Where Do Vegan’s Get Their Protein?

Various vegetarian products, raw tofu, marinated tofu, ground and ball soy protein.
Various vegetarian products, raw tofu, marinated tofu, ground and ball soy protein.

Within 1 week of going vegan you will already be exhausted of this question, friends and family will look at you puzzled and ask “you’re vegan?!”…”but I thought you need protein to build muscle?!”

The immediate assumption is made that because you are vegan you won’t be getting enough protein to build muscle.

SPOILER ALERT: Protein is abundant in every plant based food on the planet 😉

Before we get into the various different protein sources for vegans, it’s important to consider that just because you are vegan, this doesn’t mean that the laws of biology suddenly change for you. I commonly witness people go vegan and jump on the 80/10/10 bandwagon, where 80% of your food is from carbs, 10% from protein and 10% from fats.

There is nothing wrong with this diet setup if general health and well being are your goal, the abundance of carbs from plant sources will ensure that you are getting more than your recommended 5 portions of fruit and/or veg per day and the protein/fat ratios will be enough to serve your body’s minimum requirements to function..

..HOWEVER..

..I am sure you frequent my page because you want to add some lean mass and build muscle right? You don’t just want to “get by” with the bare minimum, you want to give your body the best possible chance of packing on some lean mass and/or losing body fat.

Whilst the 80/10/10 diet is fine for the average Joe, i’m guessing you don’t want to be average and therefore we have to look at the real data to determine what it takes to actually build muscle?

How Much Protein do Vegans Need?

First it depends on your goal

If you’re in a calorie deficit then you should increase your protein intake to reduce the amount of muscle loss. Remember, we never just want to lose weight…we want to lose and target FAT. An increase in protein during a calorie deficit has been shown to prevent muscle loss, aim for 2-3g protein per kg of body weight. [1]

If you are at maintenance calories or surplus, then there is likely no benefit to eating more than 1.4-2g protein per kg of body weight, save your calories for something else. [2]

Protein Timing

Regardless of whether you are vegan or not, if we keep our body in an anabolic environment by maximally stimulating muscle protein synthesis across the day we will build muscle and prevent muscle protein breakdown. Your body goes through a cycle of anabolic (build up) and catabolic (breakdown) of muscle tissue many times throughout the day, what we want to do is tip the scales in our favour.

Research shows that eating a protein rich meal at least every 4-5 hours is probably enough to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This puts the ideal amount of meals per day at 3-4, something like

  • 8am
  • Noon
  • 4pm
  • 8pm

When you eat enough protein containing the king of amino acid’s Leucine, your body flips the switch to start the anabolic process.

This will last for 2-4 hours (depending on what you ate), your body then returns to baseline at which point we want to hit it again with more Leucine rich protein to push protein synthesis up again.

Leucine is a key component to trigger muscle protein synthesis, therefore my choices of protein are based on their amino acid profile, ensuring that we provide our body with all the essential amino acids to build muscle.

Protein Sources For Vegans

My No1 protein source is Soy; Beans/Tofu/Shakes

Despite the misconception that Soy may give you moobs (look out for another article on this soon), Soy is one of the only plant based proteins that people would consider complete, meaning it has full amino acid profile, making it a great choice in your pursuit of building muscle.

  • Whole soy foods are also an excellent source of B vitamins, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • High quality protein with sufficient amounts of Leucine for muscle protein synthesis.
  • Low in saturated fat.
  • High in fiber.
  • There is increasing evidence that consumption of soy protein in place of animal protein lowers blood cholesterol levels and may provide other cardiovascular benefits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated the countries where people live to full health the longest and Japan came out on top with 74.5 years.

Much of this is due to diet, they are the largest consumer of fish in the world and of whole soy!

That’s right, the healthiest people in the world eat soy..lots and lots of soy!

A typical serving of 200g of tofu provides 16g of protein, pair this up with some lentils or chickpeas (see below) and you have a nutrient dense, protein packed meal.

