The “Skinny Fat” Body Transformation Dilemma - Should You Bulk Or Cut First?


Many of us thrive for the perfect physique but have no idea how and where to start. You want to gain an awesome amount of muscle mass but when you look at yourself in the mirror your body fat scares you and you want to get rid of it ASAP.

Now the question here is ‘should I bulk up, gain some muscles or should I strip some fat first before building muscle mass’?

The thing is- very few people have the knowledge it takes to understand the correct process of stripping fat while preserving and gaining muscle mass. The majority knows how to lose weight but they don’t have any idea how to do it without losing their precious muscles.


The reason is why the above question is so tough because:

• Whenever a person opts for muscle gain, it is obvious that he/she will gain some additional body fat with it. That’s how it works. But when you already have plenty of body fat, adding more fat isn’t sound very appealing.

• And when a person tries to shed a significant amount of body fat, he/she will not be able to build much muscle at that time. It could be possible you won’t be able to gain any muscle mass during your fat loss process. And since you already lacking muscle mass, begin with cutting phase will make you look overly-slim and weak.

This is really confusing and the majority of people make mistakes in making the right decision. Before finding the answer to the above question let’s have a brief description of bulking and cutting.


Bulking and Cutting:

You may already know that for cutting you have to be on calorie deficit diet whereas for bulking up a caloric surplus diet is the key. However, for any nutrition plan, the correct combination of all macros for a particular goal is vital. Also, protein remains the King, no matter what your goals are.

Cutting: Important key points to remember while going through cutting phase are:

• Avoid all kinds of crash diets/ detox juices.

• Avoid overdoing of cardio exercises.

• Try not to cut down your daily calorie intake too much if you don’t wish to get any metabolic disorder.

Bulking: During Bulking, it is important to understand that you want to gain muscles not fat. Majority of people going through bulking phase are living in the illusion that they can eat as much junk food as they want. This results in lots of fat accumulation instead of muscles. It is commonly known as dirty bulk. Of course, you will gain some fat while bulking up but if you’ve gained ¾ of fat and only a quarter of muscles then your macros plan need to revised.


What should I do first – bulk or Cut?

Let’s come to the point, what you should do first- bulk or cut depends on the following factors:

1. Overall body fat percentage: The most important factor for making a decision is your overall body fat percentage. If you are carrying the protruding amount of body fat like baggy chest and midsection along with your love handles then even though you lack muscle development, it is probably a good decision to lose fat first i.e. cutting.

On the other hand, you can opt for bulking only if your body fat percentage indicates that you are somewhat lean.

• For men, this typically means 10-13% body fat (or less).

• For women, 19-23% body fat (or less).

2. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): It is the rate at which your body burns calories at rest to carry its vital functions properly. Therefore, the higher the metabolic rate, the more calories you’ll burn.

3. Muscle Mass: The higher muscle mass indicates higher BMR because muscle is an active tissue which requires continuous energy supply to sustain.

If you have an insignificant amount of muscle mass, then you should bulk up first to gain some muscles. Although the process is very slow but gaining muscles will fast-track your fat loss and also increase your BMR.


The Bottom Line:

If you are fat with negligible muscle mass then you should first go for the bulking phase i.e. increase muscle mass.

On the contrary, if you’re fat with the experience of weight training or a significant amount of muscle mass then you should go for cutting first.

For skinny-fat body type, they usually have high BMR so they can start with either bulking or cutting; depend on the above-mentioned factors.

Regardless of the goal, weight training supported by a high protein diet should be a staple protocol to achieve your goal.