After bulking up, how do you cut without losing muscle?
Okay so i am not a professional bodybuilder or a nutritionist or an expert in any field but i do have years of lifting as well as done several bulk and cut cycles. Also i've read and watched enough scientific studies on the body (i'm not talking about workout videos and bodybuilding youtubers, although some are great help. I'm referring to scientific texts etc.) So every thing i saw from here on is intended to be used as a guide or used as advice and not a full playbook.
So how do we do a cut after bulking without losing muscle. First and foremost, we are all presumably not on any kind of enhancing substance, not that there is anything wrong with it in my opinion, but those who do use enhancing substances i.e steroids will have an easier time with this question. Several factors come to play when you want to cut without losing muscles. There's obviously the thing where all of us know that we gain 5–10 pounds on a bulk but by the time you're 2–3 weeks into cutting, your muscles also seem to get smaller. Now keep in mind, because we are natural bodybuilders, we will definitley be losing muscle mass during a cut. It is inevitable. But in order to have the most successful cut and retain the most muscle mass possible, these factors come to play: Diet, supplements, workout, and time length. Let's get started
During a cut you are, of course, in a caloric deficit. Being in a caloric deficit means that you have to be burning more calories on that given day than the number of calories you intake. So what happens when we have to burn more calories yet try to retain muscle, which is something that your body also burns. Well, my best answer, and the most obvious answer is a high protein diet. Im not saying to only eat protein, but for the most part you need a lot of protein to keep your muscle. Protein is what your body uses to build your muscle and when you're in a cut, you essentially have to equal out that muscle burning. But on top of that, be sure to eat your vegetables and fruits. Obviously we know how a good diet goes so i wont go into it. Bodybuilders and fitness experts usually say have 1.5 grams of protein per body weight. To me and alot of scientific research, that is a bit too excessive. Usually those recommending to intake 1.5 grams per pound are professional bodybuilders who are juicing. For the average weightlifter like us, id say have 1.2 grams per pound. That should be enough protein a day to help with keeping that muscle.
This is what i do personally on a cut. Keep in mind, i do Intermittent Fasting year round and i try to stay muscular and somewhat lean year round. During the Fall and Winter, when im in my bulk, ill be at like 13–15% body fat and during the spring and summer when i cut, ill come down to about 9–11%. Not crazy lean but what can i do, i wanna stay natural. When i cut, im usually eating alot of lean bison meat from Costco and/or grilled chicken breast. Ill have maybe 2 servings of fruit (usually strawberries) throughout the day as a snack. The only big carb meals ill have is probably a pack of oatmeal in the morning and a cup and a half of brown rice for dinner cuz im chinese and you gotta have that rice. But mostly alot of meat
So for supplements, i really dont do anything different than what i take year round. Its literally just protein powder, BCAA's, pre-workout, and the weirdly controversial (idk why its controversial) CREATINE.
Protein powder is just such a great way to get in that protein intake goal. Its quick to drink, its efficient, its affordable, you dont have to cook it. We all know what it is, moving on
BCAA's or branch chain amino acids. This is gonna be a long one because BCAA's are VERY VERY VERY VERY important to not losing muscle mass on a cut. THE MOST IMPORTANT. okay so BCAA's are shown to be able to prevent muscle loss or even promote muscle gain. Here lemme just copy and paste a bunch of stuff.
"BCAAs preserve muscle glycogen stores – your muscles are loaded with glycogen which is another name for stored carbohydrate. Each muscle has its' own stores and those stores are local, i.e. the glycogen in your legs is for your leg muscles. There is also glycogen in your liver which can be used by any part of your body that needs it. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, your body is likely to turn to muscle to make extra fuel through a process called gluconeogenesis (making new glucose). Your workout will also grind to a halt. However, because BCAAs can be metabolised and used by your muscles for energy, glycogen stores will be preserved which, in turn, prevents muscle breakdown. Not losing muscle means your metabolism and performance are less likely to decline as a result. BCAAs help prevent unwanted muscle breakdown – exercise is catabolic which means it breaks your muscles down. Consuming BCAAs before, during, and after exercise can help prevent muscle breakdown which in turn will preserve your metabolic rate. BCAAs are also useful between meals and during diets that involve fasting for the exact same reason. BCAAs are a calorie-free way to recover after exercise – if you eat heartily after exercise, any damage to your muscles will be repaired so they can grow back bigger and stronger BUT if you are dieting for fat loss, you can't eat so much and that may undermine your recovery. BCAAs, despite being virtually calorie-free, play an important role in muscle growth and repair and can be used in place of protein to help kick start recovery. BCAAs help fire up fat loss – BCAAs increase fat burning which is obviously a big benefit when training or dieting for fat loss. The mechanisms through which BCAAs help with fat loss are still up for debate but it seems they increase glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity and, by boosting workout performance and preserving muscle mass, allow you to burn more calories during exercise. Also, a serving of whey protein powder contains 120 calories while a serving of BCAAs contains 10 calories or less so using BCAAS in place of at least some of your protein can save you a lot of calories. Branch chain amino acids can be very beneficial during a weight loss diet or exercise plan but they'll only work if you create a caloric deficit which forces your body to burn fat for fuel. However, if you are burning more calories than you need and want to avoid a loss of muscle and performance, BCAA supplementation can help."
So yeah there it is.
Creatine. So creatine is hella controversial for some reason people think that creatine is as unnatural as taking steroids so they call people who take creatine unnatural. This is dumb and false. Creatine is basically just something found in raw meet and it basically retains more stuff that your body can use for energy and it also retains alot of water weight in your muscles. So, because you have higher stores of energy, your workouts can exponentially be better and harder, which will lead to muscle damage and growth and help you gain muscle. Also because you retain water in your muscles, it kinda give the illusion that your muscles are big, which they are, but just partly water too. For more info about creatine, i recommend you watch the video made by Jeff Nippard: