Cut? Bulk? Need some guidance please...?

brillmer
brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
Hi friendly friends,

I have been at this for about 9-10 months now. I have lost 75 pounds in that time. I went from 240lbs and 35% body fat to 165lbs and 14% body fat.

Here are some progress pics:

Before
oVBgMeC.jpg

Current
uMSVcBm.jpg

I am kind of lost right now though. For the first 4 months of my journey, I focused strictly on food. In January, I started going to the gym. The first few months were just random splits and cardio.. I was stuck around 190 pounds for Jan-Feb.

In March, I started doing StrongLifts 5x5. I did that for 8 weeks, and since then (aside from a back injury which kept me side tracked for 3 weeks) I have been doing Kris Gethins 12 week Trainer. I am about to finish the 5th week.

My question comes down to my food / diet / nutritional intake.

I don't know how many calories I should be eating anymore. So ****ing confused.. I don't know if I should be trying to "cut" or "bulk".

I've heard that you can't really gain muscle when eating in a deficit... So I recently upped my calories to about 2200 per day. Since then though.. I have been feeling lethargic.. Fat.. Bloated.. I don't know.. Just depressed and losing motivation. Maybe this is because I have been so used to seeing my scale go down, and now I am seeing it stay around the same - or even go up.. So it's causing my mind to have a reaction I am not particularly enjoying. I know I shouldn't care about the scale or the number, and I preach this to many people as well.. That its just a number and of course it will constantly fluctuate.. and to focus on body composition.. But I guess its easier said than done.

I have a pretty good grasp on this whole thing.. But I feel like I could really use some help or guidance on this.

My numbers:

25 years old
5'7
165
14% body fat
I lift 4-5 times a week, and do cardio every day (as per the Kris Gethin 12 week trainer)
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/kris-gethin-12-week-daily-trainer.html

Thanks in advance, fit friends.

Replies

  • Greenrun99
    Greenrun99 Posts: 2,065 Member
    How many calories were you eating before when you were losing weight? Your TDEE with a cut was probably around 2100-2200 or even higher, so you may have been under eating the whole time you were losing.. And if your at 14% BF right now, if you are looking for definition and abs.. I would say bulk for a few months, lift heavy weights, 5x5 etc, then cut at a correct amount from TDEE..
  • ChitownFoodie
    ChitownFoodie Posts: 1,563 Member
    I am going to bump this for you. I did a cycle of bulking, then recomping, never bothered with the cut so I don't feel like I could give you any real insight.
  • Bettyeditor
    Bettyeditor Posts: 327 Member
    I'm not an expert, but I know some people eat a surplus on the days they lift and a deficit on non-lifting days. But average their appropriate deficit overall (such as 15% less than they burn, overall).

    Maybe if you wore a device like a BodyMedia Fit you would know for sure how much you burn and you would know for sure what your -15% cut is, so you could feel more confident that you are eating the right amount. It's not necessary to eat -15% every day, just for the week on average.

    What can help with ignoring the scale is to track your measurements and your body fat %. Does your scale measure BF%?

    It can also help to add people on your friend list who are doing the same thing (attempting to build muscle while losing, and who are doing it the right way) so you can observe their example and can encourage you.

    You are doing great, so best of luck to you!!
  • jwdieter
    jwdieter Posts: 2,583 Member
    Take a look at when and what you're eating. 2200 shouldn't be difficult. Maybe you have an intolerance to something you're loading up on.

    Is that net 2200 or total?
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    How many calories were you eating before when you were losing weight? Your TDEE with a cut was probably around 2100-2200 or even higher, so you may have been under eating the whole time you were losing.. And if your at 14% BF right now, if you are looking for definition and abs.. I would say bulk for a few months, lift heavy weights, 5x5 etc, then cut at a correct amount from TDEE..

    Generally speaking I was around 1800. The first handful of months I wasn't working out so it was even less, probably closer to 1500.

    I realized recently that I have pretty much been under eating the entire time.

    I was thinking basically what you said makes the most sense - to eat more and focus on a bulk for the remainder of my kris gethin trainer (7 more weeks of ridiculously intense lifting).. and then re-evaluate afterwards.

