with the healthiest possible high-calorie foods is your best bet for bulking up.
BULK UP BY SNACKING ON PROTEIN
Sometimes bulking up is all about what you eat between decent-size meals. You don’t want to munch on foods that are high in calories but don’t offer any other nutrition. You’re likely going to waste a lot of that energy because your body isn’t convinced it needs it. Your body either uses or stores protein, so your best bet is to stock up on snacks with a lot of quality protein. Snack on plenty of nuts and nut butters, hummus, trail mix, granola, yogurt, hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese throughout the day. When you’re hungry, fill up on protein and pack on the calories without diving deep into the junk food abyss.
EAT HIGH-CALORIE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Low-calorie fruits and vegetables like berries and dark leafy greens are still an important part of a healthy diet. If you want to bulk up, though, you’ll want to add in as many high calorie fruits and vegetables into your daily intake as possible. Foods like avocados and sweet potatoes are perfect examples of items you can add into your meals. They offer more healthy and worthwhile calories per serving. Switch out ranch dip with a bowl of fresh guacamole, or try a baked sweet potato instead of a regular potato to go with your favorite weekend meal hot off the grill.
DON’T SHY AWAY FROM CARBS
Carbs are your friend. While simple carbs should be reserved for before your workout – the carbs you get from things like fruit and bread – eat foods that have both protein and complex carbs in them to help your muscles repair and grow. Quinoa, for example, is a grain often also recommended for its high protein content per serving. Complex carbs release energy slowly into your body, which means your body will make good use of it over time.
Gaining is a lot like losing: it takes awhile to see results. If your habits change fast but your body lags behind, keep at it. It’ll catch up. As long as you’re consistent with both your diet and your workouts, you’ll manage to meet your goals eventually.