Last updated on November 3rd, 2022 at 02:32 pm
It’s something that many of us want to know, “Can I Eat Sugar While Bulking?”
You know you can typically get away with fewer diet restrictions when you’re bulking.
I mean, the main aim is to consume additional calories above maintenance in order to put on weight.
However, you’ll generally want to add mass to your frame in the form of muscle and not fat.
So, does this mean consuming sugar a definite no-no, even during a bulk?
Let’s find out.
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Can I Eat Sugar While Bulking?
You can eat sugar while bulking, as long as it fits in with your macros. You should ensure that you’re getting enough protein and healthy fats first in order to support your bulk. Your carbs can then be broken down into complex carbs and simple carbs (sugar). However, it is important to realise that many foods that you consume already contain simple sugars, including those that are viewed as “healthy”. With that being said, the ideal time to consume sugar is straight after your workout.
1. You Can “Fit” Sugar into Your Bulking Diet
Your main goal with a bulking phase is to put on weight, and hopefully the vast majority of this is lean muscle mass.
Okay, you’re going to be eating a calorie surplus, so you can expect to perhaps add some body fat too.
However, you want to keep body fat to the absolute minimum, even while you’re bulking.
With that being said, you can structure your diet in such a way that you can consume sugar and still keep body fat at bay.
Your main muscle building block during a bulk is protein.
Realistically, most of us will be consuming around 1.2g to 1.6g of protein per pound of body weight while bulking.
Your starting point will depend on how lean you were at the beginning of your bulk.
Additionally, you also want to be consuming healthy fats.
Once again, how much fat you should eat will depend on your body weight and your starting point.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for around 0.5g to 1g of healthy fats per pound of body weight.
Once you have calculated these against your desired daily calories you can then literally fit in the number of carbs you should be eating.
Furthermore, you can even break down these carbs into a 50/50 split between complex carbs and simple carbs.
Your complex carbs will be the “healthy” source of carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar or insulin levels.
Basically, they take a while to be digested and absorbed.
The remainder can in effect be simple carbs, or sugar.
2. Sugar is Everywhere
When we talk about sugar we typically mean the refined white sugar known as sucrose.
However, sucrose is generally what we refer to as table sugar, although it is made of glucose and fructose.
This can cause a problem in terms of eating sugar while bulking.
By this I mean there a wide variety of foods already contain both glucose and fructose.
In fact, even many of the foods that we consider healthy will contain these sugars.
As an example, fruits, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and onions, all contain fructose and glucose.
And I’m guessing that these all typically form part of your “healthy” diet.
In reality, these foods are even consumed during a cutting phase when losing body fat is the main aim.
Sugar is typically associated with carbonated drinks, sweets, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and just about every food that is considered bad for you.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t eat these types of food during a bulk.
However, you need to be aware that sugar is in a wide variety of ingredients, some that you’ve probably never even considered before.
Therefore, if you are going to consume straight-out, “bad for you” sugar, then just be aware of the other carbohydrate sources you’re eating on a daily basis.
3. The Right Time to Eat Sugar
There is actually a perfect time to eat sugar while you’re bulking.
In fact, I’ll even go as far as to say that consuming sugar at this time is good for you.
Okay, don’t get overly excited.
I’m not saying that you can feast on a dozen doughnuts at a certain time of the day.
However, simple sugars still have a benefit.
Basically, the best time to consume sugar while bulking is straight after your workout.
The body fuels itself during your workout on stored muscle and liver glycogen.
For the vast majority of us we have enough stored glycogen to fuel us for a 1.5-2 hour workout.
With that being said, this does depend on the type of workout you’re performing, plus the intensity with which you train.
However, this amount of time typically fits in quite well with a strength-training session most commonly associated with a bulking phase.
You’ll find that after a tough, intense strength-based workout that your levels of glycogen become severely depleted.
And this makes it the perfect time to consume sugar.
Your aim here is to restore your glycogen levels very quickly with a hit of glucose and fructose.
You can actually improve the body’s muscle-building and recovery capabilities by combining your sugar hit with some protein.
The Anabolic Window
You typically have an anabolic window, which is viewed as the best time to consume a post-workout meal in order maximise muscle repair and recovery.
This is also why the vast majority of people consume a protein shake following their workout.
The anabolic window is often given a timescale of somewhere between 30-120 minutes.
But, to be on the safe side you should aim to consume a meal within an hour of training.
In effect, you could eat something sugar based here, as long as you combine it with some protein.
If you add some healthy fats into the mix, even better.
So, you could simply consume something like a chocolate brownie and a protein shake.
Although, I wouldn’t advise you to make this your regular post-workout meal.
A better option would be a meal containing protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, followed by dessert.
The Importance of the Anabolic Window
4. The Wrong Time to Eat Sugar
If there’s a right time to eat sugar, then there’s definitely a wrong time too.
In fact, I would say that pretty much at any other time of the day your sugar consumption will lead to fat storage.
This is actually why I’m not a great fan of energy drinks, which are typically consumed pre-workout.
These are full of simple sugars.
Okay, they will give you an instant burst of energy, simply by spiking your blood sugar levels.
However, this is typically followed by a drop in blood sugar and energy.
What makes this even worse is that you’re not combining your sugar consumption with any other food.
And unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on muscle growth, as well as fat storage.
You should always eat a slow-releasing complex carb prior to your workout.
Plus, I will also say that you should only eat non-refined carbs outside of the anabolic window.
Granted, you may have the occasional cheat meal, or even cheat day, when these rules don’t apply.
However, in the main, you shouldn’t be consuming sugar at any time other than post-workout
5. The Uncontrollable Problem With Sugar
I will say that the biggest problem with consuming sugar (at any time) is the difficulty we all face trying to control it.
There’s no two ways about it, sugar is extremely addictive.
In fact, your need for sugar is actually fuelled by consuming sugar in the first place.
The more you have, the more you want.
Basically, consuming sugar leads to sugar cravings.
This is also why many people are able to live a perfectly happy life without even eating or wanting sugar.
I guess it’s like any addiction – once your body is “clean” you realise how much better off you are without it.
Now, once more, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat sugar at all, but simply to realise that it does almost have a hold over you.
As long as you control your sugar consumption it won’t interfere with your bulk, or at any other time.
Is Your Sugar Addiction This Bad?
So, as you can see, it’s fine to eat sugar while bulking.
However, it’s important to ensure that you’re eating the right amount of protein and healthy fats first to aid your bulk.
You can then fit in your sugar consumption as a percentage of your carb intake.
With that being said, the best time to consume sugar is immediately after your workout, especially when eaten alongside protein.
This will actually help to restore your glycogen levels, which can aid muscle repair and recovery.
Nevertheless, sugar is extremely addictive, and you should therefore be wary of your overall intake.
While I’m on the subject of “everyday foods”, I’ve also written about whether you should be eating white bread while bulking.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.