When Bulking Goes Wrong

Dozoffseason

I decided that if I was going to be even remotely competitive on an IFBB stage I was going to have to up my mass considerably from the usual 81-83kg I normally carry. Given my naturally ravenous appetite and the well-meaning advice of others, I decided to switch my usual IF setup to a “eat everything in sight indiscriminately-around-the-clock approach.”

Given those unrestrained parameters I embarked on a 4 month, 6000+ calorie per day eating odyssey. The results weren’t pretty and the health ramifications, downright scary.

Here is a sample day of the food and supplements I wast taking and although at first glance it seems pretty healthy, I would add some chocolates, pizza, or hamburgers on top of that last meal.

1 hour before Meal 1 ​­ 2 scoops whey isolate, supplements ­ vitamin C ­ 500mg, 1⁄2 teaspoon Aniracetam, 2 Cannibal Genius caps, 1 Liver support, 1 serve lysine

● Meal 1 – 5 whole organic eggs, 1⁄2 tbs. of virgin coconut oil, 1 cup of spinach, 4 slices Ezekiel bread with 1/2 tbsp organic butter

● Meal 2 – 8oz cooked lean meat, 2 cups cooked white rice, 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

● Meal 3 – 8 oz of cooked lean meat, 1 cup of veggies, 1 cup cooked white rice, 1/4 cup pecans

● Meal 4 – Pre­Workout – 2 scoops whey isolate, 1/2 cup cream of rice (dry measured), 1 tbsp almond butter

INTRAWORKOUT – 130 grams carbs via maltodextrin ­ or vitargo) ­ 45 grams casein hydrolysate Supplements ­ beta alanine, citruline malate, creatine one teaspoon of each

● Meal 5 – Post­workout – 8 oz of cooked lean meat, 2 cups cooked white

rice, 50 grams raisins

● Meal 6 – 8oz cooked lean meat, 2 cups cooked brown rice pasta, 1 cup

veggies, 1 litre of raw whole milk Supplements ­ ZMA, 1 Liver support

TOTALS – 434 grams protein, 670 grams of carbs, 130 grams of fat – 5586 calories

31% of calories from protein, 48% from carbs, 21% from fat

Pictures Don’t Lie

There’s a certain self deception when slowly getting fat. You rationalise that the extra fat is a by-product of muscle gain. You feel your shirts getting tighter on the arms and shoulders. Your jeans begin to feel tight across the quads and people start throwing out comments about how “big you’re getting recently”. You reason away the reality that your size 30 dress pants don’t fit you any more and you only hit ab shots in the most flattering of lighting that accentuates the last vestiges of your fast disappearing four pack. Nothing fools you better than the lies you tell yourself.

This is where good progress shots come in to the equation. I’m not talking about “heavily Instagram filtered, standing in flattering “natty-lighting” taking 100 pics and choosing the best one” shots. Have a friend take some snaps in plain lighting so that you can regularly assess your progress.

bulk1 bulk2 bulk3 bulk4 bulk5 bulk6

Taken at start of the year – 82kg

In these pics I was 88kg (194lb)  – 6kg (13lb) heavier than 6 months previous but as you can see from a comparison shot taken earlier in the year, I look 600% fucking worse in the after pics.

I can’t really say that I was accumulating much or any muscle in that time because my strength wasn’t going up a whole lot due to my perpetually sluggish energy levels from eating so much food constantly.

To top it off, since going back to eating frequently, I’ve been plagued by constant and persistent illness. I had the mother of all colds when I visited freezing cold New York in April and was knocked on my ass for 3 weeks and didn’t recover from the sniffles and hacking cough for additional 5 weeks . I’ve had 3 major instances of long term flu this year which has killed months of training and required weeks off work. I got debilitating vertigo for 3 weeks when the infection travelled to my ear and then as a final master-stroke, my body totally gave up my once ravenous appetite and waved a white flag in surrender.

If my outside appearance was bad, then inside it was raining. My blood pressure, normally quite high was skyrocketing at 190/92. Cholesterol was shot with my coronary risk ratio being double the average high risk level. My Thyroid Stimulating Hormone levels were twice than higher the upper tested range indicating a degree of possible hypothyroidism. My doctor said that I’m wading deep into heart attack territory and CHD and was shocked by the changes in less than a year. Basically the only thing that I’ve changed since the last tests is:

1) experimenting more readily with multiple feedings throughout the day.

2) going on the aforementioned full blown bulk shoving whatever I could fit into my pie hole to hit my macros.

Since pulling the brakes on this ridiculous experiment, I’ve cut my calories gradually over the last 8 weeks and gone back to an intermittent fasting schedule again. I’ve dropped 10kg (22lb) in that time, kept 100% strength and feel infinitely better.  A big part of feeling better has been giving my system time to recover without bombarding it all day long with food and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in the form of daily smoothies.

Back to the drawing board.
Takeaways

* I simply overshot the amount of calories I thought I needed for this bulk. Past experience showed me that I’d lose weight on a diet of 4500 cals, so I simply went all out due to a mix of insecurity and insanity.

* Long bulks are an invitation to trouble. High calories for 3-4 weeks maximum, then switch it back to a short cut.

* Food quality matters, especially the intake of fruit and vegetables.

* Regular pics need to be taken to monitor progress.

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