Bulking is hard. The amount of time (cooking) and money (buying a lot of food) needed to support a bulk is a challenge for most people but once you get deeper into a bulking phase, need a larger calorie surplus, and ultimately have a lower appetite then it really does become a struggle.
You can genuinely only eat so much food each day and if you’re following a relatively clean bulking approach, these foods are going to be filling and highly satiating meaning you won’t have a big appetite for large parts of the day.
Therefore, one of the best ways to combat this is with some high-calorie bulking snacks.
These foods are easy/convenient to cook or eat and are a secret strategy to a successful bulk. As they are so important, we’ll be covering the very best options in this article so that you can eat more when bulking.
Just to cover the topic quickly though, the best bulking snacks are:
- Protein Shakes
- Beef Jerky
- Cottage Cheese
- Protein Bars
- Toast With Spread
- Mass Gainer Shakes
- Tinned Tuna
- Greek Yogurt
- Protein Snacks
- Ice Cream
Best Bulking Snacks
When bulking, your appetite is going to be low, and you’re constantly going to feel full, especially if you’ve been in a bulking phase for an extended period of time.
Therefore, what I’ve compiled below is a list of high-calorie and easy-to-eat bulking snacks that will allow you to easily add more calories to your daily intake when bulking.
Firstly, nuts are a great bulking snack and are usually a staple in most bodybuilding or fitness-focused diet plans. The reason is that they are a natural source of healthy fats and they are incredibly calorie dense.
What this means is that per gram, nuts are higher in calories than many other foods.
The reason for this is the relatively high-fat ratio that nuts contain. Don’t be deterred though, as mentioned these are healthy fats and nuts are also high in protein (when consuming closer to 100g) making them a calorie packing snack that will fit in the palm of your hand.
A standard 30g serving of mixed nuts contains the following nutritional information:
Source – Healthline
30g is a handful of nuts and at 180 calories roughly, you’ll be getting a noticeable boost to your overall calorie intake with very little volume of food.
There are a variety of nuts to satisfy different cravings and they can also be combined with some other high calorie bulking foods like Greek yogurt or oats.
2) Protein Shakes
One of the best bulking snacks that you can opt for is a whey protein shake. While these are mainly consumed as a pre or post-workout shake to up your protein, they can also be utilized for a snack throughout the day and in between meals just to keep protein synthesis high.
The nutritional value for a 30g scoop of the vanilla ice cream, Gold Standard whey protein from Optimum Nutrition is the following:
Source – Optimum Nutrition
Want a great tip to elevate this snack? MIx 25g-30g whey protein powder with 400ml water or milk and pour it over cereal to increase the calorie content of your cereal and improve the flavor by using a flavored whey protein powder.
This makes it easy to turn a high-carb cereal snack into a powerhouse meal. The different combinations of whey flavors will help to keep your appetite high as well when you start to get bored of eating cereal. The same can also be done with Greek yogurt.
3) Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is not as popular of a product as you might expect. Often found in a gas station or random section of a supermarket, beef jerky is a surprisingly beneficial snack when it comes to bulking.
Jerky is essentially dried (dehydrated) meat that has been dried in order to prevent spoilage whilst also maintaining its nutritional value.
The reason this is such a good bulking snack is that we know meat is high in protein and beef jerky can be easily purchased for convenience rather than having to cook your own meat each night.
The calorie content of beef jerky is definitely appealing, a 90g cup of beef jerky contains the following:
Source – Very Well Fit
As you can see, this food is high in protein and calories but one potential downside is the high-fat content. This is fine if it’s one of your only fat sources during the day but if you’re also having nuts and other high-fat foods, your macronutrient split is going to be unfavorable.
Beef jerky won’t replace a meal containing beef but for a quick snack that’s high in protein and has a good amino acid profile, you’ll struggle to find many better sources.
Beef jerky is a bit more expensive though so might not be ideal for anyone bulking on a budget.
4) Cottage Cheese
Dairy is a debated food group when it comes to bulking. A significant proportion of Western society can’t actually digest dairy properly and this leads to bloating, digestive issues, and discomfort after a large dairy meal. This is also why some people don’t do well with whey protein.
If you can tolerate dairy quite well though, cottage cheese is going to be an excellent bulking snack due to its convenience and cheap price.
While cottage cheese isn’t the highest calorie food, its macro split is very favorable, especially for allowing for some “dirty” foods to be consumed each day when bulking.