Quorn

Also known as Mycoprotein, Quorn is actually a protein-rich food made from an edible fungus. Similar to Soy, Quorn has a full amino acid profile, is used for many meat substitutes and if that doesn’t sound good enough…has almost enough fiber in 1 sitting to hit your entire recommended daily allowance!

1 bag of vegan Quorn pieces has 45g of protein.

Lentils

Lentils contain high levels of soluble fiber which has been shown to lower cholesterol, aid digestive health and stabalise blood sugar. They are also a great source of magnesium and folate which are good contributors to heart health.

A 240g serving of lentils has 10g protein, great to pair up with other protein sources like Tofu.

Chickpeas

Similar to lentils and soybeans, chickpeas are legumes, as such they contain similar benefits. High in soluble fiber, magnesium and folate, chickpeas also contain a much higher ratio of protein compared to lentils.

200g of chickpeas packs a whopping 38g of protein, perfect for a chickpea curry. Personally I find that the health benefits and protein content of chickpeas more than justifies my addiction to houmus 😉

These are just a few of my favourite protein sources for vegans, truth is, protein can be found in every plant based food there is, I recommend to mix and match your protein sources at each meal and rotate them across the week. This will give you a full amino acid profile at every meal and a delicious variety of combinations.

References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19927027

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4022420/

Podcast 005 Conscious Muscle Round 2

podcast005Due to overwhelming demand, this week Jordan David, Conscious Muscle, joins me for the second time with a BIG podcast where we discuss workouts, bulking, body dysmorphia, food disorders, recovery, performance enhancing drugs and bringing up kids on a vegan diet.

To have your questions answered comment below or contact us direct on social.

Podcast 004 Conscious Muscle

jordan-david

This week I talk with vegan bodybuilder, health coach and father Jordan David. We discuss protein requirements, training for women, supplements and what it was like to go vegan.

You can find out more about Jordan here;

http://consciousmuscle.net/

https://www.instagram.com/conscious_muscle/

https://www.facebook.com/consciousmuscle/

 

How’s Your Lymphatic System? (it’s important)

Until the other day I had only heard of the Lymphatic System in serious conditions and  not given much thought to the role it plays in our body and how an efficient Lymphatic System can help increase your recovery and overall health.

What is the Lymphatic System?

Your Lymphatic System removes waste from every cell in your body and regulates your immune system, its function is to move a clear liquid called Lymph, containing white blood cells around your body to clear out waste and toxins. You have almost twice as much Lymph in your body than you do blood! the network is HUGE! Throughout the Lymph network are small structures called Lymph Nodes, in times of attack/inflammation/harmful organisms your lymph nodes go into overdrive to product antibodies and often can become sensitive or tender.

This is part of the reason I started to read up on the Lymphatic System, a few months ago I detached my Adductor and burst several blood vessels in my leg resulting in blood pooling, my leg filled with blood and became severely bruised, over the next few weeks I could feel tender areas around my groin and swelling, researching online it suggested that my Lymph Nodes could be in overdrive and even congested, preventing a speedy recovery. As I was sitting on the couch on my ass all day unable to move my leg…good times!…I started researching and reading about the incredible role your Lymphatic System plays in the body.

Interestingly your Lymphatic System does not have a pump, like your heart, to move Lymph around your body, instead it requires your movement/muscle contraction and help to get around, one of the best ways of course is exercise!

This is where it gets tricky with a busted leg, being sat on my backside all day, certainly was not helping in Lymph drainage and recovery of my injury. I wanted to find out further symptoms of a sluggish Lymphatic System and to see if there were any supplements or dietary changes I could make to improve the overall well being of my system, reaching the conclusion that an optimal and efficient Lymphatic System would not only assist in the recovery of my injury, but now armed with this information meant that keeping a healthy system at the top of my priority list will help long term with training, recovery and health!

Let’s imagine you’re injured or have toxins in your body, but you sit on the couch or lay in bed not moving, this can lead to a pooling effect of toxins, and in severe cases create a blockage in your Lymphatic System.

What are some of the symptoms of a sluggish Lymphatic System?

