Illustration of several different bulking foods

The Best Foods to Eat While Bulking

What are the best foods for faster, leaner, and healthier muscle growth? It might seem like a simple question, and it is, but if we want to build a great bulking diet, we can go pretty deep with it.

For example, junk food is high in calories and easy to digest. Great for gaining weight, right? Absolutely. But it’s also full of empty calories, it’s low in protein, and it may make our digestive systems weaker over time. New research is even showing that foods that are higher in saturated fats and fructose—which is common with junk food—are more likely to be stored as visceral body fat instead of as muscle (study).

Fortunately, there are quite a few great bulking foods that make it easier to eat more calories, are great for stimulating muscle growth, are great for our health, and that can improve our digestion over time.

Furthermore, building a good bulking diet isn’t as simple as just eating a lot of healthy food. For example, the best bulking diets tend to be quite high in foods that break down into glucose. Lower-fibre starches, such as white rice and pasta, are great for this. That’s not common in most other pop-culture diets, such as ketogenic diets, low-carb diets, or paleo diets. This makes bulking diets unique.

Without further ado, here are the very best bulking foods.

Illustration of a skinny guy building muscle and becoming muscular (before/after).

What Makes a Food Good for Bulking?

The best foods for bulking up are going to have a few characteristics:

  • Rich in calories (high energy density).
  • Good for stimulating muscle growth.
  • Good for our general health.
  • Unlikely to be stored as fat.

Now, not every single food that we eat needs to satisfy all of these requirements. For example, spinach isn’t rich in calories or easy to digest, but it does have some unique health and muscle-building benefits. Among those benefits are its high nitrate content, which improves weight training performance and speeds up muscle growth.

For a rather opposite example, consider something like white rice. White rice is almost totally devoid of micronutrients, but it’s also rich in easily digestible calories. Those calories, which come entirely from glucose, are easy to store in our muscles and yet almost impossible to store as body fat. This can make white rice a great bulking food in some circumstances.

By combining a bunch of different foods together, both low and high in fibre, we can wind up with a diet that’s great for bulking overall.

The Best Bulking Foods

Skinny guys tend to have faster metabolisms and smaller stomachs, which can it incredibly hard to eat enough calories to gain weight. If you’re struggling with that, here’s our guide on eating more calories.

Illustration of a Thanksgiving turkey.

In this article, we’re just going to give you some examples of the best bulking foods. My hope is that this will give you some ideas about how to improve your bulking diet.

Whole Milk (And All Milk)

Milk is one of the most famous bulking foods of all time. The main reasons that milk is so great for building muscle is that it’s an easy source of calories and protein, it’s not very filling, and it passes out of our stomachs fairly quickly.

A litre of whole milk contains:

  • 630 calories
  • 34 grams of fat
  • 49 grams of carbohydrates
  • 32 grams of protein
Illustration of a gallon of milk (GOMAD)

If you added a litre of milk into your diet, you could expect to gain about a pound per week on the scale. You’d also be getting more protein than you’d get from a standard scoop of protein powder. Not bad!

The benefits of milk go beyond it being a good source of calories and protein, though. It contains a number of properties that help with building muscle:

  • It’s rich in zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
  • It has a balanced amino acid profile.
  • It’s often fortified with vitamin D
  • It’s rich in calcium, which improves bone density
  • It’s full of casein protein, which digests quite steadily

Milk is also mysteriously anabolic, with researchers noting accelerated rates of muscle growth from milk (study), and yet having no idea which property of milk is creating that extra muscle growth (study).

We’ve written a full article about how to bulk up with milk, including a breakdown of both GOMAD and LOMAD.

Olive Oil (And Other Oils)

A single tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories, making it the most calorically dense food on the menu. 250 calories behind schedule? No problem. Pour a shot of olive oil.

Illustration of how much space different foods take up in the stomach.

When we realized how rich a source of calories oil was, we started taking shots of olive oil before going to bed, which was a simple way of getting into the calorie surplus that we needed to bulk up. It was healthy, too. Olive oil has a number of health benefits, largely stemming from its high antioxidant content (study).

However, taking shots of olive oil was also a rough time, and I’d rather not do it again. These days I much prefer drizzling olive oil on my veggies or mixing a tablespoon of it into my stews and soups.

