Initially developed as a convenient snack for travellers and hikers, trail mix has now become one of the most popular and nutritious food options for fitness enthusiasts.
Generally, these mixes are high in calories and very nutrient-dense, providing gym-goers with sustained energy and regulated control over their appetites. Moreover, a balanced trail mix can also keep your blood sugar levels in check.
So, there are multiple benefits to including a healthy trail mix in your diet. But is it an equally good option when it comes to bulking?
If you assemble it correctly, trail mixing can, indeed, aid your muscle growth journey. That’s because it has a lot of essential nutrients, like healthy fats, protein, fibre, and many kinds of antioxidants.
But that’s not often the case with pre-packaged, store-bought trail mixes, as they might have many harmful ingredients like excess sodium, added sugars, and a lot of empty calories.
So, if you’re into bodybuilding, your best option is to buy individual ingredients that you want in your trail mix and assemble them together.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to do exactly that.
Is Trail Mix Good for Bulking?
Yes, a trail mix is a healthy snack mixture containing a wide variety of ingredients. The primary components, however, are nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. When these ingredients are combined together, they provide a calorie-dense, nutritious snack option that can help you build muscle.
When consumed in moderation and incorporated with a healthy, balanced diet, a trail mix can give you the required amount of calories and essential nutrients that are needed to support healthy weight gain and bulking.
As nuts and seeds are the two pillars of a healthy trail mix, it’s no wonder that the snack can serve as a rich source of protein, healthy fats, and fibres.
Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue and facilitates the muscle gain process.
Healthy fats also contribute by propelling hormone production and nutrient absorption, which are key for bodybuilding. For example, the hormone testosterone and growth hormones are two key drivers of the muscle-building process, while Vitamins A, D, E and K require dietary fats to be utilised by the body.
Finally, the presence of adequate fibres in a trail mix promotes satiety and supports digestive health.
Dried fruits, the third key ingredient in a trail mix, can act as a handsome source of carbohydrates to help you fuel your workouts and support your muscle growth journey. But for clean bulking, it’s best to choose dried fruits that are low in added sugars and high in their fibre content.
Other ingredients can also be added to serve as a complement to these three core elements. The point is that trail mixes can be very healthy if your goal is to gain muscle and bulk out. But to achieve that, you have to have the right mixture and a good overall diet.
Here is a list of ingredients that you can use in your trail mix:
- Nuts: Almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds.
- Dried Fruits: Raisins, cranberries, apricots, dates, figs, and prunes.
- Grains: Rolled oats, quinoa puffs, puffed brown rice, whole grain cereal flakes, and popcorn kernels (air-popped).
- Extras: Dark chocolate chips or chunks (at least 60% cocoa), coconut flakes, roasted chickpeas, roasted soybeans, and protein powder.
How To Make a Trail Mix for Bulking?
You can get a pre-packaged trail mix at any supermarket in your location. But they are often glazed with added fats, sugar, and sodium to amplify the calorie count and improve the overall taste.
In other words, bodybuilders cannot eat store-bought trail mixes.
So, what can you do? Make your own trail mix, of course!
And the process is easier than you can imagine. Here’s what you need to do:
Decide Ingredients and Quantity
There are many healthy trail mix recipes on the internet. You can either consult them or cook one up on your own.
To give you a run-down, here are the most popular ingredients used in a trail mix for bodybuilding:
- Nuts: Nuts make up the core of a healthy trail mix. They are high in protein as well as monounsaturated and omega-3 fats. At the same time, they are also high in calories, so you can’t use them excessively. Half an ounce of nuts in each serving of your trail mix is the recommended limit. We also advise unsalted, raw, or dry-roasted nuts as they are the most appropriate for supporting your muscle gain journey.
- Seeds: Seeds are small. But don’t let the size fool you. They are jam-packed with proteins and healthy fats. Nutrient-dense seeds are also not light on calories. So, it’s better if you include around a quarter- to half-an ounce of seeds in each serving of your trail mix.
