Bulking vs Cutting – Debunking the Myth

Bulking vs Cutting – Debunking the Myth

If you have been in the fitness industry, whether that be amateur or professional, you are bound to hear the phrase ‘I’m bulking’ or ‘I’m cutting’. But is bulking really necessary to gain muscle or is it just a bunch of hype? Then if there is benefit to bulking, should you dirty bulk or clean bulk?

What does it mean?

Bulking refers to when you eat excess amounts of calories in order to gain weight and therefore potentially gain muscle. After a bulking cycle, an athlete typically goes on a ‘cut’ which means they decrease calories below maintenance in order to get leaner. There are two types of bulking: clean bulking and dirty bulking. Dirty bulking is when you eat whatever foods you want in order to gain weight and therefore gain muscle. This means you can eat food that you would typically think of as ‘unhealthy’. Foods such as pizza, burgers, fries, chips, tacos, burritos, etc. Clean bulking is when you are allowed to only eat healthy ‘clean’ foods that you are allowed to eat on whatever diet plan you are on. If you are on a low fat diet, that means chicken and rice, lean steak and vegetables, etc.

Benefits to Bulking

There are some benefits to bulking that most people know of. First of all, you do not have to restrict your calories to maintenance or below maintenance. Which allows you to feel fuller and satiated rather than being slightly hungry in a calorie deficit. If you are someone who is dirty bulking, it also allows you to satisfy your cravings for certain foods that you like. Which allows you to keep your sanity for longer. It also allows you to ‘reset’ your system in a way. Your body is very adaptable and quickly gets used to any type of habit. If you eat healthy foods for a couple weeks and then you eat something unhealthy, your body gets different types of minerals, nutrients, and chemicals that it hadn’t had in those couple weeks you ate healthy. It is thought that by doing this, you are able to bypass plateaus and continue losing weight after you enter the cutting phase of your diet plan.

Negatives to Bulking

There are a few health concerns when going on a bulk. The first is developing an eating disorder. By binge eating on healthy or unhealthy foods that are over your daily calorie expenditure and then weeks later cutting your calories and restricting yourself of food. Overtime you would develop an eating disorder. Depending on the strength of your cravings, you could end up binging and falling off your diet and gaining a large amount of weight. With this you could develop insulin resistance. Which means that the release of insulin in your body to transport glucose into muscle cells or fat cells would either be significantly slowed or even completely stopped. This will lead to diabetes which as a result could lead to significant weight gain and fat accumulation. With the additional fat deposits on your body, you are at higher risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, fatty liver, and development of gynocomastia in men.


There are a few alternatives that you can do if you want to gain muscle mass but reduce the amount of fat mass that you gain. In order to gain muscle mass, your body requires micro-tears in the muscle, protein synthesis, and growth hormone. Now by growth hormone, I am not talking about pro-hormones or steroids. In order for your muscle to grow, you must first tear down the muscle. Through physical exercise and resistance training, you can create these small micro-tears in your muscle fibers. After these tears are created, protein synthesis needs to take place in order to fill in the gaps of those tears to create a larger and longer muscle. Protein is an essential and important macronutrient during protein synthesis. Almost every cell in your body requires protein. The last step to gaining muscle mass is the release of growth hormone in the body. This typically happens when we are sleeping. If you want to supplement, GABA is a great product in order increase the ability to produce more growth hormone. GABA stands for gamma-Aminobutyric acid which is the principle neurotransmitter that is responsible for reducing the excitability of neurons and it also regulates muscle tone. A few products that I have personally taken and recommend is either GABA capsules or Somatomax which should be taken prior to going to bed. This is one of the most crucial steps in increasing muscle mass that most people overlook. You must get enough quality sleep to repair and rebuild your muscles after physical exercise. GABA allows your mind to calm down so that you can relax and sleep better.

Instead of bulking at all and gaining some muscle and fat mass, a better method would be to practice control. The majority of your day, week, month, and year should be focused on attaining the body that you want. If you have some fat to lose, the last thing you should do is bulk. Bulking will only make you fatter and make you have a higher risk of disease. By utilizing portion control and allowing yourself to eat the foods you crave from time to time, it will allow you to reach those goals. By eating the foods you crave when they begin, your likelihood of failing is a lot smaller. Now you also need to hold back when eating that food that you crave. Instead of eating a whole donut, cut it in half. Eat only half or if you do decide to eat the whole doughnut, eat half now and half later. This way you will satisfy your craving when it starts and you still get to eat the same amount of calories, just extended longer.

If you are fairly skinny and need to gain weight, what you eat doesn’t matter as much as someone who needs to lose weight. The reason for this is because genetically, you have a higher metabolism which means you have a faster digestion and absorption time. Now having that being said, I’m not saying that you should eat McDonald’s everyday. Your meals should be a lot larger and you might even need to force yourself to eat to get the calories in. Now what diet you follow is all personal preference. I prefer to do the Ketogenic, Atkins, or Paleo diet simply because its easier for me to eat the foods that I love with simple substitutions then to restrict myself to eating the so called ‘bro’ foods.

So in the end, bulking is a complete waste of time. You are ingesting more calories than your body needs in hopes of gaining a few pounds of muscle from it. You might gain a few pounds of muscle, but you’ll also gain double, triple, or even quadruple the amount of fat. You are placing your health at risk for 5-10 pounds of muscle! I know, because I’ve done it! When you can reap all the benefits of being on a nutrition plan that will get you to your goal faster and allow you to keep most if not all of your muscle gains.

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