Bulking vs. cutting is simply knowing how to sync your fitness and nutrition plan together to reflect your current goals. The type of exercise and the amount and type of food you eat plays a major part in determining the quality of results you see.
This sounds like common sense, but not everyone follows it. For example, if you’re bulking, this doesn’t mean eating everything in front of you to add up the calories.
You will only end up gaining fat and losing muscle definition. Or, if you’re cutting, you may think starving yourself will get you to your goal faster.
All this will make you lose lean muscle, which is exactly what you don’t want.
With some simple planning, you can avoid these mistakes; getting your diet and fitness plan on the same page isn’t complicated.
Bulking VS Cutting, What Is Your Goal, Lose Weight Or Build Muscle
The first step is to decide what you’re trying to accomplish.
There are many different reasons that will make someone want to change their fitness habits.
- If you’re overweight and want to slim down.
- You may be on the skinny side and want to build muscle.
- Or you’re somewhere in the middle and don’t know if you want to lose fat or build muscle first.
The most important part of creating a fitness plan is first identifying what goal you are trying to reach. Are you trying to bulk (build muscle) or cut (lose fat)?
The answer to this will determine your daily caloric intake, which is the most fundamental factor in creating a nutrition plan, no matter your goal.
Bulking VS Cutting For Beginners
A lot of confusion happens when people who are new to working out and dieting start to think about bulking and cutting.
To put it simply, cutting is when you want to lose weight and create muscle definition, and bulking is when you want to build muscle.
As a beginner, you don’t want to do anything too stressful such as too much of a calorie deficit to lose weight faster or too strenuous of a fitness program to build muscle faster.
Another mistake I see people make all the time is comparing their results to someone else.
You want to avoid doing this because other people’s genes may be better suited to build muscle; their metabolisms may work faster, allowing them to burn fat better or be on steroids. Trust me, you never know.
The biggest mistake I see people making is thinking eating more calories will make them build more muscle or not eating enough will make them lose weight faster.
Both of these are falsehoods and should never be done.
If you eat more calories then you should the only thing you will do is gain excess fat.
If you don’t eat enough while cutting, your body will start to hold on to its existing fat stores, thinking it’s starving.
Should I Bulk Or Cut First
For most people this will be pretty simple to figure out.
If you consider yourself overweight and you want to slim down you should cut first.
If you consider yourself skinny and want to gain lean muscle you should bulk first.
The only time this decision isn’t so easy is when you are somewhere in the middle.
Should You Lose Fat Before Building Muscle
If you’re a man with more than 15% body fat or a woman with more than 25% body fat, you should cut first.
If you’re a man with 10% body fat or less or a woman with 20% body fat or less, you should bulk first.
Some people prefer having excess weight on their bodies, and if you are one of those people, you can obviously choose to bulk no matter what your body fat percentage is. Just keep in mind, the higher your body fat percentage, the easier your body will retain fat.
Can You Gain Muscle While Cutting
You’re going to read and be told by people that you can build muscle while losing fat, but I’m going to tell you right now that this is only possible with people that are absolutely new to weight lifting.
When you’re building muscle, you have to be on a calorie surplus. This means that you’re adding 300 to 500 calories a day to your caloric total to give your body the fuel it needs to build muscle.
When you’re trying to lose weight, you have to do the opposite and abide by a calorie deficit; this is so that your body starts to use excess body fat as fuel.
Can you see why the two are impossible to do at one time.
People will say that as long as you’re lifting, you’re giving your body the means to build muscle, but this is bullshit. If you’re not eating enough calories, you’re not giving your body the means to build muscle.
It really is as simple as that.
Is Cutting Better Than Bulking
This will depend on what your goal is.
If you’re trying to lose fat and create muscle definition, then cutting is better than bulking for your goal.
If you’re trying to build muscle mass than cutting is what you don’t want to be doing.
This is why the first step I tell you to do is figure out what goal you want to reach. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, you can’t put the proper fitness or nutrition plan together.
How Long Should Bulking And Cutting Take
This will be different for everyone; genetics and metabolism play a role in how fast or slow you gain or lose weight. Also, the amount of effort you are putting into your workout sessions.
If you are bulking first, you should continue until you attain the amount of lean muscle you desire or become uncomfortable with the amount of fat you have accumulated.
When bulking, you are eating a calorie surplus, which will always add some fat to your body. How fast this happens depends on your metabolism and the cleanliness of your diet.
A bulking phase could last 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, or over a year. The duration will depend on how fast your body adds on fat. I can bulk for about six months before I feel the need to trim back down. Fortunate people can bulk for years before having to cut.
If you decide to cut first, you shouldn’t stop until you reach the desired body fat percentage you were trying to achieve.
Bulking And Cutting For Women
The ideal of bulking and cutting is different depending on the woman’s goal, just like it is for a man.