Similar benefits apply to a wide variety of oils:

  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Fish oil
  • Krill oil

Speaking of which, fish and krill oil have some unique bulking benefits, too. There’s some preliminary research showing that up to a tablespoon of fish oil per day can help us build muscle more leanly.

As a rule of thumb, the trick is to choose minimally processed oils that are higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever consume any saturated oils, such as coconut oil or butter. However, since those are best consumed in moderation, they may not make the best “bulking” oils.

Now, that doesn’t mean that saturated fat is bad. It’s just that most health organizations recommend limiting saturated fat to around 10% of our total calories, and many common bulking foods (such as ground meat), as well as other oils (such as olive oil), already contain some saturated fat. That will often bring us quite close to that 10% threshold without our needing to intentionally consume any extra. Going much beyond that may increase our risk of gaining visceral fat (study).

Nuts (and Nut Butters)

Nuts have an incredibly high energy density, making them a great source of calories while bulking up. They’re one of the healthiest sources of fats, they often contain some fibre, and the minerals found in nuts (such as magnesium) tend to be great for testosterone production and muscle growth. As a bonus, you’ll usually get a few grams of protein.

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts

Regarding peanuts, yes, they’re technically a legume, but they’re still a great source of calories, fat, protein, and minerals.

Some nuts are hyped up for having particular muscle-building benefits. For example, almonds are often said to be the most nutrient-rich food of all time. For another example, Tim Ferriss claims that eating brazil nuts tripled his testosterone production. These claims may even be true, but most whole foods have a laundry list of comparable benefits. That’s simply because real food tends to be good for us. And the best bulking diets tend to be made up of a wide variety of those real foods.

As a rule of thumb, try to eat a wide variety of nuts. Mixed nuts will give you a greater variety of nutrients, and their varied flavours will help to prevent flavour fatigue (where you get sick of the foods that you’re overeating).

Dried fruits

Dried fruits are a fraction the size of regular fruits, yet they have just as many vitamins, minerals and fibre. In fact, if you compare dried fruit against fresh fruit by weight, dried fruit contains about 3.5 times the amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals as fresh fruit.

In honour of the caloric density of dried fruits, I’m going to intentionally keep this section short, sweet, and incredibly muscular.

Illustration of a bodybuilder flexing his biceps (and other muscles).

Trail Mix

Trail mix is my favourite bulking food. It combines the many benefits of mixed nuts with the benefits of dried fruits, creating an absolute muscle-building masterpiece.

In fact, during my latest bulk, the only thing I changed about my diet was adding in a 450-calorie snack of trail mix between lunch and dinner. Then, when that stopped being enough, I added in a second 450-calorie snack of trail mix between breakfast and lunch. That simple approach to bulking allowed me to gain thirteen pounds over the course of four months, bringing my lifetime gains from +55 pounds up to +65 pounds.

Now, mind you, over these past several years, I’ve made a number of gradual improvements to my diet. The trail mix was being added in on top of a diet that’s already pretty good for maintaining a muscular physique. Still, it was my easiest and most enjoyable bulk yet.

Tip: I know that this is going to sound crazy, but I find trail mix much more enjoyable to “drink” than to eat. I put my trail mix in a cup and knock it back over the course of a few “sips.” I still chew it, of course.

Muesli cereal (trail mix + milk)

Muesli, like trail mix, is a blend of several bulking foods. It’s usually made by mixing together oats, grains, nuts, dried fruits. People will then usually pour in some milk (or yogurt) and eat it like cereal.

Once we’re getting into these combo foods where it’s just all the best bulking foods thrown together into a delicious mix, it’s just not fair to skinniness. I mean, how is skinniness ever supposed to survive when we’re armed with both trail mix and muesli? It’s not even a fair fight anymore.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a great source of healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a wonderfully healthy bulking food. It’s also calorically dense and easy to digest, which will help us gain weight.

Chocolate is also rich in a compound called epicatechin, which helps to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow, producing a similar effect to pre-workout supplements like L-citrulline. (Prunes do this as well.)

