Best Fruits For Bulking

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what fruits are best for bulking as well.The correct fruits for bulking is widely debated by bodybuilders. There are various opinions and picks of fruits, but there is one fruit which tops all the bests. In this article, we’re going to discuss five of the best fruits for bulking along with the necessary macronutrients that they contain to provide our bodies energy as we build muscle.

16 Healthy Bulking Foods For Hard Gainers (With Meal Plan)

healthy bulking foods for hard gainers

You want to pack on muscle mass.  But, you want to focus on quality foods rather than eating everything in sight, which may ultimately be detrimental to your long-term health.

As a nutrition professional who has experienced clients’ cholesterol levels increasing due to the unhealthy fat and sugar dumped into the most common calorically dense food, I had to discover the healthiest bulking foods for hardgainers.

Here’s is the top 16 healthy bulking foods for hardgainers:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beef
  • Beans
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Oil
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Dried Fruit
  • Whole Grain Bread and Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Oats
  • Granola

Whether you want to focus on gaining weight for personal or competition reasons, your fitness goal can be achieved by regularly adding these healthy natural bulking foods to your routine.

Personalizing Your Bulking Nutrition: Everybody is Different

Before we dive into nutrient recommendations and the top healthy bulking foods, it’s important to consider that your body, metabolism, and genetic make-up is unique. So there’s no diet nor meal plan that works for everybody.

Be realistic about what a reasonable weight gain goal would be for you and your body. Consider where your weight has been as an adult. What do your parents’ body types look like? And at what weight do you feel your personal best?

As James Clear explains in his book, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, true change happens when you commit to the process. That will determine your progress.

When you take drastic measures to shift your weight too quickly, it can result in unhealthy side effects and damage your metabolism, especially if you’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past, are taking certain medications, or have a medical condition. Make sure to check in with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or fitness plan.

Metabolism 101

Your metabolism converts the calories (energy) you get from food, into fuel.

Calories support everything you do, from breathing to exercise.

At this very moment, there are thousands of reactions happening in your body to keep your cells healthy and processes functioning optimally.

To gain weight, it’s important to first understand a bit about your metabolism and how to estimate your daily calorie burn.

RESTING METABOLIC RATE (RMR)

Your resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy required when your body is at rest. This is the number of calories needed to perform essential life functions such as breathing, circulation, and cell function.

If you’re a hardgainer, you’ll want to check out my other article on Bulking With A Low Appetite. I give you 13 tips to help you eat more.

THERMIC EFFECT OF FOOD

This is the energy needed to break down the food you eat. Yes it takes energy to eat food! This includes swallowing, digesting, absorbing, and storing food.

THERMIC EFFECT OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

This is how much energy you use while performing daily life activities and exercise. This includes energy used to do something as simple as standing all the way to high intensity exercise training (HIIT).

This is important to consider when building a meal plan for gaining weight. If you’re moving or training more often, you’ll require more high calorie bulking foods.

NON-EXERCISE ACTIVITY THERMOGENESIS

This is an interesting phenomenon. Think about that person in your life (or maybe it’s you) who just can’t sit still. They will have a higher non-exercise activity calorie burn. This includes everything from moving around to fidgeting.

Calories for Bulking

There are various equations and formulas for determining your metabolic rate. If you’re a hardgainer, the key is to eat above and beyond your standard metabolic rate.

Sports Dietitians Michelle Rockwell, MS, RD, CSSD, and Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, CSSD, created a helpful general guideline with the number of calories athletes should aim for:

Training IntensityCalories per pound body weight
Low: minimal exercise13 – 15
Limited: training 30-60 minutes, 5-6 times/week16 – 18
Moderate: training 1 – 1 ½ hours, 5-6 times/week19 – 21
High: training 1 ½ – 2 hours, 5-6 times/week22 – 24
Very High: training 2-3 hours, 5-6+ times/week25 – 30

Now, if you’re looking to gain weight, you want to add an extra 500-1,000 calories per day.

Here’s an example:

A 160 pound athlete training moderately = 3,040-3,360 calories per day.

Plus 500 calories per day for weight gain = 3,540 – 3,860 calories per day.  

Another way to determine your calorie needs while bulking is having a surplus of 10% of your standard calorie needs, as recommended by nutritionist, strength training coach and international-level powerlifter, Maggie Morgan.