    Thanks for your post
  • jakesfitness
    jakesfitness Posts: 123 Member
    hey congrats on the success so far! but while bulking you are going to see your weight either go up a little or stay the same... my last bulk i went up 15 lbs over 2 and a half months, and then had a 3 week cut and dropped about 7 or 8 lbs of that weight... if your bulking you want to see your numbers slowly rise, you are after all trying to put on mass. the cut is where you drop the body fat you put back on...

    oh yeah btw while bulking i gained about 1.5% body fat, but dropped 2% in the cut. so dont worry about that man you sound like your on the right track to me.
  • jakesfitness
    jakesfitness Posts: 123 Member
    How many calories were you eating before when you were losing weight? Your TDEE with a cut was probably around 2100-2200 or even higher, so you may have been under eating the whole time you were losing.. And if your at 14% BF right now, if you are looking for definition and abs.. I would say bulk for a few months, lift heavy weights, 5x5 etc, then cut at a correct amount from TDEE..

    Generally speaking I was around 1800. The first handful of months I wasn't working out so it was even less, probably closer to 1500.

    I realized recently that I have pretty much been under eating the entire time.

    I was thinking basically what you said makes the most sense - to eat more and focus on a bulk for the remainder of my kris gethin trainer (7 more weeks of ridiculously intense lifting).. and then re-evaluate afterwards.

    Thanks for your post

    i do think you were under eating... i was eating 3k during the bulk weighing 165 when i started... dropped it to 2000-2200 during the cut.
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    Take a look at when and what you're eating. 2200 shouldn't be difficult. Maybe you have an intolerance to something you're loading up on.

    Is that net 2200 or total?

    The 2200 right now is total- with calories burned from exercise.

    I eat incredibly clean and healthy. I have been eating more or less the same base of foods for the entirety of my progress.

    Cut out all refined/processed garbage.. Replaced with LOTS of chicken, fish, eggs, oats and other complex carbs like sweet potatoes and quinoa, and of course.. LOTS of veggies and water.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,038 Member
    Same height as you and at 25 I competed in my 3rd bodybuilding contest at a "ripped" weight of 159lbs. Currently at 188lbs at 49 and still "beefy" but still lots of definition.
    If you're looking to put on muscle, then bulk up and eat more. If you're looking to just get fitter, eat maintenance and do HIIT.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal/Group FitnessTrainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    hey congrats on the success so far! but while bulking you are going to see your weight either go up a little or stay the same... my last bulk i went up 15 lbs over 2 and a half months, and then had a 3 week cut and dropped about 7 or 8 lbs of that weight... if your bulking you want to see your numbers slowly rise, you are after all trying to put on mass. the cut is where you drop the body fat you put back on...

    oh yeah btw while bulking i gained about 1.5% body fat, but dropped 2% in the cut. so dont worry about that man you sound like your on the right track to me.

    Yeah. That makes sense. Thanks. I guess I'll hide my scale for a few months lol. :P
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    How many calories were you eating before when you were losing weight? Your TDEE with a cut was probably around 2100-2200 or even higher, so you may have been under eating the whole time you were losing.. And if your at 14% BF right now, if you are looking for definition and abs.. I would say bulk for a few months, lift heavy weights, 5x5 etc, then cut at a correct amount from TDEE..

    Generally speaking I was around 1800. The first handful of months I wasn't working out so it was even less, probably closer to 1500.

    I realized recently that I have pretty much been under eating the entire time.

    I was thinking basically what you said makes the most sense - to eat more and focus on a bulk for the remainder of my kris gethin trainer (7 more weeks of ridiculously intense lifting).. and then re-evaluate afterwards.

    Thanks for your post

    i do think you were under eating... i was eating 3k during the bulk weighing 165 when i started... dropped it to 2000-2200 during the cut.

    I guess just being a former fatty.. Eating so much is scary. Even if I am working out a lot
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    Same height as you and at 25 I competed in my 3rd bodybuilding contest at a "ripped" weight of 159lbs. Currently at 188lbs at 49 and still "beefy" but still lots of definition.
    If you're looking to put on muscle, then bulk up and eat more. If you're looking to just get fitter, eat maintenance and do HIIT.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal/Group FitnessTrainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    Alright then. Makes sense. Thank you for your input.
  • tomcornhole
    tomcornhole Posts: 1,084 Member
    This is what I am doing:

    I am 6 ft, 185 lbs and 15.6% BF, 156 lbs LBM. I lost 70 lbs to get here and it took me 14 months to do it. When I got to my goal weight of 185 lbs, I could not decide what to do next. Go to 175 lbs and 10% BF? Go to maintenance and be happy? Start a bulk?