Now, as with all foods, these effects aren’t magic. Still, it may mean that if your bulking diet is rich in foods like chocolate, prunes, beets, and spinach, you’ll be able to improve your workout performance and muscle growth simply from eating a diet that’s known to be generally healthy.

Bulking tip: for an even more enjoyable bulk, you can add pieces of dark chocolate to your trail mix or muesli cereal.

Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are the easiest way for a guy with a small stomach to boost his protein intake. If you’re having a meal that’s low in protein, have a protein shake. Before heading home after a hard workout, have a protein shake. If you realize at the last minute that you haven’t eaten enough protein that day, have a protein shake. Simple.

Tip: you may not need as much water in your protein shake as you think you do. I can usually mix a good two scoops of whey protein into a standard glass.


Bananas are one of the most calorically dense fruits, and they’re also a great source of prebiotics, which is important for keeping your digestive system running smoothly.

Here’s how to add bananas to your bulking diet:

  • Blend them into your breakfast smoothies.
  • Have them as a pre-workout snack.
  • Add banana slices to your muesli cereal.
  • Eat peanut-and-banana sandwiches.

White Rice

White rice is the cheapest bulking food. A cup of cooked white rice contains roughly 200 calories. Better still, those calories come from starch, which will be quickly broken down into glucose. That glucose is great fuel for your muscles, and also extremely unlikely to be stored as body fat.

Illustration of a bowl of white rice.

Brown rice is usually marketed as being healthier because of its higher fibre content, but white rice is cheaper and easier to digest while being just as effective for building muscle. However, if you need more fibre or protein in your diet, brown rice might be the better choice.

Tip: white rice makes a great bed for curries, stir-fries, picadillo, and even chili, all of which are absolutely incredible bulking meals.


Oats are similar to white rice in that they’ll break down into glucose, which is great. However, oats are more filling and more nutritious, meaning that they’re often used quite differently.

Illustration of a bowl of oatmeal.

Oats are rich in several vitamins and minerals, but their main selling point is that they’re rich in the fibre beta-glucan, which is absolutely fantastic for our heart health. Bulking can come along with the risk of gaining body fat, and bulking diets often involve eating more cholesterol and saturated fats. Oats are a popular way of balancing that out.

Ground oats are also popular in workout shakes, and they can indeed be effective for that. However, we usually recommend maltodextrin instead, given that oats can be a little bit hard to digest, sometimes causing bloating or discomfort while people are lifting.

Tip: you can make oats much less filling by blending them up into a smoothie and drinking them.


When you’re trying to eat more calories, a good blender will quickly become your best friend. When you blend foods, they become calorically denser, less filling, and easier to digest. And best of all, blending up foods doesn’t reduce their nutritional value.

Here are some good ingredients for a bulking smoothie:

  • A handful of mixed nuts.
  • A serving of spinach (for the nitrates).
  • A handful of oats (for the starchy carbs).
  • Yogurt (for the probiotics).
  • A scoop of protein powder.
  • Frozen mixed berries.
  • Water or milk.

There are certainly ways to make tastier smoothies, but nothing will beat that in terms of fueling muscle growth.


Cheese is high in calories, contains a decent amount of protein, and makes food far more flavourful. Some cheeses, such as parmesan, are also rich in probiotics, making them great for your digestive health.

Tip: parmesan can be added to almost any savoury food—chili, soup, sandwiches, eggs, and so on—to intensify flavour, boost calories, and strengthen your digestive system.

Full-Fat Yogurt

Yogurt is high in protein and a great source of probiotics. It works well in smoothies, can be added to cereal, and makes for a great snack. When trying to eat more calories, choose full-fat yogurt instead of the low-fat “diet” yogurts that are becoming so common.

Tip: Greek yogurt is higher in protein and probiotics than most other yogurt varieties.

Kefir (Made from Milk)

Kefir can be made by fermenting a grain in milk. The fermentation process eats up some of the sugars in the milk, leaving probiotics in its place. This makes kefir higher in protein than milk, and better for your digestion than yogurt.

Raw Eggs

There’s a reason that bodybuilders (and Rocky) are notorious for drinking raw eggs to bulk up. Not only are they a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals, but they’re also high in protein, healthy fats, and calories.

Now, to be clear, I’ve routinely used raw eggs to help me bulk up. Sometimes I’ll mix them into a glass of orange juice and have them as a snack. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should eat raw eggs.

