An alternative nutritional outlook (or why bulking and cutting sucks)

Warboss Alex

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Bulking and cutting cycles are absolute shiat. Yes, I swore by them at one time but now I've come to realise that they're a totally stupid way to bodybuild.

Bulking up, as far as I can see, consists of eating everything in sight in the hope that you'll gain muscle mass. The truth is that you WILL gain thanks to the calorific surplus, however you'll also gain just as much fat - this because the way most people 'bulk', including on these forums. This tends to involve (for the more conscious bber) more complex carbs per lb bodyweight than protein grams - this can vary from anything between a recommended 2 and 9(!! - yes I've seen this number quoted in places) g of carbohydrates per lb bodyweight daily; other people might pound down gallons of ice cream saying that they need the calories. The answer is they do need the calories, but not this type.

And then cutting down, after your 'bulker': just as much time as you wasted being a fat slob, but this time you're dieting like crazy trying to look presentable. Off goes the bodyfat in most cases, and also most of your newly gained muscle mass with it. You cut your eating in half, go for cardio beastings which knacker your recovery time so your workouts suffer - and since you're not training as you were when you're 'bulking' (thanks to cardio and less food) your body has no reason to keep its recently attained muscle. Plus, you're used to shovelling down junk food in your bulking cycles, you become starved of such luxuries and thereby become moody, miserable gits while cutting as well.

Say you bulk for 3 months then cut for 3 months - over the course of four years, you've bulked for two and cut for another two, and YOU'VE WASTED TWO YEARS OF MUSCLE BUILDING TIME. You don't build muscle on a cut, unless you're a total beginner. Two years which you'll never get back. Over the course of eight years, that's four years gone .. half your workouts are totally wasted. How much muscle do you gain a year? 2, 3 lbs? Not worth it in my opinion.

*NOTE: Maybe you don't WANT to go the gym to build muscle, you just go to get a pump or look cool or check out the girls or whatever; if this is you, stop reading this thread now.

By now I'll hopefully have convinced you that bulking/cutting cycles are shiat. Now, what if there was a way that you could constantly put on lean muscle all year round, while also keeping your waistline trim at whichever bodyfat % you feel comfortable at? (or even reduce this % - yes, that means putting on muscle and losing bodyfat no matter how (in)experienced you are; again, if you don't believe this is possible then get the hell out of this thread, I'm not trying to convince you it can be done, I'm telling you how to do it).

Some people call this method of constantly growing while maintaining/reducing bodyfat 'lean bulking' or 'clean bulking' or even 'lean gains'. To an extent I'll agree that the names are appropriate, but I wouldn't use the terms since the dreaded b-word is a bit of a taboo subject with me. I know that a couple of forum users use this method and have sensibly dispensed with bulking/cutting (MindOverMatter being a prime example, despite his blood pressure skyrocketing when the words 'protein', '2g', 'per', 'lb' and 'bodyweight' are combined in the same sentence) - and they're damned successful, and that can be seen in their pics. Makes you think doesn't it?

Of course, you have to be fairly lean or at a bodyfat you're more or less comfortable with for this to work properly - if you're a fat slob then you're better off losing the fat first and then starting this constant growth thing, unless you're prepared to be meticulous with diet and cardio (more on this later). And if you're just looking to get bulked/ripped quickly this isn't for you, this isn't a quick fix I'm about to describe, this is more of a way of bodybuilding life which needs some getting used to, but when it all becomes second nature you'll never look back. If you're like me, you'll kick yourself for having dabbled in bulk/cut cycles in the first place.. but I didn't have the knowledge then, I do now and I'd like to pass it on to you all: most of you guys are in your teens, which is a prime time to get into good nutritional and bodybuilding habits.

So how do we go about this? Well, for a start, you need to make your body into a food processor. You've got to raise your metabolism to such a level that it shuttles as many nutrients as possible into muscle growth, and the rest burnt off / mopped up with cardio. The answer to this my friends, is protein - that's my firm opinion and I'm sticking to it. For every 100 calories of protein ingested, you burn (on average) 25g just digesting the stuff. For every 100 calories of carbs ingested, you burn only 3-4 by digesting.

