August 09, 2021 9 min read

Bulking season is always an exciting time. You get to increase your food intake, hit the gym, and get all of your blood flowing.

If you are new to bulking season, you might think that all you really need to do is indulge in all of the food that you may have deprived yourself of before and hit the gym to make up for it, but a professional bodybuilder knows this is absolutely not how you get the most effective gains.

When you are bulking, the general rule is that you should be in a 10 percent caloric surplus. You should also be eating around 2 to 2.5 grams of protein per kg of body weight, 4 to 7 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body weight, and around 0.5 to 2 grams of fat per kg of body weight, all of which are important macros.

Of course, these are average numbers for the average person, so you might need to either increase or decrease from these baseline numbers. There can always be too much of a good thing.

If you have access to a nutritionist, it would definitely be best for you to check in with them over what the best course of action meal-wise is. However, this full guide will have enough info for you to get started and take control of your own bulking journey.

What Are Lean Bulk Macros?

Macros are short for macronutrients, which are protein, fat, and carbohydrates. This means that lean bulk macros are the kind of macronutrients that you should be getting into your body that will both maximize strength and minimize your fat gain.

In order to get a lean bulk, you need to adjust your eating habits to contain from 200 to 300 calories above your level of maintenance calories (the number of calories you need to maintain your weight) and to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. At this rate, the average person will put on about a pound every two weeks - and if you are working out, all of that will be of muscle and not of fat.

Muscular man eating healthy food

You can use a calculator online in order to determine what your maintenance caloric level is, and how much you should increase to get the best gains.As an example, we can assume you are a 25-year-old man that is 6’3” tall and weighs 175 lbs. Let us also assume that you have an active lifestyle where you work out over 6 times per week.

This means that on average, you will likely need around 3200 calories in order to maintain your weight, so you will increase that to 3500 (plus 300) calories in order to achieve a lean bulk. Following this example, you will also need around 175 grams of protein every day in order to maintain and build muscle mass.

Protein has around 4 calories per gram, meaning that you will consume 700 calories from protein, and the rest of your caloric intake (which would be around 2800 calories) you will get from both carbohydrates and fats.

It is probably better for you to eat more carbs than fats if you are working out a lot since it will make sure that you maintain the levels of energy necessary to complete all of your workouts.

You should also make sure that you are consuming high-quality sources of protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. These should come from healthy sources such as olive oil, salmon, avocados, eggs, and so on.

Step 1: You Need To Determine How Many Calories You Should You Eat When Bulking

We have already covered this a little bit above, but it is the most important first step when you are looking to get a lean bulk. For this reason, it is important we cover what the TDEE is - your Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This number will take into account your body weight, your physical specifications, your body fat percentages, and your activity level.

As we mentioned, there are calculators online that will help you get to an approximation of this number, however, a dietitian or a nutritionist can also help you arrive at this amount. Once you have it, however, you will want to increase it by 10 percent in order to get a lean bulk.

As we also mentioned above, that 10 percent increase often looks like 200 to 300 calories - however, this is only an average number, so finding out your TDEE and adding that 10 percent will make it much more effective than just going off of the average number.

If a 10 percent increase turns out to be too little or too much for you, then you can always adjust accordingly. After all, you want to gain muscle and lean mass, not fat.It is also important to be careful with where that extra 10 percent is coming from.

You want to make sure you remain healthy and do not end up more tired because you have completely cut out carbs from your life. You still need to get nutrition from all your different macros - protein, carbs, and fats.

Step 2: You Need To Find Your Macro Ratios For Bulking

We have already discussed what your macros are - protein, carbs, and fats. Now, it is important to understand not only how much of each is necessary, but also what sources they should come from. You want to make sure you are keeping your heart healthy and the rest of your body too. So, let’s begin.

Protein

As you might already be aware, protein is the most important macronutrient when you are trying to put on muscle mass. Obviously, if you are not trying to bulk up, then you will have enough protein at much lower doses, but as a bodybuilder, your daily protein intake should be around 2 to 2.5 grams per kilogram of your bodyweight.

That means that if you weigh around 80 kilos (176 pounds), then your daily protein consumption should be around 160 to 200 grams of protein. Below you can find a list of healthy protein sources and their protein amount per 100 grams, so you can plan your diet accordingly:

  • Chicken Breast: 33 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Cod: 18 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Whey Protein: 80 to 90 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Vegan Protein: 70 to 80 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Clams and Other Molluscs: 48 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Low-sodium Parmesan Cheese: 42 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Tofu: 17 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Lean Beef: 36 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Lamb: 25 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Pork Tenderloin: 23 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Soya Protein Isolate: 88 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Eggs: 12.5 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Grilled Salmon: 24.2 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Tuna: 23 grams of protein per 100 grams
  • Grilled pork chop: 31 grams per 100 grams

Carbohydrates

The most important role of carbohydrates in the bulking process is to give you energy for your workouts. Carbs are your body’s energy source, meaning that if you are working out a lot you will need to consume a significant amount of carbs in order to keep up your energy levels.

