The Conscious Gut

5000 Calorie Diet: What Is Clean Bulking And How Do You Get Started?

Why do you need a 5000 calorie diet?

Usually, when you hear the word diet, the first thing that pops into your head is weight loss. For years, media and public figures have used it in the context of slimming down, so there is nothing to be surprised thereby. However, dieting can also be geared towards weight gain, which is exactly the main goal of a 5000 calorie diet. Indeed, this diet is designed for those who want to gain muscle mass, that is, for athletes.

The motto of the diet is that if you eat a lot, you gain a lot. In other words, if you want to grow your muscles, you will need to increase your portions. If you eat insufficient calories, you will either remain in your current weight category or shed even more pounds. Nevertheless, this is not what bodybuilders aspire to.

What to eat on a 5000 calorie diet?

Eating 5000 calories a day does not mean you can eat whatever you want without facing the consequences. On a 5000 calorie diet, you need to plan your meals thoroughly, making sure they are nutritious enough. The rule of thumb is that your daily meal plan should consist of 15-20% protein, 20-25% fats, and 60-65% carbohydrates (1). This is quite a logical distribution of macros in a 5000 calorie diet meal plan, as carbs should represent more than half of your diet, but could also contribute to weight gain (11). However, refined carbs can do more harm than good to your body, which is why you should be careful when including these in your meal plan.

Carbohydrates

There are 3 types of carbs: sugar, fiber, and starch. 

Sugar

Sugar is what makes your food sweet and delicious, but is nevertheless called “white poison”. Indeed, when consumed in large doses, sugar can have a noxious effect. In particular, this goes for added sugars, which are artificial and unhealthy. Eating too much added sugar can lead to obesity, consequently lowering the health status of a nation (10). Refined sugars contain empty calories, as they do not add any nutritious value.

Furthermore, overeating foods with a high glycemic index (GI) is associated with cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes (12). On the other hand, naturally occurring sugars are less deleterious for your health, which is why it is recommended to substitute added sugars with them. However, eating an inadequate amount of “good” sugars can also harm your body. In general, your daily free sugar (white and brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc) intake should not exceed 30 grams (9).

Fiber

Fiber is an integral part of a healthy diet as it offers your body several benefits. First off, fiber helps to regulate bowel movements, preventing constipation. Likewise, fiber is essential for maintaining gastrointestinal health, which can decrease the risk of getting colorectal cancer. Another benefit of a high-fiber diet is that it can lower your LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels. In the long run, it can prevent type II diabetes and decrease inflammation and blood pressure (3). The daily norm of fiber should make up about 30 grams, which you can get from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, wholemeal bread, and pulses (6).

Starch

Starch is considered one of the main sources of essential nutrients in your diet, at the same time being a key energy source. In fact, starchy foods, including complex carbohydrates, break down slowly when digested, meaning they provide you with energy for lengthy periods. Starchy foods are also effective in curbing your appetite, allowing you to stay full between meals. Such foods as legumes, fruits and veggies, and whole grains are valuable starchy foods, which you should consider eating every day. However, not all sources of starches are equivalently healthy and therefore, processed foods and products made of white flour should be consumed in limited amounts. Refined products include pasta, cornflakes, cookies, etc. (13).

In general, on a 5000 calorie diet, you should follow the above-mentioned guidelines on the daily intake of carbs and the GI of the foods. White sugar and white flour, which both have a high GI, will not contribute to a healthy weight gain (5).

Fats

Fats are responsible for cell communication and signaling, vitamin absorption, and the optimal hormonal environment in the body (7). Besides, this macronutrient contains essential fatty acids, which the body cannot produce on its own (4).

Three types of fats can be distinguished as saturated, unsaturated, and trans. 

Saturated fats

Saturated fats facilitate hormone production in your body. In particular, these are important for men, as eating foods high in saturated fats contributes to testosterone production (7). At the same time, ingesting too much saturated fat is likely to increase the LDL “bad” cholesterol levels in your body, which can cause cardiovascular diseases. Accordingly, men should consume no more than 30 grams of saturated fats a day, while for women, the daily intake should be no more than 20 grams as most people already eat too much saturated fat in their regular diet (4).

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Unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fats, which can be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, are the healthiest as they can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and decrease LDL cholesterol levels. These fats are found in oils, avocados, some nuts, and oily fishes. Polyunsaturated fats are further subdivided into omega-3 and omega-6 sources, which can be found in vegetable oils and oily fishes respectively (4).

Trans fats

Trans fats are classified as the least healthy fats because they increase the levels of LDL bad cholesterol and have an inauspicious effect on metabolism (47). These can be found in small amounts in dairy and meat. It is recommended to restrict your daily intake of trans fats to 5 grams (4). Make sure to always read nutrition labels to avoid added trans fat in the products you buy in the store.

On a 5000 calorie diet, you should restrict your fat consumption to unsaturated fats as they abound in vitamin A. This could increase your skin elasticity, which is important for normal and aesthetic muscle growth. Additionally, unsaturated fats are rich in antioxidants (5).

Protein

Protein is an integral part of any athlete’s meal plan. It contains essential amino acids that facilitate the recovery and growth of muscles (7). In addition, protein is a building component for the cells in your body. If you stick to a 5000 calorie diet, you should eat lean meat as the protein source containing all the essential amino acids. Conversely, plant-based foods do not have all of those, which is why they cannot completely substitute meat. Lean meats are fish, poultry, and steaks, which you should eat every day. You should always try to avoid eating any visible fat.

Eggs are another valuable source of healthy protein, which is in abundance in its white. If you are a vegetarian or vegan but still need to receive all the crucial amino acids for your 5000 calorie diet, you can increase your wild rice and legume intake (5).

A 5000 Calorie Diet for Non-Athletes

A 5000 calorie diet is designed specifically for athletes and bodybuilders since they burn a lot of energy during their daily training sessions and need to replenish it promptly and efficiently. Normally, adult women need to eat 1600-2400 calories a day, while 2000-3000 calories for men (2). For an athlete to gain muscle mass, it is important to eat more calories than they burn. However, non-athletes do not burn as many calories to justify their willingness to stick to a 5000 calorie diet. It might put your body under stress and lead to fast and unhealthy weight gain, with other health problems ensuing. Therefore, if you are not an athlete but still would like to try a 5000 calorie diet, you should do it only under your doctor’s supervision (5).

The Bottom Line

A 5000 calorie diet is an unusual one, as it focuses on weight gain rather than weight loss. It is designed for bodybuilders and athletes who need to build muscle mass. It can be overwhelming for your body, which is why thorough meal planning and medical supervision are important. To create a meal plan for a 5000 calorie diet, you need to follow this macros distribution: 15-20% protein, 20-25% fats, and 60-65% carbohydrates. Always opt for fresh and whole food when it is available.

Stay away from processed food with little nutritious value as it will not help you reach your muscle gain goal. Planning your meals according to this rule plays a great role in ensuring the healthiness and safety of the diet. Plan a meeting with a dietitian if you need more guidance when it comes to healthy diets related to muscle gain. If you are not a bodybuilder, you should either avoid the diet or do it under strict medical supervision.

If you are interested in healthy meal plans, you may be curious about other methods of supporting your body health. Supplement a proper meal plan with some exercise.

Alexandra Danieli

Alexandra Danieli, CHC, The Conscious Gut
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