Rice Bulk Experiment: Can I Turn Rice Into Muscle?

Back in May, I had planned on exploring weight gain, but my ridiculous cholesterol levels following my six-pack experiment gave me pause. Before embarking on an experiment that would require me to overeat for a prolonged period of time, I figured it would be best to first experiment more with my diet and get my cholesterol levels back down to levels where doctors don’t freak out. 

Since then, my cholesterol levels seem to be coming back down, and I’ve managed to gradually increase my weight from 60.6 kg to 62.5 kg (138 lbs) while keeping body fat within the 9-11% range. 

Slow but steady increase in body weight since mid-April

Slow but steady increase in body weight since mid-April

Body fat % consistently in the 9-11% range since mid-April

Body fat % consistently in the 9-11% range since mid-April

So I've put on a little weight, but it actually hasn't been easy. The diet and exercise routine that I've been on clearly works better for burning fat and losing weight.

But what about burning fat while gaining weight? 

In my next experiment, I want to see whether minor adjustments to my diet and exercise can enable me to "bulk up" and still stay lean in the process. 

Two "minor" adjustments

For me to build significant mass, I believe the adjustments I'll need to make will come down to the following:

1. Eating more 

The thought of eating more annoys me since I feel I eat enough already. But on my low-carb diet, I do typically maintain a daily calorie deficit without trying, so I’ll need to go out of my way to increase my calorie intake.

Adding weight-gain supplements to my diet could be an efficient way to go, but supplements can be expensive (particularly in Shanghai) and are not readily available everywhere. 

So I thought, what’s a convenient and cost-effective way to add “clean” calories to my diet? 


Rice is cheap, easy to prepare in large batches, and it’s almost impossible to not have rice thrown at you in China.

The typical rice bowls you might find in Chinese restaurants/homes hold around 150g of cooked rice, which comes out to roughly 200 calories. Thus, if I need an extra 500 calories per day, all I need to do is down 2-3 bowls of rice. Seems easy enough. 

By using rice to provide any additional calories I need, I can leave the rest of my diet virtually unchanged. My protein intake is already quite high (typically 90-130g/day or 0.7-0.9g of protein per pound of body weight), and I’ve found it difficult to increase my fat intake after eliminating many of my favorite fatty foods due to cholesterol concerns.     

2. Lifting heavier weight

When it comes to working out, I try to make sure that the workout is sustainable, efficient and effective. That basically means being able to workout anytime/anywhere and spending as little time as possible working out since I’d rather be doing other things with my time. 

I currently workout less than one hour per week doing bodyweight exercises only, and I’d like to keep things that way.

So rather than adding more time and exercises to my workout, I’m going to try to adjust my current exercises so that I put more weight on my muscles. 

In other words, I’ll be sticking with the same Squat + Pull + Push exercise combo but making adjustments to increase resistance such as propping up my feet when doing push-ups. I have no idea at this point which adjustments will work best so I’ll have to experiment along the way. 

Experiment design

Duration: 2-3 months (starting July 1st)


  • Target weight: 68 kg (150 lbs); back to where I started back in January!
  • Target body fat: < 12%


  • Eat at least 2-3 bowls of rice per day
  • Start with 2,000 calories per day (~500 calories above my basal metabolic rate) and adjust upwards if not enough to achieve weight gain 
  • Target daily macros: 150g carbohydrate, 125g protein, 100g fat
  • 2 cheat days on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Skip breakfast as I usually do


  • Bodyweight exercises only
  • < 1 hour per week

And that’s it for now. I'm excited to learn more and hopefully I won’t get too fat. Will let you know how things go in my next update...   

[To continue reading up on this experiment, check out Update 1Update 2Conclusion]

What did you think about this post? Comments are always welcome.