As I researched this, I started to realize that perhaps my Lymphatic System needed help a long time ago!…

  • Dry skin
  • Feeling tired
  • Bloating
  • Trouble sleeping/staying asleep
  • Holding on to water in trouble areas (lower back for me)
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Migrains
  • Loss of appetite
  • GI Issues
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Cellulite

Just to name a few! have you ever had a day where you feel sluggish and mental fog? again these could be symptoms of a poor Lymphatic System.

For me sleep was big thing, I often wake in the night and find it hard to get back to sleep, in the afternoons I feel an overwhelming fatigue and as the day goes on I find water retention increases and bloating becomes an issue.

So how can we maintain a healthy Lymphatic System or even repair it?

  1. Clean up your diet, stop eating processed crap, meat, dairy, gluten and reduce sugar/refined carbohydrates.
  2. Supplement with liver and kidney enzymes/support/supplements
  3. Take an intolerance test to foods or allergies test that may be putting added stress on your body.
  4. Drink at least 2 liters of filtered or purified water a day
  5. Exercise regularly – skipping or jumping on a trampoline can be one of the best ways to increase efficiency in less that 10min a day!
  6. Try not to sit/be inactive for extended periods of time
  7. There are specialist lymphatic massage experts that can stimulate lymphatic drainage
  8. De-stress – take time for yourself, reduce general stress around you

As I already take part in most of the above! I decided to seek out some additional supplements and a tiger roller! to support my Lymphatic System.

Supplements I found were…

  • Swanson Condition Specific Kidney Essentials
  • Swanson Ultra Diosvein Diosmin/Hesperidein
  • Swanson Condition Lymph Essentials with Yellow Clover Extract
  • Liv-52
  • Milk Thistle

As for the Tiger Roller, this thing is amazing, it is a massage roller that I have been using all week on my leg and feels like it makes a huge impact!

It is very early to tell with the supplements as this is only day 3, but last night I had the highest quality night sleep I have had in about 6 weeks and woke up today looking drier than normal. Time will tell, but I am positive about the assistance these supplements can give me and will keep the health of my Lymphatic System at the top of my list for overall body efficiency and well being.

Podcast 003 – Lizzi Shaw, Dorset Vegan

dorset-veganThis week I have the pleasure of talking with Lizzi Shaw, better known as Dorset Vegan.

Originally starting out on a personal quest to find more local vegan friendly places to eat out, Lizzi realised others were searching for the same information and began to actively promote local vegan friendly businesses under the Dorset Vegan brand.

Dorset Vegan now provides an online resource used by over 7,000 people and Lizzi actively works with local businesses to develop and promote their vegan provision to locals and tourists alike.

You can find out more about Dorset Vegan at

Website dorsetveganevents.co.uk

FB https://www.facebook.com/dorsetvegan

Twitter http://twitter.com/dorset_vegan

 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness DOMS

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness DOMS

What a great leg session! You leave the gym feeling awesome, everything is wonderful in life and then 24 hours later as you bend down to get in the car…aghhhh….oh my god….what the hell is this?! the DOMS hit!

leg-training

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short, can range from an achy nagging feeling and muscle stiffness to a deep burning sensation, making even the most simple of tasks more difficult than a tough mudder event!

What the hell is this soreness..and why now…48 hours later am I feeling this way?

Delayed onset muscle soreness is one result of exercise-induced muscle damage, although there is variance among exercises and individuals, the soreness usually increases in intensity in the first 24 hours after exercise. It peaks from 24 to 72 hours, then subsides and disappears up to seven days after exercise.

The reason this happens…no one really knows for sure, however it is thought to be as a result of microtrauma to the muscle being exercised.

This is what is meant by “breaking down” your muscle fibers during training, by working out with high intensity and resistance we cause mechanical damage to the muscles exercised.

The idea of building muscle is that you do exactly this, you intentionally break down muscle fiber causing microtrauma and then as your body recovers it will not only repair the damage done, but look to safe guard you in the future against this potential threat, in theory your body super compensates for the damage that occurs and hey presto, you build more muscle! Not only that, but your body will also become more efficient at repairing the specific muscle trained, this is why after several weeks of doing the same exercise routine you no longer feel sore.