If I ingest 500g (2000 calories) of protein every day, I'm burning a quarter of that just by digestion - 1500 calories net, plus a load of aminos in the bloodstream for muscle growth. Contrast this to 500g of carbs, and that leaves you with about 1900 or more calories, no aminos and a greater change of excess (which'll go to adipose). Furthermore, a high-protein meal can keep your metabolism elevated for several hours afterwards (you're burning calories longer) than a high-carb meal - which only gives you a (smaller) metabolic boost for a couple of hours afterwards.

If you don't believe me, then at your next meal try this: eat all your protein first (I had two pork chops, rice and veggies for lunch, I ate both chops first before I even touched anything else) - if you're eating enough (solid) protein you should start sweating and your stomach feeling hot, this is your metabolism working overtime to process the protein. Eat a load of rice first, and do you feel the same burning? I certainly don't.

Eat your protein first not only for the maximum metabolic boost and calories burned through digestion (carbs and fats will just clog up the stomach and reduce the amount of protein you can process since they're digested elsewhere), but also for the greatest number of aminos to make it into the bloodstream. Mixed up food in your stomach will intefere with digestion and a helluva lot of protein will pass through undigested and be excreted (MindOverMatter, remember you posting about your old trainer/teacher who said that bodybuilders had extremely expensive ****s? If you mix up your food like this then he's probably right, you'll waste a lot of protein - but if you eat it first, most if not all of it will get processed successfully).

With this new information, you should now know that an increased protein ingestion can only be a good thing - and there are no studies to show that (FOR BODYBUILDERS OR ATHLETES) an increased protein intake is harmful in any way. You also know that you should eat your protein first to avoid wasting as much as possible and get the most aminos into the blood, since more aminos = more lean tissue can be created (if a proper demand is present - made by heavy training).

Aim for 2g of protein per lb bodyweight - that's my recommendation. You can intake less if you wish, but I think you'd be hurting your gains that way, plus you're not giving your metabolism the biggest boost it can get. Make your own decision here - I'm not trying to convince you to eat this much protein, I know it can be expensive and tedious, but I've just outlined the benefits. As for 'maximum amount of protein which can be absorbed by the body', well I don't believe in that. Why do people who eat more protein get bigger more quickly than people who eat less? When your gains are stalling, try eating 2g of protein per lb bodyweight (and double your pwo protein) and let me know what happens - I've a feeling your gains will shoot right back up.

For those of us who've got a slower metabolism naturally (myself included!) then extra (natural) thermogenics may well be necessary to help turn our body into a blast furnace. Multiple litres (aim for 2 litres at least) of white or green tea will give us a good boost, as will a gallon of cold (not room temperature) water per day.

And of course cardio - do some cardio in the morning and your metabolism will be jacked all day, you'll be eating much more than usual. It always works for me. (more on cardio later)

Now that we've underlined the importance of protein and metabolic boosts, let's talk about carbs and fats. And, more to the point, why trying to count these is madness in my opinion.

I firmly believe that carbs are a fuel source, nothing more. They don't build muscle and don't jack your metabolism by much, they're your source of daily energy and very little else. Carbs should be eaten as and when necessary to satiate your hunger and help you get through the day. An office worker wouldn't need as many as a lumberjack or construction worker, so I don't see how someone can recommend 'x carb grams per lb bodyweight' - and this is where and why a lot of people get fat in 'bulking' cycles, because they lose themselves in numbers and stick to counting calories and all that stuff, when they don't think about it rationally. Like I said, a 200lb construction worker would need 3, 4, 5 or more g per lb bodyweight daily, yet a 150lb college student certainly wouldn't - the student (in most cases) would get bloody fat.
 

Warboss Alex

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Essential fats should be a part of your diet - my favourites are flaxseed oil, olive oil (food of the gods) and nut butters (almond and hazelnut butter being especially tasty), but their job is an easy source of calories and goodness. If I wasn't gaining weight, I'd add fat to my diet (tablespoon or two of olive oil in my protein shakes for example), not carbs as most people do. A tablespoon of olive oil is 100-120 calories and a load of (healthy) monounsaturated fat - is there a better or easier way to add calories to your diet? If you're not still not gaining, add two tablespoons.. and no, it's not as foul-tasting as it sounds.