When eating raw eggs, there’s a small risk of salmonella poisoning, and so it’s important to choose high-quality eggs, get the blessing of your physician, and to drink them at your own risk. And if you have any pre-existing health issues that weaken your immune system, it probably won’t be worth that risk (because getting salmonella would be more devastating).

Tip: cooked eggs are equally nutritious, and they’re actually a little easier to digest, it’s just that they’re also far more filling.

Ground Meat

It’s common for guys who are trying to bulk up to add more steak into their diets. After all, steak is rich in protein and muscle-building nutrients. However, meat is often chewy and sinuous, making it quite filling, and also slowing the speed that we can digest it.

However, if you choose ground meat instead, not only is it often cheaper, but it will be far easier to chew, much less filling, and it will digest more quickly.

Ground meat also tends to contain meat from a wider variety of locations on the animal, which means that it often has a more varied nutrient profile. Some people speculate that this makes it better for building muscle. I suspect that they may be right.

Salmon (and Other Fatty Fish)

Salmon is arguably the best meat for trying to eat more calories. It’s not only high in protein but also full of fish oil. Moreover, it’s quite easy to chew and digest, making it one of the healthiest and least filling sources of protein.

Tip: Eating salmon twice per week is more than enough to get all the benefits from healthy fats.

Spinach, Beets, and Leafy Greens

These foods barely contain any calories and yet they still rank as a top tier bulking food. How can that be? First of all, leafy green vegetables are great for our general health, our immune system, and our digestive system. So if we think about a longer-term approach to bulking, they can certain help.

However, the reason they’re on this list is far more rad than that. Recent research is showing that consuming foods that are high in nitrates—such as spinach and beets—is an effective way of improving the “pump” that we get from lifting weights (at least when doing hypertrophy training).

Drinking beet juice or blending spinach into our morning smoothies dilates our blood vessels, improves our blood flow, and allows us to pump more muscle-building nutrients into our muscles while lifting weights in moderate-to-high rep ranges. This can slightly increase the rate that we build muscle.

We get a similar effect from the pre-workout supplement L-citrulline, except this way of doing it is healthier and likely more effective.


Garlic doesn’t really contain any calories, but it’s also profoundly healthy. It releases sulphur compounds when we chop, crush, or chew it, which is why garlic is so notorious for causing bad breath. However, those same sulphur compounds are also incredibly good for our general health (study).

Nothing ruins the flow of a good bulk like getting sick. I’m going to write a whole article about how to avoid getting sick while bulking, but one helpful little trick is simply to eat more garlic.

One 12-week study found that daily consumption of garlic reduced the incidence of getting a cold by 63% compared to the placebo group. It also helps us recover from colds 61–70% more quickly than a placebo (study).

The other cool thing about garlic is that it’s a potent prebiotic, which means that it encourages the growth of the beneficial gut bacteria that help us to digest our food.

Finally, garlic adds a rich flavour to our foods, which can make eating more enjoyable, and thus make it easier to eat more calories.

Key Takeaways

The best bulking diet is going to be one that includes foods that are rich in calories and nutrients while still being easy to digest. They’re also going to improve our long-term health and digestive power. Many, many foods are able to help that.

Illustration of a skinny hardgainer eating a feast in his attempt to bulk up, gain weight. and build muscle.

Keep in mind that this list isn’t comprehensive. Use these foods for inspiration, but remember that bulking diets are flexible. Eat food that you enjoy, that you can afford, and that leaves you feeling good.

Finally, don’t change your diet all at once. Your digestive system is adapted to your current diet, meal schedule, and overall routine. Making radical changes to your diet overnight will likely throw a wrench into it.

For example, perhaps you’ll find yourself particularly lethargic after eating a meal because your body isn’t used to eating at that time of day. Or perhaps you’ll wake up in the middle of the night thirsty and needing to pee because you’ve added in extra food or fluid before bed. You won’t be able to avoid all of those unpleasantries, but you can certainly minimize them.

So if you want to swap out your breakfast for a smoothie, great. But don’t all-of-a-sudden start following a brand new meal-plan made up of foods that you can’t even pronounce yet, let alone digest. Like I mentioned above, in my latest bulk, all I did was take my usual diet and add in a couple of small snacks of trail mix.

