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Bulking and cutting: learn the differences between the diets and understand how they work

If you practice bodybuilding or another sport, you may have heard of bulking and cutting . These terms are quite common among bodybuilders, but have gained popularity in the fitness world in general. But, after all, what do they mean?

O “bulking ” is a term derived from English “bulk“, that means “volume ” or “pasta “. It refers to the process of gaining muscle mass through diet. “During a bulking diet, practitioners seek to increase their muscle mass, often through a controlled caloric surplus and a specific training program”, explains Tatiane Schallitz, nutritionist at Instituto Nutrindo Idealis, to CNN .

Now the “cutting ” is the opposite process: it is the reduction of weight, especially body fat, through diet. The term is derived from the English “cut“, that means “cut “. “During the 'cutting' phase, the focus is on reducing the percentage of body fat, while maintaining the muscle mass gained during 'bulking'”, explains the nutritionist.

Schallitz explains that these strategies are part of preparing athletes for bodybuilding competitions, in addition to being common in sports such as powerlifting and martial arts. But bulking and cutting can also be beneficial for exercisers in general, even if they are not professionals.

“These strategies are fundamental as they allow you to adjust your body composition according to your specific goals, be it muscle mass gain or fat reduction,” he says.

How does bulking work?

During bulking, the goal is to increase muscle mass while minimizing fat gain. To achieve this, some strategies are fundamental, as Schallitz explains. Are they:

  • Have a calorie surplus : ingest more calories than are expended during the day. This is the main pillar for promoting muscle mass gain;
  • Nutrient-balanced diet : Protein consumption is essential to promote muscle mass gain, but there must also be the intake of other important nutrients for the process, such as complex carbohydrates, good fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Intensify strength training : weight training in this phase must be intense, with load progression to stimulate muscle hypertrophy.

During this process, an increase in body fat is common. “However, there are ways to minimize this gain through the appropriate alignment of the caloric surplus, selection of foods in the diet, meal times and training planning”, explains the nutritionist.

“To avoid excessive fat accumulation, it is essential to seek guidance from a qualified nutritionist to structure and calculate your dietary routine according to your specific goals”, he adds.

How does cutting work?

When cutting, as the focus is on losing fat and maintaining muscle mass, it is essential to follow two strategies, according to the expert:

  • Achieve a calorie deficit : reduce the amount of calories consumed in food so that less energy is consumed than is expended throughout the day;
  • Maintain resistance training : important to preserve muscle mass when losing weight. To do this, it is worth investing in both weight training and aerobic exercises to increase the calorie deficit.

It is worth remembering that, despite focusing on losing body fat, cutting can be part of a strategy for gaining muscle mass . “In the fitness world, the common approach is to alternate between periods of bulking and cutting,” says Schallitz. “This strategy allows you to maximize muscle gains while controlling fat accumulation, resulting in a more defined and vascular appearance.”

Furthermore, the nutritionist explains that, as it is common to gain fat during the bulking process, it may be necessary to implement cuttings or “mini cuttings” to control these fat levels, optimizing the hypertrophy process.

When should each strategy be initiated?

“The nutritional approach and training must be personalized according to the individual goals and specific needs of each person”, highlights Schallitz. To achieve this, it is essential to seek guidance from a sports nutritionist for nutrition and a physical educator for training.

In general, bulking becomes part of a person's eating strategy when weight and fat percentage reach healthy levels and gaining muscle mass becomes a goal. Cutting can come as a strategy before or after bulking, depending on the individual characteristics of each person.

“It is important to highlight that increased muscle mass not only contributes to improved body aesthetics and better athletic performance, but also offers a series of health benefits, such as reducing the chances of developing chronic diseases, reducing the risk of injuries and improves mobility in old age”, says the nutritionist.

Vegan and omnivorous diets promote equal muscle mass gain

Source: CNN Brasil

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