A 100g serving provides:
Source – Wikipedia
A high protein content with fewer carbs and fat per 100g makes this a great option for accompanying higher carb meals and this is preferential for balancing out your macros throughout the day.
5) Protein Bars
While most people will have a protein shake post workout, protein bars are a great way to get more macro-friendly calories into your diet instead of resorting to a “treat” or cheat foods.
Related – Is dirty bulking worth it
Protein bars are a convenient and macro-friendly alternative to chocolate bars and make for a great snack when you’re traveling or don’t have time to cook. They aren’t the most filling food but are great for helping you to hit your daily protein requirements.
Arguably the best tasting protein bar on the market is currently the Grenade Carb Killa bar. A 60g serving provides the following:
Source – Grenade
While people mostly opt for a protein bar when cutting to satisfy cravings, they can also be an excellent option when bulking as a healthier and more macro-friendly alternative to chocolate or candy bars.
If you have a sweet tooth when bulking, protein bars are the best snack to satisfy that craving whilst still promoting muscle growth and recovery.
6) Toast with Peanut Butter or Hazelnut Spread
While some people would consider this to be a breakfast, toast with peanut butter, hazelnut spread, cream cheese, or a range of other spreads is a great way to easily get in some calories and for the ease of making it, we’d consider it to be a snack rather than a meal.
Peanut butter on one slice of toast has the following nutritional information:
Source – Coach.Nine
A slice of toast with cream cheese will have 145 calories, with jam you’ll have 125 calories, Nutella has 164 calories, and avocado has 157 calories. While peanut butter is by far the most calories dense option, combining it with regular butter or jam will boost this further.
Spreads have a long shelf life and bread is a cupboard staple food for most households so it’s always a quick and easy option to have some toast with spread for a quick snack throughout the day.
Cereal (like the above) is usually thought of for breakfast, but once you get into bodybuilding and bulking, you soon discover that cereal is a great snack to have at other times during the day. One of the most optimal ways to consume cereal is post-workout.
As cereals like Coco Pops are easy to digest and have a high GI score, they are ideal for replenishing muscle glycogen stores. The prep time for cereal is non-existent so it’s a cheap and convenient option for most people bulking.
A large 100g bowl of Coco Pops has the following nutritional information:
Source – Kellogg’s
As you can see, cereal can be low in protein and fat but very high in carbohydrates making it an ideal pre or post-workout snack. While cereal like oats and granola seem like muscle-building choices, they also take much longer to digest.
For this reason, a bulking snack needs to be easy to digest so opt for the “less healthy” cereal which is easier to digest and higher in carbs.
8) Mass Gainer Shakes
A common mistake people make when bulking is having low-calorie protein shakes.
Getting a high intake of protein each day is essential for muscle growth and gaining size but liquid calories are one of the best ways that you can consume more calories, especially if bulking with a low appetite!
An easy way to take advantage of these liquid calories is to supplement with a mass gainer shake.
Now, people will often use mass gainers as a meal replacement when bulking (which is a mistake) and therefore they miss out on the growth or calorie potential that will occur if you flip this around and use a mass gainer as it should be used – to supplement your diet.
Therefore, take a mass gainer shake as a snack when bulking and consume it around your regular meals. A mass gainer shake can have as much as 1,000 calories per serving but it can be consumed in under a minute and will be easy to digest.
This is the reason you should be eating your large meals and getting most of your calories from whole food sources but then also having a mass gainer shake as a high-calorie snack in between whole food meals.
See also – Do mass gainers work
Mass gainers can be filled with bad quality ingredients though so check out a reputable brand or product when considering mass gainers.
A snack most people are reluctant to consider when bulking, yet one that has been a bodybuilding staple for decades is canned tuna.
Cheap, convenient, and loaded with protein, while canned tuna isn’t as appetizing as a protein bar or protein snack it’s definitely a viable bulking snack option.
The drained weight (100g) can of John West tuna in spring water provides:
Source – Nutracheck
It’s not a glamorous food but it can easily be combined with a carb source like bread (for a sandwich) or pasta for a high protein snack.
Being very high in protein and low in fat/carbs makes this ideal for upping your protein intake each day while allowing for some higher carb/fat foods to be consumed alongside it.
