As if it isn’t hard enough for the average athletically built gym rat, gaining lean muscle mass can be extraordinarily difficult for the formerly overweight guys or those with an emphasized tendency to put fat on easily. It has happened to everyone – regardless of your clean bulking efforts, instead of new slobs of lean muscle, you end up ballooning up and putting on a few nice extra layers of fat. For most of us, bulking is pretty much a never-ending exercise in dealing with failure and frustration. But still, there must be a way to do it right, because there are also many guys out there who’ve succeeded at building impressive physiques with the help of regular training and an adequate nutrition plan.
What’s their secret? A very simple cycle of upsizing and downsizing the intake of the two most crucial muscle-building nutrients: carbs and protein. Read the rest of this article to find out and start bulking up without any unwanted fat gain.
Step #1: Carb cycling
First of all, you will need to design two separate menus for your training days and rest days. For the guys who struggle with gaining lean mass, decreasing the risk of adding excess body fat means eating less on rest days – a great rule of thumb is lowering calorie consumption to 1 gram of carbs and 1 gram of protein per bodyweight daily. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you would eat 200 grams of protein and 200 grams of carbs on rest days. On training days, however, you should consume 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight and 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, evenly spread over five to six meals throughout the day. Stick to this eating pattern for three weeks before moving on to step 2.
Step #2: Upsize
Now is the time to increase both your carbs and protein intake up to 2.5 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight on training days. To avoid accelerating fat storage because of the drastic change in calorie intake, try to reach that level by increasing your carb and protein consumption on every other training day during the first four weeks. In other words, if you train four times a week, you need to consume 2.5 grams of carbs and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight on two of those four days, while the remaining two training days should include consuming the amount prescribed in step 1 (2 grams of carbs and 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight). As for rest days, keep your carb intake relatively low at 1 gram per pound of bodyweight and maintain a protein intake of 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight.
After four to six weeks of eating like this, switch to 2.5 grams of carbs and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight on all training days. Follow this regime for three weeks.
Step #3: Readjust
To prevent the body from being too saturated with carbs for too long and thereby becoming highly efficient at storing body fat, you need to drop the carb intake again. By depleting the muscles of their precious carbs, the rise of fat-storing mechanisms associated with a consistent high carb intake will come to a halt and you’ll start burning fat more efficiently. However, when you decrease carb consumption after an extended period of higher carb intake, the body will find it difficult to maintain muscle mass and you can be at risk of catabolism – but that will happen only if you don’t readjust your protein intake. In other words, cut carb intake to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight on training days and 0.5 grams on rest days, but at the same time, make sure to increase your protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight on training days and 2 grams on rest days. This way you’ll balance out the effects of the decreased carb intake and your muscle mass won’t suffer any unwanted damage.
Follow this regime for 14 days straight, and then return to step 1 and repeat the entire process.