The downside is, however, that carbohydrates will turn into fat quite easily if they are not being used, meaning that if you are looking for a lean bulk, then you might still need to watch out for your carb intake. Because this amount is so dependent on your energy needs, we have broken down your carb needs into different categories.

  • Low Activity Level: if you do not practice sport often and live a mainly sedentary lifestyle, then your carb intake should be limited to 2 grams of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight.
  • Moderate To High Activity Level: This is where more beginner bodybuilders are often at. If you have a moderate to a high level of activity and exercise, then you should consume around 4 grams of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight. This means that if you weigh 80 kilos, then you would eat around 320 grams of carbs per day.
  • Very High Activity Level: If you are a professional, high-performance athlete, then you should consume around 7 grams of carbs per kg of bodyweight.

You can also look at the number of carbs you need through percentages. If you are bulking, you can aim for about 40 percent of your total caloric intake to be made up of carbs. You can try both methods of figuring out your carb intake and see which one fits you best, or you can always ask a professional sports nutrition expert if you have access to one.

Fats

Contrary to what one might think hearing the word fats, these macronutrients are actually extremely important. They not only provide you with energy as well as make sure your hormone production is going off without a hitch. You might not realize it, but your hormones play a very important part in building muscle, so you should not overlook this important macronutrient.

As a general rule, your fat intake should be anywhere from 0.5 to 2 grams of fats per kilogram of bodyweight. That being said, if you are bulking, you should aim for at least 20 percent of your total caloric intake to come from fats, although you should aim for much higher. Be sure to get your fats from good, healthy sources, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, etc.

Healthy fat source: salmon, oil, avocado, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peanuts and almonds

Taking the example given above, we can take the average 80-kilogram man that needs a bulking amount of 3000 calories. Your protein amount needed will be from 160 to 200 grams and your carbs will be around 300 to 320 grams.

If we take the averages between those numbers, that leaves us with around 25 percent of your total caloric intake coming from protein, 40 percent of your total caloric intake coming from carbs, and leaves us with a healthy 35 percent leftover for fats. This satisfies the 20 percent minimum required and gives us around 116 grams of fats per day.

Step 3: You Need To Track Your Progress

If you want the best, most effective gains, then you also need to track your progress by checking in on how your body is doing. You can do this by regularly checking these three things:

  • Bodyweight
  • Body fat percentage
  • Workout progressions

Bodyweight

Your body weight will not let you know whether you are gaining muscle gain or gaining fat (general weight gain), but it will be a good identifier for whether you are actually putting on weight or you need to increase your daily calorie intake.

When you start the process of bulking, you should make sure to weigh yourself every day for at least the first two weeks, so you can get a sense of how much you are improving, if at all.

You should keep this information so that you can check for trends later. If during the first two weeks you find yourself at a weight loss, then you might have a calorie deficit. Try adding another 10 percent extra calories.

Body Fat Percentage

Tracking your body fat percentage will let you know whether the weight you are putting on is fat or actual muscle mass, or even experiencing fat loss. You can find a scale fairly easily online that will be able to measure this for you taking into account your own body composition.

You should also make sure to track it every day for the first two weeks and compare and contrast it with the data you get from your body weight. It is important to note that it is quite normal for you to notice a small increase in body fat at the beginning of your bulk since the workout will take a second to do its magic. Just make sure this is not more than an extra 1 percent of body fat per month.

Workout Progressions

Finally, you can track your workouts through an app or written down, so you can see how much you are improving in terms of time, reps, and weight, and so you can know, in the case that you are losing weight or not gaining enough muscle where you need to change and how much you need to increase.

Step 4: You Need To Minimize Fat Gain And Maximize Muscle Growth

This step is all about what kind of calories and macros you need to get the most effective lean bulk and protein supplements will definitely help with that. You will want to meal plan foods that will give you energy but not make you gain fat instead of muscle. Here are some examples of undesirable foods during a bulk:

  • Packaged or processed food
  • Alcohol
  • Added sugars

Alternatively, here are some examples of good, healthy foods you will want to consume during a bulk:

  • Vegetables: broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and beets
  • Seeds and nuts: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, almonds, cashews, and walnuts
  • Meat, poultry, and seafood: beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, cod, halibut, shrimp, and biltong
  • Fruits: bananas, apples, berries, oranges, and mango
  • Whole grains: oats, rice, pasta, quinoa, and granola
  • Starches: potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams

Final Thoughts

The main thing to keep in mind for muscle building or bodybuilding is - eat healthily, and exercise right. As long as you keep yourself informed and your mind in the game, then everything will fall into place soon enough. So get yourself a nice, full, healthy breakfast and get bulking to meet your fitness goals!


x