The difference is that women tend to want to become tone instead of actually bulking up.
Since it takes longer for women to build muscle since they don’t have the number of testosterone men have, they will have to bulk longer.
This is also handy when you start to cut since it’s inevitable to lose some muscle when you cut, so the more you have, the better you’ll look and feel when you’re done cutting.
Best Supplement For Bulking
D-bal is 3rd party tested and proven to be one of the most effective bulking supplements on the market. When combined with the correct type of fitness plan, you will see a great improvement in your results.
Does Bulking And Cutting Work
I get asked this a lot, and I never understand why whether or not your bulking and cutting phase works is entirely dependent on your food choices and how you approach your workouts.
This is one of the few times in life where the outcome is completely up to you; bulking and cutting isn’t a machine that can break or an unreliable friend that breaks a commitment at the last second.
You’re the only person that let themselves down when trying to reach a certain fitness goal. Just as long as you do what you have to do daily, you’ll eventually achieve the body you want.
What Not To Do While Bulking
Many people think if you eat a ton of calories, this will equal more muscle production, which is not true.
You indeed need to be on a calorie surplus to give your body the extra fuel it needs to build muscle, but this is generally around 300 to 500 extra calories per day, depending on your metabolism and lifestyle activity.
Excess food won’t make more muscles
Adding more calories above the amount that you find yourself needing will result in excess body fat; this will diminish any muscle definition you have and make your cutting phase longer, and who the hell wants that.
Another awful habit I see people do is focus on the calorie number they have to hit, but not the quality of food they eat to get there.
If you eat a bunch of crap while bulking just to hit your calorie quota, then your results are also going to be crap.
It really is that cut and dry, 2500 calories from chicken breast, eggs, rice, and pork are higher-quality nutrition sources than fast food and processed foods.
Your nutrition plan needs to be made up of whole foods, made by you so that you can have complete control over how and what you’re putting in your body.
How Do You Cut After Bulking
There are really only two changes you’ll make to go from a bulking phase to a cutting phase.
It would help if you changed your daily caloric intake from a calorie surplus to a calorie deficit. If you don’t properly do this, then you won’t lose any weight.
It’s all about calories in and calories out; you have to burn more calories than you eat for your body to burn excess fat stores.
The other change you have to make is to start doing more cardio to keep yourself in a calorie deficit.
When you’re bulking, you need to limit your cardio to take yourself out of a calorie surplus.
This is the opposite when you’re cutting; you have to do more aerobic exercises to burn fat, but make sure you’re not losing more than a pound a week, or you’ll start to eat away at the lean muscle that you worked so hard to build.
What Not To Do While Cutting
Let us get this out of the way, first and foremost, cutting sucks!!!
No one likes being hungry, tired, and unmotivated. Unfortunately, there is no way not to feel some of these symptoms once you put yourself on a calorie deficit.
Cutting, however, is a necessary evil if you want to show off the muscles you just worked your ass off for.
The way you go about your cutting phase will determine if you keep that hard-earned muscle or if you’re going to lose some of it.
People have a bad habit of going on too much of a calorie deficit, thinking that the more extreme their diet, the faster they’ll lose the fat.
This is somewhat true, you will lose weight at faster increments, but some of that weight will be in the form of lean muscle.
You don’t want to lose more than a pound a week; this will keep the vast majority of losses to body fat and not muscle
Can You Bulk And Cut At The Same Time
I’ve been involved and witnessed many conversations on this topic, and I’m not sure why it’s not clear to people that the answer is NO.
The one exception is when you’re brand new to lifting. Some people will experience fat loss while building muscle, but this only happens with certain individuals at certain times. Not nearly enough to warrant a yes to this question.
When you’re bulking, you have to eat more calories than burn; this will always result in some build-up of body fat.
This is why you then cut to get rid of the fat you gained from bulking to create muscle definition.
Bulking and cutting phases are dependent on your daily caloric intake; this makes it impossible to do both simultaneously.
You can practice lean bulking; this is where you eat just enough calories to build extra muscle while adding the smallest fat possible. This takes experimentation while tracking your progress until you find just the right amount of calories and exercise.
When doing a lean bulk, you may find that your results are slower, but you’ll never have to go on a strict cutting phase if done correctly.
How To Track your Progress While Bulking
- You want to gain around 0.10% body weight per week. For example, a 170-pound person would gain between 0.4 and 0.8 pounds per week. Remember that your weight fluctuates for many reasons, water retention, digesting, time of day. For this reason, when tracking your muscle gains, try to weigh yourself in the morning wearing the same clothes.