So, by now I've outlined that we should pound 2g (or less if you want, your choice) of protein per lb bodyweight, eat this protein first, eat carbs only to give us enough energy to get through the day, include fats in our diet and increase them if we want to gain some weight, and possibly do morning cardio and/or use a natural thermogenic to help jack our metabolism (the other one I can think of apart from the teas is cayenne pepper.. hell, if you want to, fair play to you!). That I believe is the way to get as close to a human food processor as possible.

Now what about bodyfat gain? Fat gain this way should be minimal - if we factor in a carb cutoff and structured cardio as necessary.

Carb cutoff: in the evening you're not gonna be using many carbs are you? You're gonna be sitting around and then sleeping most likely. Is there any point in overloading our glycogen stores at this time of day? NO. There's no demand for energy, eventually it'll just creep into adipose. Starchy carbs should be avoided after the time you deem as your carb cutoff - make it four hours or so before bed (time for two meals probably) and see how you go, you may make it earlier or later depending on how you react to this (hint: if you're gaining some fat, make the carb cutoff earlier). Fats also should be cutoff in the evening, for much the same reason.. we want to be burning calories throughout the night, fat-loading means that we'll be burning these calories and probably not existing (depleted from cutoff) glycogen stores and bodyfat as we want. After your carb cutoff eat carbs from veggies and possibly dairy, but no pasta, rice, etc.

Some of us might stay lean just with the carb cutoff. Those lucky bastards I despise. :p

For the rest of us, some additional morning cardio (to mop up any possible excesses from the previous day) is necessary. Start with a 30-minute session on offdays and work up to 45 minutes or even 60 minutes, this SHOULD do it. It won't work for everyone - more cardio and earlier carb cutoffs will keep the more endomorphic of us lean. If you want to lose a bit of bodyfat, then do your morning cardio every day (except maybe leg day), or even twice a day (evening is another good time to do it) - and yes, you can lose fat and build muscle this way, just have faith and be patient, your gains will be slower but you'll be losing bodyfat too, which I think would make it worth it.

Note I recommend light cardio (walking, treadmill, stepper) for this, if you're going to HIIT it then get some carbs in you at breakfast and then sprint your guts out. Don't do it on empty! You'll regret it, I assure you.

Combine this nutritional structure with intense, seriously heavy training and you'll see good gains, of this I'm sure. And you'll stay lean while doing it! This way you can constantly grow ('bulk') without getting fat and ever having to trim down ('cut') - if you do have some bodyfat to lose just up your cardio and be extra strict about your carb cutoff, or make it a little earlier.

It works, this I guarantee, if you do it properly. And when you get into this mode, you'll never have to bulk/cut again, isn't that great?

(References: Palumbo's earlier work, DC training, myself)
 

onelife

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Bulking and cutting cycles are absolute shiat. Yes, I swore by them at one time but now I've come to realise that they're a totally stupid way to bodybuild.
come on mate, i have read so many post's of your's that are great but really, i think your a bit far of the mark here..

im using Anthony Ellis' Gaining Mass program which uses bulking and cutting cycles but in a much more strict fashion than "eating everything in sight".
just out of interest Warboss Alex has anyone other than you used this method so you could get a better guage of its succes?
 

Warboss Alex

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I said they're stupid in reference to that they waste valuable time .. half your bodybuilding time in theory.

And yeah .. a lot of people share my thoughts (hell, I had to listen to SOMEONE didn't I?). Some on this board (apart from myself!), maybe they'll speak up.
 

TheRelic

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+1 here...

Perhaps my rocket metabolism can be attributed to my approach, which is, either way, to eat right and lift heavier and heavier. This does not include cardio...

I never saw the point in wasting time cutting, it's counter productive, and seems to make up for the fact that not everyone will take the time to tailor their diet to fit with progressive lifting - as thats really all it takes.

I guess those with slower metabolisms can vouch for the otherwise, but personally I believe in following the plentiful diet guidelines that centre around muscle building, and lifting hard...

Obviously, strict competition bodybuilding will require an approach that yields the better of both worlds.

But i'm just an "average joe", and the no cycling approach put on more than a lean 10 kilos of muscle in under a year, which was proof enough for me.
 

manuva

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Good post Warboss. I fully agree, and always have done. Most guys here are putting themselves through all sorts of difficulty because they've heard its the thing to do.