That may be where the whole “switch it up to keep your body guessing” nonsense came about.

It’s not so much that you need to “switch things up” every other week, but you should be either increasing your lifts and/or volume week to week to provide a new stimulus to your body and give it a reason to change.

..so, DOMS = more muscle?

Yes…but no..helpful huh, but hear me out. You see hypertrophy (building muscle) is caused by 3 factors (check out my previous article here), only 1 of which is applicable when considering DOMS; Muscle Damage.

Whilst muscle damage is a contributing factor to building muscle, it is not entirely essential, muscle growth can still occur regardless of muscle damage by other mechanisms.

Not to mention that too much muscle soreness can be a bad thing. What happens when its time to train legs again and you still ache? you likely wont be motivated..or have the ability to produce as much force as you would normally and therefore resulting in a sub par workout.

A recent article by Brad Schoenfeld and Bret Contreras from the Strength and Conditioning Journal examined “muscle soreness serves as a valid indicator of muscle hypertrophy” and concluded “it remains debatable as to whether DOMS is an accurate gauge of muscle damage”

The take home from all this?

You don’t need to experience DOMS after a workout to build muscle, and shouldn’t rely on this indicator as the be all and end all as a measure of your productiveness in the gym.

How to treat DOMS?

If you’re starting out, delayed onset muscle soreness can be reduced or prevented by gradually increasing the intensity of a new exercise program. Don’t jump right in at the deep end, start out with low volume and increase your intensity and sets as time goes on.

Despite popular belief, stretching will not help DOMS, in fact, extreme stretching can even cause DOMS.

In most cases your soreness will decrease within a couple of days, if you are really suffering, then focus on any measure that will increase blood flow to that area;

  • Low intensity cardio
  • Massage
  • Sauna
  • etc

Make sure your diet has adequate protein, healthy fats and that you are not deficient in minerals and/or vitamins.

Should I train the same muscle if I still have DOMS?

The safest answer is no, if you have are experiencing any pain then do not train the same body part again. This is why bodybuilders will split their routine across a week. Whilst they may have DOMS in their legs, it won’t stop them training back or chest etc. By rotating different body parts per session you can continue to train regardless of DOMS.

That said, as long as your body part is trained at least 72 hours from the previous session, then regardless of DOMS, I personally train again. In the beginning I was really sore, but as time goes on your body adapts to the frequency of your training. In my opinion, if nutrition and rest are adequate you muscle will be ready to be trained again, regardless of the soreness.

A better way to gauge progress?

Rather than rely on muscle soreness as our indicator as to whether we should train or not, there is a better way, keep a log book of your lifts. I can not stress enough the importance of a log book. Every session record your weights and reps, then try to beat those numbers each week, whether it’s the number or reps performed or weight used.

A log book will tell you very quickly if you are doing too much, your lifts will stall or even regress and this will be the best indicator that you are doing too much.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/doms-the-good-the-bad-and-what-it-really-means-to-your-training

How to Structure Your Diet

how-to-structure-your-diet

In a previous post I discussed the best diet for vegans that exercise http://www.vegan-body-coach.com/best-diet-vegans/

Today I want to share with you what I consider the best way to structure your diet across the day. (this is my opinion on nutrient timing and works well for me, but ultimately the best diet is the one that YOU can adhere too, we are all different)

First it’s really important that we understand carbohydrates and the role they play in our body composition goals.

Carbohydrates are not necessary for your body to function. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, unlike essential fatty acids (fats) and essential amino acids (protein), your body can continue to thrive regardless of carbohydrates as long as your body has everything else it needs.

There are 2 ways your body can create energy without carbohydrates, one is through fat where by the body will produce ketones, you may have heard of people following a “Keto” diet, which is the process by which the body metabolises fat to Ketones for energy.

The other is Gluconeogenesis, whereby the body will metabolise proteins to glucose for fuel.

So why eat carbs at all?

