Start it right
The most important part of bulking clean is starting out at fairly lean body measurements. Since fat gain will be inevitable down the line, it is of utmost importance that you start out as lean as possible so that you can make the necessary calorie adjustments should it be required. If you already have some extra weight, there’s no reason to keep putting more. Additionally, if you start the bulking process with extra fat, it won’t be long until you need to start cutting back on calories and go on a cutting diet altogether.
Carrying high body fat levels can actually be counterproductive to gaining muscle and can make you even fatter. Having big deposits of fat releases hormones that will screw with how your body partitions the ingested nutrients, which will increase the chances that any extra calories be stored into fat deposits. When you start out relatively lean, your metabolism is much faster and will be starting out with a body that is geared towards building muscle, not accumulating fat.
Eat your carbs at the right time
Even though protein has been endlessly lauded as the most important muscle building macronutrient, there is no reason why you should deprive yourself of carbs which can be equally as anabolic as protein. The tricky thing about them is that they can lead to both muscle tissue growth as well as increased fat deposits.
This is why it is vital that you learn to manipulate carb intake to elicit optimal muscle gain. The best way to do that is to find out the number of carbs you would need as an energy source during the workout and to speed up muscle gain. The wisest thing to do would be to drink a protein shake with some fast carb like dextrose added after working out and eat the rest of the carbs in the first whole-food meal after working out. Ingest around half of the quality carbs with the meal before working out. Breakfast is often discussed in choosing its ingredients.
The majority of people won’t need to ingest carbs in the morning, except if breakfast is also their pre-workout meal. When you limit carb intake to the pre-workout and post-workout, and sometimes even intra-workout periods, you will maintain low insulin levels throughout the day. Low levels of insulin mean that it will be less likely for your body to accumulate fat and more likely to burn off a small amount throughout the day. That’s why, unless you are very skinny and are having a hard time ingesting the needed calories; the majority of your meals should be filled mostly with protein and fat.
Monitor your macronutrient intake
Everyone needs to consume a different ratio of macronutrients in order to optimize their muscle growth. That is why it is impossible to give a general recommendation about the daily amounts of protein, carbs, and fats you need to consume. It is also a priority that you must keep track of everything you eat during the day.
If gaining muscle mass with as little fat as possible is your main goal, consume a moderate surplus of calories daily. Even more important ensure that the surplus doesn’t come from the wrong nutrients. Plus, an extra 200 grams of fats or carbs has a much different effect on your body than 200 grams of protein.
Nowadays, there are many free apps measuring total calories and proteins, carbs and fats. This will help you significantly when you’ll need to make some tweaks to your diet later. When you know the exact amount of calories you consume every day and the macronutrient ratio they come from, gaining muscle and losing fat become simple mathematical calculations. You shouldn’t buy into the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) fad either.
You can surely switch eating white rice instead of potatoes or whole-wheat bread instead of oatmeal, but you are mistaken if you think you can eat pizzas, burgers or ice cream whenever you want as long as they fit your daily carb count. Weight loss and gain are not as simple as the theory “calories in, calories out” would like to have us believe. Fast food has a certain influence on the way your hormones work and will be counterproductive to getting the best results in building your physique.
Keep it slow, but steady
The good thing about this is that exact numbers will be the indicators of your progress and there’s no way to make a mistake about them. Strive to gain around 1-2 pounds a month. Anything over that is likely to be fat. What is more important than gaining weight is how hard you train. Muscle gain should be parallel to gaining strength. If you keep increasing your body weight but aren’t hitting personal records then the simple truth is that you are just getting fatter. As already said, if you start the bulking relatively lean and go for at least a year gaining lean muscle mass slowly, you will most certainly be amazed at what you have achieved.