Bulking is the process of eating a lot of food in order to gain not only a ton of muscle, but also fat. Body builders, or anyone who’s looking for that bigger or even shredded appearance, go through cycles of bulking and cutting to increase muscle definition and growth. Attempting to bulk on a college dining plans is like taking an organic chemistry exam without knowing what resonance is! (Too far?)

Bulking on a college dining plan is easier than it seems. A bulker’s macronutrient ratio includes the following: 25% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 35% fat. It’s important to remember that all bodies are different and that this is just a guideline! Any bulker should focus on attaining these macronutrient percentages and their surplus calorie diet through healthy options rather than fast-food and non-nutrient dense food

Protein Shakes

For any bulker, protein shakes are a must. The diner not only provides smoothies, but a variety of milk options (soy milk, 2%, whole milk) to intake your protein. One protein shake can provide 25 grams of protein which is 6 times the amount one egg white can provide. My favorite way to consume protein is to mix them in custom smoothies provided by the diner.


Most college diners stay away from nuts because of student allergens. However, they always have a peanut butter station for those with a PB and J weakness. Usually, if I cannot purchase assorted nuts from the convenience store, I’ll enjoy having 2-3 table spoons of peanut butter with either a bagel or apple slices.


When it comes to meat, the college dining plan can be tricky. Most meat is cooked with greasy oils or is battered and then deep-fried. It’s important to always scout for lean meat that is the least processed. Usually the salad bar has stripped chicken breast, and often the entrée section may have rotisserie or turkey breast. Generally twice a week, diners offer fish options such as salmon, catfish, or cod. Fish is a great lean source of protein!


College diners are really good about having oatmeal in the morning. Oatmeal is a good source of calories, carbohydrates, and fats that provide enough energy to fuel an entire college hump day. Oats can be accompanied with blackberries which are full of antioxidants and whole milk, which is rich in calcium and essential for bone density.


I promise that the diner has eggs every morning. Eggs are a good source of fat and protein with 80 calories per egg. Eggs are a must when bulking because the amino acids are essential for muscle growth and it’s a great source of protein. The University of Maryland Diner has build-your-own omelettes a few times a week. Add-ins include: bacon, turkey, sausage, spinach, ginger, tomatoes, cheese, edamame, and more! 

My experience regarding bulking on a college plan entailed this:

Eating. Whatever. I. Wanted. The college diner provides either really healthy, bland options, or greasy, salt-dense, poor options. There was no in-between. There are so many choices within those two categories, that it’s hard to fail at bulking. On most days, my plate consisted of some variety of the broccoli (raw or boiled), brown rice, tofu, turkey breast, chicken, brussel sprouts, carrots, oats, peanut butter, and potatoes.

I also loved bulking because I was allowed to have endless cheat days. Surpassing my daily calorie intake was the goal. If there’s any better time to bulk, it would be during the college dining plan days. So long as you are hitting the gym, you’ll see results!