Beginners starting with 5-way splits on their first 'bulking cycle' - c'mon, give me a break.

Cycles should be left for a periodisation chart and nothing more. If you don't know what a periodisation chart is, or know what one is but don't use it, then you can do without cycling.

Lift smart, eat well, rest lots.

It's almost like people refuse to believe that its that simple, and go out of their way to make it complex.
 

semag

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I fully agree.... Wasting your time by losing strength is not what you wanna do, I know, I've tried DIESEL's cutting guide, and it'll strip fat off fast, but you'll also end the cycle quite a bit weaker.

I'm trying to lean up slower, more clean, while making gains... it's just really hard, and I'm not sure if I have my diet in check, let alone the cardio.
 

SynTheUnscathed

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Ok, interesting.

You say before you start this you need to be pretty lean first. Whats the best way to get lean then? You gotta show the entire picture.

Let me know.
 

vanwilder

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when you builk your supposed to eat good foods, not **** foods, its the same as a cut, jsut not eating with any moderation... i dont know waht you are doing....
 

Warboss Alex

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Originally posted by SynTheUnscathed
Ok, interesting.

You say before you start this you need to be pretty lean first. Whats the best way to get lean then? You gotta show the entire picture.

Let me know.
If you want to lose a bit of bodyfat, then do your morning cardio every day (except maybe leg day), or even twice a day (evening is another good time to do it) - and yes, you can lose fat and build muscle this way, just have faith and be patient, your gains will be slower but you'll be losing bodyfat too, which I think would make it worth it.
 

Alpine

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Warboss,

Bulk/cuts are good for beginners, as I'm sure you were once and benifitted. Are you now not just finding that you are starting to gain more fat on bulks and they are not ideal for you at your stage of development?

A skinny guy might do a very unclean bulk and with his metabolism pack on 20lbs of what LOOKS like 20lb of solid muscle, and that's dandy.

I think most guys who are getting big and more advanced find it's better to put on 2-3lb of lean meat for their needs. But don't tell the skinny guys not to bulk, especially when it worked for you when you started.
 

Warboss Alex

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Originally posted by Alpine
Warboss,

Bulk/cuts are good for beginners, as I'm sure you were once and benifitted. Are you now not just finding that you are starting to gain more fat on bulks and they are not ideal for you at your stage of development?

A skinny guy might do a very unclean bulk and with his metabolism pack on 20lbs of what LOOKS like 20lb of solid muscle, and that's dandy.

I think most guys who are getting big and more advanced find it's better to put on 2-3lb of lean meat for their needs. But don't tell the skinny guys not to bulk, especially when it worked for you when you started.
Whoever told you that

a) I benefited from bulk/cuts (I didn't, bulks made me fat and cuts made me depressed)

and

b) I was a skinny kid when I started? (I was FAT)
 

MindOverMatter

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awesome post, and I agree 100%.

warboss, when you make sandwiches, do you eat all the meat first, then whatever's left inside?

also, 9 carbs/g?? i don't know anyone who eats that much, but if they do, thats way too much.
 

Warboss Alex

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Originally posted by MindOverMatter
awesome post, and I agree 100%.

warboss, when you make sandwiches, do you eat all the meat first, then whatever's left inside?

also, 9 carbs/g?? i don't know anyone who eats that much, but if they do, thats way too much.
Ha ha, I'm not THAT anal. But in the case of a sandwich or say, something like spaghetti bolognaise then obviously I'd eat it all mixed up.. :p (I can sometimes be anal and take a can of tuna and a pitta bread and eating them seperately instead of making it into a sandwich..)

I haven't seen 9g per lb bodyweight in practice but I've seen it recommended somewhere, I can only assume the writer meant kg bodyweight and even then it's extremely high ..
 

Not Quite There

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nice post mate

thats really helpfull to me right now, my plan was to do a 'clean bulk' as mind over matter says, but wasn't to sure how to go about it.

I have been increasing my protein intake, but after reading that, think i need to increase it even more.

Could you give us an example of what your meal plan to fulfill your protein needs?

I could probably do it by just another shake a day, but would prefer to do it with real food.
 

