When your metabolism slows down, it can be extremely frustrating to have your progress go down the drain. Luckily you can use a bulking strategy to give yourself a boost, but does bulking increase metabolism?
Bulking can increase your metabolism through the result of building muscle and potentially reversing negative adaptations caused by previously eating in a calorie deficit.
It’s also important to bulk in a healthy manner, “dirty bulking” can lead to rapid weight gain, predominantly fat.
Make sure to keep reading to get a better understanding of how bulking can boost your metabolism and how to do the process correctly.
How Bulking can increase metabolism
Increased muscle mass
So bulking itself has a lot of valuable benefits that make it a great dietary tool.
For one, adding muscle mass when combing bulking with a suitable resistance training program increases the calories you burn.
Muscle uses more energy than fat for your body to maintain it.
1 pound of muscle burns approximately 6 calories a day. That’s 3 times as much as fat but probably not what you expected or heard.
It sounds disappointing but that tiny difference is still an increase in metabolism nonetheless.
If you manage to build 10 pounds of muscle over a period of a year at a rate of 60 extra calories burned a day, that little sum of calories is roughly equivalent to 6 pounds in a 365-day year.
Improved hormone balance
Next, if you are bulking after a time of poor eating. You might see a vast improvement in your hormone balance.
Hormones are an essential part of the human body for regulating normal functions.
One of these regulated functions includes things like your metabolism.
In fact, according to betterhealth, our hormones directly affect hunger, metabolism, and fat distribution.
If you have been eating in a deficit for quite some time, you could be providing a stressor on your body that bumps up cortisol production.
That result can then lead to a hormonal imbalance in your body.
A bulk can help alleviate that stress, bringing your hormones to optimal levels and improving your metabolism.
Also, if you have been dieting for weight loss in a very strict way, your body may be missing key nutrients to support normal body functions.
Common bulking mistakes
Bulking, like most dieting topics, has plenty of myths and misconceptions. Some very common ones to keep an eye out for include; the idea of dirty bulking, overeating, and not exercising alongside your diet plan. If you aren’t careful these cons can outweigh or downright eliminate the benefits you might gain from improving your metabolism.
Having the goal of eating in excess usually leads people to dirty bulk. Basically, eating anything as long as you hit your calorie goal, often even surpassing it. Of course, following that method can definitely help you put on weight and some muscle, but there are potential significant drawbacks.
Dirty bulking quite often leads to plenty of unwanted fat gain. Calories and macros are often not tracked. Because of that, someone following a dirty bulk plan can gain weight too fast from the wrong foods.
Consider this, to put on muscle, using a slower pace of gaining 0.25 – 0.5% of your body weight each week paired with aiming for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight helps pack on muscle with minimal fat.
Hitting those numbers can easily be missed on a dirty bulk with no real monitoring.
Not Performing Resistance Training
To put on muscle during a bulk, and thus help your metabolism, you have to send your body the right signals.
Resistance training is a very effective way to accomplish this, without it, your time spent bulking won’t be as productive as you had hoped.
Other forms of exercise are great in their own right, but training for specificity reigns supreme.
Cardio causes your body to adapt in ways to make it efficient for those types of movements for example.
So to put on some muscle, you of course would need to give your body a reason to do so by training with weight and progressively loading it as you improve.
If you want to get started but are new to the idea of resistance training, check out my free beginner’s workout plan that you can have sent straight to your email.
Clean bulking macros
Like I briefly mentioned before, during bulking, it’s important to have your calories coming from the right sources, that means having a good macronutrient distribution. Your metabolism should also see an improvement through the thermic effect of foods.
So how do you break down the 3 macronutrients; proteins, fats, and carbs?
Proteins, the building blocks you will need for the muscle-building process, also have the highest thermic effect. When you consume protein, 20 – 30 % of the calories consumed get used in the digestion process. Meaning out of 100 calories of protein, 30 will be burned to metabolize.
It is recommended to eat between 0.7 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, I suggest aiming for the higher mark to ensure you fall in between the range even on an off day.
Then there are fats, the macronutrient with the lowest thermic effect, 0 – 3%. Aim for between 20 – 30% of your total caloric intake to come from fats. Additionally, no more than 10% of your total calories should be coming from saturated fats, the American Heart Association recommends only 5 – 6%.
Finally, Carbohydrates, or carbs for short. Carbs play a vital role in providing energy. They also have the second highest thermic effect, although still considerably lower than protein at 5 – 10%.
Carbs can fill out the rest of your calories, the important part is the quality and sources. Aim for mostly unprocessed foods if possible and be sure to limit the amount of sugar you have. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar for men and no more than 25 for women.
Finally, the last tip is to keep an eye on the fiber you are getting from carbs. USDA recommends 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Fiber is important for things like digestion.
These are all general guidelines, discuss with your doctor before you make drastic changes to your diet.
When to stop bulking
Finally, you have been bulking for a while and your metabolism is up and performing well, but when can you stop? You can choose to stop bulking with a number of indicators like fat percentage, the need for a mental break, or a plateau.
Using fat percentage to dictate when to enter a cutting or bulking phase is nothing new. It is easy to do as well, there are numerous body fat calculating tools you can put in your own home like a smart scale (get a high-quality one here) or fat calipers.
The accuracy does not matter as much unless you have a specific goal. Take your measurements at the same time, with the same tools, and in the same fasted state. Focus on the number’s movement up or down more so than the number itself.
You will get used to the numbers over time, but for starters consider starting a bulk at 13% or less body fat, and start a cut at 18% or more.
Dieting is difficult, 95% of diets fail. There are various reasons for this to occur but one dominant one is the stress that a diet can put on you mentally.
Eating less or more than you are accustomed to can feel like a constant chore, eventually, you might just find it too hard to keep going. At times like these, after weighing the reasons that might be causing you to feel this way, it’s perfectly fine to take a break.
Having a break from bulking lets you reset your mental state, evaluate where you are in your goals, and move forward re-energized when you are ready to start again.
Just like it is possible to stagnate and have a weight loss plateau, it is possible to love momentum when bulking as well.
When you track your progress well, you can see these moments clearly. A few weeks of no movement might mean it’s time to change things up, or if you want to just stop for the time being.
Let’s say you bumped up your calories by 500 in bulk, after a couple of weeks of diligent tracking you find that you can no longer gain weight, it’s likely that you have achieved your goal of boosting your metabolism!
If that was your goal in the first place, why not give you this perfect opportunity to pursue a different goal?
Does bulking increase metabolism? Yes if used correctly.
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