Bulking vs. Cutting: Pros, Cons, and Comparison

Medically Reviewed on 7/26/2022
Bulking vs. Cutting
Bulking and cutting are phrases used in bodybuilding to describe a particular diet that emphasizes a calorie surplus or deficit.

Cutting and bulking are two phrases related to bodybuilding and gaining muscle.

  • Bulking involves consuming too many calories to gain muscle. Bodybuilders frequently bulk up to add to their muscle mass before competitions.
  • Cutting is the process of losing body fat while maintaining your muscular mass.

Both approaches are focused on diet. Bulking means eating more calories than your body burns and cutting means consuming fewer calories than you expend.

What is bulking?

The process of bulking involves gaining muscle mass. You should aim to consume more calories than your body expels. This will enable your body to develop muscle.

Weightlifting and resistance training is necessary to bulk up. Additionally, maintain a balanced diet high in protein and carbohydrates.

Bulking is typically where competitive bodybuilders invest most of their time. After that, three to four months before a tournament, they switch to cutting.

6 pros of bulking

  1. Builds more muscle
  2. Increases performance
  3. Amplifies bone density
  4. Promotes recovery time from workouts
  5. Increases strength

5 cons of bulking

  1. Must increase exercise to counterbalance weight gain
  2. If not done incorrectly, it increases body fat
  3. When your body fat percentage exceeds 20 percent, you are at an increased risk for negative health effects
  4. You might feel lethargic if you allow your body fat to get too high (this point will be different for each person)
  5. Due to your higher body fat percentage, your abs and muscle definition will appear less defined

What is cutting?

Cutting is the method for reducing body fat and weight. When trying to lose weight, you should try to consume fewer calories than your body expels. As a result, your body will start to lose weight and fat.

To lose weight, cardio is necessary. Also, concentrate on eating a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and protein.

Cutting can help you lose weight, but this process might reduce some muscle mass (slightly). The length of the cut depends on how much body fat you need to shed. You might need to go on a cutting regimen for several months if you have a lot of body fat.

4 pros of cutting

  1. Reduced body fat
  2. Greater muscle definition and a quicker reduction in body fat frequently result in increased self-assurance, motivation, and joy
  3. Improved blood values
  4. Improved athletic performance


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8 cons of cutting

  1. May lower bone density
  2. Can negatively impact your sleep
  3. This could result in disordered eating
  4. Can make you feel hungry
  5. Can cause modest muscle loss
  6. Can reduce some sex hormones and possibly harm potency and libido
  7. Can decrease body fat
  8. Nutrition must be more carefully monitored

Bulking vs. cutting

The main objectives of “the bulk phase” involve increasing body weight, strength, and muscles through an excess calorie intake. Bulking is referred to as “prioritization” or “targeting period” because it develops weaker muscle groups.

During the “cut phase,” the major objectives are to lose body fat, drop pounds, grow leaner, and keep the muscle mass that was built up during the “bulk phase.” To establish an energy deficit, calories are decreased and cardio could be increased. Cutting is also called “ripped,” “peeled” or “shredded.”

Make sure to get advice from an experienced and certified nutritionist before you start bulking and cutting.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/26/2022
Image Source: iStock image

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Nutrition Recommendations for Bodybuilders in the Off-Season: A Narrative Review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31247944/

Effect of Calorie Restriction on Mood, Quality of Life, Sleep, and Sexual Function in Healthy Nonobese Adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4905696/

Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know? https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know

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