If your goal in the gym is to put on weight in order to increase muscle size and strength, you might be wondering how to do this without fat gain. Eating too much or eating the wrong types of foods can add inches to the waist and reduce overall leanness very quickly, so how do you avoid that?

The answer here is lean bulk, which is a healthy and sustainable strategy for people looking to add muscle while avoiding excessive fat gain.

Let’s take a look at what is a lean bulk and what its benefits are. Let’s not avoid how it differs from so-called dirty bulking and discuss the foods that you should be buying and avoiding during a lean bulk.

What Is a Lean Bulk?

Bulking refers to a sustained calorie surplus, whereby a person is consuming more calories than they burn. This will lead to weight gain in the form of either fat or muscle. A “bulking” diet strategy, when combined with physical training, helps to achieve strength gains and boosts muscle while giving you extra energy.

For people interested in avoiding excessive fat gain, it is important to pay close to attention to their diet while ‘bulking’.

With a lean bulk diet, you will regulate your calorie surplus so as to prevent excessive fat gain. High-calorie junk foods are limited in this kind of diet so as to promote a leaner body composition.

The opposite approach to this method, as noted above, is the “dirty bulk.” Here, no foods are off-limits and the goal is to simply pack on as much weight without worrying about any associated fat gain.

There are a number of cons to this (outside of the obvious fat gain), including high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, and feelings of sluggishness.

At one point in time many of the bodybuilding greats followed a dirty bulk mindset in the competition off-season. They would pack on tons of weight within a few months, gain a lot of bodyfat, and then have to really work hard to lose it once the competitive season began.

That strategy is obviously terrible for you but at the time humanities collective knowledge of nutrition wasn’t where it is now.

Eventually, competitive folks started following a lean bulking strategy where they eat more in the off-season in order to gain mass, but they restrict the type of calories they are eating so they stay fairly lean year round. Chris Bumstead is a great example. Compare a picture of him during peak week at the Olympia vs him during the off-season. While his stage appearance is pretty awesome, the extra mass he puts on during the off-season allows him to still stay defined while he continues to grow.

How to Start a Clean Bulk

Understanding your maintenance calories is the first step when starting a bulk cycle of any kind, so you can know how much to eat during the day. From there, you can add on 10% to 20% calorie surplus. For an average-sized man, this will equate to around 250 to 500 extra calories per day.

You should aim to have a protein intake of around 1 gram per pound of body weight in order to support muscle gain. The rest of your calories will be made up of fat and carbs, with a focus on staying within your target calories for each day.

Foods to eat include lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and turkey, healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts, legumes such as beans, fruits, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, and high-quality carbs such as oats and whole grain pasta.

Foods to generally avoid include highly-processed foods, saturated fats, and “sugary” drinks (regardless of if they are zero calorie or not). This generally includes energy drinks, as the chemicals that make them sugar free mimic what our bodies do when they consume actual sugar, leading to many of the same issues even if the calories aren’t there.

Discover the Benefits of the Lean Bulk Diet

The bottom line is that a lean bulk diet is a great option for people looking to add muscle while limiting fat gain at the same time.

Let Us help You Out

At CONDITIONerd we are here to help you achieve better physical and mental health through exercise. Check out the plans we offer to our customers and see if you could benefit from working with our team. And if you have questions, you can always contact a CONDITIONerd team member

Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.

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