A realistic rate of weight gain is about 0.5-1 pound (0.25-0.5kg) per week. Keep in mind that any extra will most likely be stored as fat. It’s normal to see fluctuations along the way, but the overall progress is what matters most.

Macronutrients for Bulking

Think of calories as the main base of your weight gain journey. Then, you want to focus on the right balance of macronutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates.

Macronutrients are the nutrients that your body needs in large amounts. As compared to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which are needed in smaller amounts.

According to Washington State University, each of the macronutrients is responsible for these roles in your body:

  • Carbohydrates: fuel during exercise, spares protein, main energy source for your brain
  • Protein: tissue and muscle structure, involved in metabolism and hormonal systems, influences acid/base balance.
  • Fat: protects vital organs, provides insulation and energy reserve, transports fat soluble vitamins. 

When focusing on weight gain, your energy should come primarily from carbohydrate-rich foods. Lean proteins and high quality fats should make up the other half of your diet.

MACRONUTRIENT RATIOS

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) created macronutrient recommendations based on active individual needs. They calculated that an acceptable macronutrient range is:

  • 45%-65% carbohydrate
  • 10%-35% protein
  • 20%-35% fat

According to fitness expert, Maggie Morgan, she recommends more specific ranges of macronutrient levels when bulking in her Fitbod article, What Should Your Calories & Macros Be When Bulking?:

  • 40% carbohydrates (4-7g/kg* body weight)
  • 25% protein (2-2.5g/kg* body weight)
  • 35% fat (0.5-2g/kg* body weight)

*To convert your weight from pounds to kilograms, simply divide by 2.2.

For instance, 180 pounds divided by 2.2 equals 81.8 kg.

16 Bulking Foods for HardGainers

Just because you’re trying to gain weight doesn’t mean that you should load up on ice cream, cookies, chips, and milkshakes. Of course it’s fine to indulge from time to time, but making a habit of it can lead to low energy, physical ailments, and eventually chronic disease.

Instead, pack your day with good quality protein, healthy fats, whole carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables. Eating well will help give you energy to fuel your workouts and get you feeling your best.

PROTEIN

1. EGGS

Eggs.jpg

Eggs are considered a gold standard when it comes to protein. This is because they contain all of the essential amino acids (protein building blocks).

Eggs are highly bioavailable — digested, absorbed, and utilized efficiently by your body. As quoted in the Essentials of Food Science book, eggs have a biological value of 100%.

Learn more about the incredible eggs and the best ways to cook with them: What Are The Healthiest & Un-healthiest Ways To Eat Eggs?

2. NUTS AND SEEDS

Nuts and seeds.jpg

Nuts and seeds are nature’s perfect portable snack, especially when you’re trying to gain. They contain heart healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Keep them on hand to prevent an emergency situation when you don’t have something to eat. For some extra calories, aim for the versions that have been oiled. Limit the ones with salt, unless you’re sweating a lot and need the extra sodium.

3. BEEF

Beef.jpg

Beef gets a bad wrap for being fatty and leading to cardiovascular disease. But the trick with beef, is to have it in moderation, and eat the good quality cuts.

Some red meats are high in saturated fat which could increase blood cholesterol. However, new research has been showing conflicting results. To be safe, the American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 5-6% of total calories, if you have high cholesterol.

Aim for grass-fed versions whenever possible because these contain more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And avoid the processed versions such as highly processed jerky and deli meats. Crowd Cow, in particular, has an excellent selection of grass-fed options that you can try — they can even deliver straight to your doorstep!

4. BEANS

Beans.jpg

Beans, beans are good for your heart; and also for hardgainers. They’re packed with nutrients such as iron, potassium, zinc, and folate. They’re also rich in plant-based protein and fiber.

If you’re new to beans, incorporate them slowly and drink plenty of water. This is because it can take your tummy some time to adjust to more fiber.

Depending on the type of bean, one cup contains about 200-300 calories. To make them even easier to eat, mash or blend them up. Try this delicious Spicy Black Bean Soup recipe from Cookie and Kate.

5. YOGURT

Yogurt.jpg

Yogurt not only provides your gut with a boost of healthy bacteria, it’s also rich in good quality protein for muscles.

The variety of choices out there can be confusing. But if you’re looking to gain weight, go for the full-fat versions. Avoid the ones with lower fat contents (unless you have high cholesterol or heart health concerns) because these often contain added sugars to replace the fat.