I eat carbs because;

  1. It helps me to look “full” When you consume carbohydrates, your body converts them to glycogen, which is then stored in the muscles for energy. For every gram of glycogen stored, you gain approximately 2.7 grams of water. When your body fat is low, but your glycogen stores are full, you will have full muscles with great shape. Instead of looking “flat”.
  2. Energy…when exercising your body’s no1 fuel source is carbohydrates. At times when our body needs quick access to energy to perform an exercise, I dont want to wait around for the conversion of proteins or fats to energy, I like to sip on a high GI carb powder to give my body everything it needs to perform at an optimal rate… This is even more important in times of calorie deficit, when you are tired or feeling sluggish. During high-intensity exercise, carbohydrates are the main source of fuel your body taps into. High-intensity exercise, whether it’s HIIT training or heavy resistance exercise, primarily uses carbohydrates for fuel. Muscle glycogen is the main fuel supply for intense exercise and is a major fuel source during the first hour of exercise.
  3. Despite popular belief it is not specifically carbs that makes you fat. It’s an excess of calories. If you are in a calorie surplus you gain weight, regardless of macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat) split. Likewise with losing weight, a calorie deficit is the fundamental reason for losing weight.

How do I use carbs?

I have always had the best results from the gym when I utilize my daily carbohydrates around the workout window; Pre, Intra, Post..when my body needs them.

At all other times of the day your body does not need carbs to perform day to day functions and I achieve a better body composition with low carb or low GI carb foods across the remainder of the day.

Having been considerably over weight in the past, I also have insulin resistance (will do a separate article on this subject soon), meaning that high carbs at every meal causes a long list of issues such as hypoglycemia, irritability and fat gain.

I currently train first thing in the morning, upon wake (30 minutes before a workout) I will have;

10g BCAA + 10g Cyclic Dextrin (high gi carb powder) + 5g creatine

(I will write another article about the specifics of workout nutrition soon going into more detail)

Intra workout I sip on the same cocktail;

10g BCAA + 30g Cyclic Dextrin (high gi carb powder) + 5g creatine

and generally finish the drink 15-20min before the end of my workout.

my post workout meal is then 1 hour after the workout. Currently I enjoy a couple of bagels and a soy protein isolate smoothie with frozen berries and banana.

Put it all together…

  • 5:45am – Pre workout
  • 6:30-7:30am Intra workout
  • 8:30am Breakfast

My next meal of the day is approx 11:30 or 12:00 depending on schedule, and will consist of high protein, medium fat and low GI carbs, something like..

  • 200g Tofu
  • 200g Lentils
  • 100g Broccoli

3 hours later I need a snack mid afternoon, I normally opt for a protein shake or protein snack and a handful of peanuts or cashews.

Dinner is high protein, high fat and low carb. Lately I enjoy a bag of Vegan Quorn fillets, 1 pack of caulirice and some more broccoli. Normally I will throw it all in a pan and create a stir fry or curry.

The meal itself is not high fat, however I love chocolate! even when dieting! so straight after my meal I will have 50g 80% dark chocolate.

Depending on my total protein intake across the day, I will then add in an extra shake or soy yoghurt before bed if needed.

If I were training in the evening (and this would be my preference if schedule allowed), I would change the meal layout as follows;

Breakfast – Low carb, high fat, high protein (scrambled tofu? avacado etc)

Lunch – low carb, high fat, high protein (caulirice, tofu, broccoli, peanuts)

Mid afternoon – high carb, high protein, low fat (couple of rice cakes, sliced banana, agave, protein shake)

Train at 5 or 6pm – intra workout high carb + BCAA

Post workout – High carb, low fat, high protein (jasmine rice, vegan quorn, veg)

Desert – oats & berries or similar medium carb treat

Bed – shake as needed

Notice that anyway I do this, I will include a treat for myself in the evening, this helps me adhere to the diet.

What about rest days?

My training preference is a one on one off split, upper/lower body parts. Day 1, training, would be as per the above and then on a rest day ALL of my meals would be low carb, high protein and medium fat.

Why is this way of eating so great?