- Dried Fruits: Finally, you have dried fruits – an excellent source of fibre, vitamins, and essential minerals. Apart from serving as a nutritious component, dried fruits can also help people with a sweet tooth. Just make sure that you choose the ingredients without any artificial sweeteners or added sugars. Around 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried fruits should be enough.
- Grains: While not an essential ingredient, grains can help you add more bulk to your trail mix without going hardcore on the calories. They are also good for lowering your cholesterol levels and improving your general well-being.
- Extras: You can add additional ingredients (healthy ones) to improve the taste and texture of your trail mix. If you feel that your mixture is a bit bland or dry, consider throwing in some unsweetened coconut, chickpeas, or pieces of homemade veggie chips.
A healthy mixture of these core ingredients can give you a trail mix that can support your bodybuilding goals.
Check The Labels
When you are in the market to buy the ingredients for your trail mix, make sure that you read the labels on the package.
For example, the label will tell you whether the nuts that you are choosing are raw or dry-roasted. Avoid unsalted alternatives as they are packed with excess sodium. If they are too bland for you, consider adding salt later on.
Also, make sure that there are no unhealthy additives (like sugar and fats) in the ingredients. Some pre-packaged trail mixtures even contain soil and preservatives like sulfur dioxide, so avoid those.
Purchase The Ingredients In Bulk
Nuts, dried fruits, and some of the more exotic seeds can be pretty expensive. So, putting together a healthy trail mix might be a bit difficult if you are on a budget.
One way around this is to buy them in bulk. Some wholesale brands like Costco might offer you a good discount for doing so.
The problem with this method, however, is that you might want to shake things up in each serving. Using a single trail mix for longer periods can get really monotonous.
In such a case, buy only the most essential products in bulk – like the nuts and dried fruits that are essential for improving the nutritional value of the mixture. Fortunately, most of the components used in a trail mix have long shelf lives.
So, there is little to no risk of them getting stale or expired if you buy them in bulk bags.
Mix The Available Ingredients
Once you have the desired ingredients, you can start mixing them up by their nutritional value in recommended proportions.
The good thing about creating a trail mix for bulking is that there are no rigid rules. As long as you are getting the right amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, you can pretty much use whatever you have in the mixture.
For example, you can even add chocolate to make the mixture a bit tastier. But make sure that you add the plain or dark variants containing a high amount of cocoa, as they are the best for aiding your bodybuilding journey.
In any case, keep shaking things up while creating your trail mixtures. If you become hung up on one variant for a long time, you might ultimately get bored and resort to unhealthy snacking options.
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You should always make trail mix in batches that can give you a handful of servings each. That will save you a lot of time.
But one problem arises – where do you store them?
You can use an airtight container to store your trail mix and protect it against moisture or contamination. Depending on the ingredients you have used, the mixture will probably last longer than a month.
5 Benefits of Trail Mix for Weight Gain
Adding a healthy trail mix to your diet can significantly help you gain weight. Here’s how:
- Calorie-Dense Snack: High-energy ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dry fruits offer a good amount of calories in small servings. That can help your daily calorie intake and facilitate healthy weight gain.
- Protein-Rich Snack: Nuts and seeds that are used in healthy trail mixtures serve as great sources of protein, which is essential for promoting muscle growth and weight gain.
- Healthy Fats: Consuming healthy fats is an important part of a balanced diet to achieve your bodybuilding goals and gain weight healthily. Nuts that are added in trail mixtures are a good source of healthy, monounsaturated and omega-3 fats.
- Fibre Content: Dried fruits and nuts are high in fibre content, which can give you a feeling of fullness and support good digestive health. This is important for encouraging healthy weight gain as it can prevent overeating and promote healthy digestion.
- Convenient and Accessible: A trail mix is a great snacking option, irrespective of whether you are. It’s the perfect choice for gym-goers who have busy schedules and don’t find the time to plan and prepare full meals regularly.
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What you eat while bulking is as important as the number of hours that you are putting in at the gym.
That being said, incorporating a trail mix in your diet is a great hack to support your bodybuilding goals. But make sure that you supplement it with a balanced diet and a good exercise regimen to see the best results.