Should You Do A Cutting And Bulking Cycle?

cutting and bulking cycle

There are many different ways athletes work to increase muscle mass and strength, including cutting and bulking. This process involves strategic weight gain followed by weight loss to increase muscle while cutting down on fat.

What Is the Main Goal of Bulking?

Bulking is the process of consuming a calorie surplus to increase weight. By consuming more calories than you burn along with high-intensity resistance training, you can boost your muscle mass and overall strength.

Bulking must be done right to avoid gaining excess body fat instead of muscle. To do this, you first need to determine how many calories you need to consume to maintain your current weight. There are many online calculators available to help with this.

Next, you adjust your calories to include a 10-20% surplus [1].

Protein is an important factor in bulking. You want to make sure to consume adequate protein to help build that muscle mass. During bulking, aim to consume 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (roughly .7-1g per pound) [1].

Athletes usually do periods of bulking anywhere from 1 to 6 months at a time. The goal is to gain 0.25-0.5% of your body weight per week [1].

What Is the Main Goal of a Cutting Diet?

Cutting is the opposite of bulking. This is typically done following a bulking period where you consume fewer calories than you are burning. This helps to cut down on overall body fat while still maintaining the muscle mass you gained during bulking.

Similar to bulking, during periods of cutting you would take your total maintenance calories and adjust them for weight loss instead of weight gain.

Instead of increasing by a percentage, athletes will typically reduce their calorie intake by an average of 500 calories per day.

The goal during cutting is to create a gradual weight loss of 0.5-1% of total body weight per week. It’s important to avoid rapid bouts of weight loss as this can cause a loss in muscle mass. According to research, gradual weight loss is the best approach for maintaining muscle mass.

Cutting is done for a shorter period than bulking, about 2-4 months [2, 3].

Is It OK to Eat Junk Food During Bulking?

Even though you are trying to put weight on, you don’t want that weight to be fat. During this period it’s important to focus on nutrient-dense foods that are higher in calories. For example, healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and seeds, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.

You can also rely on supplements to help you through this period as long as you are choosing products that contain a good nutrition profile. For example, Naked Nutrition’s chocolate chip protein cookies are an easy way to increase calories and protein when you have a sweet tooth or are on the run without reaching for sugar-laden treats.

Limit high-calorie processed food items to moderation. You can still enjoy them occasionally but we don’t want to choose these items just because they are high in calories.

How to Change Diet During the Cutting Period?

During the cutting phase, it’s important to continue to choose nutrient-dense foods but opt for those lower in calories to help you meet your goals. This includes lean cuts of protein, low-fat dairy products, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

You are essentially choosing the same foods but limiting those that are high in calories such as nuts, seeds, avocado, and plant oils.

Should I Add Cardio During Cutting?

In addition to consuming a calorie deficit, those in the cutting phase will typically incorporate more cardiovascular activities to promote fat burning.

During this phase, you will not likely be able to lift as heavy because you are reducing your energy intake. Since the goal is to reduce body fat, cardiovascular exercise is often favored.

You also want to continue doing strength training during this time to protect the muscle mass you gained during the bulking phase [2].

Is Bulking/Cutting Safe

If done correctly, bulking and cutting can be safe. Anyone who plans to try this strategy must be comfortable with the changes they need to make in their diet and exercise routine to be successful.

Bulking and cutting are not for everyone. The biggest mistake people make when trying this strategy is not consuming the right foods or the correct amounts of them.

If you are interested in trying bulking or cutting but aren’t sure how to go about it, consult your local Registered Dietitian for guidance.

Is There a Better Approach to Achieving a Fit And Healthy Body?

Health and fitness is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are many different ways you can be more active and choose a healthy diet in a way that is very different from the next person.

What is most important is that you are choosing a routine that works best for you, your lifestyle, and goals.

Nicole Middleton
Nicole calls herself a typical millennial girl and thrives on her share of social media, celebrity gossip, and all things viral content. She’s a big fan of pop music and plays the guitar as a hobby.