The other day, my husband Sean and I were unloading the week’s groceries and I told him not to lift too much in one go, lest he injure himself and not be able to go to the gym. He pointed out how arse-ended that statement was, and I realised how for many of us, the gym is an activity in itself. What I want to be is functionally strong, to train for real life rather than training for the gym. That is one reason I’ve been following the StrongLifts program, which works the posterior chain for functional strength. While the gainz have been slow (especially with the Overhead Press and Barbell Rows), I am steadily getting stronger with the squats, deadlift and bench press, and my thighs are, shall we say, getting more powerful looking.
A few weeks ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to go on a bulk. The aim of a bulk is to support and promote strength gains and muscle growth. But I quickly found that bulking is not as easy as simply eating more food. If only it were as easy as eating an extra scoop or two of gelato and a couple of Tim Tams. You have to eat the right (ie healthy) foods, in certain macronutrient ratios and at certain intervals. I understand now why bodybuilders tend to settle on eating the same thing 6 times a day, because if you think it is hard enough planning, cooking and cleaning up 3 meals a day, it is a right pain doing it 6 times. After a week’s half-hearted attempt, I have now settled on a “clean bulk” or so I tell myself, which doesn’t mean eating clean foods, but just that the calorie surplus is small. Frankly, though, I hate counting calories so don’t have any real idea what I’m eating.
Sometimes in the morning I’m not that hungry but if a girl wants to bulk, a girl’s gotta eat, and I have found that cooking vegetables in bone broth is a quick and easy way to get those veggies in. I’ll put some broth into a bowl, add chopped wombok (chinese cabbage) and microwave it for 2½ minutes. That is sufficient to heat the broth and also cook the veggies.
Instead of wombok, you can also use watercress. I prefer wombok because it has a very long shelf life, refrigerated (as opposed to watercress which goes slimy in a matter of days).
Another great use for bone broth is to cook rice with it. (A bulk without starchy carbs would be really rather hard to do.) Cooking rice in bone broth bumps up its nutrient-density and makes it more tasty. I use a mixture of half long grain jasmine rice and half basmati rice (which has a lower glycaemic index than standard white rice) which is soaked overnight (if I remember, which is rare) or for a couple of hours. Soaking, while not essential, does improve the finished texture of the rice. The soaked rice is then washed until the water runs clear. To 1 cup of rice, add 1⅓ cups bone broth and bring to the boil. Once it boils, turn the heat very low, stir it a bit to dislodge any grains which have stuck to the bottom, put the lid on and set the timer for 14 minutes. Do not open the lid or otherwise interfere with the rice during this time. When the time is up, take the pot off the heat and let sit for 5 to 15 minutes.