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Winter is right around the corner and many weight lifters take this opportunity to pack on mass. This year, instead of adding pounds of unwanted and useless body fat, why not take a smarter approach and focus more on gaining quality weight? Bulking shouldn’t mean “getting fat,” and there are smart ways to put on mass without adding a ton of excess body weight.

The most obvious way to gain quality weight is to eat more. I don’t mean stuffing your face with milkshakes, pizza and beer (although that will probably put on a lot of weight). I’m talking about increasing the amount of healthy foods you already eat. I prefer to eat more carbs, and during a bulking phase, a good way to go about adding muscle is to increase your carb and protein intake by about 10%. If this doesn’t put the weight on fast enough, bump it up to 15 or 20%. As body weight and muscle mass increases, more calories are needed in order to keep packing on quality weight.

Weight gainers are also an excellent way to increase lean body mass. Stay away from the ones that are packed with sugar and boast thousands of calories per serving. A quality weight gain powder will be high in carbs and protein, but low in sugar. A general rule of thumb is that the sugar content shouldn’t be more than 10% of the overall carb content.

Another way to aid your bulking phase is to increase your supplement intake. Of course, weight gainers and protein powder count as supplements, but why not try creatine, amino acids and other supplements designed to build muscle? Do not use these supplements as the sole source of your weight gain plan, since as always, a proper nutrition plan needs to be in place first.

A bulking phase is sure to put on a little excess fat, but it should not get out of control. Making smarter decisions regarding nutrition and supplements will help to make sure that a bulking phase does not turn into a fattening phase. This way, when it comes times to shed body fat, dieting is easier and new muscle mass has been gained to show off for the summer months.