Shane Duquette is the co-founder and creative lead of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and has a degree in design from York University in Toronto, Canada. He's personally gained sixty pounds at 11% body fat and has nine years of experience helping over ten thousand skinny people bulk up.

Marco Walker-Ng is the co-founder and strength coach of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and is a certified trainer (PTS) with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences (BHSc) from the University of Ottawa. His specialty is helping people build muscle to improve their strength and general health, with clients including college, professional, and Olympic athletes.

How to build 20 to 30 pounds of muscle in 30 days. Even if you have failed before

FREE Bulking Mini-Course

Sign up for our 5-part bulking mini-course that covers everything you need to know about:

  • Hardgainer genetics and how to make the most of them
  • How to take a minimalist approach to bulking while still getting great results
  • What you need to know about aesthetics, health and strength while bulking up


  1. Kyle Martinez on September 29, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Fantastic info! I’ve definitely failed bulks by gaining too much fat from eating a lot of things I don’t see on this list (juice, pasta, chips, etc). Would it be worth seeing the negative impact of the foods not listed and thus should be AVOIDED during a bulk?

    • Shane Duquette on September 29, 2019 at 10:55 am

      Thanks, Kyle 🙂

      Pasta is quite similar to white rice in that it’s a starch that gets broken down into glucose, which is then used for energy. However, if we drive ourselves into a large calorie surplus, there’s usually some fat in our diets as well, which is easily stored as body fat. So more calories of any kind—including starchy carbs—can certainly cause us to gain fat. That’s more from eating an overly large calorie surplus, though, not from to eating too many starchy carbs. In fact, starchy carbs tend to help us build muscle MORE leanly.

      Fruit juice is trickier, as it contains fructose along with glucose. Fructose can indeed make it more likely for us to store body fat. However, we’d need to consume quite a lot of fructose for that to become a problem. If we’re having a pint of fruit juice along with our meals, I think we’d be just fine. It’s just not something we’d want to consume in extreme quantities.

      Chips are fairly high in fat, and consuming a high-fat and high-calorie diet will absolutely make it harder to build muscle leanly. Chips are heavily processed and deep-fried, too. I definitely wouldn’t put them on a list of good bulking foods. I eat them sometimes, but they’re more of a treat than a staple.

      I’d guess that the reason you gained a lot of fat while bulking was more fundamental than this. Perhaps an overly large or inconsistent calorie surplus, too little protein, too little sleep, or a workout routine that wasn’t great for stimulating muscle growth. It’s always hard to say without knowing more details.

      Almost everyone who successfully bulks up goes through a bad bulk where they gain too much fat. It’s a good learning experience and almost a rite of passage for us skinny guys. I mean, I’ve certainly done it.

  2. Jason Jacques on September 29, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Great article, Shane!

    I figured I’d see Olive Oil on here. I always mention it to guys as a good way to increase caloric intake. And it’s considered to be one of the healthiest fats available (but you have to be careful what you’re getting – ideally single-origin otherwise it can be cut and processed with other oils).

    I kind of had a laugh thinking of the shot of olive oil before bed. But that is a good way to test your Olive Oil. Oleocanthal is what you want to have your EVOO rich in, which also causes that burning sensation in the back of the throat. If your Olive Oil tastes greasy and doesn’t have that sensation, then it’s probably not a good quality oil. If it tastes more grassy and has you coughing – you have yourself a good EVOO!

    Definitely love making some healthy salads and using them as a shuttle for calories from EVOO.

    Anyways, great tips on all the other foods as well. You’ve outlined some awesome foods to build a solid grocery list for bulking my friend!

    • Shane Duquette on September 30, 2019 at 9:22 am

      An olive oil shop opened up in our neighbourhood a little while back, and my wife and I sampled all the different varieties. You’re totally right. The olive oils that were the highest in oleocanthal were the most intense.

      I’ll admit that I didn’t love the flavour of it. I’m just not used to it yet. But we bought it anyway. We figured we may as well try to acquire the taste.

  3. Francisco on September 30, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Good article Shane. But I’ve read about milk and some nuts (high in omega 6) that can lower testosterone.

