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View Full Version : Why Cut when you can get Bigger, Stronger And Leaner..?

arctic
01-26-2011, 05:12 PM
Can I rely on these numbers and calorie calculators? I must be missing something here..

"To Bulk or Cut, That is the Question - or is it?" Article:
http://www.wannabebig.com/diet-and-nutrition/to-bulk-or-to-cut-that-is-the-question-or-is-it/

Quick Cliff notes on the article: If you want be 200 lbs @ 10%, eat like your maintenance is 200 lbs@ 10%.

The article makes sense. In the discussion thread it's pretty much agreed that the person (who is bulking up to their goal) will begin by gaining fat but will eventually lean out once their target lean body mass is reached and they continue with the maintenance diet. (ie If someone is 175@15% begins eating like someone who is 200@10% they will get fatter at first due to increased calories but eventually lean out once their weight/lbm catches up)

My question is given certain situations and goals (person's current composition and future goal), is it possible to gain a fair amount of lean muscle without much (if at all) change in body fat percentage?

In my case I'm 5' 8", 150 lbs, 13% body fat, 130# lbm. Maintenance cal = roughly 2,400
A hypothetical goal would be: 160 lbs, 10% body fat, 144# lbm. Maintenance cal = roughly 2,600

I say "roughly" only to keep the numbers round, but they're nearly spot on. Various calculators that use different equations (Miffline -St Jeor, Katch-McCardle, Harris-Benedict) give the nearly the same numbers.

According to these calculations I can reach my hypothetical goal with almost no change in bf % along the way, in fact it should begin decreasing rather quickly depending on how fast the muscle grows. I thought this was interesting because I'm currently cutting to lean out but in actuality I can grow bigger and leaner by simply changing my macros and taking in an extra 200 calories above my maintenance (600 above my cutting cals) and get even better results.

Not only can I eat more, I'll get bigger, leaner and stronger with no compromises. The only downside I can think of is that it'll be faster to cut down to 10% from my current state than it'll be to grow (and lean out) to 160 @ 10%.

Am I misunderstanding something here? I was always under the impression that you can't make significant gains in size without compromising bf% along the way. Please share your thoughts. Feel free to school me, I'm no expert.

Dan Fanelli
01-26-2011, 05:52 PM
You are kinda on the right track, but you are taking all of those numbers and calculators too literally. In the real world, the body doesn't work out quite that way. Its probably going to take more than +200kcals to get you up to 160lbs. If the body was seperate from any change and all you needed to do was eat more, then you'd need about a surplus of 3500x10 = 350000 kcals. At 200kcals per day thats about 175 days.

The problem is, it doesn't work out this way. Your daily calorie expenditure flucuates, as well as your intake (even if you think you are counting things perfectly).

Most likely at first, your body is going to try to maintain its current weight. You may eat an extra 200kcals a day, and your expenditure might go up 100.

So, IMO the best bet would be to go beyond this +200kcal per day calorie intake. I'd also recommend a higher goal than 160, but thats your preference. You could always shoot for 170 (which will get you to 160 quicker) and then decide to reduce if needed.

One problem with the methods in that article is "diminishing returns". The further you are from your target, the faster you'll approach it. But as you get closer, your progress will slow drastically. The best way to overcome this is to overshoot your goals to create more "distance". The same thing would work for BF%. If you reached 160lbs but were still at 13%, you could theoretically eventually hit 10% by just eating at that maintanence and training hard. But who knows how long it will take. Instead you might have to change your goal to 160 @ 8%, which should make things faster.

The only other thing I can say, is that at some point "advanced methods" might be needed.... It will depend on your goals and genetics. Its very possible you could take the 'end goal route' as suggested in that article and make it all the way to your goal. Or, somewhere along the way, you may have to get a bit more complicated to keep things going.

But you are definately on the right track. I'd start with the weight goal of 160-170, and a reasonable time frame for that goal. Then just eat to make it happen, and train hard. Worry about widdling away the fat later on.

Behemoth
01-26-2011, 06:43 PM
Your plan will never work unless you want to devote 10 years to a gain of 14lbs of LBM.

Can you grow without gaining any bodyfat? Yeah a bit at first. That's going to slow very quickly and you'll basically spin your wheels like 90% of the people you see in the gym who don't ever change in physique from year to year. It's hypothetically possible but the effort you'd put in would not be worth the return IMO.

4g64fiero
01-26-2011, 07:16 PM
I know most people gain muscle and body fat at the same time, but do you gain enough muscle typically to atleast maintain the same body fat %?

It seems I can atleast maintain my body fat% although I know I am not gaining just muscle.

Dan Fanelli
01-26-2011, 07:55 PM
I know most people gain muscle and body fat at the same time, but do you gain enough muscle typically to atleast maintain the same body fat %?

It seems I can atleast maintain my body fat% although I know I am not gaining just muscle.

Probably not..... If you are 13% BF then 87% of every pound you gain would have to be fat free mass to maintain the same overall %. 50/50 or maybe up to 70/30 is possible.

Also, consider that it takes much longer to build muscle than it does to lose fat. You can spend 12 weeks gaining 10lbs (some fat, some muscle) and then cut for 3-4 weeks and lose 10 lbs (some fat, some muscle)

4g64fiero
01-27-2011, 11:39 AM
Probably not..... If you are 13% BF then 87% of every pound you gain would have to be fat free mass to maintain the same overall %. 50/50 or maybe up to 70/30 is possible.

Also, consider that it takes much longer to build muscle than it does to lose fat. You can spend 12 weeks gaining 10lbs (some fat, some muscle) and then cut for 3-4 weeks and lose 10 lbs (some fat, some muscle)
Ahh I see. I would have to gain at a 80/20 rate and you say that is not naturally possible for someone who has been weightlifting for a while I presume. Its working for me now because I havent ever consistently lifted until this past september because of injuries from other sports.