    I decided to approach it very methodically by changing one thing at a time and evaluating the results:

    1. Maintain weight and workout regimen. I added 100 cal / week for 4 weeks until I got to my maintenance calories. All I changed was calories in. Workout and macros stayed the same as when I was cutting. That has been fairly easy to do and I am 6 weeks into this step. My weight has been 185 lbs +-2 lbs and I am now convinced I have nailed my maintenance calories. I got a BodPod when I started maintenance so I know my BF% (15.6%) and LBM (156 lbs). I consider this step complete.

    2. Focus on getting stronger while maintaining weight. This is where I am now. I am doing 5/3/1 and adding strength every week. I will adjust calories and macros as required to maintain weight. I will use the mirror to measure my progress. I will do a BodPod once I stop adding strength to see where I am BF% wise.

    3. Once I stop being able to add strength while maintaining 185 lbs, then I will have to make a decision. I am anticipating little change in LBM from step 2. But I am hopeful that I might be able to get a slight body recomposition of reduced fat and increased LBM in step 2. If the BodPod indicates I can lose fat and gain LBM while not adding weight (even if it is slow), I will continue with #2 until I get to 10-12% BF. Might take years, but I'm not in a hurry.

    4. Party like it's 1999

    Hope this helps. Controlled changes with defined and measurable steps is key, IMHO. Change too much at once and you cannot isolate the variables and correlate the results.

    Tom
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,772 Member
    Just my $.02 but I think you'd benefit greatly from just eating maintenance for awhile..get those calories straightened out and continue to lift, etc. You'd be amazed at the progress you can make just eating maintenance, plus it'll give you some time to come to terms psychologically after what has been a pretty long haul diet wise.

    At this point, I'd really start trying to focus in on specific fitness goals and adapt your training and eating around those goals...again, spend some time at maintenance and really hone in there and start thinking about some very specific fitness goals. I did this for about three months before I decided that I actually want to cut a bit more...you're at a slightly lower BF% than me, so that might not be where you want to go...but a few months of maintenance will do you mind and body good. My fitness goals are quite a bit different than they were just three months ago having spent some real time determining those goals.
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    This is what I am doing:

    I am 6 ft, 185 lbs and 15.6% BF, 156 lbs LBM. I lost 70 lbs to get here and it took me 14 months to do it. When I got to my goal weight of 185 lbs, I could not decide what to do next. Go to 175 lbs and 10% BF? Go to maintenance and be happy? Start a bulk?

    I decided to approach it very methodically by changing one thing at a time and evaluating the results:

    1. Maintain weight and workout regimen. I added 100 cal / week for 4 weeks until I got to my maintenance calories. All I changed was calories in. Workout and macros stayed the same as when I was cutting. That has been fairly easy to do and I am 6 weeks into this step. My weight has been 185 lbs +-2 lbs and I am now convinced I have nailed my maintenance calories. I got a BodPod when I started maintenance so I know my BF% (15.6%) and LBM (156 lbs). I consider this step complete.

    2. Focus on getting stronger while maintaining weight. This is where I am now. I am doing 5/3/1 and adding strength every week. I will adjust calories and macros as required to maintain weight. I will use the mirror to measure my progress. I will do a BodPod once I stop adding strength to see where I am BF% wise.

    3. Once I stop being able to add strength while maintaining 185 lbs, then I will have to make a decision. I am anticipating little change in LBM from step 2. But I am hopeful that I might be able to get a slight body recomposition of reduced fat and increased LBM in step 2. If the BodPod indicates I can lose fat and gain LBM while not adding weight (even if it is slow), I will continue with #2 until I get to 10-12% BF. Might take years, but I'm not in a hurry.

    4. Party like it's 1999

    Hope this helps. Controlled changes with defined and measurable steps is key, IMHO. Change too much at once and you cannot isolate the variables and correlate the results.