See also – Cheap bulking food
10) Greek Yogurt
Similar to cottage cheese, Greek yogurt is a great dairy option for a bulking snack but only if you are someone that can easily tolerate dairy. Greek yogurt mixes well with other bulking foods and is a light and easy snack to have when your appetite is low.
A 150g serving of Alpine Greek yogurt provides:
Source – Myfitnesspal
While this is an easy-to-consume option, especially combined with whey protein, nuts, honey, or berries – for a more calorie-packed meal – another great option is Skyr Icelandic yogurt.
A 170g serving provides 110 calories but has 19g protein, 0g fat, and 7g carbs meaning this is a better option for those struggling to hit a protein target each day.
11) Protein Snacks
This one is a bit harder to categorize as it’s kind of a supplement, kind of a dessert but similar to protein bars, you can get other snacks made from protein powder. These kinds of protein snacks include:
- Protein Cookies
- Protein Brownies
- Protein Flapjack
- Protein Yogurt
- Protein Cereal
- Protein Balls
- No-Bake Protein Bars
As protein powder is the main ingredient, these protein snacks are often high in protein with moderate calories making them ideal for bulking, especially on the go!
The only downside of these protein snacks is that they are so much more expensive than the non-protein equivalents.
This is due to using protein powder as the primary ingredient (which is more expensive to produce) and also because anything marketed as “protein X” is priced higher as a standard.
12) Ice Cream
Ice cream is a weakness for many people.
Who doesn’t enjoy a pint of ice cream when watching Netflix or out on a hot summer walk. While ice cream is often considered to be a cheat food with low nutritional value, it’s actually a good bulking snack due to its calorie density and ease of digestion.
Ice cream blurs the line between solid and liquid food and while dairy isn’t the easiest to digest, ice cream generally is very easy to eat in large quantities, and if you don’t believe us, check out this calorie challenge mainly consisting of ice cream:
A serving (141g) of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream provides
Source – Ben & Jerry’s
You can also get new options that are higher in protein and lower in calories. Many people use this as a way to get a treat when cutting but the high protein snack is also ideal for bulking if you’re being conscious of your fat and carb intake.
See also – Is ice cream good for bulking
I’ve saved the best for last in my opinion because sandwiches are the most underutilized bulking food around!
I’m not going to be able to provide a calorie example as there are so many sandwich combinations that it just won’t be accurate. What I will say is that you can easily make a healthy high-calorie sandwich that would pass as a meal but is more like a snack.
While a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a go-to bodybuilding snack, the combinations are endless. Meatball sub, chicken mayo, all-day breakfast, cheese and ham, tuna mayo, grilled cheese…
As you can see, the variety of sandwiches will all provide a good protein source, high carb content, and overall balanced snack in terms of favorable macros.
If you want to get creative I’ll have an article coming out soon with the best bodybuilding and bulking sandwich recipes so watch this space!
Bulking Snacks for Work
Working is one of the most difficult parts of the day for people bulking to navigate. You might have limited access to cooking facilities, minimal time to eat due to meetings or other tasks, and also limited storage.
Therefore, the best bulking snacks for work need to be convenient, quick to eat, and easy to prepare and store.
With that said, some of the best bulking snacks for work include:
- Protein shake with milk
- Sandwich with meat, spread, and salad
- Protein bars
- Cottage cheese
- Beef jerky
- Protein snacks like cookies and brownies
Bulking Snacks for Before Bed
Late night food is common for people bulking in an effort to keep their bodies in a muscle-building state. As we fast during sleep, people wanting to stay in an anabolic, muscle-building state understandably want to have a meal or snack before bed.
It’s important to be cautious with this approach though, a heavy meal before bed, especially if it’s high in carbs or fat, will take longer to digest and impact the quality of your sleep.
This is something you don’t want to incur as rest and recovery are essential for muscle growth when bulking.
Therefore, some lighter bulking snack to have before bed include:
- Cottage cheese
- Protein shake
- Greek yogurt
- Handful of nuts
- Toast with spread
If you have a high-calorie surplus and a low appetite then you’ll be someone that appreciates the need for some high-calorie but easy-to-consume bulking snacks.
Hopefully, the list above has provided some good examples that will suit a range of budgets, tastes, and convenience. It’s hard to follow a set meal plan when bulking and certain bulking snacks make this significantly easier.
If you’re looking for something with significantly more calories than the bulking snacks listed above, check out our guide on the best dirty bulking foods for higher-calorie options.
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