Are Burgers Good for Bulking?

Fast food burgers are not the best choice when it comes to bodybuilding. While they are often high in protein and carbs, they contain many high-processed ingredients that encourage overeating and cause you to be in too much of a surplus.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut them out of your diet altogether. There are ways to include them in your bulking diet, provided that you know what’s in the burger and you’re getting sufficient nutrients from everything else you’re eating.

Clean vs. Dirty Bulk

If you’re familiar with bodybuilding literature, you’ve probably heard of the terms ‘clean bulking’ and ‘dirty bulking’. When you’re bulking, you’re eating in a caloric surplus. When you clean bulk, those calories come from primarily nutritious food. When you dirty bulk, they mainly come from less-nutritious foods.

It is possible to convert a lot of those excess calories into muscle, but too much calorie intake can increase your body fat instead of muscle. You can’t accurately predict how many calories your body will utilize for muscle gain and how many calories will get turned into fat. A calorie is just a measurement of energy, not the unit that explains how much mass your body will gain.

When you’re bulking, you want to minimize fat loss and maximize muscle gain. The key to achieving that is to be in a small surplus (think 10% to 20% of your maintenance calories). When most of those calories come from junk food, you’re more likely to overeat and get yourself into a bigger surplus.

Highly processed food causes your insulin levels to spike. Insulin is the hormone in your body that helps you absorb sugar and carbohydrates (glucose) and regulates your blood sugars. The more often you spike your insulin, the harder it gets for your body to absorb glucose and the more likely it is for your body to store it as fat.

The Benefits Of A Clean Bulk

Clean bulking is the best and healthiest way to gain muscle mass. This way, you can increase your calorie intake but in a controlled manner, and you can also ensure that you’re getting the right balance of other macronutrients. Ideally, you’ll also want to increase your surplus gradually rather than at once. Start with a 10% surplus and slowly increase that surplus weekly to mitigate fat gain and build lean muscle.

Aiming for lean muscle allows you to gain more muscle mass in the long run. Increasing calorie content gradually will allow your body to convert more calories into muscle rather than fat.

What Burgers To Eat When Bulking

Of course, while burgers aren’t the ideal food for bulking, it doesn’t mean that you can’t consume them at all. Just consider the following next time you’re thinking about ordering one: 

Protein content

Choose a burger that’s high in protein content. Go for double patty burgers as they increase the protein content without additional refined carbohydrates. However, if you’ve already met your protein target and don’t want to be in too much of a surplus, it’s best to choose a burger with a single patty.

Opt for a lettuce bun (or ditch the bun altogether)

Another great way to decrease the intake of refined carbs and calories is to use a lettuce bun instead of a standard one, given that most burger buns are very high in refined carbohydrates. Alternatively, you can ditch the buns altogether.

Ditch cheese and mayo

You can easily limit your calorie intake by leaving out cheese and mayo. You can always use other toppings and condiments for added taste and texture like pickles, onion, tomato, and lettuce.

Keep in mind that even with these choices, a burger will remain a high-calorie food that’s high in salt and processed ingredients. So rather than making burgers the mainstay in your diet, keep them as an occasional food.

Related: Are Pop Tarts Good for Bulking?

Keep in mind that even with these choices, a burger will remain a high-calorie food that’s high in salt and processed ingredients. So rather than making burgers the mainstay in your diet, keep them as an occasional food.

Of course, the best burgers to eat are ones you make yourself because you can then control their nutritional content.

Are There Any Benefits of Eating Burgers When Bulking?

Yes, there are some benefits of incorporating burgers into your diet, if you only do it every now and then. The benefits are as follows:

A good mix of carbs and protein

You need to eat something that offers a mix of carbs and protein to replenish and refuel your glycogen stores after exercise. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, fast food like burgers is not any less effective than supplements and protein shakes in supporting muscle recovery after working out. You can choose burgers based on the criteria discussed above as a recovery fuel for your body (or even better, make your own one).

High iron content

Burgers, especially those containing beef, are an excellent source of iron. It is an excellent nutrient for your body as it provides your body’s organs, tissues, and cells with oxygen. Men need around 8.7 milligrams and women need around 14.8 mg of iron every day. Eating about 100 grams of ground beef (which most patties are made from), gives you 4.5 milligrams of iron. 


What’s the Best Burger for Bodybuilders?

If you like to eat burgers but you’re also bulking, consider choosing options rich in protein and low in fat and calories. You can avoid mayo and cheese to decrease the calorie count and opt for a double patty burger to increase protein content.

Are Burgers Good for Bulking?

Burgers are not the best option for bulking. However, you can incorporate them in your diet as long as you only eat them occasionally and consider their macronutrient profile. Just make sure that you don’t make them a regular part of your diet plan.