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Lean vs dirty: a beginner's guide to bulking

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It’s bulking season, and many of us set out with one goal in mind. Get Big. But there are two ways to bulk, and both approaches do not yield the same results. 


We all know that to gain muscle we need to be in a caloric surplus, but taking a more calculated approach to where those calories come from and how frequently you're increasing your calories can play a massive role in muscle gain and help minimize packing on fat. You may have heard the notion that you need to eat any and everything in front of you during the “bulking season” and then “turn that fat into muscle.” But is it effective? 


The Dirty Bulk


This method has been a long time favorite of many bodybuilders and gym goers for many years. The idea behind "dirty bulking" is to merely stay in a high caloric surplus by getting calories from anywhere you can- whether its pizza, hamburgers or just an abundance of chicken and rice-  although this will increase weight at a much faster rate, many times with higher carbohydrate and sodium taken in quickly. Much of the weight being added on is water and fat. You will probably notice a significant increase in strength due to the amount of glycogen being shuttled into the muscle. However, when it comes time to shed some weight, you’ll be likely to notice two things. First, the weight becomes harder to come off. And secondly, when the dust settles little progress has been made for muscle gain and overall body development.


The Lean Bulk


Many might argue that you can not stay lean and bulk at the same time. To an extent, I would agree. However, in my opinion, the lean bulk takes a more calculated approach to the bulking method. When lean bulking, your food sources are derived from similar foods you will eat while cutting, but in larger quantities. I.e., lean meat, potatoes, oats, etc. Food is also increased at an incremental rate rather than just doubling or tripling the amount of food eaten. 


An example would be adding carbs at a rate of 50 - 100g per week and assessing weight gain and body composition. If weight is up only a pound or so then your body is doing well in processing the increase in calories. But, if you're up two or three pounds, then you may want to hold off on adding in more food until it gets to the one to two-pound increase. By taking a more calculated approach, you're able to keep your metabolism raised and utilize the foods that are being eaten, which in turn means less fat storage.  


Summary


If you’re looking for the best way to get big this winter, give your self a little more time and slow the process down. Increase foods incrementally, and make sure to track your progress. Your future self will thank you when spring arrives, and you do not have to do tireless amounts of cardio and caloric restriction. Give lean bulking a try, and remember with everything in fitness and life, anything that comes fast and easy leaves just as quickly. So make sure you keep those hard-earned gains!


Devon Grogans, Swolesquatch Nutrition

What do you look for in a protein powder?

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Protein powders have been a primary staple in the life of bodybuilders and fitness buffs for decades. The taste, quality and concentration of protein supplements has advanced throughout the years, offering such a wide variety of brands, ingredients and flavors. What do you look for in a protein powder?


Personally, at the age of 44, I look for ingredients within a protein supplement that are more natural and organic. For example, I prefer Stevia over sucralose as a sweetener because it’s safer and healthier. Today, your top protein sources in a powder might be forms of whey, egg, casein or even organic plant sources. Whey peptide, isolate and concentrate sources may be top choice for most muscle builders. 


The cost of a protein powder and how long it will last you in a given month is a concern for many as well. Finding the best quality, taste and price in a protein powder is extremely important to the average fitness and weight-lifting individual. Finding a protein powder that you really enjoy drinking and one that meets your bodybuilding, health and fitness needs may take some time. Although there are many great brands of nutritional supplements out there, I’m going to list two protein powders that meet the above criteria for high quality, taste and price as a guideline to follow.


The first is Designer Whey Protein by Designer Protein. The flavor is French vanilla, and the container size is 2lbs offering 29 servings with 20g of protein per serving at a price of $29.99 purchased through NutritionExpress.com. The ingredients are natural, and the protein sources are GMO-Free and rBGH-Free whey peptides, isolate and concentrate. Stevia leaf extract is used as a sweetener along with cinnamon, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. Other flavors are offered as well as larger 4lb containers at a price of $50.99.


The second is Whey Protein by Lindberg. The flavor is natural chocolate using organic cocoa, and the container size is 2lbs offering 26 servings with 25g of protein per serving at a price of $24.99 purchased through NutritionExpress.com. The ingredients are natural, and the protein sources are non-GMO and non-rBGH whey concentrate with retained whey protein fractions. Purified Stevia extract is used as a sweetener. Other flavors are offered as well as larger 5lb containers at a price of $49.99.


Whatever protein powder you choose to purchase always perform research first on the product or even the brand itself. Remember, not all protein powders are made alike so find what works best for you in every way meeting your fitness goals. You can also mix in various fruits or other health foods like flaxseed into your protein powder for a delicious high-quality shake. 


Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle, and branch-chain amino acids are essential providing both performance and muscle growth benefits for all bodybuilders. For muscle growth, packing on lean mass and decreasing overall body-fat percentage most individuals need anywhere from .50g to 1g of lean protein per pound of bodyweight for both muscle tissue growth and recovery.  The best time to drink a protein shake is after a workout, so drink up! -


 Daniel Staneart, Swolesquatch Nutrition