    Something we should be aware of? Or just ignore it?

    • Shane Duquette on September 30, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      Ah, that’s interesting. I haven’t heard of that. Where’d you read about it?

      • Francisco on September 30, 2019 at 1:38 pm

        Here. Christopher Walker has a lot of videos focused on testosterone. I think his channel is pretty interesting. Maybe it can help you when writing new articles.

        • Shane Duquette on September 30, 2019 at 5:07 pm

          Excellent, thank you 🙂

          So, first of all, my specialty is bulking, not testosterone. However, the testosterone specialist Dr Robin Bhavsar, MD, wrote an article for us about optimizing our testosterone production while bulking. What’s important about it is that it’s almost entirely focused on the big picture: eat a good bulking diet, lift heavy weights, sleep well.

          Regarding this video about how nuts affect testosterone, Christopher Walker’s main argument seems to be that polyunsaturated fats are bad for testosterone production. That statement is missing some context. He doesn’t give any guidelines as for what’s considered too little, ideal, or too much. And besides, I can’t really comment on the testosterone aspect. However, when it comes to bulking, diets very high in polyunsaturated fats seem to cause leaner muscle growth than diets overly high in saturated fats (study). Christopher is saying that monounsaturated fats are the preferred source of fat, not saturated fat, but the studies he’s referencing say that monounsaturated and saturated fats have the same impact on testosterone. So my takeaway is that whatever effect these fats are having on testosterone likely isn’t enough to have a big effect on our rates of muscle and fat gain.

          Now, to be clear, I’m not saying that we should get a disproportionate number of calories from polyunsaturated fats. If I recall correctly, most health institutions recommend consuming a balanced intake of fats, with around 1/3rd coming from saturated fats, 1/3rd coming from monounsaturated fats, and 1/3rd coming from polyunsaturated fats. And then your total fat intake while bulking will probably be something like 20–30% of your overall calories.

          Finally, nuts have a variety of fats in them, and those fats are unprocessed. Most of these studies are looking at people consuming processed vegetable oils. I’m not sure we can really infer that this would apply to people eating nuts in the first place.

          Anyway, my opinion is that we don’t need to micromanage our fat intakes, but rather to focus on eating a varied diet made up mostly of unprocessed foods. Now, is it possible that consuming a thousand calories of walnuts every day isn’t ideal? Certainly. And although that might sound extreme, that kind of thing can definitely happen while bulking. When we’re consuming all these extra bulking calories, sometimes we wind up accidentally consuming absurd amounts of certain foods. That’s why we generally recommend mixed berries, mixed nuts, trail mix, and so on. That’s going to give you a better shot at eating a balanced diet even while adding tons of extra calories into your diet.

          As for milk, our article on milk actually does touch on the effects that milk has on our hormones (thanks to Brad Dieter, PhD, in that case).

          Does that help / make sense?

          • Francisco on September 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm

            Yeap, makes sense. Everything in excess is bad, but if diet is balanced should not make an impact on testoterone.

            However, if small changes can be done (like eating macadamia nuts instead of almonds or walnuts). I’ll do it. I’m 45 so always looking ways to keep T high.

            Going to read your article about milk. Thanks for your reply 🙂

  4. Victor on October 11, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    Great info Shane! One question: how much muscle vs. Fat would someone typically gain during bulking?

    • Shane Duquette on October 12, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Hey Victor, that depends on whether someone is trying to gain muscle quickly or leanly. It also depends on how new they are to lifting. And on a slew of other factors: the quality of their workout program and diet, their consistency, their sleep, their genetics, stress, and so on.

      Sometimes we see guys losing fat as they build muscle. Other times they gain fat in a similar proportion to their current body-fat percentage (e.g. a guy at 15% body fat gaining 15% fat as he bulks), which makes them appear leaner as they bulk. Most of the time people do gain a noticeable amount of fat while bulking, though, especially if they’re bulking aggressively. In that case, I think so long as at least half their gains are muscle, it’s a successful bulk. Some guys want to bulk more leanly than that, though, and that’s fine. It’s just a bit slower. Depends on what people want.