Training days you get to eat lots of delicious carbs. As most of your carbs are around the workout you can factor in some of your favorite foods..even though you are on a diet…hence the reason I eat bagels post workout!

Then on rest days you eat lots of delicious fats. Peanut butter, avacado, dark chocolate etc.

You essential rotate your food choices and macronutrients day to day, this means that you are always getting a variety of foods from high fat to high carb and removes any restriction a typical diet would place on you.

Variety is the key to diet adherence, the less restricted you are and more choices you have, the easier it will be to transition this into a lifestyle…not just a diet.

If you have any questions about your own diet feel free to message me or comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/gluconeogenesis.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/309135-can-a-high-carb-diet-cause-you-to-retain-water/

4 Fuel Sources Your Body Can Use During Exercise

Podcast 002 – Macro Mitch

macro-mitch

This week I meet professional free runner, coach, fitness model and vegan superstar chef Macro Mitch.

We talk about where his vegan journey began, fitness, nutrition and some of the delicious creations he puts together at Offbeet, where he works as an incredible vegan chef.

You can find out more about Macro Mitch on his website or social..

Website: http://macromitch.com/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/macromitch

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/macromitch

Podcast 001 – Welcome to the Vegan Body Coach Podcast

Welcome to the Vegan Body Coach podcast, where every couple of weeks I will interview experts from around the country to bring you the latest and most up to date vegan nutrition and exercise news. If you are confused about how to build muscle or lose fat on a vegan diet, or where to get your protein from, then tune in to discover new tips, important information and life changing discussions.

This week I discuss my history with diet, weight loss and veganism.

 

Build Muscle Without Getting Fat

the-right-way-to-bulk

Bulking season is upon us. The time of year when you throw caution to the wind and devour anything and everything in sight in hopes of adding some lean muscle to your frame. A relic of the early years of bodybuilding, bulking is yet another dogmatic strategy that is at best — ineffective. Nowadays, we know better. There are more effective ways to build lean mass without rapidly expanding your waistline and those pudgy cheeks at the same time.

The Traditional Bulk

The logic behind a traditional bulk is to add as much muscle mass as possible by any means necessary. Instead of counting calories, macros, or trying to optimize the diet for muscle gain, you are instructed to consume everything in sight. Pizza, ice cream, sushi, burritos, nothing is off limits. This goes on and on, almost indefinitely, until you either get so fat that you can’t bear the sight of your own reflection, or it comes time to prep for a show, summer, event, etc.

This strategy is based on the simple fact that you need to be in a calorie surplus to gain weight — but while this is true, it is not the whole picture. There are a whole host of factors — like hormones, nutrients, and macros — that determine whether the weight you gain is actually muscle, fat, or just water.

And the worst part about bulking is the aftermath. Traditional bulking usually comes with excessive fat gain, and natural or not, it is a monumental task to get rid of it all. While bulking is all fun, games, cheat foods, and happy days, the cut is miserable, long, and ends in negligible gains and metabolic damage.

Is there a limit to a bulk?

Even if we concede to brutish methods and forgo calorie counting and macro management in favor of plain and simple excess, the traditional bulk can only get us so far. You see, the fat you gain during a bulk has a direct negative impact on your general health and anabolic hormones. Creep over 15% BF, and your body will start to fight against you.

Your heart works overtime, your blood pressure rises, your estrogen goes through the roof, and you become insulin resistant, all of which result in more fat and less muscle. You lose motivation, you feel tired throughout the day, your mood suffers, you lose your sex drive…Your body goes completely out of whack, and basically, stops supporting the muscle building process.

The bottom line is that the higher your body fat is, the less likely you are to gain muscle.

What is the right way to bulk?

Your body likes balance. It does not want to be higher than 15% Body Fat (males) / 25% Body Fat (females) and it does not want your body fat to be too low (single digits) — your body wants the Goldilocks scenario, everything just right. When you start to stray from this comfort zone, your body will fight to bring you back to baseline. So why fight it?

Instead of putting yourself through the turmoil of an off season bulk, where body fat routinely blows past 15%, try cyclical bulking to keep your hormones in check and smash through plateaus. So what is cyclical bulking, you ask?

