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    Registered User booster232's Avatar
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    Confusion on bulking / cutting

    Hey everyone! I started training about a year ago weighing 195lbs @ 5'9" and fairly weak. Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted strength and to look big but still in shape instead of looking "cut" and really thin so I started bulking. I eat chicken, ground turkey, 90/10 ground beef, fish, vegetables, fruits, rice (brown and white), oatmeal, cream of wheat, beans, eggs etc. with an occasional cheat meal on the weekends. I usually eat the same meals everyday otherwise. I started with a full body workout a year ago but lately I've been doing push/pull/legs and I try to workout 5-6 times a week. I've gained weight. I'm 210lbs and I've definitely noticed a significant strength increase but I look fat. I'm really confused how to phrase it or what exactly it would be called but I want to keep gaining muscle but I want to shed some fat so I actually look somewhat in shape. I've seen pictures and used calculators and I'm hovering around 30% body fat. I've got a gut and everything. I'm really new to this so I don't exactly know what the next step would be. I still want to gain more strength but I want to look like I'm in shape and look big but I'm getting pretty depressed knowing I look terrible (and probably am terrible because of my high body fat) despite all my hard work. I've been neglecting my workouts and diet for the past 3 weeks because of it. Do I cut? Cut then bulk? Change my workouts? Id really appreciate any help I can get. Thanks in advance.
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    We see this a lot. The 140lb guy wants to cut and the 190lb guy wants to bulk...

    You are probably around 30% and it's not going to help with how you look. You should actually be able to run a mild calorie deficit and still make progress in the gym and gain strength. Do this for a long time. You may have to get as low as 170 before thinking about a surplus. BTW you never need to "bulk" if that means gaining large amounts of weight, only gain as much as you need to keep gym progress going.
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    Registered User booster232's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    We see this a lot. The 140lb guy wants to cut and the 190lb guy wants to bulk...

    You are probably around 30% and it's not going to help with how you look. You should actually be able to run a mild calorie deficit and still make progress in the gym and gain strength. Do this for a long time. You may have to get as low as 170 before thinking about a surplus. BTW you never need to "bulk" if that means gaining large amounts of weight, only gain as much as you need to keep gym progress going.
    Hi! Thanks for the reply. I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories / macros. It says I should be eating 3100 calories for maintenance. Do you think 2800-3000 would be sufficient to lose fat and increase strength / muscle? Assuming I strength train 5 times a week with some cardio of course.

    Sorry. I forgot to add that I try to get in 150g of protein at most in a day.
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    No, that's another classic gotcha - MFP will tend to overestimate calories for larger people... silly but true. Your maintenance is probably closer to 2500 but this can vary a lot depending on typical daily activity. It's usually a waste of time trying to guess based on "activity factors" etc. Better to try a calorie level for a couple of weeks and see what the results are. Real data > calculators

    I would start with 2300 and see how you get on. You will initially lose weight sharply but after the first week that will settle down and you should be aiming to lose 0.5 - 1lb every week.
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    Originally Posted by booster232 View Post
    Hi! Thanks for the reply. I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories / macros. It says I should be eating 3100 calories for maintenance. Do you think 2800-3000 would be sufficient to lose fat and increase strength / muscle? Assuming I strength train 5 times a week with some cardio of course.

    Sorry. I forgot to add that I try to get in 150g of protein at most in a day.
    Nobody can tell you exactly how much to eat. The best thing to do is to choose a calorie level and eat at it for a couple of weeks and check what effect it is having on your weight (ignore any large drops in the first week or so, this will mostly be water). If you haven't lost anything then reduce calories by say 300-500
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    Registered User booster232's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    No, that's another classic gotcha - MFP will tend to overestimate calories for larger people... silly but true. Your maintenance is probably closer to 2500 but this can vary a lot depending on typical daily activity. It's usually a waste of time trying to guess based on "activity factors" etc. Better to try a calorie level for a couple of weeks and see what the results are. Real data > calculators

    I would start with 2300 and see how you get on. You will initially lose weight sharply but after the first week that will settle down and you should be aiming to lose 0.5 - 1lb every week.
    Thanks for the reply. Ill cut my calories for a month or two and see how it works out. I was told that if I drop weight too drastically that I'd lose muscle and I obviously don't want that since gaining muscle has been the goal for some time. Again. Thank you.
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    Originally Posted by booster232 View Post
    Thanks for the reply. Ill cut my calories for a month or two and see how it works out. I was told that if I drop weight too drastically that I'd lose muscle and I obviously don't want that since gaining muscle has been the goal for some time. Again. Thank you.
    Losing weight too fast can result in muscle loss, that's true - we generally recommend that you
    a) weight train
    b) get enough protein - 150g as you mentioned is enough (at least 1.6 grams per kg of lean body mass)
    c) don't attempt to lose more than 1% of your weight per week - so you could lose nearly 2lbs a week but are aiming for less than 1.
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    Originally Posted by AlexSays View Post
    Nobody can tell you exactly how much to eat. The best thing to do is to choose a calorie level and eat at it for a couple of weeks and check what effect it is having on your weight (ignore any large drops in the first week or so, this will mostly be water). If you haven't lost anything then reduce calories by say 300-500
    Thanks for the reply. I've been eating a pretty decent amount of calories for some time so I'm going to take out about 400 calories and add some cardio on rest days just to see how it goes. I'm more concerned about losing muscle but I also hate looking so big.
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    Originally Posted by booster232 View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I've been eating a pretty decent amount of calories for some time so I'm going to take out about 400 calories and add some cardio on rest days just to see how it goes. I'm more concerned about losing muscle but I also hate looking so big.
    At your current weight and bodyfat, with a moderate deficit and adequate protein you really do not need to be concerned about losing muscle.

    Likely for a while you'll still be able to make some strength gains. So long as you keep working out with good intensity you shouldn't need to worry about too much meaningful muscle loss until you are a lot leaner. Lean mass loss is greatly overblown during cutting in my experience. The loss of glycogen, lower energy in the gym and the fact that people don't realize most of their 'mass' was actually fat layers anyway is what leads many people to believe they are losing a lot of muscle when they are not
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    Registered User booster232's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Losing weight too fast can result in muscle loss, that's true - we generally recommend that you
    a) weight train
    b) get enough protein - 150g as you mentioned is enough (at least 1.6 grams per kg of lean body mass)
    c) don't attempt to lose more than 1% of your weight per week - so you could lose nearly 2lbs a week but are aiming for less than 1.
    That sounds like a solid plan. Thank you! You've been extremely helpful. I'm going to continue the weight training program I was on and increase cardio. If i see that I'm losing weight too quickly after the first 2 weeks I'll do cardio less frequently. 10 - 15 minutes after a workout should be ok and 30 minutes on rest days should be enough.
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