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Tips On How to Bulk with Low Appetite

  • 5 min read

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

It can be a real struggle for lifters to bulk up with low appetite. While these bodybuilders have the benefit of reducing weight quite fast, increasing their number on the scale, and bulking up, can be difficult. Individuals with limited appetites must adopt a strategic approach to fulfill their calorie and macronutrient requirements in order to achieve muscle growth.

Many people say that to build muscle, you need to eat a lot. They emphasize the importance of eating more and not being too restrictive with your diet. While this is true, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Just like cutting (losing weight) requires planning, bulking (gaining weight) also needs a well-thought-out strategy. And when trying to bulk with low appetite, it adds another wrench into the mix.

In this article, we will dive deeper into some tips you can utilize to bulk with low appetite and help you get the results you desire.

Disclaimer: It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before starting any workout program.

Tips On How to Bulk with Low Appetite

If you find it challenging to figure out how to bulk with low appetite, utilize the tips below to give yourself the best opportunity to add the mass you want to your physique.

1.      Increase the frequency of meals

For those who want to bulk with low appetite, eating more frequently might sound insensitive. That being said, it’s vital to train the body, hormones, and digestion. Even smaller, more frequent meals are key when struggling to consume more due to a limited appetite.

For example, if eating four meals daily is difficult, adding two 300-calorie snacks to make five meals becomes more achievable and less taxing on the digestive system.

These additional calories can come from options like shakes or liquid calories. Focusing on meal frequency rather than huge meals can help you meet your caloric needs for weight gain without feeling overwhelmed.

2.      Drink protein shakes

Drinking your calories is easier than eating them when trying to bulk with low appetite. Hence, protein shakes can be essential in achieving your bulking caloric goal. Choose a high-calorie protein shake with carbohydrates to fuel your muscles with glycogen. Improve it by adding almond butter, coconut oil, and a banana.

For your post-workout meal, a whey isolate protein shake is ideal. At bedtime, opt for a casein protein shake — a slower-release protein that steadily releases amino acids throughout the night, supporting protein synthesis while you sleep. By incorporating these shakes strategically, you can make significant progress toward your bulking goals.

3.      Avoid or reduce doing cardio

When aiming to bulk with low appetite, the critical factor is balancing calories consumed and burned calories. While cardio isn’t necessarily detrimental during a bulking phase, it can be counterproductive and may cause you to struggle to create a caloric surplus due to your limited capacity to eat more food and your high-calorie expenditure.

Reducing excessive calorie burned through cardio allows you to eat less while still achieving a caloric surplus. Hardgainers should focus on intense training to promote muscle growth without going overboard, as excessive exercise would demand even more calories. Striking the right balance will aid them in reaching their muscle-building goals.

4.      Eat simple carbs

Going for less fiber via more refined carb sources can significantly increase carbohydrate and calorie intake than if we were to consistently eat complex carbs. While you can still consume complex carbs, if you keep eating oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potatoes during your bulk, you will find out that you cannot eat more food due to getting full quickly, which is counterproductive when trying to bulk with low appetite.

5.      Increase strength training

Gaining muscle mass requires more than just eating, it involves combining a higher caloric intake with intense and regular weight training.

If you currently work out only two or three times a week, consider increasing your training frequency to a four or five-day split routine. This way, each body part is targeted once every four or five days. Focus on lifting weights within the 8-12 rep range, completing around 12 sets for larger muscle groups and 9 sets for smaller ones.

Working out more frequently can also boost your appetite, which is advantageous when trying to bulk with low appetite. Take advantage of this increased hunger by having a post-workout shake to further support your muscle-building efforts.

6.      Eat earlier

Extend your eating window by spending more hours awake. This allows you to have smaller, more manageable meals throughout the day to meet your caloric needs. If you’re not used to eating at 7 am, try setting your alarm a bit earlier to accommodate a protein-packed first meal.

For morning workouts, try to have a pre-workout snack like a banana to fuel your body. Afterward, enjoy a substantial breakfast as your post-workout meal to support muscle recovery and growth.