The Cyclical Bulk

In one sentence, cyclical bulking is a strategy whereby you switch between brief periods of cutting and bulking in order to maximize your capacity to gain muscle and lose fat. That’s the synopsis — now let’s dive into the details, because there is a bit more to it than that.

The ABCs of a Cyclical Bulk

If you are over 15% body fat, then it’s time to cut before even considering a bulking phase. If you are already at 15% or less, then it’s time to bulk. That is your baseline.

From there, you pick a number that is 5% over your current weight. This is your target for the bulk.

e.g. 200lb male X 5% = 10lbs

Your aim is to manipulate food intake to add about one to two pounds a week until you reach your goal. So our example 200lb male will bulk for between 5 and 10 weeks, depending on how much he gains every week. You will have to make adjustments every week based on your progress. Gain more than a pound or two, cut back on the food…didn’t gain enough, time to add some meals. Simple.

Once you reach your goal weight, regardless of how long that takes, you immediately go into a cutting phase to lose two thirds (66%) of the weight you just added. So our sample 200 lb male, who just gained 10 pounds, will aim to lose 2/3 of that. A little bit of math (.66 x 10 = 6.6) and presto! He knows he needs to lose about 6 pounds.

By the end of the cut, our bodybuilder has gained 4 pounds* of real muscle.

That would be one whole cycle. Basically, you repeat this process for as long as you want — until you are as big as your heart desires.

*Now I know you’re probably thinking that 4 pounds on a 200lb bodybuilder doesn’t sound like much, but  remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed that in his best year he managed just 15lbs! And that’s Arnold we’re talking about! So if you can manage 4lbs every every 3-6 months, you are not very far from Arnold’s best.

The Magic of  A Cyclical Bulk

What makes the cyclical bulk so great is that it works with your body instead of against it. You feed your body when it is primed for growth, and you cut the fat when it is ready to shred. Here’s how the magic happens:

  1. It is really easy to gain weight immediately after a cut
  2. It is really easy to lose fat immediately after a bulk
  3. Growth and fat loss, both occur in spurts

After a cut, your body is extremely sensitive to nutrients. It has been deprived of food, and in response, has unregulated many processes which allow it to absorb nutrients and build muscle efficiently. The opposite happens after a bulk — your metabolism is through the roof from the extra food you have been consuming and the muscle you have just gained. Minor manipulations to your diet, and the fat melts off. The last point is perhaps the most important. Growth and fat loss occur in spurts, neither is consistent. You may not see any changes for weeks, and then BOOM, a few pounds come or go practically overnight. The cyclical bulk takes advantage of this. Instead of idling, waiting around for progress to happen, you force it to happen by forcing you body into rapid growth and fat loss cycles.

How To Structure Your Cyclical Bulk

Structuring a cyclical bulk is pretty simple. If you are above 15% body fat, start by cutting. If you are below 15% body fat, start bulking. Measure progress weekly, and if the scales are not moving every week, then increase/decrease your kcal by 10-15%, and weigh yourself again in 1 week. Always maintain a high level of protein in your diet , and look to increase this when cutting to keep hold of all your lean gains in a kcal deficit. And as far as food choices go, be flexible, eat healthy most of the time, but enjoy some “cheat” foods too, i’m a big fan of flexible dieting to ensure you adhere to a lifestyle instead of a “diet”. I recommend 80-90% of your diet is nutrient dense food that will have a good impact on your health and goals, but 10-20% of your diet can be treats, cheats…basically whatever you want. This way, you not only optimize nutrition to maximize progress, but you stay happy and sane throughout the entire process..everything in moderation 😉

Bulking Must Die

Everyone that’s bulking cant wait to get shredded, and everyone whose shredded can’t wait to eat and grow.

Old school mentality would have us bulk up, adding lbs of muscle..and fat in the process, only to be followed by a long and arduous cut to reveal a few measly pounds of muscle.

Cyclical bulking is the intelligent way to gain muscle, look good year round, and achieve greater gains in the long run.