    Tom
    Great post. Good thought process. Thank you for your input.
    Just my $.02 but I think you'd benefit greatly from just eating maintenance for awhile..get those calories straightened out and continue to lift, etc. You'd be amazed at the progress you can make just eating maintenance, plus it'll give you some time to come to terms psychologically after what has been a pretty long haul diet wise.

    At this point, I'd really start trying to focus in on specific fitness goals and adapt your training and eating around those goals...again, spend some time at maintenance and really hone in there and start thinking about some very specific fitness goals. I did this for about three months before I decided that I actually want to cut a bit more...you're at a slightly lower BF% than me, so that might not be where you want to go...but a few months of maintenance will do you mind and body good. My fitness goals are quite a bit different than they were just three months ago having spent some real time determining those goals.

    I like this. This sounds like a good idea, especially for me.

    I'll up my calories to 2500 and continue doing my Kris Gethin trainer until I am done. I can re-evaluate in a few months.
  • jwdieter
    jwdieter Posts: 2,583 Member
    I hit a wall at 2600 a couple days ago. Tried to just sit down and chow, but gave up. Which is fine since I'm running maintenance.

    Point being, if you're net 2200 and eating back cals, you can definitely hit satiation. Nothing to be overly concerned with. If you were grossing 2200, would be a different story. Probably running around maintenance with the net 2200, coming off a lower cal diet, and the body config in the photos. As a side note, might want to get a bodpod or hydro bf analysis if you haven't.

    Agree with the eat at maintenance for a bit while lifting advice.
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    I hit a wall at 2600 a couple days ago. Tried to just sit down and chow, but gave up. Which is fine since I'm running maintenance.

    Point being, if you're net 2200 and eating back cals, you can definitely hit satiation. Nothing to be overly concerned with. If you were grossing 2200, would be a different story. Probably running around maintenance with the net 2200, coming off a lower cal diet, and the body config in the photos. As a side note, might want to get a bodpod or hydro bf analysis if you haven't.

    Agree with the eat at maintenance for a bit while lifting advice.

    Sorry, I think there was some confusion. I have not been eating back exercise calories at my current number of 2200. 2200 is with my exercise included.

    I got my numbers from here (this is what I have always used for calorie calculation - and clearly it has been working haha):
    QdPeoSS.jpg

    Understood though. Thanks.
  • auddii
    auddii Posts: 15,359 Member
    I agree with the previous poster about eating at maintenance for a while. Firstly, you'll be able to figure out what maintenance actually is for you. Your maintenance may be a little lower than calculators think because you've been dieting down, but maybe not. If I were you, I'd eat around 2700-2800 for a few months (going from the calculator you posted). Put the scale away if slight fluctuations bother you. Don't weigh in the day after a lifting session (you retain water as your muscles recover). Then see where you're at and what you'd be happy with.

    Also, just curious, but why switch lifting programs after 8 weeks?
  • brillmer
    brillmer Posts: 1,268 Member
    I agree with the previous poster about eating at maintenance for a while. Firstly, you'll be able to figure out what maintenance actually is for you. Your maintenance may be a little lower than calculators think because you've been dieting down, but maybe not. If I were you, I'd eat around 2700-2800 for a few months (going from the calculator you posted). Put the scale away if slight fluctuations bother you. Don't weigh in the day after a lifting session (you retain water as your muscles recover). Then see where you're at and what you'd be happy with.

    Also, just curious, but why switch lifting programs after 8 weeks?

    I think that's what I will do. I will start at 2500 and slowly add 100 cals a week.

    I did SL for 8 weeks and was seeing great progression.. But the main reason I did SL was just to get comfortable with the idea of lifting and compound muscle movements. I had never done any barbell lifts in the past.. So it was more to develop form and learn the movements.

    After that.. Quite simply.. I wanted to kick it up a notch. I didn't like that the SL program only had me in the gym 3 times a week. I felt like I wasn't working out enough - even though that notion is absolutely ridiculous.. Because SL and all compound muscle movement workout programs are awesome... and I always could have added in extra workouts... But you live and learn.

    The Kris Gethin 12 week trainer was always something that intimidated me, but something I always wanted to say I completed. So I decided that I was finally ready and in good enough shape to give it a try. I am now almost halfway through and am very happy with my decision.

    I will probably end up going back to a 5x5 or 5/3/1 program after I finish the 12 weeks.