Now that the summer is ending, bulking season is upon us. Long gone are the days of cutting and calorie controlling for the best body fat percentage, winter is here so bring on the bulk! Smashing the gym is one thing, but our bodies need the right nutrients to help us reach those goals. Read on to find out what you need from the right macros to the micros that will help you hit that sweet, sweet hench mode.
- Amino Acids
Amino Acids are the most basic but hard-working nutrient you will need to get you on the path to a hulk-like body. Found mostly in protein-packed foods, these macronutrients are absolutely key when it comes to growing muscle. Not only great for getting those gains, amino acids are also essential for after workouts to restore and rebuild. The best news, protein can be found in tons of healthy foods, such as lean meat (duh!), eggs, dairy, and legumes. If you’d prefer to get your fill the quick and easy way, you can shop here for a huge variety of fast and delicious supplement shakes.
Potassium is a type of electrolyte, which are essential in muscle health. Stave off any painful cramping post-workout with a potassium-rich diet. It helps move other nutrients into your muscles, meaning it amps up your other nutrient consumption, with no effort required on your behalf. It also helps your muscles to function by enabling them to contract properly, meaning that without it you’ll be feeling weak and achy. Make like Popeye and up your spinach intake as leafy veg are packed with potassium! If greens aren’t your thing, add a handful of spinach, broccoli, or avocado into a smoothie with some peanut butter protein powder, a banana, and some milk and you won’t even notice!
One of our personal favorites on the list, glycogen is the stored form of glucose, which is basically gasoline for your muscles. This nutrient is made predominantly by the carbohydrates in your diet, meaning carb-loading, which makes it one of the tastiest ways to fill our body with bulking essentials. Great for building muscles, and also for their repair, you can eat that bowl of pasta guilt-free! Use your intake sensibly, this is not an excuse to order endless takeout pizzas. Instead, look for your carbs in whole grains such as brown rice, pasta, and bread and tasty fruit such as pineapples and mangoes.
- Vitamin D
Although you may not live in sunny climes all year round, it’s still vital that we get a decent amount of vitamin D. Not only key for having healthy bones, this super-vit is great for healthy hormone production of testosterone and also plays nicely with estrogen to promote good heart health – both essential for pushing yourself to the limit at the gym. Get a healthy helping of good fats such as salmon – just make sure you look for wild salmon, rather than farmed, as they tend to contain a higher vitamin D content as well as being better for the environment.
This mineral is an all-rounder. Know to regulate metabolism (very much needed when carb-loading), its starring role is to produce red blood cells. Red blood cells are the handy little guys that pass oxygen around the body – meaning more oxygen to the muscles. Basically, the more iron you eat, the more iron you can pump! Find it in Kale, potatoes nuts, and whole grains.
Another bone builder on the list that actually does a lot more than it’s well-known for. Calcium regulates muscle contraction which in turn will help you bulk by connecting two vital proteins (actin and myosin) to thicken out the muscle. Up your dairy intake with healthy calcium-friendly foods such as cottage cheese and yogurt, just be mindful of the sugar and fat content in some products. You don’t want to undo all your hard work with sugar-laden fruit yogurts by accident!
Last but not least, make sure your water consumption is on point. Hydration is key to any workout, as the higher your fluid levels are, the better you’ll absorb all of the nutrients you’re cramming in. Dehydrated muscles will be weaker so will contract less, meaning you’re not reaching your full potential.
Will you be upping your intake of nutrients ready for bulking? Let us know your go-to foods or bulk-friendly recipes in the comments.