Fries for Bulking: Good or Bad?

With fast food restaurants around every corner, sometimes the temptation is just too great.

As a result, you may be wondering whether fries are a supportive sidekick or a setback in your bulking journey. 

But the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. The fries’ high fat and low protein content is not ideal for muscle growth. Compared to its other nutrient-dense options like baked or air-fried potatoes, the excessive salt and oil used for deep frying, significantly diminishes the potato’s health benefits. 

So watch your intake! A single serving of fast-food fries packs up to 323 kcal, 15.2g fat, 42g carbs, and only 3.4g protein, which might not only pack on muscle, but potentially body fat, too. 

Yet, they are good carbohydrate sources, that can provide energy for your workouts ahead, you just need to know how and when to have it. Join us in this blog, as we explore how fries can fit into your bulking routine, offering muscle gains with minimal fat mass.

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What is Bulking?

Bulking is a controlled phase of overfeeding, where you are eating in calorie surplus (eating more calories) in order to gain weight, more precisely muscle mass. This is normally done along with resistance training, that can promote skeletal muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth). 

Your body needs a lot of calories to build muscle and to cover its basic functions, like breathing and digesting. Without adequate calories, it can not. Add around 300 to 500 additional calories to your maintenance requirements(3000-4000 total Kcal for men/2000-3000 for women) to get a good bulking requirement.

A study suggest to consume adequate protein (1.6–2.2 g/kg/day), evenly spread across 3–6 meals, including pre-and post-training. Consume moderate fat (0.5–1.5 g/kg/day). Fill the rest of your calorie needs with carbohydrates (≥3–5 g/kg/day) to support energy for resistance exercise and increase muscle mass without adding unnecessary body fat

The Difference Between Clean vs Dirty Bulking

Clean bulking means a more controlled increase in calories (400-500) with mainly healthy meals to avoid fat gain. While dirty bulking means a more intense calorie add of over 500+, which might also result in more excess body fat. This type of bulking often includes fast food, including fries, to gain muscle quicker.

New evidence shows that when it comes to body composition (weight gain), eating more protein than usual might not lead to gaining body fat, even if you’re consuming more calories than normal.

Yet, eating high-carb and fat food leads to more increase in body fat.

This scientific study highlights that fries, due to their high saturated fat and carb content, could lead to increased fat mass if consumed excessively. While you can still gain muscle and include it into your bulking phase, relying solely on fries isn’t a healthy or optimal method for bulking up. But see it with your eyes, what they have to offer.

Nutritional Value of Fries

Per 100gFries –Oven heatedFries – Restaurant: McDonalds (Deep fried)Sweet Potato -Fries
Calories (kcal)161.0323.0193.0
Fat (g)5.115.513.1
Protein (g)
Carbohydrates (g)27.542.618.0
Potassium (mg)471.0596412
Sodium (mg)391.0189166
Vitamin C (mg)8.15.617

How Do Fries Nutritional Values Compare to Raw Potatoes?

Now that you’ve grasped the nutritional value of fries, let’s contrast it with 100 grams of raw potatoes. Prepare to be amazed by how frying transforms its nutritional profile.

Nutrient (per 100g)Raw PotatoesFries (Deep fried)
Carbohydrates (g)14.242.6
Protein (g)2.23.4
Fat (g)0.315.5
Potassium (mg)425.0596.0
Sodium (mg)6.0189.0
Vitamin C (mg)19.75.6

Raw potatoes are high in carbohydrates and low in fat, making them an excellent vegetable for sustaining lean body mass, restoring glycogen post-workout and recover quicker for your next one. It also has a favorable micronutrient profile, containing low amounts of sodium and high levels of Vitamin C and Potassium, which can reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases and eye-related conditions. 

In contrast, fries from fast-food restaurants are typically higher in fat and sodium while being lower in vitamin C. This makes them a significantly less nutrient-rich form of potato. This is due to the frying method on high-temperature and the type of oil used like vegetable oils, as well as additives such as extra salt sprinkled on the fries.

However, the most evident disparity between the two is the caloric difference. Fries from a fast food restaurant such as Mcdonald’s could contain 254 more calories per 100g than raw potato – rendering it an absolute game changer for weight gain.

Best Ways to Prepare Fries for Bulking

While you have heard all the horror stories about fries above, there is no reason to cut it out your bulking completely! If you are leaning more towards the clean type of bulking with minimal fat mass, or the normal store-bought fries are not aligning with your specific goals, or simply just want to opt for a healthier option, that you can eat daily, we are showing you the way!

