When it comes to looking in great shape, most people are looking to lose stubborn fat from their stomach and build lean muscle mass. Can both these things be done at the same time? Bulk up and lose belly fat?
If you’re interested in whether it’s possible and the best ways to go about doing so, then you’re in the right place.
To gain muscle (or bulk up), you need to be in a caloric surplus. This is done by eating above the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight. For example, if you’re maintenance is 2,000 calories, you should begin by eating at least 200 calories more.
In other words, being in a surplus is known as bulking. It puts the body in an anabolic environment, which is where muscle and strength thrive.
For the best result, you should be lifting weights to provide a stimulus for your body to adapt to. Those extra calories are what fuel the muscles to grow stronger and bigger. You can either do a lean bulk or go all out on a “dirty bulk” where you pretty much eat what you like.
A lean bulk is recommended for most because it focuses on whole foods and minimizes excess fat gain. The more fat you gain on a bulk, the more work you’ll need to do when it comes to cutting.
Typically, the process of losing belly fat involves losing fat everywhere on the body. Just as you cannot choose where you gain fat, you also cannot decide which areas you lose it from.
Fat loss involves being in a caloric deficit where you’re eating below your maintenance calories. If we stick with the maintenance of 2,000 calories, you should be eating around 1800-1500 calories in total.
Over time, you can gradually decrease calories, or increase cardio, to push past plateaus.
Being in a deficit causes the body to be in a catabolic state. You can certainly maintain muscle, but gaining it is not a realistic expectation.
Bulking and losing belly fat is unfortunately not something that most people can do, but there are exceptions…
Those who are just starting out in the gym are providing their bodies with a completely new stimulus. When they lift weights, their bodies respond a lot faster compared to someone who’s been lifting for a few years.
If they were to maintain a healthy, clean diet, that was either at maintenance calories, or in a slight surplus, they could be bulking to gain muscle and losing fat simultaneously.
However, this is only because their bodies will react incredibly fast to the training and diet, no matter what.
So, bulking and losing belly fat comes down to the individual and their experience level. If you’re noticing too much belly fat being gained at a fast rate during your bulk, it means you may be increasing the calories too fast.
Lean bulking allows you to gain muscle and size over a longer duration of time. However, this also means you’ll be gaining quality muscle weight, and minimizing stomach fat.
That’s why lean bulks work the best for most people. You can still see your abs and be bulking!