- If you seem to hit a strength plateau, one of two things is happening. You’re either not eating enough calories or not gradually progressing with the amount of weight you’re training with. If you think it’s your diet, add 100 to 200 calories to your daily allotment and see if that helps. If you realize that you haven’t increased the weight or amount of reps you’re doing every week, you need to start. This is how you train your body not to adapt to your routine and stop building muscles.
- You should notice an increase in strength during the 6 to 12 rep range of your workouts.
How To Track your Progress While Cutting
- You want to lose around 1% of body weight per week. For example, if you weigh around 200 pounds, you’ll expect to see about 1 to 2 pounds per week.
- If you see your weight loss diminish, you either need to decrease your calories in intervals of 100 per day until you see results, or you need to increase the amount of cardio you do.
- There are various tools to track your weight loss like scales, body fat calipers, and before and after pictures.
Body Fat Raises Estrogen Levels
Most people think that women only produce estrogen, and men exclusively produce testosterone.
This isn’t true; both sexes produce both chemicals, women produce estrogen at higher levels, and men produce testosterone at higher levels.
Estrogen plays an important role in the muscle-building process in males. It helps with repair and cell regeneration.
This study shows how estrogen is involved in muscle growth by promoting less inflammation while boosting anti-inflammatory mechanisms that speed up muscle repair after intense workouts.
The problem becomes when an individual has too much excess body fat, this will increase your estrogen levels and interfere with your testosterone development leading to an estrogenic effect in men that will decrease your muscle-building results.
The Importance Of Calories While Bulking And Cutting.
What is a calorie?
Simply put a calorie is the energy received from the food and liquids you ingest.
If you eat excess calories, your body will store the extra energy as glycogen or fat to be used later. Glycogen gets stored in your liver, muscles, and fat cells. Continually eating excess calories causes your fat stores to grow, creating weight gain.
The next step is to figure out your caloric maintenance level. This is how many calories are needed daily to maintain your current weight. Use the calculator below to figure out your daily caloric needs.
This will tell you your BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR).
BMR is the number of calories your body needs to perform all of its natural functions while at rest. For example, breathing, temperature control, digesting food and circulating blood flow. Even laughing burns calories.
Then I’ll explain what to add or subtract to give you the number of calories you need, whether you’re bulking or cutting.
BMR Calculator provided by calculators.tech
Now you want to take the number you received from the calculator and follow the directions below, depending on your goal.
If you’re bulking, you’re going to want a CALORIE SURPLUS, which means you will add 350 calories to your total.
If you’re cutting, you’re going to want a CALORIE DEFICIT, which means you will subtract 500 calories from your total.
This formula is very accurate in helping you determine how many calories are needed daily. However, it would help if you still remembered that different genes and metabolisms could cause varied results. If you keep proper track of your progress, you will know if you have to tweak your diet.
What To Eat While Bulking and Cutting
Your diet will be made up of whole foods consisting of the three major macronutrients: proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
You need to understand the ratio of each and which types of food to receive then from.
That amount of information is way too much to get into in this post, so when you’re done reading this, click over to my article called How to create a muscle-building diet.
Ignore the title; after reading it, you’ll better understand how to go about creating a nutrition plan, whether you’re bulking or cutting.
What To Eat While Bulking
You want to aim for 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight, so a 20 pound person would want to eat around 200 grams of protein per day.
Split this up between the 4 to 5 meals you eat per day; that way, your body can digest and use the highest amount of protein for each meal. Eating too much protein in one sitting can be useless because your body can only digest a certain amount.
Fats get a bad rap due to how dense they are in calories, but they are essential for hormone function and balance. Without the proper amount of fat in your diet, your testosterone levels will diminish, hindering your muscle growth.
Aim to get 20 to 30% of your daily calories from healthy fats.
Once you figure out the percentage of proteins and fats, you eat the rest of your diet comprised of carbohydrates.
Carbs also play a large part in hormone production, but most importantly, they are the primary fuel source to energize your workouts.
When you eat carbs, they break down into sugar or glycogen. Rough;y 80% of your workout is fueled by your glycogen stores.
What To Eat When Cutting
Protein helps you maintain your lean muscle during a cutting phase, and it will also help you stay and feel fuller longer.
You’ll want to aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight; if you’re 180 pounds, you’ll want to eat 180 grams of protein per day.
Being on any calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time will hinder hormone production; one way of countering this is to eat enough fats throughout the day.
Fats will also help you not feel like a lazy piece of crap while dieting.
Aim for 1g/kg of fat per day
Carbs will give you the energy you need to work out at a high intensity, even while on a calorie deficit.
Aim to eat 2g/kg of carbs per day
- Figure out if your body type requires you to bulk or cut
- Calculate your calorie needs to determine your nutrition plan
- Form a diet plan to meet your goals.
After you do these three steps, the rest is up to you; if you reach your goals or not, it will be in your control to make the changes you seek.