• Sarah Zakzouk

To Bulk or not to Bulk – Finding the Nutrition/Training Balance

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

When it comes to weight training and food intake, there are many myths to dispel from the get go. The simplest way to look at it is: calories in equals calories out. So if you’re consuming a lot then you need to be expending just as much through movement, in order to maintain your current physique. If you want to lose weight, then you will put yourself in a calorie deficit, and on the flip side, in order to gain you will need to be in a calorie surplus. Of course it gets more complex, the further you delve into the process of training – from bulking to shredding, and the types of food your body needs to achieve specific goals, but you want to start off simple. If you’re looking to transform your body, and achieve tangible results from your training, then you need to stay consistent with your food as well as your training.

“But I don’t want to get bulky” – this is really common feedback, and I thought the same thing when I saw how many calories my meal plan was expecting me to consume on a daily basis. Of course this is entirely dependant on the person, on their fitness level, on their body type, on their training schedule, on their lifestyle, which is why it’s so important to work out your macros (macronutrients) and create a customised meal plan in line with all of these factors – it depends on you. One things to be mindful of is the comparison game – your body is your body and it’s important not to compare or expect exactly the same results as somebody else – particularly with the rise of the fitness trend on social media, and the athletic explosion we are witnessing. And don’t get me wrong, I work and thrive in the world of fitness and I love to see so many people looking after their bodies and working hard to achieve their personal goals, their personal bests, but that is the key here: it is your personal best. And also, people Photoshop a lot of stuff on Instagram.

Consistency is Key So you’ve figured out your macros, you’ve started your training routine and you’ve got your meal plan started. Now you have to stick to it. “As we all know, the best way to lose weight is to be consistent with balancing your macros and this won’t happen overnight. You have to be patient and make it your lifestyle instead of just a short-term need” – Oussama Esseddyq, Founder of meal plan company, Energy Club. Find a simple macros calculator to figure out your daily consumption of nutrients (fats, proteins, carbs) on a daily basis, and track with an app to assess calorie intake. Or work directly with the experts – hire a personal trainer, talk to a nutritionist to get you set up on your journey, and just educate yourself along the way – there is so much information out there, so there is no excuse not to be mindful about what you eat and how you train. But guidance is always the best way to get started, as well as having someone to motivate you. Once you start seeing results, you will be more inclined to keep learning and remain consistent as you get closer to reaching your goals.

Will I Get Bulky? This question goes in line with an increase in calories and a widely believed taboo that weight training will create a bulky physique. When in actual fact, those calories are there to fuel your body, and without them, you probably won’t have the energy to lift those weights anyway, so you wouldn’t even get to the bulky part. It is true that lifting heavy will promote hypertrophy in muscles that will lead to a gradual increase in size, but this does not equate to a ‘bulky’ aesthetic. It is all about finding balance in your workouts and understanding the science behind your training strategy. Lifting weights helps to create lean muscle mass, increasing the rate at which you burn calories through activity against weight resistance, which works to alter muscle fibre composition, therefore inducing hypertrophy. This directly influences muscle size by increasing the cross-sectional area of a muscle fibre, and is relevant to both type I and type II muscle fibres. This is also how training will create definition and a toned aesthetic, due to the specificity of your training regimen and the muscles you target with each workout.

Following a Nutrition Plan Just as weight loss expectations go hand in hand with consistent training and a healthy diet plan (and probably a calorie deficit), the same goes for weight gain and building muscle mass. If you’re looking to achieve a larger muscle mass, you’re going to need to eat more, and be specific and consistent with what you’re consuming across all food groups. And this is exactly why a meal plan makes sense, at least to get started with. My personal experience with Energy Club has helped me to stay consistent with my diet and with a busy work lifestyle, has given me time to focus on my workouts and get a decent amount of sleep – also instrumental to achieving results. Oussama says, “About 50% of our current customers are on a specific customised macros diet, designed either by us or by their personal trainers.” And as we said, this is personal to you, so make it specific, see how your body responds, and take it from there – you can always tweak it along the way. The bottom line is that lifting weights will actually promote lean muscle mass, and depending on your goals and calorie intake (across specific food groups) will influence the ‘bulk’ effect on your muscles and body mass. Once you find the correlation between your training and your food, then you will start to understand how your body responds to certain styles of fitness, and how you can tweak both the training and the diet plan to alter the effects on the body. As we said, this is about your body, and you may find that you will mix things up along the way, as you figure out the best routine, the optimal time to train, the mix of weights and cardio, and the most beneficial foods and combinations for your plan. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch. Happy training!

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