With these tips, you can simply make the most of what raw potatoes have to offer for bulking by making healthier and just as delicious fries at home! This will reduce sodium, keep beneficial nutrients such as vitamin D, and, most importantly, cut down the fat content. 

1. Choose a Healthier Oil

Fries from a fast food restaurant often exceed the desirable saturated fat content that we are after. This can lead to unwanted health consequences, like heart disease, and digestive problems. 

However, you can choose a healthier oil at home to make your own fries for bulking! 

Some good options for frying are canola, avocado, extra virgin, or light olive oil. These types of cooking oils have high amounts of monounsaturated fats. These can help improve your metabolism-such as fat oxidation- to a greater extent. This may be beneficial for bodybuilding or muscle bulking as it promotes the breakdown of fats for energy rather than fat storage.

As Kanwu study found,  people on a higher saturated fat diet showed slightly worsened insulin sensitivity, while those on a higher monosaturated far diet showed no change.

The ‘light’ aspect of the oil, means that it has been more refined. This does filter out some of the beneficial antioxidants that normal extra virgin olive oil may contain. However, it has a more neutral flavor and a higher burning point, which ensures that you won’t get a strong hit of olive oil in the fries. 

Save your money and use the expensive extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings!

2. Change the Preparation Method

This may seem obvious, but the optimal frying method for making healthier homemade fries for bulking is to oven-bake or even air-fry them. Doing this can cut down on 75-80% of calories and a lot less fat, making it a more suitable low-fat carbohydrate source. This makes them perfect for building muscle and not fat!

To prepare, drizzle some extra virgin or light olive oil over your cut-up potato strips in a bowl. Add some extra spices and seasonings to ensure you are skimping out on any flavor. Then, lay the fries on a baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 

With an air fryer, you can follow similar steps and choose an appropriate setting to cook the fries.

Pro tip: Boil potatoes until slightly soft before putting them into the oven to get a crispier outcome!

3. Switch Up The Potatoes  

Using a white potato to make healthier fries is great as a pre-workout energy source.

Different type of potatoes offer different tastes, textures, and nutritional content. Which one you may opt for depends on your preferences and goal; for example: 

  • Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are often considered as one of the best potatos for bulking. It’s rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and offers additional nutrients compared to regular potatoes. Its moderate glycemic index (63-66) helps regulate blood sugar levels, providing a sustained energy release. Yet they are higher in selenium, less starchy, they are higher in sugar. Best to be used as your post-workout meal for replenishing glycogen stores in the muscle.

  • Yukon Gold

Known for its creamier texture with a Glycemic index of 70, perfect for pre and post-workout.

  • Russet Potatoes

 Higher starch content, which can result in crispier fries when fried, but they are also carb-rich makes them a good source of sustainable energy for your workout – ultimately enhancing performance for muscle-building gains.

In terms of caloric difference, one medium-sized white potato contains 110 calories, while a sweet potato contains 100 calories. This might sound as a minor difference, but if you are bulking and gaining weight, thinking about the higher-calorie option!

According to a recent study, the glycemic index of potatoes varies: High GI 70 or higher – Russet, Red Skin, Gold, Yukon, Purple. Medium GI 56-69 – White with skin on. 

Please note, these GI readings can be influenced by the preparation method.

 So, which should you use out of the two? 

It depends. Sweet potatoes are more nutrient-dense with greater amounts of vitamins and minerals, fiber and lower GI index, with a steady supply of carbs, making it one of the best choices for clean bulking.  Yet, if you want a quick-release options, with an intense energy supply (dirty bulk), opting for the white potato fries may be better. 

However, the best choice can vary based on personal preferences, dietary needs, and how they fit into your overall bulking diet plan. Also, you can simply just switch them around, maintaining portion control!

Why are Fries Good For Bulking?

Remember that your body will only benefit from fries if they’re made with healthy ingredients. Restaurant-bought fries are not only high in poor-quality fat but also don’t contain the healthy nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Fries Are a Good High-Carb Sources

The potato base is high in carbs, which is an essential macronutrient for bulking, as it provides the body with a quick source of energy during workouts and aid in muscle recovery after it!

When bulking, carbohydrates are an efficient way to load up on calories, as they offer more calories per gram than protein or fat. Consuming a sufficient amount of carbohydrates helps maintain energy levels, supports intense workouts, and promotes muscle growth during a bulking phase. Although, watch out, as fies are also high in fat, so consume it in moderation. 