Yogurt makes for an excellent snack with some fruit and nuts. It’s also a perfect base for a home-made smoothie or shake.

6. MILK 

Milk.jpg

Milk is an excellent combination of fat, carbs, and proteins. It also contains lots of vitamins and minerals, including bone strengthening Vitamin D and calcium.

The protein in milk is 20% whey and 80% casein. It also contains branched chain amino acids which can boost exercise performance. Studies show they are best absorbed in their natural state, such as in milk versus a powder or supplement.

Since milk is easy to absorb, it makes for a perfect post-workout fuel.

7. CHEESE

Cheese.jpg

Cheese is an outstanding source of fat, protein, calcium, and calories. When you’re looking to gain weight, aim for the full-fat versions.

Studies show that cheese doesn’t necessarily increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, however, in general, replacing dairy fat with polyunsaturated fat (found in plant-based foods) can help boost heart benefits.

Keep in mind that not all cheese is created equal and one serving is about the size of two dice so it goes quickly. Aim for the hard cheeses like cheddar and ricotta. Check the ingredient list and aim for the cheeses that are more natural.

FATS/OILS

8. OIL 

Oil.jpg

Plant-based oils such as the ones from olives and avocados provide lots of calories and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. One tablespoon contains about 120 calories!

Use caution when cooking with oils since some can get damaged when cooked at high heats. Check out BonAppetit’s guide: The Best Oils for Cooking, and Which to Avoid.

Add oil to your cooking, drizzle it on salad, and even consider adding a bit to smoothies for an easy source of extra calories.

9.  AVOCADO

Avocado.jpg

Avocados are an amazing source of heart-healthy fats and vitamins such as powerful antioxidants, vitamin E. These can help your cholesterol levels — lowering the “bad” low-density lipoproteins (LDL) while increasing the “good” high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

Avocados also packed with calories, at about 300 per avocado.

Add avocados to your smoothies for a plant-based way to make them creamy. Slice them over salads or serve up some avocado toast. You can even eat them on their own with a bit of salt, as functional medicine expert, Dr. Hyman loves to snack on.

The Most Nutritious Fruits And Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy body. We’ve created a list of the most nutritious options so you can choose which ones best fit your nutrition plan!

The Most Nutritious Fruits And Vegetables

Losing fat and gaining muscle often means that the food you eat is based upon what macronutrient ratio is best for your goal. Because we’re so focused on how much carbs, fat, and protein we’re getting in each meal, we often forget that micronutrients are also an essential part of a healthy body and a great physique.

Micronutrients are essential vitamins and minerals that your body doesn’t make; they need to come from your diet. Although your body doesn’t need much of them, they are necessary for your body’s systems to function optimally. It’s very possible to become deficient in certain micronutrients, which can cause all kinds of health issues. For example, too little potassium can cause muscle cramping, weakness, and even heart arrhythmias.

It’s true that taking a multivitamin can help you get those vitamins and minerals your body needs to operate at its best, but your body actually absorbs micronutrients much better from food than from a pill. So, it’s important to fill your plate with nutrient-dense fruits and veggies instead of hoping your multivitamin will take care of any holes in your nutrition.

Below are some of the most nutrient-dense fruits and veggies. Stock up on them so you can provide your body everything it needs to work at its best!

FRUIT

MANGO

Serving size: 1 mango
Calories 201
Fat 0.8 g
Carbs 32.3 g
Protein 1.7 g

Mango can be slightly harder to find and even more challenging to eat than some fruits, but it’s a great addition to your nutrition plan. One mango provides 5 grams of fiber, as well as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and huge doses of vitamins A and C.

It’s slightly more caloric than most fruits, so be aware of how much you’re eating.


POMEGRANATE

Serving size: 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Calories 72
Fat 1 g
Carbs 16 g
Protein 1.4 g

Pomegranate has received some special attention in the last few years—and for good reason! Pomegranate has a unique, delicious flavor and is chock-full of nutrients. One half cup of pomegranate seeds provides lots of potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6, C, E, and K.

Pomegranates are a little bit difficult to eat, but they’re well worth the effort. The taste and nutritional benefits outweigh a little effort on your part!