Warboss Alex

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I'm loathe to post up my own meal plan since it varies from week to week, sometimes I'll eat more fat (EFAs) and less carbohydrates if I want to lose bodyfat, or more carbohydrates if I'm being active all day.

As much as I hate cookie-cuttering things, here's a sample menu to give you some ideas (400g protein, which unless you're under 180lbs, is more or less what you should be aiming for IMO, to break into the magical 200lb of muscle barrier).

Meal 1 - 6 whole eggs (42g protein) with quark or cheese (20g protein), fruit.

Meal 2 - Can tuna (30g protein) in wholemeal pitta bread or wholemeal bread (15g protein), plus a small protein drink (25g protein) and fruit.
(NOTE TO MINDOVERMATTER:
I may eat all this seperately, or I may make a sandwich out of the lot - and blend the protein and fruit extra thick to make a dressing)

Meal 3 - 250g of steak mince (50g protein) with brown/basmati rice, wholemeal pasta, potatoes, whatever you like (5-10g protein), veg.

Meal 4 - Big protein drink (50g protein) with added flax or olive oil.

Meal 5 - As meal 3 (or substitute any fish or lean meat, and carbs as desired)

Meal 6 - Two cans tuna (60g protein), huge leafy salad or big portion of veg.

Meal 7 - Big protein drink (50g protein) in half a pint of milk (10g protein) or a casein drink if you have it.

That's probably over 400g protein (not including pwo) but that should be more than enough .. you've got your fats in there, plenty of carbs (adjust quantity to suit energy levels and hunger) and fibre sources (veg).

That's not nearly everything though, I eat a lot of nut butters, oats (love 'em), chicken, turkey, olives, mackerel, cottage cheese etc which are also perfectly fine.
 

mrRuckus

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Originally posted by Warboss Alex
I'm loathe to post up my own meal plan since it varies from week to week, sometimes I'll eat more fat (EFAs) and less carbohydrates if I want to lose bodyfat, or more carbohydrates if I'm being active all day.

As much as I hate cookie-cuttering things, here's a sample menu to give you some ideas (400g protein, which unless you're under 180lbs, is more or less what you should be aiming for IMO, to break into the magical 200lb of muscle barrier).

Meal 1 - 6 whole eggs (42g protein) with quark or cheese (20g protein), fruit.

Meal 2 - Can tuna (30g protein) in wholemeal pitta bread or wholemeal bread (15g protein), plus a small protein drink (25g protein) and fruit.
(NOTE TO MINDOVERMATTER:
I may eat all this seperately, or I may make a sandwich out of the lot - and blend the protein and fruit extra thick to make a dressing)

Meal 3 - 250g of steak mince (50g protein) with brown/basmati rice, wholemeal pasta, potatoes, whatever you like (5-10g protein), veg.

Meal 4 - Big protein drink (50g protein) with added flax or olive oil.

Meal 5 - As meal 3 (or substitute any fish or lean meat, and carbs as desired)

Meal 6 - Two cans tuna (60g protein), huge leafy salad or big portion of veg.

Meal 7 - Big protein drink (50g protein) in half a pint of milk (10g protein) or a casein drink if you have it.

That's probably over 400g protein (not including pwo) but that should be more than enough .. you've got your fats in there, plenty of carbs (adjust quantity to suit energy levels and hunger) and fibre sources (veg).

That's not nearly everything though, I eat a lot of nut butters, oats (love 'em), chicken, turkey, olives, mackerel, cottage cheese etc which are also perfectly fine.
how much do you spend a week on all that?!
 

Warboss Alex

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Not as much as you'd think really..

6 eggs are about 40p, same for the cheese/quark, three cans of tuna less than a quid, steak mince the priciest at about 1.80 for 500g, veg and carbs are dirt cheap, it's about five quid a day all told?

Exluding whey (I get unflavoured from myprotein), and glutamine (cheap since a 500g or kg tub will last you ages) .. it's really not THAT expensive.

I budget 50 quid for (my own) food every week but rarely spend more than 40..

(that wasn't necessarily what I eat every day though, I actually eat more protein than 400g..)
 

Double

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what is a quid?

i wish i would have the american prices


i will give your nutritional outlook a shot soon, looks promising to me.
 
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