      We’ll be publishing an article on lean bulking versus aggressive “bear mode” bulking next week, I hope 🙂

  5. hbs on October 14, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    What is your take on (sugary) cereal like corn

    Thanks !

  6. […] filling meal. Maybe there’s a less filling meal that provides more calories and nutrients or less filling snacks that we can have between our bigger […]

  7. […] got a ton of other examples of great bulking foods […]

  8. Ray Powell on January 13, 2020 at 11:50 am

    This article is very helpful, I’m currently a 135lb 6’2” person, and your articles are helping me put together a diet. I’ve got some Great Value (walmart) brand olive oil and for some reason it says it has zero calories per serving? I was wondering if you knew why it would say that if olive oil in fact is calorie rich?

    • Shane Duquette on February 8, 2020 at 7:43 am

      Yeah, that must just be a mistake on the label. Does it say 0 grams of fat, too? Or maybe there’s no oil in your olive oil. If that’s the case, I wonder what that mysterious liquid is.

  9. MI on February 21, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    Shane, great article. However another quick comment from me. Did you see this study yet on protein, mTOR pathway, macrophages, unstable plaques, and atherosclerosis?

    Does this mean working out to gain muscle should rely on eating as little extra protein as possible to reduce the risks? I’m very skeptical of that, or the idea that a man can get away with like 60-70 grams of protein per day, and that it’s somehow sufficient for muscle gain (or conservation during cutting). The study was in mice, and not humans as well, and showed certain protein sources high in certain amino acids may actually be the issue, rather than protein itself. I feel like I’m pulling my hair out thinking about all this.

    • Shane Duquette on March 2, 2020 at 4:35 pm

      Hey MI, it sounds like this research is still pretty early. I’m not an expert in this, so I mean, for all I know it’s possible.

      Anecdotally, I have a genetic predisposition for heart disease called familial hypercholesterolemia, and last time I saw my heart specialist he didn’t mention any issue with me eating a fair amount of protein. Between lifting weights, eating a better diet, trying to get better sleep, and everything else that bulking involved, all markers of my heart health have improved dramatically over the past ten years. It doesn’t seem like my aiming to eat around a gram of protein per pound bodyweight per day these past ten years stopped my heart health from improving. But like I said, I can’t say for sure.

      When trying to gain muscle, eating at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound bodyweight per day seems to produce the fastest and leanest muscle gains. When cutting, aiming for a full gram per pound seems best. But on the other hand, we can build muscle without everything being optimal. And even if we lose muscle while cutting, it’s very easy to regain any lost muscle.

      What I do with these scary new studies is just wait. They’ll do more research. We’ll get a clearer idea with time.

      I’m sorry I can’t give a more definitive answer.

  10. […] that minor inconvenience, though, milk can be fantastic for building muscle. In fact, there are a ton of great bulking […]

  11. Adhi on June 2, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    Hey Shane,
    I’m an Indian teen guy and have been trying hard to bulk Up as I’m really skinny (I ‘m 5’11 and I weigh only 103 pounds)…can Yoga be used as a substitute for exercises which r necessary to gain muscle?
    Also, I have been trying really hard but find it difficult to squeeze in so many calories as I have a really small appetite.. Any help?

    • Shane Duquette on June 3, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Hey Adhi, yoga is a perfectly fine way to do some relaxing exercise, but it doesn’t challenge the strength of our muscles enough to provoke robust muscular adaptations. To build muscle, I recommend some form of resistance training. Building muscle will be easiest if you can get some free weights—adjustable dumbbells, a barbell and weight plates, or a gym membership—but you can build muscle with bodyweight training, too.

      And if you’re having trouble eating enough calories, you’d probably like our article about how to eat more calories 🙂

      I hope that helps, and good luck!

  12. Pablos on July 20, 2021 at 5:45 am

    Hey Shane, and everybody else who is reading this.

    Have you ever come across anyone who would experience aches and pains after eating rice? I am talking pain in feet/heels, especially. That is what appears to happen to me. I figured this out after two or three years going from one doctor to another and coming up short with answers as to why I experience this debilitating pain. There were days I could not even stand on my feet.

    It is a bummer, really, as I would like to put on some mass (have been underweight for the longest time ever) and now, hitting 40, the time is running up on me 🙂


Leave a Comment