One of the oldest-running debates in the world of bodybuilding involves a method called “bulking and cutting.” A quick search of the internet will show you that bodybuilding experts are sharply divided on this subject. The subject is made even more confusing by the fact that both sides have good arguments. Both sides also have at least some scientific evidence in their favor.
What Is “Bulking And Cutting”?
“Bulking and cutting” is a two-stage bodybuilding method that is intended to provide large and well-defined muscles.
In the bulking stage, you attempt to pack on as much weight as you can. At the same time, you engage in a lot of strenuous physical activity so that the extra calories don’t just turn into pure fat. Done properly, this is a good way to pack on the muscle. The body requires extra calories in order to build muscle.
In the cutting stage, you attempt to cut away the excess fat that you acquired while you were bulking. The idea is to use proper nutrition and frequent exercise to preserve the muscle while burning only the excess fat. During this stage, you try to maintain a slight caloric deficit.
Does This Approach Work?
This approach does seem to be effective. Many bodybuilding experts have attested that the “bulk and cut” method can produce very good results. Like many older methods, it is based on trial and error rather than scientific research. This could be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.
However, we are not interested in simply finding a method that works. Most methods of bodybuilding will produce good results if applied correctly and diligently. It is far more important to consider which is the optimal method. In many ways, the “bulk and cut” method is inefficient. It’s hard to deny that you waste a lot of time by spending half your workout cycle getting fat.
In essence, you will be fat half of the time just so that you can have large and well-defined muscles the other half of the time. This roller-coaster approach doesn’t work well with dieting, and it doesn’t produce the best bodybuilding results either.
It’s also hard to deny that the results of “bulking and cutting” will likely be harder to maintain. There is never a point in the process where your eating habits stabilize. With a “bulk and cut” method, You’re always trying to eat too much or too little. Obviously, this is not a sustainable approach.
Can You Bulk And Cut At The Same Time?
Although it isn’t particularly well-known, there is a way to bulk and cut at the same time. It is a simple dietary solution that doesn’t require any real adjustment of your training regimen.
The answer concerns the relationship between carbohydrates and proteins. Without getting into a lot of complex chemistry-talk, the best way to describe it would be as such: Carbohydrates are a stored form of energy, and they are highly concentrated. Carbohydrates give your body more energy than it needs at a given moment, which is why they tend to end up being stored as fat.
Protein, on the other hand, is a form of energy that the body can use right away. There is an old and well-established connection between protein and muscle growth. Old-time bodybuilders had a thing for eating raw eggs. Although this practice isn’t entirely safe, It was effective because of the large amount of protein delivered to the body. The answer is to consume much more protein and much fewer carbs.
The Importance Of Protein
So, how important is protein intake to the growth of your muscles? Here’s one study that tried to find out. The results were interesting in more than one way.
First of all, the researchers found that those engaged in an intensive bodybuilding program have much higher protein needs than the average person. The number given was 100%, so that means a bodybuilder needs twice as much protein as the average person. they noted that this might only be true for the initial stages of muscle-building as opposed to maintenance training.
The study also found that small increases in protein intake did not make a noticeable difference in muscle growth. The main thing we can gather from this research is the fact that bodybuilders need double the protein, and that they will not see the results they desire without a highly significant increase.
What About Fasting?
There is an old myth that fasting is bad for bodybuilders. However, this does not appear to be completely true. Let’s be clear; there is some basis to this myth. It is a fact that, when your body is starving, it will use muscle and fat alike as a fuel source. This is why those who have poor nutrition cannot maintain muscle mass. So, starving yourself is not an effective form of weight loss overall.
However, there is some research to indicate that short-term fasting could be good for you. When we say short-term fasting, we mean 12-24 hours. Any more than that, and you will be at risk for muscle loss. The following study may be of interest.
Fasting induces a physical process called autophagy. Autophagy is a natural cleansing process by which the body removes dead cells and other biological garbage. Over time, dead cells can accumulate in the body and cause various problems. Fasting is probably the easiest and simplest way to induce autophagy.
The study found that autophagy also had certain mechanisms that inhibited muscle loss. In other words, your body is less likely to consume muscle tissue when it is in a state of autophagy. This study was conducted on rats, and it found that rats in an autophagic state actually had less muscle loss than the control group.
Overall, the method of “bulking and cutting” is not the most effective. If you really want to do things the hard way, no one is likely to stop you. However, by simply increasing your protein intake and reducing your carbohydrate intake, you can bulk and cut at the same time.
Your body will be getting all the protein it needs to build strong muscles. However, you won’t get the excess of calories that make you fat. Also, the occasional fast can be a good way to shed some pounds and clean out your system. Just make sure you don’t go longer than a single day.
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