How To Build The Perfect Bulking Diet

Back when I was a young and dumb 20 year old I decided that it was time for me to bulk. I wanted to actually look like I knew what I was doing in the weight room. As a GNC employee at the time I got a sweet discount on supplements, and I thought I knew everything possible about getting jacked, and what you needed to take to get jacked.

So I bought weight gainer, testosterone boosters, a few different vitamins, and then ate anything and everything in sight.

For a while, that was awesome. Oh man was it awesome.

Until about 4 weeks had passed by and I started noticing that I felt fluffy, and not just a little fluffy, I was starting to give the Pillsbury Dough Boy a run for his money. What I was doing wasn’t working.

And I’m willing to bet most of you bros reading this can probably empathize with me on this. Bulking is HARD.

Bulking is one of those things that can go either really well or horribly wrong. If you do it right, you wind up looking awesome. You’re more yoked than ever before but still lean enough to see your abs.

If you fuck it up though you wind up looking like a weekend warrior who spends more time doing 12oz curls than bicep curls.

Now that I’m a bit older and bit wiser, and I’ve gone through a few different bulking programs I think it’s safe to say I’ve started to figure out what really works in a bulk. It’s not everything that magazines make it out to be, and it’s definitely not the “eat everything in sight then shed fat later” plan that so many dudes follow.

How to build the perfect bulking diet.

The centerpiece of the perfect bulking program is calories. If you’re not getting in enough calories, you’re performing an exercise in futility. So first and foremost, get your calories in order.

I prefer setting calorie goals based on lean body mass instead of bodyweight, because we always want to keep body fat as low as possible, even when we’re bulking.

Which is a perfect transition into this very important fact: if you’re above 12% body fat, you shouldn’t bulk. You haven’t earned that right yet. To figure out your body fat percentage there are a ton of pretty decent guides online using pictures if your gym doesn’t have the tools necessary to get your body fat measured.

Your calorie goal: 17 calories per pound of lean body mass

Remember, calories need to be high, but not too high. This is usually the sweet spot to help the scale move up without gaining too much fat.

As a general rule of thumb if you’re gaining more than 1lb per week, you’re eating too much.

Your carb goal: 3g of carbs per pound of lean body mass

I’m a huge fan of eating high carbs during a bulk and extreme fat loss phase to keep fat gain to a minimum while also supporting hard training. 3g of carbs per pound of lbm is a ton, so get ready to enjoy plenty of rice and oatmeal.

Your protein goal: 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass

One area where people really screw up bulking is they tend to view the diet as eating nothing but protein, which couldn’t be more wrong. Obviously protein is important, and delicious. But you don’t need to scarf down near as much as you probably think.

I like setting protein at 1g per pound of lbm to keep things simple. If you prefer a bit more protein in your diet, then you can bump it up to 1.2-1.3g.

Your fat goal: Fill in the rest of your calories

You shouldn’t have a ton of calories left by this point. Now, that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to be eating extremely low fat. But if the math checks out, you shouldn’t be left with 1,000 calories worth of fat either.

I like keeping fat moderately low during a bulk specifically because having more carbs can lead to better pumps and more energy during your training.

Give this guide a try the next time you’re looking to get extra jacked, bros. If it works for you I’d love to hear about it.

Tanner is a fitness professional and writer based in the metro Atlanta area. His training focus is helping normal people drop absurd amounts of fat, become strong like bull, and get in the best shape of their life.