When you start training in the gym, knowing what to do with your food intake can be extremely difficult. There’s a lot of conflicting information floating around that makes it hard to know where to start - but I’ve laid out the basics here so you have a rough idea of what you’re doing.
First of all, try to cover all bases when it comes to general food intake. Aim for protein at every meal and some fruits and veggies across the day. Nailing these basics first will ensure that you have the building blocks in place for anything you decide to do afterwards with your nutrition.
From here, you have three options: maintain your weight, gain weight (bulking), or lose weight (leaning down/cutting). There are a lot of reasons why you might choose one of these options, and it’s important to note that there are a lot of factors outside of nutrition that can impact your
progress (energy expenditure, sleep, stress, etc).
Maintaining your weight means that you’re eating the right amount of calories to keep your weight from doing anything other than usual fluctuations (which are completely normal!). You can build muscle AND lose fat eating at maintenance calories depending on your training and energy expenditure.
Bulking is often what people choose to do when they want to gain muscle. It isn’t necessary, but it allows your body to be in the best possible position to put on size and strength. In a bulking phase, typically an individual will eat an excess amount of calories, resulting in weight gain.
Cutting is the opposite of bulking - individuals will eat less calories than their bodies’ need, resulting in weight loss. A lot of crazy diets are created to ‘help’ people with this goal, and they’re wholly unnecessary.
A big misconception I often see regarding the differences between bulking and cutting is that the two require completely different food intakes and approaches. Provided you are meeting the basic nutritional requirements mentioned above (protein, fruits and veggies), all that needs to be done is to alter portion sizes. A dinner of roasted potatoes, roasted veg, and meat works equally well for each goal. If you’re looking to gain muscle, roast up some extra potatoes, and if you’re looking to lose fat, then serve yourself up slightly less potatoes. Oftentimes, there doesn’t have to be big food changes between cutting and bulking.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ebony Thomas: Accredited Sports Nutritionist
If you’d like to further your nutrition knowledge to help you reach your goals, please don’t hesitate to contact Ebony at email@example.com or visit www.maia-nutrition.com. You can also check out Ebony's Instagram @maia.strength.nutrition