GUAVA

Serving size: 1 guava
Calories 112
Fat 1.6 g
Carbs 23.6 g
Protein 4.2 g

Guava might sound like a fruit you should only enjoy while you’re lounging on a beach, but it’s actually a great addition to your everyday diet. Guava is high in fiber, niacin, and vitamins A, B-3, B-6, C, and K. Guava is also rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.

Guava is generally a summer fruit, so get some while you can!

RASPBERRIES

Serving size: 1 cup raspberries
Calories 64
Fat 0.8 g
Carbs 14.7 g
Protein 1.5 g

Blueberries get tons of love in fitness, and deservedly so, but raspberries are a great year-round option. They’re delicious, for one, but they are also high in vitamins C and K, and have a healthy amount of folate. One cup of raspberries also provides 8 grams of dietary fiber.

Freeze them and add them to your protein shakes, or just enjoy a handful on top of your Greek yogurt.

ORANGE

Serving size: 1 medium orange
Calories 62
Fat 0.2 g
Carbs 15.4 g
Protein 1.2 g

Oranges are pretty easy to get your hands on year round. They may be common, but their ubiquity doesn’t make them any less healthy. Oranges are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, and minerals such as potassium and calcium. They’re also high in soluble and insoluble fiber.

One of the best things about oranges is that they keep well for a long time. Get some the next time you’re at the store and enjoy!

AVOCADO

Serving size: 1 cup sliced avocado
Calories 234
Fat 21.4 g
Carbs 12.5 g
Protein 2.9 g

Although we usually think of avocado as a fat source, it’s actually a fruit, and a really healthy fruit at that! One cup of sliced avocado contains 10 grams of dietary fiber, 42 percent of your daily value of vitamin B-5, and 35 percent of your daily value of vitamin K. Avocado also provides big doses of vitamin C and potassium.

If you’re not already eating avocado regularly for healthy fat, now is the time to start! It’s one of those foods everyone should enjoy. They’re great in a shake as well as atop a salad.

Best Pre-Workout Foods – Snacks, Fruits, Protein, Carbs, Fat

We all want to get the most out of a workout – to train harder, spin faster, run quicker, jump higher. And, while many of us prepare mentally for a challenging workout, we sometimes forget to fuel the engine or to do it properly. So what to eat before a workout?

There are certain best foods to eat before working out that will help our bodies prepare, and which can maximize your efforts in the gym. While we all have different nutritional requirements, these known foods – which are the perfect balance of fats, carbs, and protein – can fuel your body, stave off hunger, fight fatigue, and even aid recovery. So what is a good pre workout snack?

General Pre-Workout Foods: 

1. Bananas

Known as nature’s power bar, bananas are packed with carbohydrates and potassium, which supports nerve and muscle function. Carbs are fuel for our body and brain, and they account for 90% of banana calories. 

2. Oats 

Because they are full of fiber, oats release carbohydrates gradually. Due to this slow release, energy levels are kept consistent throughout your workout, meaning you can train harder for longer. They also contain Vitamin B, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Irish oats are often considered the best, as they are the least processed type and boast a lower glycemic load than quick-cooking and instant oats. So, keep a look out the next time you go shopping.

3. Grilled Chicken, Broccoli, And Sweet Potato

If you are working on building muscle mass or plan to hit circuit training hard, then this combo is a must-try. Although it is more of a meal than a snack, there’s a reason pro-athletes chow down on this regularly – and we think it’s time you gave it a go. 

4. Dried Fruit

For a quick, easy and good pre-workout food, fix yourself some dried berries, apricots, figs, and pineapple. Dried fruits are a good source of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible – so grab a handful.

5. Whole Grain Bread 

One slice of whole grain bread is an excellent source of carbs. Add some hard-boiled eggs for a protein-packed snack, or some low-fat turkey.

5. Fruit And Greek Yogurt 

This is a killer combo. The fruit is full of carbohydrates while Greek yogurt packs a protein-filled punch. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has almost double the protein, fewer carbs, and half the sodium. Why do they go together? The carbs in the fruit break down quickly and are used as fuel during your workout, while the protein is stored a little longer and is used to prevent muscle damage, so it really is a perfect pairing.

6. Trail Mix

Nuts do have a high-fat content, but they provide the protein and calories required if you are trying to gain muscle mass. For those whose goal is weight loss, steer clear. If you want to buy pre-prepared trail mix from supermarkets, skip the ones containing chocolate or yogurt-coated nuts.

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