You can also follow our tips above and make a healthier variation before and after your workout.

Fries are High in Potassium

Potassium is an important mineral for bulking and, in general, as it can regulate muscle function. It is lost through sweat during the workout, so consuming potassium-rich foods is essential to optimize your performance and overall muscle health. Insufficient potassium can also lead to cramping and muscle weakness. 

So if you often hit the weight room, grab some potatoes for that potassium punch to power your gym sessions!

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What Makes Fries Bad For Bulking?

We can’t stress enough that binging on fries isn’t going to help you to achieve your bulking goals. In fact, it’ll affect your health and body negatively because of its poor nutritional value. 

Low in Protein

Protein is one of the most important nutrients for your body to rebuild muscles. Without enough protein, your body can’t effectively kickstart the muscle recovery process, after workouts. As fries lack of it, pair them with lean protein sources (lean meat, tofu, legumes, chickpeas, dairy products) for a balanced meal.

High Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index is a scale that ranks carbs based on their effect on blood glucose levels. Foods with a high GI are digested quickly (quick release), causing a rapid increase in blood sugar, making you feel hungry quicker! While foods with a medium or low GI are digested slower with steady rise in blood sugar levels, keeping you full for longer!

While a study has shown fries had lower GI index than boiled potatoes, as you’ve learned above, it does not make it a healthier preparation method. Yet, everything is in moderation!

The best strategy is to pair fries with other healthy food sources after a workout to feel fuller for a longer!

Related: Should You Eat Burgers to Bulk?

When Should I Eat Fries When Bulking?

Fuelling for your workout correctly does require certain strategies. These strategies take into consideration the timing of the meal, meal composition, and cooking methods. 

For example, healthier homemade white potato fries 30-60 minutes before hitting the gym are actually perfect for a pre-workout snack as they provide quick energy.  So, let’s put into practice how fries can be used for bulking! 

Eating Fries Before Workout

It’s important to eat high-carb food that offers fuel for your workout.  Your body will digest it and convert them into energy, so that you can perform at your best during training sessions. Choosing foods low in fiber and fat can offer benefits too. These food sources are quickly processed by your body, providing immediate energy for high-performance workouts.

Eating fries made in olive oil are low in fats and offer a decent amount of carbs, making them a great pre-workout meal. Make sure you use white potatoes and remove their skin to reduce fiber content. This way, you’ll be ready to start your workout after 30 to 60 minutes of eating fries.

How much fries you want to consume pre-workout depends upon the carb amount and calorie count your body needs. Ideally, you should consume 1 to 4 grams of carbohydrates per 2.2 pounds of your body weight in your pre-workout meal, especially if you’re bulking.

Eating Fries After Workout

Fries are a good post-workout option since they help replenish muscle energy due to their carb content. After your workout, the carbs you eat turn into glycogen (stored form of glucose), which helps your tired muscles recover.

However, baking or boiling your white or sweet potatoes instead of frying them will benefit your body after a workout. Other than carbs, your body also needs protein post-workout to start muscle protein synthesis.

So, consider pairing your fried, baked, or boiled potatoes with a protein source such as fish or other meat. It’ll accelerate the muscle rebuilding and repairing process, which is the key goal of bulking.

According to the Canadian Sport Institute, you should consume 1 to 1.2 grams of carbohydrates per 2.2 pounds of your body weight after a workout. It’s equal to about 450 grams of fries if your weight is around 150 pounds. To achieve the best results, make sure that you consume your post-workout meal within two hours of finishing your exercise.

Final Words

All in all, fries should probably not be your first port of call when thinking of good carbohydrate sources for bulking. However, if you are a fry-lover, there is no reason to completely eliminate it from your diet! Making your own fries for bulking is possible by making simple swaps such as baking rather than frying and using oil alternatives such as extra virgin, light olive oil. 

Potatoes do have the benefits of being a complex carbohydrate source and having high amounts of nutrients in them, such as potassium. 

Depending on your goals, opting for sweet potato or white potato can have their own individual benefits relating to the nutrient content of vitamins and minerals and the ability to be a sustainable energy source.

As such, there’s no harm in incorporating some healthier fries for bulking into your diet when done so in moderation!

Best for Bodybuilding

If you are serious about gaining muscle, then go with TestoFuel. It has been specially formulated to promote muscle growth.