Typical recommendations of 500 extra calories daily can lead to excessive fat gain. Smaller calorie surpluses of 200 extra calories a day are a good starting point, and then increase calories. A calorie Surplus from protein will result in less fat gain. Athletes with higher body fat had an increased risk of cardiovascular/metabolic disorders despite doing the same amount of exercise.
SUMMARY OF RESEARCH ON BULKING AND BODYFAT
- How to bulk up without getting fat is a topic of debate.
- Typical recommendations of 500 extra calories daily can lead to excessive fat gain.
- Smaller calorie surpluses of 200 extra calories a day are a good starting point, and then increase calories
- A calorie surplus from protein will result in less fat gain.
- Athletes with higher body fat had an increased risk of cardiovascular/metabolic disorders despite doing the same amount of exercise.
Competitive bodybuilders have two main phases throughout the year. A bulking phase in which the goal is building muscle and strength, with an increase in calories. A cutting phase follows, where the goal is to maintain muscle and lose fat.
Too many bodybuilders put on excess fat (i.e., bulk fat) to gain muscle. In a previous study, athletes who ate an excess calorie intake experienced significant muscle growth but also gained more fat than a control group eating fewer calories.
A higher calorie intake leads to gaining weight faster per week and is associated with greater increases in body fat. An intelligent lifter in the offseason aims to gain quality muscle while minimizing the amount of fat gained. Does bulking make you fat, or can you bulk without gaining excess fat (i.e., lean bulking)?
DOES BULKING MAKE YOU GAIN FAT?
To gain extra muscle, calories are needed to gain muscle. A recent analysis of the literature found that a calorie deficit of ~500 calories per day prevented gains in muscle. (Murphy & Koehler, 2022) Most lifters will try to gain a pound per week, which can lead to excess fat gain.
Researchers encouraged lifters to bulk up by gaining 1 pound or .45 kg per week and were weighed before each training session to promote compliance and encourage weight gain. The subjects drank a mass gainer that was 647.5 calories each day (i.e., 5.5 g fat, 123.5 g carbohydrate, 26 g protein).
At the end of the study, the subjects’ strength and lean mass went up. However, the subjects gained three times as much fat mass as lean mass gains (12%). This suggests that gaining 1 pound a week to increase muscle mass results in excess fat gain. Lifters concerned about minimizing fat mass should consume a much lower caloric surplus to minimize fat gains. (Smith et al., 2021)
Here are a few other studies suggesting weight gainer shakes can lead to excess fat gains:
· Researchers found that athletes who consumed an added 500 calories a day had a 15% increase in body fat compared to a moderate surplus diet (i.e., 200 calories), yet lean mass gains were similar. The authors suggested a 200-300 kcal surplus may be more appropriate for increasing lean mass while minimizing fat mass. (Garthe et al., 2013)
· Subjects consuming a high-calorie diet (4000 calories daily) gained more muscle and fat than a moderately high-calorie diet (2500 calories daily). (Ribeiro et al., 2019)
· Kreider et al. found that taking a 1000 kcal weight gainer shake per day led to similar increases in lean mass as a carbohydrate drink, but the weight gainer shake led to greater gains in fat mass.(Kreider et al., 1996)