What doesnt make sense, is the article on this website that talks about just eating like you are 200lbs at 10% if thats what you want to be. At some point on that diet, you are going to have to be gaining muscle at a much higher pace than your body fat in order to go from 190lbs@ 14% to 200 lbs @ 10%. Thats where the info conflicts. Some say it can happen, some say it cant.

I have been to scared to "cut" cause I'll be damned if I am going to needlessly lose strength and muscle I worked for because I didnt understand nutrition haha.

Codeguru
01-27-2011, 11:56 AM
I've tried the whole gain strength while losing fat thing. It worked to a point but that point was limited, and I just couldn't seem to go any further with it at that certain low weight. Eating more means faster muscle building results by a lot and it really doesn't take that long to lose the weight when you feel like you want to. I now usually I go by when my face gets a bit too "fat" for my liking, though the chin dangle is gone for good, because it's easier to tell when my face changes shape than looking for the slight layer of fat that has been added all over my body...

Codeguru

Kiff
01-27-2011, 01:57 PM
A question in reply to Rory's post here.

Behemoth
Your plan will never work unless you want to devote 10 years to a gain of 14lbs of LBM.

Are you saying that muscle gain is at a set rate. IE if it is a clean or dirty bulk you can only gain a set amount a year? Or does the amount of LBM you put on increase if you let the fat increase with it?

Just a complete newbie question to nutrition.

Is it a ratio of say 2:1 or is it a set amount of LBM no matter what fat level is increased too?

chevelle2291
01-27-2011, 02:01 PM
A question in reply to Rory's post here.

Are you saying that muscle gain is at a set rate. IE if it is a clean or dirty bulk you can only gain a set amount a year? Or does the amount of LBM you put on increase if you let the fat increase with it?

Just a complete newbie question to nutrition.

Is it a ratio of say 2:1 or is it a set amount of LBM no matter what fat level is increased too?

I'll let the diet master answer more definitively, but I believe what Rory is saying is that, sure, one could likely stay very presentable while adding lean mass doing it the way OP stated, but it would be SLLOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW and one would be much better off allowing a certain level of fat gain to accumulate while at the same time accumulating appreciable lean mass quicker than one would see trying to stay incredibly lean the entire time.

Behemoth
01-27-2011, 04:45 PM
A question in reply to Rory's post here.

Are you saying that muscle gain is at a set rate. IE if it is a clean or dirty bulk you can only gain a set amount a year? Or does the amount of LBM you put on increase if you let the fat increase with it?

Just a complete newbie question to nutrition.

Is it a ratio of say 2:1 or is it a set amount of LBM no matter what fat level is increased too?

Obviously a higher intake has a better chance of gaining you more muscle. But at a certain point it's not worth it, the minuscule amount of more muscle you'd gain would come with a plethora of bodyfat.

There's almost certainly a cap to how fast the body can gain muscle. Trying to find yours would likely leave you gaining 20:1 fat to muscle. Maybe, and this a big maybe, you could gain more muscle eating 12,000 calories than you could eating 10,000 calories... but the difference would be so negligible and all you'd really end up with is stretchmarks and heart attacks.

I'll let the diet master answer more definitively, but I believe what Rory is saying is that, sure, one could likely stay very presentable while adding lean mass doing it the way OP stated, but it would be SLLOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW and one would be much better off allowing a certain level of fat gain to accumulate while at the same time accumulating appreciable lean mass quicker than one would see trying to stay incredibly lean the entire time.

Yeah. People want to talk about recomping and whatnot and while I don't discredit it as possible. It should really be looked at closer. Apart from complete rookies or complete genetic freaks, the primary change most people see in their "recomps" is mostly just walking around without gradually reducing bloat.

It's possible to some extent if you're way off your setpoint also. But for most people in most situations it's an exercise in futility unless the only change they're looking for is very minor to begin with.

Dan Fanelli
01-27-2011, 04:56 PM
What doesnt make sense, is the article on this website that talks about just eating like you are 200lbs at 10% if thats what you want to be. At some point on that diet, you are going to have to be gaining muscle at a much higher pace than your body fat in order to go from 190lbs@ 14% to 200 lbs @ 10%. Thats where the info conflicts. Some say it can happen, some say it cant.

I have been to scared to "cut" cause I'll be damned if I am going to needlessly lose strength and muscle I worked for because I didnt understand nutrition haha.

Some of the other guys' posts address some fo this. The problem is, there are so many variables, and there is no "proof" as to what works best.

In theory, the method within that article will work. As I said in a previous post though, the closer you get to your goal, the slower your progress will be. This is usually the same with all methods though.

Calorie balance determines weight, and has some effects on body composition. But there are many other factors affecting what % of your weight comes from fat and what % comes from lean mass. Resistance training, macro %, and nutrient timing are going to be the 3 biggest factors for this.

On the other side of things, its hard to argue against the "bulk / cut" approaches. This is the way bodybuilders have always done it, and it has worked well for the most part. The only thing with this method, is you are going to have to vary your body weight and diet to some extent.

I believe both methods can work very well, and it just depends on your needs. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Either way, the best thing is to be consistant and monitor your progress, and make adjustments as needed.

01-27-2011, 06:20 PM
All these calculations seem somewhat over the top, since different people are going to respond to different stimuli, and there are various other factors that will also come into play. Genetics being the main factor that comes to mind, which then leads into the age old bodyfat setpoint debate and so on and so forth. I would recommend increasing calories slowly over an extended period of time. You will know that you are increasing calories too much when you begin gaining fat at an increased rate while lean body mass gains remain the same.

Yamar
01-27-2011, 06:21 PM
What you are really asking if you can maintain the same bodycomposition.