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Example Bulking Diet

pad thai

One of the most popular questions I get as a personal trainer is, “How do I eat enough calories to put on muscle? I just don’t have the appetite to eat so much food!”

I often find that the people who are asking this question have one fundamental misunderstanding that needs to be corrected, and that has to do with the concept of “clean eating”. If you’ve struggled to eat enough calories in the past to put on weight, then I’d bet you’re trying to pack in 3000-4000 calories per day with foods like grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, tuna, plain white rice, etc.

Now let me tell you a little secret:

You don’t have to bulk up by eating the most boring foods on the planet! Part of the joy of bulking is that you get to have a little fun!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about consuming a diet composed solely of Twinkies, chips, and beer. You still have to get in enough protein, healthy carbs, and necessary fats.

Let’s take a look at an example bulking diet that I might suggest for a 180 lb guy:


  • 2 scoops Optimum Nutrition protein
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 ounce American cheese
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread


  • pad thai with chicken
  • 4 steamed dumplings


  • 8 ounces top sirloin steak
  • mashed potatoes (2 potatoes, 2 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup 2% milk)
  • broccoli with parmesan cheese


  • 1 KIND Bar – Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt
  • 1 Golden Corn Vitamuffin
  • 6 Oreo cookies
  • 1 cup of 1% milk

Total Nutrition

Calories: 3162
Fat: 121g
Carbohydrates: 306g
Fiber: 34g
Protein: 190g

Let’s take a look at an example bulking diet that I might suggest for a 140 lb woman:


Chocolate protein oatmeal with:

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 scoops chocolate Optimum Nutrition protein
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 medjool dates


Sourdough sandwich with:

  • 2 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 ounces smoked turkey breast
  • 1 ounce provolone cheese
  • 1/2 sliced avocado
  • 2 slices tomato
  • drizzle of mustard


Pretzel burger:

  • 1 pretzel bun
  • 1/4 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 ounce sharp cheddar (melted)
  • pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, mustard


Ice cream sandwich:

Total Nutrition

Calories: 2151
Fat: 80g
Carbohydrates: 218g
Fiber: 25g
Protein: 150g

Final Words

It’s OK to have a little fun with your diet when you’re bulking. Just make sure that you have your macros in place and are getting plenty of healthy and wholesome real foods. The goal when you are bulking is to gain about a pound per week.

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