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Bulk vs Cut: Best Way to Build Muscles

Published on Jul 07, 2022


By Dr. Surya Bhagwati
Chief In- House Doctor
BAMS, DHA, DHHCM, DHBTC | 30+ Years of Experience

Bulk vs Cut: Best Way to Build Muscles

Have you ever been a witness to a body-building competition? When we see those contenders on stage, we wonder about the rigorous training they must have gone through for days leading to the competition to gain those muscles, to look that ripped.

These contending bodybuilders have to go through rigorous phases of bulking and cutting in order to be in the shape they are. There are various foods and fruits that can help cut fat or gain bulk.

So, what do we know about these phases? What should you go for - Bulk vs Cut? Which one is the better way to build muscles? 

What is Bulk?

Bulk is a period of strategic calorie consumption. It involves eating more calories than you need, in order to put on weight, and then building muscle via resistance training. The goal of a bulk-up is to gain muscle at a steady rate without gaining an unnecessary amount of fat.

What is a Cut?

The Cut, also called a shred, is a phase of eating at a calorie deficit. It involves eating fewer calories than you burn (and probably doing more cardio) in order to lose the fat. The goal of a cut is to maximize lean mass retention, maintaining muscle while dropping off body fat.

Bulk vs Cut: Pros and Cons

The pros and cons of Bulking are as follows:



Efficient recovery from exercise

Feeling of lethargy or inactiveness

Maximises muscle gain

A possibility of an increase in fat

Increases bone density

Decrease in athletic performance

Increases strength

General health can be affected


The pros and cons of Cutting are as follows: 



Improve muscle appearance

You may feel hungry

Improvement in general health

Sleep quality is affected

Promotes better athletic movement

Bone density is affected

Fat loss

Slight muscle loss along with fat is expected


When Should you Bulk vs Cut?

Bulking is a process of gaining muscle and cutting is for maintaining the muscle. When deciding to go for a bulk vs a shred, start with the measurement of body fat percentage.

If your body fat percentage is above 15-20% for men and around 25-30% for females, you would most likely start with a cut. The whole aim of a cut is fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. The general rule is to consume 500 calories below your usual calorie intake, losing 0.45 kg per week. But, the actual weight loss differs between people and may change over a while.

Anything below the mentioned body fat percentages you would start with bulk. Start with calculating maintenance calories. Various online calculators will give you an estimate of your maintenance calories. There should be a 10-20% calorie surplus in your diet with a daily protein intake of 0.7 - 1 gram per pound of body weight. It is also recommended to pair a bulk with high-intensity resistance training to maximize muscle gains

Tips for Bulking & Cutting

Some of the natural muscle gain tips that can be helpful in these phases are as follows:

  1. Drink plenty of water. Not just 6 to 7 glasses, but a glass of water for each hour you’re awake.
  2. Include green leafy vegetables in the diet. Try to consume them as a whole or in larger chunks.
  3. Cook your own meals to avoid indulging in outrageous cheat meals.
  4. Avoid excess consumption of sugar.
  5. Include protein in your diet.

Here’s a list of recommended exercises in the tips for building muscle:

  1. Bench press
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Leg Press
  4. Barbell row
  5. Lunges

Here’s a list of recommended exercises to help get cuts on your body:

  1. Squats and Chin-ups
  2. Crunches
  3. Seated Shoulder Presses
  4. Dips
  5. Bench press

You can also try Dr. Vaidya’s Herbobuild. Just 1 capsule twice a day, after meals, can help you gain a lean physique. It consists of natural herbs for muscle growth like Ashwagandha, Safed Musli, Kaunch Beej, and Methi which help in building lean muscle mass and boost athletic performance.

Foods that Cut Fat and Help Bulk

The bulking diet plan is in the ratio of 80:20. 80% of the muscle building foods should come from healthy and high-quality foods such as lean meats, fruits, veggies, complex carbs (rice, grains, legumes, starches, etc.), and healthy fats. The other 20% can be from unhealthy, fatty, and sugary foods that you wouldn’t usually eat on a “clean” diet.

In the cutting phase, it is important to reduce the weight i.e cut the fat without losing the muscle. The main aim here is maintaining the muscle. The foods consumed in the bulk and cut phase are largely similar and the only difference is the amount in consumption of these foods.

Some of the foods that can help cut Fat and help Bulk are:

  1. Healthy Fat: Avocado, Nuts, Peanut butter, and Seeds
  2. Lean Protein: Eggs, Chicken, Fish
  3. Carbs: Brown Rice, Quinoa, Rajma, Sweet Potatoes
  4. Fruits: Apples, Oranges, Plums, Banana, Pineapple
  5. Leafy Vegetables: Spinach, Lettuce, Broccoli, Cabbage

For a vegetarian bulking diet, you replace eggs, chicken, and fish with cottage cheese, tofu, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, and quinoa for lean protein.

Bulk Vs Cut: What’s the Best Way to Build Muscle?

When deciding to start a bulk vs cut, it is important to know what you want - a bulk body vs a cut body? If you want to gain muscle and strength and don't mind gaining a bit of fat in the process, you can go for a bulk - start with a calorie-dense diet. But, if you looking to lose fat and have a leaner muscle  appearance - start with a cut and a nutrient-rich diet along with a quality lean muscle gainer. It is also recommended to have a discussion with a registered trainer before starting any bulk vs cut regimes and diets.

FAQs on Bulk Vs Cut

Is it better to be bulk or cut?

It all depends on your body fat percentage, if your body fat percentage is greater than 20% for men, and over 30% for females, it would be better to start a cut regime. And if it's lower than 15% for men and 25% for females, it is recommended to start with bulk up.

At what body fat percentage do abs show?

Between the range of 10 to 14% of body fat, the ab muscles on a human body will be visible.

When should you stop cutting?

It depends on your BMI. Ideally, when your body fat percentage reaches 10 - 12% you can stop your cutting (the fat loss phase) regime.

Is bulking necessary to gain muscle?

Bulking helps to build muscle mass. If you are a beginner looking to gain muscle, you should start with a bulking regime.

Bulk Vs Cut: Which is harder?

It usually varies from person to person, but for some people, it is much easier to bulk up than to cut for better gains. It is known that the less advanced of a trainee you are, the faster your muscle growth rate.

Dr. Surya Bhagwati
BAMS (Ayurveda), DHA (Hospital Admin), DHHCM (Health Management), DHBTC (Herbal Beauty and Cosmetology)

Dr. Surya Bhagwati is an established, well-known Ayurvedic expert with over 30 years of experience in treating and consulting in the field of Ayurveda. She is known for the timely, efficient, and patient-centred delivery of quality health care. The patients under her care receive a unique holistic treatment comprising not only medicinal treatment but also spiritual empowerment.

1 comment

  • Rakesh
    Aug 17, 2022 at 18:57

    Nice blog


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